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Brexit vote would trigger cuts, tax hikes: Osborne

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - 09:19
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A vote to leave the European Union in a referendum next week would trigger an emergency "Brexit budget" of tax hikes and spending cuts, Britain's finance minister warned Wednesday.

[LONDON] A vote to leave the European Union in a referendum next week would trigger an emergency "Brexit budget" of tax hikes and spending cuts, Britain's finance minister warned Wednesday.

George Osborne, who is campaigning to remain within the 28-member bloc, announced that schools, hospitals and the army would all have their funding slashed if the pro-Brexit side prevails.

The intervention comes as polls indicate an uptick in support for the "Leave" side days ahead of the June 23 vote.

"Quitting the EU would hit investment, hurt families and harm the British economy," the Chancellor said in released remarks.

"I would have a responsibility to try to restore stability to the public finances and that would mean an emergency Budget where we would have to increase taxes and cut spending."

Mr Osborne warned that leaving the EU would create a £30 billion (S$57.4 bilion) hole in national finances.

In response, the basic rate of income tax would be raised 10 per cent, inheritance tax would be hiked, and the education, defence, and National Health Service (NHS) budgets would all be cut, he said.

Mr Osborne, a member of the ruling Conservative party of Prime Minister David Cameron, was backed up in his announcement by Alistair Darling, a former Chancellor from the rival Labour party who managed Britain's finances during the global economic crisis.

"I am even more worried now than I was in 2008," Mr Darling said in released remarks.

As the campaign enters its final stretch, a poll by ComRes showed the race on a knife edge, with support for remaining at 46 per cent and the pro-Brexit side on 45 per cent.

This contrasts with a result from the same pollster just one month earlier in which the pro-remain side had an 11 point lead.

But Mr Osborne's warning was dismissed by a pro-Leave Labour lawmaker, John Mann.

"This is more scare tactics from the Remain side," Mr Mann said.

"If we vote to Leave and take control of our money we will have more to spend on the priorities that matter to us like the NHS."

AFP