Voters should consider one issue in the Referendum, John Redwood MP

Date: 17 Jun 2016

The European Referendum should be approached from the narrow viewpoint of a single big issue, euro-sceptic John Redwood MP has told Milton Keynes Business Leaders.

‘Fundamentally it is about what kind of country we are, a self-governing country or one which has ever closer integration with a European system.’ he said at an MK Business Leaders Partnership dinner on Friday – less than a week before the vote.

Mr Redwood was answering questions on a range of topics after delivering an overview of the global investment outlook on behalf of the private client investment firm and sponsor of the evening Charles Stanley, where he is the company’s Global Strategist.

He told a large audience of MK BLP members and guests that he was speaking for Charles Stanley which holds a neutral view on the Referendum and was not speaking for Brexit. He prefaced other comments, including that on the single referendum issue as his personal view. A minute’s silence for MP Jo Cox was held at the beginning of the evening.

Mr Redwood said Charles Stanley had looked at the various scenarios likely to follow the June 23 vote. They were:

‘Bad Brexit’ - which the Treasury had described as a massive confidence loss and trade damaged in an unspecified and dramatic way;  ‘Good Brexit’ - people would carry on trading after a short term confidence shock; ‘Good Remain’ - The Euro muddles through, the UK manages not to be dragged into the Euro project and Turkey doesn’t join the EU immediately; and ‘Bad Remain’ - the reverse of Good Remain with another Euro crisis, a further big influx of migrants and a European banking crisis plunging the UK into recession.

Mr Redwood said Charles Stanley thought a Brexit would be closer to the ‘good’ than the ‘bad’, and the overall outcome is likely to be somewhere between the two ‘good’ scenarios.

Earlier Mr Redwood gave a concise view of the global outlook in which he likened the pre-financial crash period to economies as cars, being driven with the accelerator to the floor. World central banks’ response was to slam on the brakes causing everyone to go through the windscreen, he said.

After the crash the accelerator is still being applied by the central banks in the form of ultra-low interest rates, ‘printing money’ or QE, and smashing inflation, he said. But the other foot was hard on the brake with banks prevented from excessive lending and being made to hold cash and capital.

‘The odd thing is that it is sort of working now,’ he said, albeit with interest rates that hits savers and likely to stay lower for longer, poor returns from government bonds and lower yields from equities.

A question and answer session followed with subjects including: excessive executive pay - ‘it’s getting out of control’ and house prices - ‘a serious social injustice’. When asked what he would be doing the day after the referendum Mr Redwood would only say: ‘I will be taking my duties as an MP very seriously’.

When asked if he could make a questioner feel better about the economic future Mr Redwood said: ‘Personally I would love to start again now – knowing what I know now. I would be starting again in a much better world, much richer, fairer and teeming with opportunities, power and excitement.

MK Business Leaders’ member Alastair Brooks, on behalf of the event sponsors, thanked John Redwood for informing and entertaining guests with his balanced and intelligent view of the global economy.

Dr Philip Smith MBE, chairman MK Business Leaders Partnership said: ‘The timing of our quarterly dinner was most opportune just as the global investment climate grapples with the prospect of the UK perhaps leaving the EU.  In what was a stimulating presentation, John was very clear about the investment landscape at this time.’