British finance minister George Osborne said a vote to leave the European Union would do permanent damage to the country's economy and could cost each household 4,300 pounds ($6,100) a year by 2030. As Ivor Bennett reports, he's seeking to focus voters on what he called the biggest question of their generation.
Finding the facts in this campaign hasn't been easy. But at least, this time, the numbers were hard to miss. The government spelling out just how much it thinks it'll cost should Britain leave the EU. SOUNDBITE (English) GEORGE OSBORNE, BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER, SAYING: "Would trade less, we would do less business. there would be less investment. And the price would be paid by British families. Wages would be lower, prices would be higher and that means Britain would be poorer by 4,300 pounds per household." The figure is based on the so-called Canada model. Where Britain would enjoy free trade without contributing to Brussels' budget. But Osborne says any such deal would not include the UK's services industry. And therefore leave the economy 6 percent worse off. SOUNDBITE (English) GEORGE OSBORNE, BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER, SAYING: "The most likely bill for our public services if we left the EU is 36 billion pounds a year. Let's be very clear. that's an increase of 8 percent on the basic rate of income tax." But these are just forecasts. 'Leave' campaigners have called them worthless and absurd. and the repeated warnings of a Brexit - most recently from the IMF - may well backfire. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) CEBR, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "Frankly I don't think any country wants to be told by others what to do. So it may well be counter-productive. But if anyone from a business perspective is looking at what may happen after June 23rd then they will have to take seriously what the various scenarios might be." President Obama's promised not to raise the issue during a visit this week, unless he's asked. The figure may not be certain but that almost definitely is.