UK Politics

UK would benefit from 'insecurity' of EU exit, says Leave donor

The City of London Image copyright PA
Image caption The economy is a key battleground in the EU referendum campaign

The "insecurity" caused by leaving the EU would be "fantastic" for the UK, one of the biggest donors to an exit campaign has said.

Stockbroker Peter Hargreaves told Reuters the UK would "become incredibly successful" as it "will be insecure again - and insecurity is fantastic".

The Remain campaign said his comments showed Leave campaigners were "willing to risk making families worse off".

The UK was "stronger and better off" in the EU, director Will Straw said.

The UK votes on whether or not to remain a member of the European Union in a referendum on 23 June, with the economy one of the key battlegrounds in the campaign.

Remain campaign Britain Stronger in Europe says the UK economy will shrink and jobs will be lost if Britain withdraws from the EU - but Leave campaigners says the economy would thrive as it would be free of what it calls EU red tape and able to negotiate trade deals with other countries.

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In an interview with Reuters news agency, Mr Hargreaves - who has donated £3.2m to Leave.EU, a group founded by UKIP donor Arron Banks which lost out to Vote Leave in the race for the official designation - said a vote to leave would create uncertainty in the UK.

But he argued that was what the country needed, saying it "would be the biggest stimulus to get our butts in gear that we have ever had".

"It will be like Dunkirk again," he said. "We will get out there and we will be become incredibly successful because we will be insecure again. And insecurity is fantastic."

Image caption Peter Hargreaves said the UK would become "incredibly successful" outside the EU

Mr Hargreaves, who founded investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown, criticised some of the "bizarre" EU regulation Britain's financial services and business were subject to, saying it was set by people "who have never been to Britain and wouldn't know how to spell financial services".

He stepped down from the board of the company last year, but still owns a stake of more than 30%. He was speaking in a personal capacity.

Green MP Caroline Lucas, on the board of Britain Stronger In Europe - the official Remain campaign - said remaining in the EU would ensure the UK enjoyed "continued prosperity as part of Europe".

"Insecurity might be exciting for billionaire hedge fund managers like Peter Hargreaves, but for most people in Britain it risks jobs being lost, prices rising and small businesses being hit.

"It also risks our hard won rights at work and the environmental protections which keep us safe," she said.

The group's executive director, Will Straw, said Britain was "stronger, safer and better off in Europe than we would be on our own".

"These out-of-touch remarks from the Leave campaign's biggest donor show they simply do not care about the damaging consequences for people's jobs, family finances and Britain's economy," he added.

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