Politicians claiming that that the UK would be able to replicate the benefits of a single market outside the European Union if it leaves are “irresponsible”, according to Lloyd’s chairman John Nelson.
Speaking today at the Lloyd’s annual general meeting (AGM), Nelson also accused those making such assertions of having “little up-to-date working knowledge” of trade agreements.
The UK will vote whether to leave or stay in the EU on 23 June this year. Nelson used his speech at the AGM to respond to claims by those campaigning to leave the EU.
Nelson said: “I feel I must respond to some of the assertions being made by the leave campaign in terms of Brexit consequences. It is irresponsible of politicians to pretend that the benefits of a single market can be replicated outside of the EU.
”In our case, if we were to leave the EU, we would have no right of access to the EU markets without signing up to EU regulations – and indeed incur the financial consequences of contributions to the EU – as happens to other countries within Europe who are outside the EU.”
Leave campaigners have said that the UK would be able to negotiate bilateral trade deals with countries to replace the agreements that it has as part of the EU.
But Nelson said: “It is unrealistic (or, in the words of John Major, ’fantasy’) to expect the UK to be able to put itself in the same position as the EU trading bloc with these countries. Again, these agreements (of which there would need to be many) would take many years to negotiate.”
He added: “Many of these assertions are being made by those who have little up to date working knowledge of trade relationships and agreements – something that our team at Lloyd’s are involved in globally, every day of the week.”
Nelson also hit out at assertions that leaving the EU would mean less regulation for the UK.
He said: “There will be no regulatory nirvana. As I have said, if we wanted to maintain our trade with the EU, we would have to comply with EU regulation in any event, and I see no sign that the UK regulators themselves want to deregulate – in fact, regrettably, I see signs of the opposite.”