Senior Conservatives have accused the Bank of England and the Treasury of “peddling phoney forecasts” to scare people into voting to stay in the EU.

Former chancellors Lord Lamont and Lord Lawson and ex-Tory leaders Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Howard said “startling dishonesty” had been displayed.

They said George Osborne’s warning of spending cuts and tax rises after a Leave vote was “born of desperation”.

Remain dismissed “yet more fantasy economics from the Leave campaign”.

Elsewhere in the EU referendum debate:

  • Leaders of 10 of the UK’s biggest city councils said leaving the EU would be “a serious threat to our local economies”
  • Shadow chancellor John McDonnell and former prime minister Gordon Brown will say Labour could secure an extra £35bn in EU funding if the UK votes Remain
  • Leave campaigners Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Gisela Stuart challenged the government over Turkish membership of the EU
  • Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve told Newsnight that Vote Leave’s blueprint for exiting the EU would lead to a “chaotic departure”

The Leave campaign has faced a string of warnings from the government and financial bodies about the implications of a vote to leave the EU on 23 June.

The Treasury has claimed a Leave vote would tip the UK into a year-long recession, while Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said the risks of leaving “could possibly include a technical recession”.

Hitting back, the four Conservatives said: “There has been startling dishonesty in the economic debate, with a woeful failure on the part of the Bank of England, the Treasury, and other official sources to present a fair and balanced analysis.

“They have been peddling phoney forecasts and scare stories to back up the attempts of David Cameron and George Osborne to frighten the electorate into voting Remain.”

Trade and economy

The debate

  • About half of UK overseas trade is conducted with the EU
  • The EU single market allows the free movement of goods, services, capital and workers
  • Trade negotiations with other parts of the world are conducted by the EU, not individual member states


  • UK companies would be freed from the burden of EU regulation
  • Trade with EU countries would continue because we import more from them than we export to them
  • Britain would be able to negotiate its own trade deals with other countries


  • Brexit would cause an economic shock and growth would be slower
  • As a share of exports Britain is more dependent on the rest of the EU than they are on us
  • The UK would still have to apply EU rules to retain access to the single market

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They said the main risk for the UK was remaining “locked to a doomed eurozone”.

On Wednesday, Mr Osborne sparked anger among his Leave-backing colleagues when, alongside his Labour predecessor Alistair Darling, he said an emergency Budget would be needed if the UK voted Out.

He listed examples of the measures that could be required including hikes to income tax and cuts to the NHS, saying leaving the EU would be an “irreversible” step causing “financial instability” and leaving the UK “with no economic plan”.

This prompted 65 MPs to sign a letter claiming the chancellor’s position would be “untenable” if he tried to implement such measures.

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In a letter to the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, the four senior Conservatives said Mr Osborne’s warning was “nothing more than ludicrous scaremongering born of desperation”.

They added: “No chancellor would seriously propose any such thing.”

But a spokesman for the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign said: “This is yet more fantasy economics from the Leave campaign.

“The reason they don’t want to listen to economic experts is because they are all agreed that leaving the EU would wreck our economy and hammer family finances.

“On 23 June, we can put our faith in economic experts across the globe who believe our economy is stronger in Europe or take a leap in the dark with the Leave campaign.”

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