Only Russia wants Britain to leave the EU, says Philip Hammond

Vladimir Putin Clasps Hands

Russia is the only world power that would welcome a British exit from the EU, Philip Hammond has said as the government intensified its warnings about the danger of a vote to leave.

The foreign secretary dismissed calls by leave campaigners to create a new trading relationship with the Commonwealth Anglosphere by saying that all of Britain’s allies wanted the UK to remain in the EU. 

He called on leave campaigners to reflect on Moscow’s support for a breakup of the EU.

In a speech at the thinktank Chatham House, where he launched a newgovernment report that rejects each of the alternatives to EU membership, Hammond said: “Some have said we should focus our attention on the Anglosphere and the Commonwealth. But the EU already has or is negotiating trade deals with all the biggest Commonwealth countries.

“None of our allies wants us to leave the EU – not Australia, not New Zealand, not Canada, not the US. In fact, the only country, if the truth is told, that would like us to leave the EU is Russia. That should probably tell us all we need to know.”

Hammond had earlier emphasised the “price tag” on alternatives to UK membership of the EU and accused anti-EU campaigners of failing to explain how Britain could prosper outside the union.

The government’s report said a credible blueprint was “completely missing” from leave campaign proposals.

But Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, described the document as a “third dodgy dossier” by the government.

The report claimed all of the alternative models were too risky to consider. It highlighted the fact that Norway and Switzerland still had free movement of people even though they were outside the EU.

It added that the Canadian model – often cited by out campaigners – took a long time to agree and provided “only partial access to the EU single market”. Hammond said the report, which was mandated by parliament, was a “hard-headed analysis”. He said it showed that Britain’s membership of the EU, with an opt-out from the euro and the once border-free Schengen area, was the “best of both worlds”.

Hammond told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The leave campaign is telling us Britain would be better off out of Europe. It is for them to spell out the kind of relationship that they believe we could agree with the EU, a credible picture of how Britain could work outside the EU. That is completely missing. They have offered us nothing, no proposals, no detail at all.”

Vote Leave, supported by the six cabinet ministers opposed to EU membership, says Britain would be able to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal with the EU. Dominic Cummings, its campaign director, has suggested Britain could delay triggering the exit mechanism after a leave vote to put pressure on the EU to negotiate favourable terms with the UK, which is the world’s fifth largest economy.

Hammond said all of the alternatives – full or limited access to the single market on the Norwegian or Swiss models or a clean break, dubbed the World Trade Organisation option – were flawed. He said: “The out campaign has to make the difficult choices. Yes, we would be able to negotiate a free trade agreement with the European Union. That is possible. But that agreement would come with a price tag. The price that countries like Norway and Switzerland pay for their access, not total access but their partial access, to the European single market is that they have to accept freedom of movement of European migrants.

“In both cases a far higher percentage of their populations [are] European migrants [compared with] the UK. In both cases they have to make a contribution to the EU budget even though they are not members of the EU. In both cases they have to accept European regulations, all the rules that those who advise us to vote out rail against so harshly.”

Duncan Smith said: “It’s increasingly clear that the real uncertainty is the future of the EU project. As each day passes we see yet another example – from the utter failure to cope with the migrant crisis to the increasing disaster of the euro.

“That’s why we need to take back control and vote [to] leave. This dodgy dossier won’t fool anyone, and is proof that [the] remain [camp] are in denial about the risks of remaining in a crisis-ridden EU.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Nicholas Watt, Anushka Asthana and Heather Stewart, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 2nd March 2016 09.43 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010