George Osborne and the former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling have challenged the leaders of Vote Leave over what they call their “uncounted and unworkable” proposals for taking Britain out of the European Union.
Vote Leave campaigners, including the former mayor of London Boris Johnson and employment minister Priti Patel, have made a series of economic proposals in recent days, including an Australian-style points system that would limit the right of EU citizens to live and work in the UK.
But in the latest unlikely cross-party collaboration coordinated by the Stronger In campaign, the chancellor and his predecessor accused Vote Leave of “making it up as you go along”.
“You are coming forward with uncosted and unworkable proposals that would damage our country by taking us out of the single market upon which so many jobs depend,” they said.
“It is simply not good enough to pretend to the British people that they can vote leave and there would not be profound and negative economic consequences that would affect them and their families.”
Vote Leave campaigners have suggested Britain could withdraw from the EU and remain part of a free-trade area, with tariff-free access to EU markets; but Osborne and Darling argue in their letter that they have not explained how they could strike such a deal.
Alistair Darling stood down from the House of Commons at the last election and is now Lord Darling of Roulanish. He and Osborne were bitter enemies during the financial crisis of 2008, when the then Conservative shadow chancellor argued strongly against many of the measures taken by Labour to tackle the collapsing economy, including the part-nationalisation of the failing banking sector.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been careful to avoid making any cross-party appeals during the campaign, repeatedly insisting that he would like to see very different reforms to the EU to those negotiated by the prime minister.
But Osborne has already appeared alongside another of his former sparring partners, ex-shadow chancellor Ed Balls, to campaign for remain, with Balls arguing that the issues at stake in the 23 June referendum mean party politics should be put aside.
This article was written by Heather Stewart, for theguardian.com on Thursday 2nd June 2016 00.01 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010