Leaving EU could put UK's cities at risk of industrial decline, says Brown

Gordon Brown

Leaving the EU could put Britain’s biggest cities at risk of the industrial decline last seen in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher, Gordon Brown will warn.

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The Labour former prime minister will say the UK’s 10 biggest cities outside London, from Manchester to Glasgow, will see their economies threatened by leaving the EU. Appearing in Manchester at a Labour In event, he will point out the EU has poured funding into areas that the Tories turned “from industrial heartlands into industrial wastelands” in past decades.

Adding to Brown’s warning, the leaders of those 10 cities are uniting on Thursday to claim that leaving Europe would put their areas in “serious economic danger”. The heads of the Core Cities group of councils – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield – said that if Britain leaves the EU, it will be “working people, not the leaders of the leave campaign, who will pay the price”.

Brown will speak in the north of England alongside John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, despite coming from different wings of the Labour party. Together, they will claim that households could be £1,300 a year better off in the EU if the UK fights for better per capita funding from Brussels. Brown will go on to warn that the Conservatives leading the Brexit campaign cannot be trusted to look after northern cities if the UK votes to leave.

“In the 1980s the Tories turned our industrial heartlands into industrial wastelands,” he will say. “Their ideology was that there was no such thing as society and everyone was on their own. What stood between our communities and further devastation was the European structural funds, regional funds and social funds that Tory Brexiters would now cut.

“European money is necessary for renovation, renewal and regeneration – and right across the north, Scotland and Wales it is still vitally needed now.”

He will be backed up by Neil Kinnock, another former leader of Labour, who will say leading leave campaigners Boris Johnson and Michael Gove will end up in power if the UK votes to leave.

“They are never going to change from being the Sheriff of Nottingham to Robin Hood,” he said. “They would use the damage to the economy as an alibi, an excuse, for deeper, wider austerity. Working-class people will be hit hardest.”

In an alarming series of statements, he will warn people not to be on low or middle incomes, not to be young or old, not to expect to work, not to fall ill and not to expect rights in the workplace if the UK votes to leave.

“I warn you not to be on low or middle incomes as the disruption brought by Brexit pushes up interest rates and prices, slashes benefits, and causes slump,” he said. “I warn you not to expect work, as uncertainty causes investment to move to the single market which we would be leaving.”

The former leaders are appearing together as Labour steps up its campaigning for remain in the final week before the referendum, amid concerns in the in camp that its voters are turning to Brexit over concerns about immigration.

The Vote Leave campaign said the claims of Brown, Kinnock and the council leaders made the remain camp look like they were struggling. Matthew Elliott, its chief executive, said: “These are desperate times for the In campaign – recycling a declaration of support that was first made in February and then repeated again in April. The truth is that the UK’s cities have prospered in spite of our EU membership, not because of it.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 16th June 2016 00.01 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010