LONDON (Reuters) - Both sides in campaigning for Britain’s European Union referendum should call an “amnesty” after making a string of misleading and bogus claims, a group of lawmakers said on Friday.
Parliament’s Treasury Committee also said the balance of evidence from its hearings on Britain’s EU membership showed there would probably be a short-term economic cost from Brexit, echoing the views of most economists and the Bank of England.
“The arms race of ever-more-lurid claims and counter-claims made by both the Leave and Remain sides is not just confusing the public,” the committee’s chairman Andrew Tyrie, said. “It is impoverishing political debate.”
Campaigners in favor of a “Leave” vote on June 23 have said that exiting the EU would save Britain 350 million pounds ($512 million) a week, money that could be spent on hospitals and schools.
The report slammed that estimate as “highly misleading” because it does not account for an 85 million-pound weekly budget rebate Britain receives from the EU.
On the other hand, those backing continued membership of the EU had created the “mistaken impression” that 3 million jobs were dependent on staying in the bloc.
“Without an estimate of how much trade would be lost as a result of Brexit, the impact on job losses cannot readily be estimated,” the report said.
The publication of the report followed weeks of sometimes testy hearings involving a group of lawmakers who are themselves split over the issue and officials ranging from BoE Governor Mark Carney to the leaders of the rival campaigns.
The report said it was “plausible” that leaving the EU could weaken the pound, reduce domestic and foreign direct investment, and increase borrowing costs.
“In the longer-term, trade with the EU is likely to fall,” the report added.
Britain’s future outside the EU would hinge on its ability to strike “high-quality” trade deals with countries such as China, India and the United States. But that would be a considerable diplomatic challenge and take time, resources and require the goodwill of other governments, the report said.
Some pro-Brexit campaigners say the City of London financial district would be free of EU red tape outside the bloc.
“A future government would undoubtedly judge that the compliance costs of some, perhaps many, EU regulations are more than offset by benefits,” the report said.
($1 = 0.6838 pounds)
Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Catherine Evans