Brexit vote was ‘biggest con of the century’

Photo Ian Robinson'Frank McKenna chairman Downtown Lancashire in Business
Photo Ian Robinson'Frank McKenna chairman Downtown Lancashire in Business
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A Lancashire business expert today accused pro-Brexit campaigners of tricking voters with the “biggest con of the century.”

​​Frank McKenna, chief ex​e​cutive of Downtown in Business, hit out as the business community was still reeling from the UK’s shock vote last week to leave the EU.

Mr McKenna said he felt sure that the vast majority of business people in Lancashire had voted to remain.

He said he understood that voters in many parts of Lancashire believed they had been disregarded and “their concerns dismissed by the political establishment.”

But Mr McKenna added: “The fact that UKIP and their all-too-willing outriders leading the Brexit campaign were able to “soundbite’ their way to victory, convincing people that they are being denied access to quality public services and better jobs because of immigration rather than austerity was the con of the century.”

He was speaking as Chancellor George Osborne said an emergency post-Brexit budget was unlikely to happen until a new prime minister was in place in the autumn.

Mr Osborne intended to calm the markets that the UK economy was “about as strong as it could be” to confront the challenge of separating from the EU.

In his statement, Mr Osborne said he had held talks over the weekend with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney as well as fellow finance ministers and international economic organisations and that “further well-thought through contingency plans” were in place if needed.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “So far, the priority for the Chancellor and the Governor has rightly been the question of stability, as markets and firms digest the electorate’s decision.

“However, attention swiftly needs to turn to delivering clarity. While it is prudent for the UK government to delay firing the starting gun on negotiations with the European Union, firms want a clear timetable, and simultaneous action to support the wider economy.”

Ms Murphy added that “action and momentum over the coming months” were vital to stoking the embers of business confidence .