EU Referendum

It would be ‘very very foolish’ to impose trade barriers on the UK after Brexit, says German business leader

  • BDI chief Markus Kerber warned against imposing barriers on the UK
  • Says politicians should work out a deal if we vote to leave
  • Boris Johnson says EU would be ‘desperate’ for an agreement with us

A leading German business figure has warned against imposing trade tariffs on Britain if we leave the EU.

Markus Kerber,the head of the BDI – the federation of German industries – said it would be ‘very very foolish’ to put up such barriers.

The remarks have been seized on by the Leave campaign as proof that the UK would get a good deal if we do vote to cut ties tomorrow.

Boris Johnson insisted during BBC debate at Wembley Arena last night that EU countries would be ‘insane’ to impose tariffs, pointing out that a fifth of Germany’s car output went to Britain.

Boris Johnson, seen on the campaign trail in Ashby de la Zouch today, has seized on the remarks by BDI chief Markus Kerber 

The bitter referendum battle is entering its final stages, with David Cameron and Boris Johnson crossing the country in a bid to drum up votes.

Mr Kerber urged Germany and the EU to draw up a free-trade regime that could operate after Brexit.

He told World Business Report on the BBC’s World Service: ‘Imposing trade barriers, imposing protectionist measures between our two countries – or between the two political centres, the European Union on the one hand and the UK on the other – would be a very, very foolish thing in the 21st century.

‘The BDI would urge politicians on both sides to come up with a trade regime that enables us to uphold and maintain the levels of trade we have, although it will become more difficult.’

Brexit would be like a relative leaving the family and lead to ‘serious disruption’ in the German-UK economic relationship, he added.

Mr Johnson said today that Germany would be ‘desperate’ for free trade with Britain if it left the EU.

‘After the incessant doom-mongering of the In campaign, we now hear the truth from the “voice of German industry” – that they would be desperate for free trade after we Vote Leave,’ he said.

‘Of course EU countries will continue trading with us on a tariff-free basis – they would be damaging their own commercial interests if they didn’t. That’s why EU politicians would be banging down the door for a trade deal on Friday.

‘As Sir James Dyson said today, this is the last opportunity to regain control of our futures.

‘If we want to take back control and a more secure and more prosperous future, we have to Vote Leave on June 23.’

But the Stronger In campaign stressed that the BDI had previously warned that trade barriers would be imposed after Brexit.

Labour MP Chris Leslie, said: “The reality is the Leave campaign want to quit the single market and that would mean making almost half of Britain’s trade harder and more expensive.

‘And last night they admitted that doing a deal with the EU could take ‘ten years’. ‘That will damage our economy, cost jobs and put up prices in the shops – hurting working people.

‘There is no going back from a vote to leave. If you’re not 100% sure, don’t risk your family’s future. Vote to remain on Thursday.’

Markus Kerber,the head of the BDI - the federation of German industries - said it would be 'very very foolish' to put up trade barriers

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