THE leaders of the Leave campaign did not intend the UK to leave the EU and instead were forcing the referendum for other reasons, Alistair Darling told an audience of finance directors at a conference in central London on Tuesday.
The former chancellor added that the process of leaving the EU could be very painful as the government had never put a plan in place to deal with an out vote and that the Leave leaders would be incapable of putting one together, sister title HRD Connect reports.
Darling also warned that the current situation was more concerning to him than the financial crisis in 2008 – during which time he was chancellor and had just three hours to save RBS.
Delivering his keynote speech at the CFO Agenda, Darling said: “Even Boris Johnson and the others who won were looking miserable on Friday.
“I know very well why they were looking miserable because they didn’t intend that to be the result either, it was being done for other reasons I think.
“But we have an establishment where most people thought it wouldn’t happen and that’s why there is no plan – the government didn’t have a plan because it wasn’t contemplating it (I happen to know that) and equally the leavers didn’t because they could never have agreed on a plan in the first place if they had sat down and tried to come up with one,” he added.
His view was mirrored earlier in the day by Vernon Bogdanor, research professor at the Institute for Contemporary British History. Speaking as part of a panel discussion looking at the consequences of Brexit, Bogdanor said: “The difficulty is the Brexiteers aren’t agreed on the relationship they want with the EU. Some suggest they have more positions than the Karma Sutra.”
Worse than 2008
Darling explained why he feared the current situation was worse than the financial crisis of 2008 when he received a phone call to tell him RBS was just three hours from collapse.
“I’m more worried about what’s happening now that what was happening in 2008. 2008 was a pretty difficult time – I’ve only had one very scary telephone call in my life and that was on the 8 Oct 2008 two weeks after Leemans had collapsed and the entire global banking system was grinding to a halt.”
He continued: “The reason I say it’s worse this time is because there’s not just one problem you need to fix, there’s several problems and while some of them may not be as bad as you think, the problem is as time goes on we remember we’re never living in a static environment, its complicated and what might not be a problem today might be a problem further down the line.
“When you put the overlay that we’re not just dealing with the situation in this country; this is not like a divorce amicable or otherwise, where you have two people involved. Here you’ve got one person on one side and 27 on the other side who don’t always speak with one voice and have very different interests.
“So I am concerned about this. If ever there was a case of avoiding group think, this is it,” he added.