George Osborne will deliver a stark economic warning on the costs of Brexit to Scotland today, saying tens of thousands of jobs would be lost if the UK votes to leave the EU.
The Chancellor will say leaving the EU would deliver a “profound economic shock”, slashing house prices and damaging foreign trade.
Mr Osborne’s warning comes as the Prime Minister admitted a vote for Brexit in two weeks could bring about the breakup of the UK, and insisted it was patriotic to vote to remain in the EU.
Attention will be turned north of the Border ahead of an appearance tonight by Nicola Sturgeon in a UK-wide live televised debate pitting her against Boris Johnson.
On a visit to Scotland today, Mr Osborne will highlight Treasury analysis suggesting unemployment could rise by around 43,000 in the two years following a Brexit vote.
Economic output in Scotland would shrink by £4.5 billion by 2018 if the Leave campaign win the referendum on 23 June, according to the Chancellor’s forecasts. A vote for Brexit would also hit the housing market, he said, with the value of homes falling by an average of £22,000.
The figures have been disputed by the Vote Leave campaign, which said they were “propaganda” designed to scare voters into backing the Remain campaign.
“Every credible independent voice agrees that if the UK votes to leave the EU there would be a profound economic shock that would hurt people’s jobs, livelihoods and living standards in Scotland,” the Chancellor is set to say. “Trade exports to the EU have created jobs in Scotland and withdrawing from the single market would have a huge impact on the economy here.
“It is simply not a price worth paying. I urge everyone to vote to remain in the EU on 23 June.”
Treasury figures suggest a quarter of a million jobs in Scotland are linked to exports to the EU, with 43 per cent of goods sold overseas destined for the 28-nation bloc at a value to the economy of £8.4bn.
The Chancellor will also highlight EU investment in development projects worth £838 million on Scottish soil.
Appearing alongside Mr Osborne, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will say there is “no question” that remaining in the EU is the best economic decision for the country.
“Thousands of Scottish jobs are reliant on the exports we sell within the EU. I’ll be voting to remain in order to ensure we can create thousands more over the coming years.”
The Prime Minister yesterday highlighted the threat of a second independence referendum if the UK chooses to leave the EU, despite polling suggesting that support for an independent Scotland would be unchanged after Brexit.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron warned: “If you love your country, you don’t want to act in a way that could lead to its breakup.”
Mr Cameron has previously insisted that the issue of Scottish independence was “settled for a generation” in 2014.
He has the power to block a referendum on independence, and yesterday a Downing Street spokesperson would not rule out the Prime Minister doing so if an attempt was made to stage one.
The warning was dismissed by the Leave campaign in Scotland, which accused the Prime Minister of issuing empty threats in response to worsening poll numbers for the Remain campaign.
“There won’t be another independence referendum following a vote to leave the EU for three very simple reasons: David Cameron doesn’t want it, Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t want it – and there must be unanimity between the governments for it to go ahead,” said Tom Harris, the former Labour MP.
“It is utterly desperate for David Cameron to claim he’s ‘nervous’ about another independence referendum when he was the one who authorised the last one and who signed the Edinburgh Agreement authorising it.
“For him to claim he’s worried, when the facts show he can’t possibly be telling the truth, says all you need to know about his confidence in the Remain case.”
Speaking ahead of her television appearance, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland could be “independent and interdependent” within the EU: “I believe our future will be fairer, more secure and more prosperous as part of Europe, and that is the case I will be making in tonight’s debate.
“I will be arguing the positive, progressive case for continued EU membership from a distinct Scottish perspective – but also outlining why I think staying in will be better for the UK as a whole.
“I believe that countries should be independent but in the modern world, I also passionately believe that independent countries must work together.
“And independence and interdependence go hand in hand in the 21st century.
“The EU is about 28 independent countries choosing to pool some sovereignty for the benefit of us all.
“The UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and the other members are all independent countries – but independent countries who choose to work together on common global challenges.”