Tory 'Big Beast' Clarke warns of 'disastrous' Brexit impact
The economic and political costs of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) could be "disastrous", according to the nation's most senior MP.
Kenneth Clarke was the headline guest in Spalding on Friday for a question-and-answer session on Brexit and its impact on South Holland and the Deepings, as well as nationally.
An estimated 200-strong audience heard Mr Clarke, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary, warn of the risk that Brexit is "driving away foreign investment" from the UK.
The event at Spalding's South Holland Centre, organised by the Lincolnshire European Movement, saw Mr Clarke joined on the panel by Liberal Democrat MP ,Tom Brake, Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack and accountant James Torrance from the recently formed political party Renew.
But it was Mr Clarke, president of the East Midlands European Movement, who the audience mainly came to see and hear given his staunch opposition to Brexit after the referendum in which the UK voted to leave the EU by nearly 52 per cent to just over 48 per cent.
Mr Clarke said: "As a student politician, I became an enthusiast for the European Movement and in my first Parliament, we joined what was the European Common Market.
"This is almost certainly to be my last Parliament which looks, almost certainly, to be taking us out of the EU.
"Over the last 40 years, the EU had a wholly beneficial effect because Britain has been seen as one of the leading players in the ability to influence things.
"This is a dangerous world and I think the EU referendum was disastrous and a way of bypassing political decisions.
"We're doomed to leave the EU, but I don't recall any 'Leave' advocate asking if we can do so without creating extra barriers to trade and investment.
"All the obstacles of Brexit could see drive away foreign investment and cause a large part of our economy to move elsewhere.
"It's an absurdity to think otherwise."
The event was hosted by former BBC East Midlands political editor John Hess who said that Spalding needed to hear the panel's views after South Holland and the Deepings recorded the second highest 'No' vote nationally in the referendum, 73.6 per cent to 26.4 per cent.
Questions from the audience ranged from funding for special needs education to frustrations over the slow progress of negotiating the UK's exit from the EU.
William Hayes, a Spalding Grammar School sixth form student said: "We live in a highly agricultural area and so we require migration between EU countries and the UK.
"But why shouldn't we be allowed to decide how many people we need, instead of leaving it up to European bureaucrats to do this?"
Mr Brake said: "Unless we come to an agreement with the EU countries, there's no way that my children will have the same rights as my parents' and my generation in being able to move to another country."