In Depth

How Brexit could affect your job and wages

Chancellor says it would "dishonest" to say jobs won't be lost - but Brexiters say trade deal would enhance opportunities

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Jobs are a core issue for many people deciding how to vote in the EU referendum. Could Brexit leave you with less job security or a lower wage, or would it mean more jobs? Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Remain camp saying?

Chancellor George Osborne has said that if Britain leaves the EU thousands of jobs could be at risk. “It would be simply dishonest to go on claiming that people’s jobs won’t be lost by a vote to leave the EU,” he said today in a speech on the south coast. “This isn’t about numbers on a spreadsheet, but working people’s jobs and aspirations. It’s not a price worth paying.”

The Remain campaign argue that service companies, who are Britain’s biggest employers with 25 million employees, could be forced to cut 400,000 jobs over the next two years. This is because these firms rely on cross-border trade and supply chains and account for almost half of Britain’s exports to the EU.

What does the Leave campaign say?

However, the Leave campaign strongly dispute this claim. “This latest attempt to do down the British economy by the chancellor will convince no one,” says Vote Leave’s chair, Gisela Stuart on Bloomberg.com. “The reality is not even the European Commission can find significant evidence that the EU has benefitted the UK’s service exporters, but it has benefitted the giant multinational companies which spend millions lobbying Brussels each year.”

If the UK did vote to leave the EU we would then have two years to renegotiate our trade deals with European countries and negotiate new deals with non-EU countries. “With certainty we will have a trade deal with the Europe Union, I’m in absolutely no doubt about that,” Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers told BBC Radio 4’s Today show.

Who would be most affected?

The industries most likely to be affected by Brexit are financial services, tourism and car manufacturing, according to The Guardian. That’s because they trade with the EU and benefit from the free movement of labour the most. But, the fishing and manufacturing industries could see big benefits from leaving the EU. Fishermen would see a boost as a result of leaving the Common Fisheries Policy.

The renewable energy could also benefit from Brexit. “We’d be able to reassess some of the more economically damaging regulations, particularly on renewable energy,” says Ryan Bourne, head of public policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs, in The Guardian.

Some people argue that there are far bigger threats to the UK job market than a potential departure from the EU. “Blue collar production line jobs have been replaced by robots and white collar clerical ones by computers,” says Hamish McRae in

The Independent. He argues that Brexit’s affect on migration will have a knock on affect on the jobs market, “but the scale of change that migration makes to the job market are smaller than the scale that result from technological advance.”

The key to how jobs will be affected by a Brexit is the trade deals we negotiate in the immediate aftermath of a vote to leave. For example, leaving the EU would mean farmers lose the Common Agricultural Policy subsides, but these could be replaced by a UK subsidy.

“Without knowing how Britain will agree terms with the remaining EU, we can’t know for certain how UK jobs and industries will change,” says Charlotte Seager in The Guardian.

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