Former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ed Balls, has made the case for staying in Europe ahead of a debate on Brexit at this year’s Institute of Travel and Tourism (ITT) conference.
Speaking at the event yesterday (Tues) in Tel Aviv, Balls also said ‘populism’ was ‘not the answer’ to failures in politics.
“If you had told me in the 2000s that we would be contemplating leaving Europe and a referendum in Scotland, I wouldn’t believe they would have been on the agenda,” he told delegates.
He said holding a referendum was highly “risky” and said the UK can negotiate a better deal if it remains. “We can do better and we should stay and fight our corner,” he said.
Describing the rise of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, he said we were living in “strange and unusual times”. “We have a celebrity vying for president and a former mayor who went to Eton … politics is in a strange place,” Balls said.
“People are looking for another solution but populism doesn’t find the answers. The established order is not delivering.”
Asked what his biggest worry would be if he was advising travel businesses, the former Labour MP said: “The global economy is very fragile. When you have a big event (such as a recession) it’s a long time to recover from that.
“When you have vulnerability there is low confidence among businesses and people. So in these situations, even small events can cause a crisis.
“If we had a big destabilising event such as a health crisis or terror attack, it would be much more difficult to deal with. In the next two, three or five years an easier event could knock things off.”
Balls said the global recession was the “result of the decisions of private companies with bad regulation” and not a “government mistake”.
But he said the crash had led to an ever growing “squeezed middle” in which many were not seeing their incomes increase and were looking for answers from the likes of Trump.
“Instead we should ask how we can manage population movement in a way that is stable and fair.
“The only way to succeed is to find a way to show them an open global economy can work in the interests of most people.”
The EU debate is due to take place today at the conference with Travel Weekly Group chairman Clive Jacobs among the guest speakers on the panel.