Brexit could leave the U.K. billions worse off, finance minister admits

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By Alastair Jamieson

LONDON — Brexit could leave the U.K. worse off than if voters had chosen to remain in the European Union, the country’s finance minister admitted Wednesday amid deepening political chaos over the process.

Splitting from the trading bloc without a divorce deal would cost Britain tens of billions of dollars — more than it currently contributes in E.U. membership, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond acknowledged.

Britain will leave the E.U. on March 29 but lawmakers are bitterly divided over the terms of Brexit.

“A smooth exit from the European Union, doing this in an orderly fashion, is worth tens of billions of pounds to our economy,” he told broadcaster ITV.

It echoed his warning from earlier this year that annual government borrowing in the world’s fifth-largest economy could leap by $100 billion a year by 2023-34 if Britain crashes out of the E.U. in a so-called “no-deal” scenario.

His comments underscore the scale of the decision awaiting lawmakers in the House of Commons, who are expected to vote on a proposed agreement in the coming weeks.

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