Brexit Party MEP accused of lining his pockets in the event of a no-deal Brexit
- Credit: BBC
A Brexit Party MEP's own words were brought back to haunt him as he was quizzed on exactly how much he stands to gain as a private businessman from promoting a no-deal Brexit.
Appearing on BBC's Newsnight to promote his party's stance of leaving the EU without a deal, the London MEP Ben Habib was challenged to admit he would be "delighted" to line his pockets this way.
Presenter Emily Maitlis pointed out that Habib's own business, First Property Group, has set aside £180 million to scoop up assets in the event of a slowdown in the UK property market.
"So you line your own pockets with everyone else going bust," she said.
She reminded him of statements he had made in the past: "You said, 'If we get a vote for Brexit and the commentators are right, sterling will weaken and the markets will go into a degree of volatility. We'll be looking at that as a great opportunity to buy assets in the UK'," she quoted.
Emily Maitlis: 'You line your own pockets with everyone else going bust'— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) July 16, 2019
Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib: 'I'll be putting my money where my mouth is because I think it's wrong for sterling to drop'@maitlis and @benhabib6 clash over the MEP's business dealings#newsnight pic.twitter.com/3DCRPGKgtB
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"So when things are going down, when sterling weakens, as that is going to happen, we think, in no-deal, you profit."
Habib argued that Maitlis had not distinguished between the economy and the market. "What I'm saying is the economy for the United Kingdom will be absolutely fine," he said. "The markets shouldn't go weak at the knees," he said, arguing that GDP had been high after the referendum."
He said the UK economy stood to benefit from a no-deal Brexit, and that Theresa May was at fault for viewing it through a "prism of negativity". Unfettered by EU regulations and prohibitions on state aid would allow the UK to lower taxes, he said.
"I will buy because I believe in the UK," responded Habib. "I will be putting my money where my mouth is, because I think it would be wrong for sterling to drop, I will be wrong for the property markets to drop, I would be buying on that judgement."
The comments were made as part of an interview alongside MP Simon Hoare, chair of the Northern Ireland committee who is opposed to a no-deal Brexit on the grounds that it would be "disastrous" for his primarily agricultural constituency of North Dorset.
"I say this as a Conservative and Unionist, and as a Welshman by birth, committed to maintaining the integrity of the United Kingdom: to leave without a deal damages the fabric of society holding us together as a United Kingdom," said Hoare.
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