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The countdown to Brexit is here.
Britain will decide on June 23rd, and we’ll keep you up to date with the daily news, predictions and trends, speculation and scare-tactics.
June 7th – AGGHHHH!!!!
With just over two weeks left until the vote, the Remain side have gone full-loco in their attempts to help the public understand just how dangerous and poor the world would be if the UK decide to Brexit.
First up, the economy.
Pound drops after polls show Brexit support growing
The above quote is from The Irish Times, who seem to consider the opinions of “business leaders” to be worth twice that of a normal human. According to a PwC survey, “93% of Irish CEOs believe a British exit from the EU the top threat for businesses here”.
One development that could shift investor sentiment is the upcoming referendum in the UK. A UK vote to exit the European Union could have significant economic repercussions
You have been warned.
Next up, security.
The ostensibly left-leaning Guardian published an opinion piece from former justice minister, Rachida Dati, claiming a Brexit would plunge Britain into imminent danger. Speaking of the various security arrangement and data sharing deals currently in place with Europol etc, Dati asks:
Countries that are not members of the EU can contribute, with a system of opting in, but would this be the case for the UK, once out of the EU? No one can answer that for certain
True – no one can answer, so let’s not assume Europe will simply turn its back on the UK.
The FT look into the future and examine what might actually happen should Britain Brexit (that’s a verb now too).
Their “Poll of Polls” shows a closing gap in opinion, meaning the next 16 days are likely to be even more hectic, but fun.
May 31st – The Irish Have Their Say
Well, almost: Irish businesspeople have their say.
The Irish Times weighs into the discussion with an article warning of the effects a Brexit might have on Irish business, both at home and abroad. Irish4Europe, a business lobby group, listed the areas which could suffer if the Remain vote doesn’t win in a letter signed by many famous names:
economic links, the peace process, the impact on the Border and the common travel area.
If you can’t trust a former Goldman Sachs chairman, who can you trust?
The founder of JD Wetherspoon, the successful UK chain of pubs, has left no doubt where he stands on the debate. The Guardian reports on Tim Martin’s latest attempt to sway public opinion – Brexit beer mats. With 290 pubs throughout the UK, some 200,000 beer mats will absorb the leakage from the cold beverages of voters over the next three week.
Once more, Christine Lagarde seems to be a lightning-rod for Brexit campaigners’ electric ire:
The government has paraded a number of financial institutions in front of the public, who have, in my view, grossly distorted our financial prospects in the event of a Brexit.
Chris Chope, a Conservative MP backing a Brexit, offers us the phrase of the day in the FT.com’s article “Legions of greying Brexit voters find risks easier to confront”.
If you have served a long prison sentence, when someone opens the door and says you’re free to go . . . people are conditioned to be nervous about doing something different
AS the promises and lies increase in intensity and frequency, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have directly targeted your pocket in The Independent.
fuel bills will be lower for everyone
Cool. What else?
Would a Brexit make your puppy cry? Possibly.
Would it simultaneously increase the voracity of ones libido? Definitely.
Can we believe any of these claims? No.
Are we looking forward to Euro2016 regardless? Yes! (We’ve got all the kick-off times if you’re living abroad)
May 27th – Cameron “not a closet anything” as we enter Purdah
Purdah? It’s the period before an election where officials and politicians are barred from saying anything controversial or likely to influence people’s opinions.
It doesn’t seem to be working.
Responding to yesterday’s claims that he personally supports a Brexit, David Cameron responded at the G7 conference in Japan.
I have never been a closet Brexiteer. I am absolutely passionate about getting the right result, getting this reform in Europe and remaining part of it. It’s in Britain’s national interest.
Fair enough. Let’s look at today’s headlines from the Remain side. First up, the BBC address the question of whether a Brexit will affect pensions. The article itself doesn’t really answer any questions, and admits that it’s almost impossible to predict these things accurately.
But, in the complicated, interconnected world we live in, relationships between the many moving parts of the economy are not always amenable to simple analysis. Particularly when it comes to our pension pots which are invested over many decades, not just one or two years.
So, what’s the point of the article? The headline, probably. To add some lavish icing to the scare-cake, The Guardian document the G7 meeting in Japan this week, where world leaders are predictable in their opinions. Lamenting the slowdown of exponential and never-ending growth, the group released a joint statement:
A UK exit from the EU would reverse the trend towards greater global trade and investment, and the jobs they create and is a further serious risk to growth.
Controversially, Angela Merkel breached protocol by refusing to wave for the forced “we’re all actually really good friends, seriously” photo.
— G7 (@g7) May 27, 2016
The Telegraph attempt to bring some balance to the day – Don’t believe the EU doom-mongers. Brexit can unleash Britain’s prosperity.
In any event, it is far more likely that once we are released from our EU chains, prosperity will both increase rapidly and be more widely shared.
May 26th – Cameron (personally) Supports a Brexit?
David Cameron would back Brexit if he wasn’t Prime Minister, claims former strategy guru in The Telegraph today. The former strategy adviser to the PM said:
If he were a member of the public…….I’m certain he would be for leave
It’s not unusual for a politician to be duty-bound by conflicting personal opinions, but to personally view something as positive for the nation, and then campaign hard against it seems a little odd.
Time for some more contradictions.
The BBC make use of the trendy term “austerity” to scare people.
The UK could face an extra two years of austerity measures if it votes to leave the EU, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said.
It’s always worth looking into who is claiming such dramatic notions, whatever the issue is. In this case, Cameron defended the IFS, lauding them as “the gold standard in independent, impartial economic forecasting and commentary in our country“. However, they’ve not been entirely clear of criticism – in 2010, Nick Clegg dismissed their methods as “distorted and a complete nonsense”.
Many pinches of salt required.
In the FT, Philip Stephens examines the myths surrounding the decision making process in Brussels, and how these decisions trickle down into UK law, for better or for worse, and how they’ve been manipulated by either side of the debate.
…look back at the big choices that Britain has made during more than 40 years of EU membership and, curiously, the hand of Brussels is invisible. Imaginative or dull, the important decisions have been taken at home.
May 24th – Brexit To Solve Housing Crisis?
The Spectator’s Lara Prendergast discusses the potential benefits of a Brexit on house prices in the UK. Someone had to eventually see it from this angle – we’ve had plenty from the Remain camp using lower house prices as a reason to stay in the EU. Great, if you’re a landlord, but for first-time buyers and young families, the cost of buying a home has become unrealistic for many.
When he (George Osborne) talks about house prices plummeting post-Brexit, he talks as if this will strike fear into everyone’s hearts. For older people seeking to downsize, this might be true – but for almost everyone else, it’s not.
MarketWatch.com claim that the UK government have gone a little too far with their “fear campaign”, and it could ultimately lead to a lack of trust from the electorate and the shift of undecided voters towards a Brexit. A report released yesterday by the finance ministry has come under similar scrutiny across the media. MarketWatch mock their cataclysmic overtones, specifically their use of Google search trends to indicate the rest of Europe is already planning to give the UK the cold shoulder:
Among the data recently cited to prove that Brexit talk is already hurting business: The rise in Google searches for the word “Brexit” in other European Union countries.
Foreign leaders, film stars and random celebs all seem to think their opinions on a Brexit matter, but nobody has asked why. The Express attempt to answer the question in relation to Merkel and Germany’s interest in the debate, and it’s not quite “because we’re all great European friends and our feelings would be hurt”:
DZ Bank says Brexit would cost the Germany economy £34.8bn by 2017 alone and the country could fall into recession
May 23 – Deserting A Recession?
Things heated up over the weekend after the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, suggested that the British people would be treated as ‘deserters’ should they vote to leve the EU.
I’m sure the deserters will not be welcomed with open arms.
Meanwhile, the BBC reported that Chancellor George Osborne had released a study which suggested that leaving the EU would send the UK into recession and lower Britain’s economic growth by 3.6%.
Also on the weekend, art entered politics as film director, Ken Loach, won the Palme d’Or in Cannes with his film about social struggle against poverty and unemployment.
Loach has previously lightly declared for the Stay camp but he “launched a withering attack on austerity economics which he said had led the European Union to “near catastrophe”, after winning the Palme d’Or.” As tends to hapen in politics, both sides of the debate are sure to claim Loach for their campaign.
May 20th – The “Creative” People Get Involved
We saw similar when Scotland held their referendum last year, and it seems the playbook is being adhered to once again. In an age of celebrity-worship, the opinions of actors, musicians and professional selfie-takers is elevated to legitimate status.
“The Luvvies”, as TheSpectator.co.uk call them, tell the public in an open letter that a Brexit would harm Britain’s creative industry.
Britain is not just stronger in Europe, it is more imaginative and more creative, and our global creative success would be severely weakened by walking away.
Although light on facts, it appeals to the emotions of film lovers and…..that’s about it. Conservative Lord Dobbs doesn’t see much merit in the arguments either:
It’s a success that has been created by the dedication, hard work and extraordinary creative abilities of our artists, it’s not because of the EU
Canada’s dreamboat-fairytale PM, Justin Trudeau, has responded to claims that Canada is a model of what Britain can be post-Brexit. Speaking about the ease of re-negotiation of trade deals with other nations in the event of leaving the EU, Trudeau’s experience in the area leads him to believe the efforts involved are being underplayed by some.
There’s nothing easy or automatic about that, so I think there’s a bit of an oversimplification of the story happening there
Last night, BBC aired Jeremy Paxman’s trip to Brussels to meet the “movers, shakers and anonymous faces who run the EU”. It’s a candid window into the bureaucratic spider-web that is the heart of the EU, and well worth a watch. It’s available on BBC iPlayer if you’re in the UK (or know how a VPN works).
May 19th – House Prices, House Prices, House Prices
Two articles in The Guardian sum up what this whole debate hinges upon – who benefits, and who loses financially.
First-time buyers would benefit from Brexit, says Moody’s.
Ratings agency says fall in house prices and less competition triggered by vote to leave EU would make homes more affordable
What could possibly be wrong with enabling young families to buy a home at more reasonable prices, and not mortgage themselves to death? Landlords disagree, naturally.
Rents and property values would drop after Brexit, say landlords.
Essentially the same article, but from the point of view of a landlord. Rents could drop, investors could be put off and this would be bad for……some people.
Associations for estate and letting agents say average UK house would be worth £2,300 less in 2018 if Britain leaves the EU
More scaremongering in The Telegraph as Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire, gives his thoughts on the perils of a Brexit.
if there is one thing we as investors don’t like, it is economic uncertainty – as investors, it is therefore very much in our interest that Britain stays in the EU
May 18th – The Queen in The Sun
Respectable, informative, educational and trustworthy UK newspaper, The Guardian, reports on The Sun’s front page, which shouted loudly and in all caps “QUEEN BACKS BREXIT“.
She was furious at the claim she had taken sides in a political dispute. But the idea she keeps all her thoughts to herself is nonsense.”
While those crying foul may technically have a point (the Queen is technically neutral on such issues), the outcry from the other side of the fence wasn’t quite as loud when Christine Lagarde, various presidents and PMs from across the world, and even Jeremy Clarkson weighed in to support Britain remaining in the EU. What’s good for the goose, etc.
On that very note, The Guardian detail Brexit opinions from across Europe.
In France, Marine le Pen threatened to cross the channel herself to campaign for a Leave vote. She believes a Brexit would:
prove it’s possible to live outside the EU. You’re either free or you aren’t
The Scandinavian nations, generally more left-leaning than the rest of Europe, seem to also support a Brexit, highlighting the precedent it could set for other countries to negotiate better terms and more independence from Brussels. Jonas Sjöstedt, leader of the Left party in Sweden, says what the European project has contributed to:
a profound social and economic crisis (in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland)
May 17th – The Loch Ness Monster Gets Involved
No, not Christine Lagarde.
Boris Johnson has claimed that there’s more evidence for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster than for the Government’s hyperbolic Brexit claims.
The evidence for the Loch Ness Monster is considerably better than Treasury forecasts.
In other ridiculous news, this time in The Express, a bin truck decorated with a Union Jack was taken out of service as it was alleged to have been endorsing a Brexit. It was last used on May 4th, but withdrawn as the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner elections were scheduled for May 5th. No, we can’t see the link to June 23rd’s vote either.
The owner of the the refuse company in question summed it up:
The truck was just there to collect rubbish.
Back in the real world, Norman Lamont, a former UK Chancellor, has hit out at the Stay campaign for what he calls “rotten propaganda”, in particular the interference by the IMF, the Bank of England and the Loch Ness Monster in what he sees as a domestic political issue.
Not to be outdone, the Confederation of British Industry directly interfere in a domestic political issue by encouraging hundreds of thousands of workers across the UK to vote to stay in the EU. Despite the move clearly being an effort to sway peoples’ opinion to the benefit of big business, the director general of the group insisted it was:
not about telling people how to vote but rather a move by “responsible business leaders” to explain to staff what impact a Brexit would have on company growth, their jobs and their communities.
Ahhh….”responsible business leaders” telling people how to vote. What could possibly go wrong?!
David Cameron has been accused of “doing deals” with big business to exaggerate the risks involved in a Brexit. In a leaked letter from February, CEO of Serco raised the idea of “mobilising corporates” by persuading companies to “include Brexit in the list of key risks”. Cameron responded to the claims by not responding to the claims:
A spokesman said Number 10 would not comment on leaked documents.
The FT provide some balance – Brexit wins more support from business.
They’ve also updated their Brexit poll tracker – now showing a Stay vote at 46%, and the Leave campaign polling at 44%.
May 16th – Very Confusing
As a new week begins, the usual confusion continues.
The Guardian dangle the tech-carrot again, “revealing” that none of Britain’s $1bn tech firms openly support Brexit. The sub-headline seems a little less dramatic, however:
Of 14 companies valued above $1bn, five are against leaving EU, while others are neutral or have declined to comment
So, let’s fix that headline – “5 out of top 14 tech firms are openly against a Brexit“.
The Telegraph published an open letter from 306 business leaders from a wide variety of sectors supporting the Leave campaign, in direct contradiction to what we see from the “tech unicorns”.
It is business – not government – which generates wealth for the Treasury and jobs for our communities. Outside the EU, British business will be free to grow faster, expand into new markets and create more jobs. It’s time to vote leave and take back control.
Christine Lagarde takes some flack for her well-polished scaremongering on Friday in CityAM. After warning that the consequences of a Brexit would range from “pretty bad” to “very, very bad”, Project Fear seems to be reaching saturation point with the UK public.
The economic scaremongering (or objective analysis, depending upon your point of view) joins a chorus of pro-Remain experts that already includes warnings that Brexit would threaten the quality of our swimming beaches, imperil the bee population, undermine workers’ rights and, according to Harriet Harman, trigger a resurgence of old-fashioned sexism among the country’s menfolk.
FT.com have an excellent brexit poll tracker. As of May 8th, the issue seemed to be a lot tougher to call than most have predicted.
May 13th – Lower House Prices – A Bad Thing?
According to the IMF, yes.
The Irish Independent leads with the news that the self-styled “world money people” have thrown their weight into the Brexit royal rumble. No surprises there, and The Telegraph get straight to the point with their alarming headline:
EU referendum: IMF warns of massive drop in house prices after Brexit
The Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, has come under some heat for his recent claims that they’re preparing for the worst. Prominent Leave campaigner Jacob Rees-Mogg claims that Carney has crossed a line by mixing politics with economics (welcome to the 1980’s, Jacob):
“Mark Carney has intervened speculatively in a political matter. It’s the responsibility of the Monetary Policy Committee to be independent, and he’s decided to make a deeply political choice in a referendum which is the concern of the British people, and therefore, he should be fired.”
You could say the same about the IMF.
It’s hard to argue with his next point though:
It is quite extraordinary, and I think unprecedented, for a governor of a central bank to tell people to short his own currency
It’s getting murky.
In more neutral news, MarketWatch have a very interesting piece on the wider affects of a potential Brexit, and how it could affect the EU as a whole. Darrell Delamaide leads with a bombshell – albeit an entirely predictable, and possibly warranted bombshell.
No matter which side prevails in U.K., the European Union will devolve into a looser confederation
He accepts that, going by current polls and opinions, Britain will vote to remain in the EU, but argues that the the EU has already been nudged so far off its previous course that it’s impossible to go back. The idea of tiered-membership is discussed, which implies there aren’t already tiers, explicit or otherwise.
Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain certainly don’t see it that way.
To end the article, Darrell sums up politics quite accurately:
The vote itself is likely to be something of an anticlimax after the passions it has aroused on both sides.
May 12th – ‘Brexit – The Movie’ Paints a Thatcherite Dream Of Post-EU Britain
Yes, there’s a movie.
According to the HuffingtonPost.co.uk, “the film itself focused on regulations, trade and EU waste – and stereotypes.“. With a definite Brexit bias, the film:
….put forward a strong case as to why, in terms of trade and taking away regulations, the UK could do well when freed from Brussels.
Back in the real world, George Osborne told MPs yesterday that the UK Treasury has already started planning for a Brexit, just in case. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, George also warned:
If we vote to leave, we are leaving,” he told the Treasury committee. “There’s no coming back. It’s a one-way door.
But is he lying? Over in The Telegraph, Michael Deacon seems to think he is.
We found the below chart from YouGov based on a March poll. According to YouGov themselves:
for once the differences do match the stereotypes
May 11th – Chance of Brexit 22%
Today, satire seems to be taking centre stage with both sides of the debate taking swipes at the other.
iNews makes stunning use of alliteration with the headline “Boris Johnson makes more bumbling Brexit blunders“, highlighting the ex-London mayor’s recent comments on the UK’s relationship with the US. The Independent strikes back with a look at the dangers of insufficient security arrangements across Europe in the event of a Brexit, claiming “Petrifying potential foes include Cyprus, Slovenia and the regional superpower of Malta“
Not to be outdone, The Telegraph also treads close to the satire-line with a headline unlikely to be seen again: “EU to launch kettle and toaster crackdown after Brexit vote“.
The plans have been ready for many months, but were shelved for fear of undermining the referendum campaign if they were perceived as an assault on the British staples of tea and toast.
Scaremongering at its most scaremongery.
A genuine concern for expats is that of currency exchange rates. As recently as February, high-profile firms and financial boffins were predicting up to 20% being wiped off the value of GBP in the event of a Brexit. Goldman Sachs, Christine Lagarde (IMF) and HSBC all agree.
You can track GBP by clicking on “Trends” at the top of this page.