The Chronicles of Downing Street

Just two weeks divide Great Britain from the moment of truth about its permanence in the EU. Yet, as the campaign is coming to an end, the strategies of the In and Out factions aimed at convincing the still undecided Britons are rather similar to those seen in the past weeks. On the one hand, pro-EU campaigners keep on reasserting the disastrous effects that leaving the EU would have on the British economy: David Cameron has defined Brexit a “self-inflicted economic explosion”, while failing in being a boost to British sovereignty, as pointed out in a Q&A session on Tuesday. Fears over the possible impact of Brexit on the British economy have been stimulated also by JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, who said that the US bank he is chief of may cut up to 4000 jobs if there is a vote to leave the EU. As well, as it was easy to expect, the presence of polls indicating the increase in support for Brexit has determined greater pressures from the financial markets to the British pound, which hit a three-week low against the dollar on Monday. On the other hand, anti-EU campaigners continue highlighting the greater control on migration that Brexit would provide, as repeated by Boris Johnson. Nigel Farage has gone further, associating episodes of sexual assault to migration, as in the case of Cologne few months ago, thus being sharply attacked and accused of “legitimising racism” by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. In the meantime, the last controversy between the two factions regards the extension of the vote registration deadline due to the crash of the dedicated website few hours before the initial one, as chief executive of Vote Leave Matthew Elliott claims that this decision is an attempt to register more Remain voters.

Fear and Loathing in Brussels

The tension generated by the upcoming vote remains high at the international level as well. European Parliament Vice President Alexander Lambsdorff tries to cushion it, saying that the idea of a unified Europe will not end if the UK decides to leave. Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberals in the European Parliament, is even more optimistic: in an interview to the EUObserver he claimed that the EU Referendum will either way lead to new talks on the EU treaty. In the meantime, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem has specified that EU leaders have not planned for a British from the EU, thus claiming that everything will be defined after 23 June. However, Mario Draghi has specified that the ECB is “ready for all contingencies”. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s stance appears instead to be less optimistic: according to him, at a time of many threats in the scenario of international security, Brexit would cause further instability and make cooperation in Europe more difficult. Finally, a potentially unpleasant guest for the Out campaign has announced his visit to Great Britain just before the EU Referendum: Donald Trump is indeed coming to the UK on 22 June.

Voices from the Continent

Although all of the member states’ governments wish for the UK to stay in the EU, somebody looks at Brexit in a more favorable way. Indeed, while François Hollande hopes that the Britons will remember their European ties on 23 June, according to Le Figaro the French financial sector sees favorably the possibility of the UK leaving the EU, as new opportunities might be attracted by Paris. The fear of the instability that the EU Referendum may determine seems instead to prevail in both Italy and Spain. Indeed, on the one hand, the economist Lorenzo Bini Smaghi on Corriere points out that financial markets could start to focus their attention on the referendum on Italian constitutional reforms after June. On the other hand, in Spain notable political and business figures, as well as King Felipe, have expressed concerns over the economic and financial impact that Brexit might have on Spain, and its value in the perspective of increasing populism spreading all over Europe, and first of all in Spain with Podemos, the political movement led by Pablo Iglesias.

Facts and Figures

Should the UK remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

Remain 45%
Leave 43%
Undecided 12%

Source: Financial Times

Photo Credit CC: PROInternational Monetary Fund

Download PDF

Leave a comment
  • Facebook