The Chronicles of Downing Street
A new variable may play a role in the EU Referendum in UK. UK expats are bringing a legal challenge before the High Court against the government’s decision to exclude UK citizens who have lived outside of the UK for more than 15 years from voting in June’s EU referendum. If successful, the High Court proceedings could see the referendum delayed while up to two million extra names are added to the register of voters. While this delay may render the ultimate outcome of the vote even more unpredictable, one of the latest polls underscores that Brexit supporters are more likely to vote, thus providing the Leave campaign with a potential decisive advantage. However, an encouraging message for the Remain campaign comes from the Confederation of British Industry, which says that 80% of its members questioned in a survey want to stay in the EU. This has been also a very important week for one of the key Tory figures in the EU Referendum debate, Chancellor George Osborne: after announcing an unexpected tax on sugary drinks to balance the UK budget, as well as a cut of growth forecasts, he has took advantage of his position at the Commons during the Wednesday Budget speech to warn against Brexit, thus causing the angers of pro-Brexit Conservative colleagues.
Fear and Loathing in Brussels
Party group dynamics in the European Parliament are affected by the In/Out campaign in the UK, too. After the announcement of his support for Brexit, Syed Kamall, senior Tory MEP and leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, has been invited to resign by other ECR MEPs. Expressions of concern about the impact that Brexit might have on international security have been raised by US General Frederick “Ben” Hodges, who said that the UK leaving the EU would threaten the NATO alliance and weaken efforts to resist Russian expansionism in Europe. Other issue areas that could be affected by leaving the EU are trade and travel, as a new report on the potential impact that Brexit would have on low-cost flights between the UK and the EU shows. Also, Switzerland EU ambassador Roberto Balzaretti has cast doubts on the possibility to strike deal that would continue to give Britons full access to the internal market in case of an exit from the EU, suggesting that being absent from the EU table may do more harm than good to the UK.
Voices from the Continent
Republicans in France seem to be willing to capitalize on Brexit. Jean-François Copé, former President of the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), has affirmed that “a consequence (of Brexit) is that Paris is going to most attractive financial centre of the world”, adding that “France is not dead”. Even though Copé might have exaggerated slightly, it is true that Brexit appears to provide financial centres with greater uncertainties, as the case of the recently agreed merger between the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and Deutsche Boerse shows. As pointed out on Il Sole 24Ore, it is not yet clear whether the shareholders of the LSE group, which also owns Milan-based Borsa Italiana, will vote for the approval before or after 23 June and what effects the EU Referendum might have on their vote and on the deal, which may create one of the largest exchange companies in the world with a combined value of about €26bn.
Facts and Figures
How people say they would vote, regardless of their likelihood of going to the polls
Wouldn’t Vote: 4%
How people say they would vote among those who definitely plan to go to the polls
Wouldn’t Vote: 2%
Source: The Telegraph
Photo Credits CC: HM Treasury