The Chronicles of Downing Street

The Brexit debate of this week has been characterized by new statements of old stances, in a seemingly more convinced and vigorous way. Indeed, on the one hand, last Thursday Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech entirely aimed at expressing Labour’s support for the In campaign: Corbyn stressed the importance of remaining in the EU in order to fight for social reform. On the other hand, London Mayor Boris Johnson pointed at the historic value of the EU Referendum, claiming that it is the last chance for the UK to regain sovereignty. His words have been echoed by the ones of Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who has also claimed that trade relations with Europe and the world won’t be affected by leaving the EU. Gove’s statement was mainly directed to reject Treasury’s dire predictions on the state of British economy in case of Brexit; the study of the Treasury has been immediately used by pro-EU British finance minister George Osborn to challenge Out campaigners and warn that British households will lose out £4,300 a year by 2030 if the UK leaves the EU. In the meantime, a new impulse to the anti-Brexit will be given by President Barack Obama, who is going to be in London on Thursday to give his support to David Cameron in the most difficult moment of his life as a Prime Minister. Extremely worth mentioning is the analysis of Martin Wolf on FT, who argues that, due to the historic value of this vote for the Western world Barack Obama, as leader of the west, must raise his voice and present his views on it.

Fear and Loathing in Brussels

Attempts to pour oil on the troubled waters of Brexit seem to come from Brussels. After the negative result of the Dutch referendum on Ukraine two weeks ago, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker tries to acknowledge faults in the European integration process, claiming that the EU has “lost its attractiveness” because of its excessive regulatory interference in people’s life. Concerns are also raised by the unpredictable effects that Brexit might have on other countries: this is confirmed by a new opinion poll, showing that, in case of Britain leaving the EU, a majority of Swedes would wish their country to follow suit. Less sympathetic to British complaints has been the stance showed on the sidelines of the IMF spring meetings by German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble, who has warned that Germany will be a tough negotiator in case of Brexit. Worth noticing is also a study published by LSE Professor Simon Hix, according to which the European Parliament without British MEPs would be stronger in supporting a Financial Transaction Tax and would grant less support for nuclear.

Voices from the Continent

Two figures that are extremely likely to play key roles in the 2017 French presidential elections have stepped into the Brexit debate this week. First, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, who launched his new political movement “En Marche” two weeks ago, released an interview to the BBC, stating that “Brexit will have consequences, otherwise it will be the beginning of disintegration”. Second, National Front leader Marine Le Pen has announced that she will go to London before 23 June to support the Out campaign. Another figure that has decided to take a closer look to British politics in hard times, with a good degree of resonance for the Italian media (though not for the British ones) is the Italian eurosceptic 5 Stars Movement leader, Luigi Di Maio, who has gone in mission to London, where he will see pro-Brexit Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling.

Facts and Figures

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

Remain 44%
Leave 42%
Undecided 13%

Source: Financial Times

Photo Credit CC: Policy Exchange

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