20 June 2016

EU referendum campaigning resumes with polls neck-and-neck after small shift to Remain

Referendum campaigning resumed on Sunday and, during a special edition of the BBC’s Question Time, David Cameron acknowledged that “I’ve got to do better getting this argument across,” but said a vote for Brexit would be “irreversible” and urged voters to listen to him and economic experts on the dangers of leaving the EU. He argued that it would be “crazy” if people voted to leave in the belief that Turkey will join but sidestepped questions over whether he would veto Turkish membership. Cameron had to defend his policy on immigration, conceding that it was “hard” to control but he said there was “no silver bullet” and that leaving the EU and the single market was “not the right way to control immigration”.

In an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, when asked whether there should be an upper limit on migration into the UK, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn replied that “I don’t think you can have one while you have a free movement of labour and I think the free movement of labour means that you have to balance the economy so you have to improve living standards and conditions…There has to be the preventing of undercutting, there has to be an end to the idea of the race to the bottom in working conditions.”

Also appearing on Marr, Justice Secretary Michael Gove said, “Whether we vote to leave or remain there are risks to our future, there are challenges in the global economy.” He added, “My view is that those challenges will be easier to meet, those risks will be less if we vote to leave because we will have control of the economic levers.” Writing in his weekly column in The Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson said the case for Brexit was “overwhelmingly positive” and urged voters to seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity “change the whole course of European history.” He added, “Of course we can continue to provide leadership and support for Europe – but intergovernmentally, outside the supranational EU system.”

The Times reports that Baroness Warsi, the former chair of the Conservative party, has announced that she is withdrawing her support for Leave and instead backing Remain following the unveiling of UKIP’s controversial  ‘breaking point’ poster. Vote Leave’s Gove said that “when I saw that poster I shuddered.” UKIP leader Nigel Farage defended the poster on ITV’s Peston on Sunday. Speaking at a Vote Leave rally on Sunday, Johnson called for an amnesty for illegal migrants currently in the UK, adding that “If we take back control of our immigration system… we will be neutralising people in this country and across Europe who wish to play politics with immigration, and who are opposed to immigration.”

Polling towards the end of last week seems to have detected a small shift back towards Remain, but all have the result hanging in the balance. A YouGov online poll for The Sunday Times found support for Remain up 5 points to 44%, with Leave falling 3 points to 43%. A Survation phone poll for The Mail on Sunday also saw a shift towards Remain, putting it on 45% and Leave on 42%. ComRes polling for The Sunday Mirror suggested that voters’ attitudes had shifted towards Remain following the murder of Jo Cox MP, although the pollster cautioned that the sample size was small. The final Opinium online poll for The Observer put both sides on 44%, with 10% undecided. A YouGov poll for Good Morning Britain had Leave ahead 44% to 42%.

Source: The Observer The Sunday Times The Mail on Sunday The Sunday Mirror The Times The Sun The Guardian The Sunday Telegraph: Cameron The Mail on Sunday: Osborne The Andrew Marr Show: Corbyn The Andrew Marr Show: Gove The Daily Telegraph: Johnson

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Open Europe publishes comprehensive guide of what to look out for on EU referendum night

The EU referendum remains finely balanced and therefore hard to predict. Open Europe has today published a comprehensive guide of what to look out for on the night of June 23 as the results start coming in. Using publicly available data on EU voting attitudes from the British Election Study, as well as demographic data, we have been able to gauge how favourable individual voting areas are towards Brexit. We have also picked out 20 areas from across the country that we think are worth paying particular attention to as they could give us a good idea as to the broader national picture. We have observed that Leave is expected to perform well in less affluent areas populated by lower skilled and older voters, particularly in Eastern England, while Remain is expected to do well in London and other cities, particularly those with a large proportion of university graduates. Closer than expected results in areas declaring early could give us an indication of how the national vote has gone.

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Newspapers split over EU referendum question

The Sunday Telegraph argued in a leader, “The case for leaving [the EU] is not negative and jingoistic. It is optimistic and hopeful. It is the case for a strong, independent and outward-looking Britain…The EU belongs to the past. On Thursday we hope the country chooses the future – and votes to leave.” According to a leader in The Sunday Times, “We should vote Leave. Yes, we must be prepared for difficulties, but we should hold our nerve. This vote may be the best opportunity we shall ever have to call a halt to the onward march of the centralising European project driven by the inherent flaws in the Eurozone. That journey is in ­neither our interest, nor ultimately Europe’s.”

The Mail on Sunday argued in a leader, “We may be lured by the notion of being marginally freer [outside the EU], but we will be significantly poorer…This newspaper believes in a safe, free, and prosperous future for this proud country. And so we urge you, our readers, not to take a leap into the dark. Vote to remain in the EU – for an even greater Britain.” According to a leader in The Observer, “Remaining in the EU will not magically eliminate the challenges Britain faces in the years to come. But if we choose to do so, it will keep Britain at the heart of reforming the European project so that the nations of Europe are together better equipped to face them.”

Meanwhile, The Times on Saturday backed continued EU membership, arguing in a leader, “We respect the arguments of those who would have Britain leave, but on balance we believe Britain would be better off leading a renewed drive for reform within the EU rather than starting afresh outside it.”

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Macron warns UK will have to continue to pay into EU budget in return for market access while poll reveals German executives say Brexit would be negative for Germany’s economy

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told Le Monde in an interview, “One is either in or out [of the EU]. The day after exit, there will be no more financial services passport for British firms…If the UK wants a trade deal to access the European [single] market, the British will have to contribute to the EU budget like the Norwegians or the Swiss. If London does not wish to do so, it must be a total exit.” He adds, “If I were British, I would resolutely vote Remain – because it is in the UK’s interest. Leaving the EU would mean the ‘Guernseyfication’ of the UK, which would then be a small country on the world scale.” However, a poll of German executives for Handelsblatt has found that 74% believe that Brexit would have negative consequences for the German economy compared to 4% who say it would have positive consequences.

The Times reports that a letter signed by 11 senior members of the US Congress, which include Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House armed services committee, and Devin Nunes, chairman of the intelligence committee, argues that the UK will continue to be “at the front of the queue” and enjoy a special relationship with the US if voters chose to leave the EU this week. Chris Grayling, a Leave cabinet minister, helped to co-ordinate the letter. Meanwhile, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has taken out a full page advert in The Daily Mail which states that “The decision is yours, but I would like to let you know that Hungary is proud to stand with you as a member of the European Union.”

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New Spanish poll suggests leftist bloc could secure absolute majority

According to a new Metroscopia poll for El País, the last from this pollster before Sunday’s Spanish general election, the centre-right Partido Popular (PP) of caretaker Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy would win between 113 and 116 seats in the lower chamber of the Spanish parliament, the Podemos-IU left-wing ticket between 92 and 95, the Socialist Party (PSOE) between 78 and 85, and the centrist Ciudadanos between 39 and 41. The poll shows that the leftist bloc comprised of PSOE, Podemos and IU could potentially secure up to 180 seats – an absolute majority. A separate Sigma Dos poll for El Mundo has PP in the lead with 124-129 seats, Podemos-IU second with 86-92 seats, the PSOE third with 73-78 seats, and Ciudadanos fourth with 35-40 seats.

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Big setback for Renzi as Five-Star Movement wins mayoral elections in Rome and Turin

Virginia Raggi of the anti-euro Five-Star Movement was elected Mayor of Rome yesterday, beating Roberto Giachetti of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party by 67.2% to 32.8% of the vote. The Five-Star Movement also scored a surprise victory in Turin, where Chiara Appendino was elected Mayor with 54.6% of the vote – beating Piero Fassino, a senior member of Renzi’s party. These results mark a big setback for the Italian Prime Minister, ahead of a crucial referendum on his government’s major constitutional reform likely to be held in October. However, the centre-left managed to keep Milan – where Giuseppe Sala was elected Mayor after defeating centre-right candidate Stefano Parisi in yesterday’s run-off.

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German Constitutional Court to issue final verdict on ECB bond-buying scheme

The Karlsruhe-based German Constitutional Court will tomorrow issue its final ruling on whether the OMT, the ECB’s bond-buying scheme launched in 2012, is in breach of Germany’s Constitution. The case had previously been referred to the ECJ, which last year ruled that the OMT is compatible with EU law and does not exceed the ECB’s monetary policy mandate.

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EU to sign economic partnership agreement with Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda

The Council of Ministers has this morning authorised the signature and provisional application of the economic partnership agreement (EPA) between the EU and the East African Community (EAC) which comprises Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The agreement is designed to provide better access to the EU market for the relevant countries, particularly in terms of agricultural and fisheries products.

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Brexit or Bremain: Where next?

Open Europe and The Institute of Directors (IoD) invite you to attend our ‘EU Referendum post-match analysis’ in central London on Tuesday 28th June from 6.45 – 8.30 PM,  days after the result of the vote is known. Leave or Remain, win or lose: both sides and the rest of the EU will have to engage with the result, the other side, and lay out a strategy for the way forward. We will delve into the result of the Referendum, and its immediate implications.

Speakers include a leading pollster to help assess the winning result: demographics, voting trends and turnout; a foreign voice to delve into the Continental European response; and representatives from Open Europe and the IoD  to examine how Remain and Leave can reconcile post-Referendum, and to dissect what the vote means for British businesses and Government.

Joe Twyman: Head of Political and Social Research for Europe, Middle East and Africa, YouGov
Carsten Herz: London Correspondent, Handelsblatt (The leading German business daily) [TBC]
Allie Renison: Head of Europe and Trade Policy, The Institute of Directors
Raoul Ruparel:Co-Director, Open Europe

Register to attend here. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis.