24 March 2016

Latest phone poll shows ‘Remain’ lead shrinking but ‘Leave’ still seen as bigger economic risk

A new ComRes telephone poll shows the Remain campaign’s lead has shrunk to 7 points, the narrowest margin seen in its polls since May. 48% of respondents back Remain, while 41% say they would vote for Leave if there was a referendum tomorrow and 11% are undecided. However, if turnout patterns between different demographic groups at the referendum reflect those at last year’s General Election, there would be a 14 point lead for remaining in the EU. 69% say that Britain leaving the EU is a risk to the British economy, compared to 52% that say remaining is a risk. The poll was conducted before the Brussels terrorist attacks.

In The Daily Telegraph, Sir Alan Duncan MP writes, “The lure of Brexit is that it would deliver for the UK a tidy alternative to EU membership, and that restored self-government would empower our economic prospects and help insulate the UK from global difficulties…The trouble is: I don’t think this is true.” He adds, “Whereas I used to think that our membership of the EU signified a loss of confidence in ourselves, I now think that leaving it would be an unforgivable expression of no confidence in our ability to affect the course of Europe’s future.”

Meanwhile, in The Times, Jesse Norman MP makes a “constitutionally principled” case for non-declaration, stating that “we need sources of unbiased information and impartial advice, which allow people to make informed choices on their own terms. That’s how I see my role as an MP. Voters are turned off by slogans and name-calling. They need to be helped, and they need to be heard.”

Source: ComRes The Daily Mail The Daily Telegraph: Duncan The Times: Norman

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Johnson claims support for EU membership in the City is “shallow” as Tyrie criticises him for exaggeration over costs of EU

Speaking in front of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee yesterday, Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP said he was surprised how “shallow” support was for EU membership in the City of London. Johnson dismissed fears over the impact of Brexit on the City and insisted that there need not be a “period of uncertainty at all” following a vote to leave the EU. He also suggested that there would be significant economic rationale for both sides to strike an agreement post Brexit. When pushed on how this agreement might look, Johnson said there were “aspects of the Canadian deal” which were positive but added, “I don’t want to imitate the Canadian deal. I want a British deal.” When asked about the possibility of two referendums Johnson said, “I think we have one referendum and we get on with it.”

Committee Chairman Andrew Tyrie MP took Johnson to task for claims on both EU regulations and bureaucracy which were “either exaggerated or misrepresented” and criticised him for “a very partial, busking, humoresque approach to a very serious question for the UK.” Closing the session, Tyrie said, “You are in danger of going back to delivering us grains of truth with mountains of nonsense again, I’m afraid. You were dangerously close to making some very considered points a moment ago.”

There was a discussion during the session over the costs of regulation which focused on Open Europe’s work in this area. Our research shows that the Top 100 EU regulations cost the UK £33.3bn per year, but are said to deliver benefits worth £58.6bn. However, this benefit seems to be overstated, for example from the high benefits from climate change regulations which, so far, are yet to materialise.


Former head of MI6: Cost of Brexit from a national security perspective would be low

Writing in Prospect Magazine, Sir Richard Dearlove, head of MI6 between 1999 and 2004, argues that “the truth about Brexit from a national security perspective is that the cost to Britain would be low. Brexit would bring two potentially important security gains: the ability to dump the European Convention on Human Rights…and, more importantly, greater control over immigration from the European Union.” He added that “Britain is Europe’s leader in intelligence and security matters and gives much more than it gets in return. It is difficult to imagine any of the other EU members ending the relationships they already enjoy with the UK.”

Meanwhile, Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt MP yesterday warned that EU membership “comes with constraints that are being placed on our defence and security services so we don’t have the freedom of operation that we need. We can’t form the alliances, we can’t share the intelligence we need to keep us safe. All of those things are stifling us and undermining our freedoms.”

However, in a letter to The Times, Sir Hugh Orde, former President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, argues, “During the so called ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, there was a closed border, police and army check points and a string of watch towers manned 24/7 by the military. None of this stopped terrorists crossing both ways to mount attacks. What did work was co-operation and the sharing of intelligence. While we will never prevent all attacks, our best chance of keeping citizens safe is by working closely with our European colleagues and operating through protocols provided by Europol, Eurojust and the European Arrest Warrant, to name but three of many.”


Brussels attacks prompt Poland to backtrack on pledge to take in 7,000 asylum seekers

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło said yesterday that, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, “I see no possibility at this time of immigrants coming to Poland.” In a veiled criticism of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Szydło added, “We all remember the declaration welcoming migrants and this carelessness has resulted in the problems we face today.” The previous Polish government led by Ewa Kopacz had agreed to take in around 7,000 asylum seekers as part of an EU-wide relocation scheme.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters yesterday, “We feel we need capital markets union, energy union, economic and monetary union, but we also think that we need a security union. We need everything that will allow us to achieve a security union.” EU interior ministers are holding an extraordinary meeting today to discuss the response to the Brussels attacks.

Separately, the UN refugee agency UNHCR and five leading aid organisations including Médecins Sans Frontières and Save the Children have refused to cooperate in the implementation of the EU-Turkey migrant deal – as they believe the agreement contravenes international law. Open Europe’s Vincenzo Scarpetta is quoted by Market News International as saying that “it’s definitely too early to tell” whether the EU-Turkey deal will be effective in stemming the flow of migrants to Europe, adding that “the deal leaves a lot of open questions and it is very challenging to implement not only on the Turkish side but perhaps even more so on the Greek side.”


Lloyd’s of London Chairman warns over impact of Brexit

Lloyd’s of London chairman John Nelson said yesterday, “If we weren’t operating under these [trade] agreements we would have to renegotiate bilaterally – I can tell you, having spent my life doing things like that it is a hugely optimistic view. It would be very difficult to replicate what the EU is able to provide.”


Populist AfD strengthens its hold on third place in wake of Brussels attacks

The latest ARD Deutschlandtrend poll conducted in the wake of the Brussels attacks finds that the populist Alternative für Deutschland has strengthened its hold on third place nationwide, with 13% of voters saying they intend to vote for the party, a two point increase compared to last week. Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU leads on 34% (-2%) followed by the SPD on 22% (-1%), the Greens on 12% (+2%), Die Linke on 8% (-1%) and the FDP on 7% (+1%).


UK Energy Secretary: Brexit will drive energy bills up by £500m a year

In a speech later today, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd will argue that Brexit will lead to energy bills rising by £500m a year, based on calculations by Vivid Economics on behalf of the National Grid. Rudd will say, “However you look at it, an internal energy market helps to guarantee our energy security, which is the bedrock of our economic security. I’m not willing to play fast and loose with either.” In the report, Vivid Economics suggest the costs will be down to factors such as increased cost of investment but also note that “placed in the context of overall energy costs, these cost increases are likely to be small.”


Trump: Britain will end up leaving the EU over migration “craziness”

Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican Party nomination in this year’s US presidential election, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme, “With the craziness that is going on with the migration, with people pouring in all over the place, I think that Britain will end up separating from the EU, that’s my opinion”, adding that, personally, he was neutral on the issue.


Greek official hits out at IMF for delaying completion of bailout review

Greece’s Secretary of Fiscal Policy Franciscos Koutentakis has hit out at the IMF for delaying the completion of the bailout review saying, “All institutions, but particularly the IMF, are to blame for the continued uncertainty dogging Greece’s economy…It seems that they want to see you at the edge of a cliff before they start negotiating seriously.” He added that their objections “are based on ideological obsessions and inaccuracies.” He also stated that, while the government does not have a liquidity problem at the moment, it would always choose to pay pensions before repaying debt.


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