30 March 2016

Nearly half of voters think Cameron should step down if Remain campaign fails

A poll carried out by Ipsos MORI has found that 48% of voters think David Cameron should resign if he loses the EU referendum campaign, while 44% say he should carry on regardless of the result. However, only 34% of Conservative voters say he should step down if he loses the campaign. The telephone survey also reveals that Remain maintains a lead over Leave by 8 points – though this lead has fallen since the last survey in February. 49% would vote to Remain compared to 41% saying they would vote to leave. However, applying the same turnout filter that would have given the most accurate results in the 2015 general election sees the lead narrow to 2 points (Remain is on 48%, Leave 46%). It also found though that 33% may still change their mind on how they would vote. A separate YouGov poll has found that swing voters could be swayed to vote for Remain or Leave depending on whether they thought it would affect their weekly budget by just 50p.

Meanwhile, a joint report by pollster Populus and the Number Cruncher Politics blog has concluded that internet polling overstates the level of support for those who want to leave. The report argues that phone polls are more effective at compelling respondents to choose between the options that will appear on the ballot paper – remain or leave – and are more closely aligned with the demographic make-up and social attitudes of the electorate. Writing for The Times’ Red Box, academic Matthew Goodwin notes that the results of recent telephone polls, which have traditionally given Remain a healthy lead, show that Remain’s lead is shrinking.

Source: Ipsos-Mori The Daily Telegraph The Times: Red Box The Times: Goodwin The Guardian: Datablog YouGov Populus

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Discussion over future of UK steel turns to role of EU membership

Amid concerns over the future of the Tata Steel plant at Port Talbot and the UK’s steel industry more generally, concerns have turned to the role of the UK’s EU membership. Simon Boyd, a Director at REIDsteel and part of the pro-Brexit Business for Britain group, said “While we remain in the EU, the UK government we elect can do little to tackle the dumping of cheap steel or unfair state aid rules that hurt British steel.” The Daily Mail’s leader argues “If our steel industry – which still employs 25,000 people directly and many more indirectly – is to survive, there’s a strong case for a higher tariff, at least in the short term. For the tariff to be increased, all 28 EU nations would have to agree. And experience tells us that if that happens at all, it will probably take years. By then, the British steel industry may be a relic of history.”

However, these concerns were dismissed by the Department for Business and Industry which said, “The EU is our most important market for steel. Over half our steel exports go to the EU…more than two-thirds of our imports are from the EU…Outside the EU, we could find ourselves on the receiving end of EU tariffs – additional costs which are the last thing our steel industry needs.”


Bank of England warns EU referendum is the “most significant” short term risk to financial stability but that banks would be able to withstand Brexit shock

The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee said in a statement yesterday that it “assesses the risks around the referendum to be the most significant near-term domestic risks to financial stability”. It added, “heightened and prolonged uncertainty has the potential to increase the risk premia investors require on a wider range of UK assets, which could lead to a further depreciation of sterling and affect the cost and availability of financing for a broad range of UK borrowers.” However, it also noted that the bank stress tests showed that the UK banking system is “strong enough to continue to serve households and businesses during the severe shock”, implying that it should be strong enough to withstand Brexit.


Dominic Raab: EU free movement rules set “impossibly high” bar for excluding terror suspects from UK

In a speech later today, Justice Minister Dominic Raab will argue that due to EU free movement rules in the UK “we cannot bar individuals on whom we have sketchy intelligence but reason to believe may be linked to terrorist related or other serious criminal activity or who may have done something which gives rise to questions, such as visiting Syria, without a clear or credible reason … EU rules set the bar for taking meaningful action impossibly high which means we effectively have to give a free pass into Britain to those coming from the EU. It massively increases the pool of people that need to be monitored by the intelligence agencies.” However, The Daily Telegraph cites Conservative MP and former Home Office Minister Damian Green as saying that since 2010, some 6,000 European citizens have been barred from entering the UK.


ONS figures show 1.6 million EU migrants have moved to the UK in nine years

Data released by the Office for National Statics has revealed that more than 1.6 million EU citizens migrated to the UK between 2006 and 2014, with 287,000 EU migrants moving in 2014.


UN figures show a 40% increase in migrants arriving in Italy from Libya compared to last year

Figures recently released by the United Nations Refugee Agency have revealed that 17,500 migrants have arrived in Italy via war-torn Libya so far this year; an increase of 40% compared with 12 months ago. European Council President Donald Tusk said that, after reaching a deal with Turkey, EU leaders now needed to focus their attention on Libya saying “Let us not forget though that there is still work ahead of us on other migration routes to Europe, including the central Mediterranean route. This is what we should be focusing on.”


Poles back EU membership but 50% want restoration of intra-EU border controls

A new IBRiS poll for Polish daily Rzeczpospolita finds that 88% of respondents want Poland to remain a member of the EU compared to only 7% who want it to leave the EU. However, the poll also finds that 50% of respondents want border controls to be restored within the EU compared to 47% who want to maintain the border-free Schengen area. Among the 18-24 age group, support for restoring internal border controls stands at 80%. The poll also found that by 70% to 24%, Poles oppose taking in refugees.


Greek opposition calls for snap elections as IMF signals potential for some short term budget flexibility due to migrant crisis

Speaking in the Greek parliament yesterday, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on the current Syriza government to resign and for snap elections to be held, saying, “Greece cannot put up with you anymore…If Parliament cannot provide a solution [to the crises Greece is facing], let the people decide.”

Meanwhile, the government is expected to include ‘opt-out clauses’ in certain reform measures, which would allow them to not be implemented if government finances improve more quickly than expected. IMF Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld said in an interview with Handelsblatt, that “it is hard to imagine how that streamlining [of Greek finances] will be achieved without a pension reform.” But he added, “In the short term there can be some flexibility on the budget targets,” due to the migrant crisis.

Separately, a YouGov poll shows that 49% of Germans want to keep Greece in the Euro and only 33% want the country to leave the Euro. This stands in stark contrast to last year when the new Greek left wing government of Alexis Tsipras came into power, with 59% of Germans in favour of Grexit and only 23% preferring Greece to stay.


Germany’s populist AfD party sees drop in support in new Forsa poll

A new Forsa poll for Stern and RTL shows the support for the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) dropping by three percentage points to 10%. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU leads on 36% (+1%) followed by the SPD on 20%, the Greens on 13% (+1.5%), Die Linke on 8%, and the FDP on 7% (+1%).

In contrast, the latest weekly INSA poll for Bild has the CDU/CSU on 32% (-1%) followed by the SPD on 20% (-2%), the AfD on 13% (+1%), the Greens on 12.5% (+1.5%), Die Linke on 11% (+0.5%) and the FDP on 6% (-1%).


Charity Commission issue new guidelines on EU referendum

The Charity Commission has issued new guidance on the EU referendum for charities, saying that for charities campaigning during the referendum, it will only be seen as political activity if “it can reasonably be seen as influencing the outcome of the referendum”. They had previously stated that any involvement in the referendum would be seen as political activity. They suggest charities take “great care” in deciding whether to intervene and that if they do decide to participate it should be “incidental, ancillary or subordinate” to charitable purposes.


EU-India summit to begin today

A summit between the EU and India will begin today. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the summit, where he will meet with President of the European Council, Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker with talks expected on instilling political impetus on the stalled trade negotiations, as well as on energy, climate, and migration.