22 June 2016

Polls still neck and neck as campaigns make final pitches to the electorate

The BBC last night hosted an EU referendum debate at Wembley Arena. A YouGov poll following the debate found that 39% believed Leave won, with 34% saying Remain won. When asked how they would vote, 41% said Remain and 40% Leave. Ruth Davidson MSP, arguing for the Remain side, is widely reported to have been the standout performer of the debate. A final Survation phone poll has Remain on 45% and Leave on 44%.

Prime Minister David Cameron has a series of interviews published this morning. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, he offered a “guarantee” that he would use a Remain vote to push for further reform to the freedom of movement. He added, “Reform doesn’t end on Friday…The only way it ends is if we leave.” Speaking to the Financial Times, Cameron says he expects a “Remain dividend” in the form of a jump in investment if the UK stays in the EU. He also defended his decision to call the referendum saying, “In the end you have got to ask and answer this question…Europe has changed a lot since the 1970s. If not now, we would have to have this [vote] in the future.”

The Daily Mail has confirmed its support for the Leave campaign arguing, “If you believe in the sovereignty of this country, its monarchy, its unwritten constitution and its judicial system; if you believe in the will of the people and don’t want to be ruled by faceless bureaucrats; if you are concerned about uncontrolled immigration…there is only one way to vote. Brexit.” Tate & Lyle Sugars has also said it backs leaving the EU while the CEO of Aston Martin wrote in a memo to his staff that exports would be boosted by a Leave vote. Both the Sun and the Daily Express front pages run with the report that the Queen has been asking recent guests, “Give me three good reasons why Britain should be part of Europe.”

In a letter to the Times 1,285 business people, employing 1.75m people, back the Remain campaign, including 51 CEOs out of the FTSE 100. They argue, “Britain leaving the EU would mean uncertainty for our firms, less trade with Europe and fewer jobs…Smaller businesses and the people they employ are particularly vulnerable to any economic shock which could follow.” Burberry has also warned its employees of the “unnecessary economic consequences” of Brexit.

Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe was interviewed by Dutch Radio 1, commenting on yesterday’s BBC debate. He argued, “If the EU wants to avoid other countries considering leaving, it will have to restrict itself to its popular activities, such as removing barriers to trade, and give up organising fiscal transfers or micromanaging national budgets or asylum policy.” Pieter also penned an op-ed for MNI Euro Insight, arguing, “British discontent is only a precursor to unrest on the continent, where populists from across the political spectrum feel they have lost control over their fate, and are gaining popularity.” Open Europe Co-Director Stephen Booth appeared on Sky News answering viewers questions about the implications of the referendum.

Source: MNI: Cleppe The Financial Times: Cameron (part one) The Financial Times: Cameron (part two) The Daily Telegraph: Cameron The Guardian: Cameron The Daily Mail The Daily Mirror: Leader BBC The Times The Times: Letters City AM The Sun

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Schäuble calls for EU directional change even if Britons vote Remain

“Europe is not in a good state,” said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble at the Economic Council of his CDU party in Berlin on Tuesday. Referring to declining trust in the EU and the rise of anti-EU and right-wing parties across the bloc, he said, “We just cannot go on like this” – even if the majority of Britons vote to Remain on Thursday. A new Forsa Poll for Stern finds that 79% of Germans would vote to Remain if they were offered their own EU referendum. Two thirds of supporters for the far-right populist AfD, however, said that they would vote for a German EU exit.  Meanwhile, Markus Kerber, Head of the Federation of German Industry (BDI) told the BBC this morning that it would be “very, very, foolish” to impose trade barriers on Britain post-Brexit. “The BDI would urge politicians on both sides to come up with a trade regime that enables us to uphold and maintain the levels of trade we have, although it will become more difficult,” he said.

Separately, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made an appeal for Remain in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, saying, “The British need the EU, and the EU needs British pragmatism.” Andreas Norlen, the Chair of the Constitutionals Committee in the Swedish parliament made a similar appeal for Remain, writing on his blog, “The UK is a very important member state when it comes to reforming the EU, because reform has to mean more democratic accountability and more focus on bridging the gap between the EU and the citizens.” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said, “I don’t think [Brexit] is going to happen” as “the advantages [of staying in the EU] are evident, both for Britain and for Europe.”

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Le Pen says she would vote for Brexit, as Renzi makes plea for UK to stay in EU

Front National leader Marine Le Pen told TF1 yesterday, “I would vote for Brexit, even if I think that France has a thousand more reasons to leave than the UK because we have the euro and Schengen.” She added that, whatever the result of the UK’s referendum, “The EU is in decay, it has cracks everywhere.” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi writes in an op-ed for The Guardian, “If there’s one thing the British have never done when faced with a challenge that concerns their future, their very identity, it is to make the wrong choice…Why not take the momentum generated by this vote and channel it instead towards demanding a more effective EU – one that works better, and better recognises the individual character of the markets of its constituent countries?” He concludes, “We will be cheering for Great Britain in Europe. Not just because you’ll be staying with us, but because, as the ancient Romans used to say: Sibi constet – stay constant, stay true to yourselves. Remain.”

Meanwhile, Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy told journalists after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday, “I told [Merkel] that to save Europe, there would have to be a Franco-German initiative in the coming months, with a new [EU] Treaty that tells 450 million Europeans that we have heard what they are saying, that we understand how they feel. I think the Chancellor is ready…That’s all the better as there will soon be elections in France that would be followed by polls in Germany.”

Jérôme Fenoglio, Editor-in-Chief of French daily Le Monde, writes, “There is much more at stake than [just] the future of UK-EU relations. It is the European project as a whole that could be put into question…In the aftermath of this ‘In’ vote that we wish, the worst would be to continue as before. The EU must do an examination of conscience, assess what works and what doesn’t, break free from the voodoo spell of the miracles of integration and shared sovereignty, have the courage {for] an institutional reform. Or it will continue to crumble, with or without our British friends.”

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Bloomberg: Franco-German Brexit contingency plan amounts to ‘show of unity’

Bloomberg suggests that the Franco-German response to a Brexit vote would amount to little more than a symbolic ‘show of unity’. “They don’t have the same priorities,” former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said. “Germany is dealing with refugees and France with its economy.”

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted his government will have a “clear plan” in place if the UK votes to leave the EU. However, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said there there seemed to be a “lot of prayer and hope that it goes the right way as opposed to any considered contingency planning”. Martin warned that whatever the result “cool heads should prevail”, adding, “Europe is still involved too much at the lower level of minutiae and detail on the ground which should be left to national parliaments and governments.”

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph reports that during her testimony to the US Senate banking committee, Janet Yellen, chair of the US Federal Reserve, said Brexit “could usher in a period of uncertainty” in US financial markets. She added that the fallout after a Brexit vote was “by no means certain,” noting that “it is very hard to predict” the economic impact. A US recession sparked by Brexit is “not the most likely case,” she pointed out.

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EU plans to tackle migration crisis with billions in investment

The European Investment Bank (EIB) wants to invest an additional €6bn into projects in the EU’s neighbourhood to tackle the migration crisis, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung. Up to €15bn could be earmarked to invest in projects including schools, health care and infrastructure in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and the Maghreb countries as well as the Western Balkans. “It is vital that Europe supports the countries that have received large numbers of refugees,” EIB President Werner Hoyer told the paper.

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EU Commission voices concerns over different national interpretations of new EU bank resolution rules

The Financial Times reports that the European Commission is set to intervene to address concerns over diverging national interpretations of new EU rules on how to force losses on investors in failed banks. Germany, France and Italy have sought to tweak their national rules to ensure that senior bondholders take losses ahead of depositors and other senior creditors. However, according to a document seen by the Financial Times, the Commission believes that the different approaches could “impede the resolution of cross-border banks and provide uncertainty for issuers and investors alike.”

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Greece receives next tranche of bailout funds

The next €7.5bn tranche of Eurozone bailout funds was paid out to Greece yesterday. During a visit to Greece Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the country was now on the “right path” and that signs are “encouraging” but avoided discussing the tricky issue of debt relief.

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Europe ready to extend sanctions against Moscow by six months

European ambassadors agreed in principle yesterday to extend economic sanctions on Russia for six months. However, the agreement still needs formal political approval from the EU’s member states.

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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)
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.