Sunday

3rd Mar 2024

Britain heading for EU exit, polls say

  • Brown, who visits Brussels on Tuesday, made the case for Labour supporters to vote Remain (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Several polls have predicted that most British people will vote to leave the EU in next week's referendum, as the opposition Labour party stepped up its campaign for the Remain side.

In a blow to the Remain campaign, Britain's biggest selling newspaper, The Sun, endorsed voting no to EU membership in an editorial on Tuesday (14 June).

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“Outside the EU we can become richer, safer and free at long last to forge our own destiny - as America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other great democracies already do,” the tabloid daily said.

“If we stay, Britain will be engulfed in a few short years by this relentlessly expanding ­German dominated federal state.”

An ICM poll said that the Leave side had a five point lead over Remain. A YouGov online survey put Leave on 46 percent and Remain on 39 percent. An ORB poll also put those who wanted to exit the EU at 49 percent compared with 48 percent for those who wanted to stay.

The Remain side has focused on the economic fallout if Britain left the union, while the Leave side has put immigration at the heart of its campaign.

With the Remain camp losing momentum, British prime minister David Cameron has taken a step back from campaigning and has increasingly let the centre-left opposition Labour party make the case for the EU.

Labour steps in

On Monday (13 June) former Labour PM Gordon Brown pleaded with the party’s supporters to vote to stay in Europe, saying that Britain should be leading the EU, not leaving it.

Brown said those people left behind by globalisation felt anxious.

But he said the European Union was not the cause of the problem.

“If you can get cooperation working, the European Union can be part of the solution to the problem,” he said.

The former PM is credited with helping to keep Scotland in the UK with his 11th hour appeal ahead of the Scottish referendum on independence in 2014.

He will travel to the EU capital on Tuesday, while the current Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn will target working-class voters.

“Today I am issuing a call to the whole Labour movement to persuade people to back ‘Remain’ to protect jobs and rights at work,” Corbyn is to say at an event in London, according to British daily The Guardian.

Labour and trade union leaders have also warned in a statement that public services could be hit if Britain left the EU.

They said 525,000 public sector employees would lose their jobs in the wake of Brexit, a figure disputed by Vote Leave.

Central bank actions

Markets are also anxiously waiting the result of the UK referendum. On Monday, the British pound hit its lowest level against the US dollar in nearly two months.

The Bank of England is preparing for a Brexit scenario by making extra funding available for British private sector banks and by considering rapid interest rate adjustments.

The first of three special funding programmes is to be launched on Tuesday.

The UK central bank is in daily contact with major lenders to ensure that they have enough liquidity.

It is backed up by other central banks – including the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve – to provide access to foreign currency in the event of a run on the pound.

In case of Brexit, it would hold emergency meetings of its monetary policy committee, which sets interest rates, and its financial policy committee, which is charged with ensuring there is no repeat of the near-meltdown that happened during the financial crisis in 2008.

Agenda

Last WEEK of UK in EU?

Referendum on 23 June would not immediately end Britain’s 43 year-old membership, but EU finance chiefs already wondering how to contain potential shock.

Germany warns UK on single market access

If the UK leaves the EU it would lose access to the single market, Germany's powerful finance chief has said. The EU would also halt integration, he added.

Tusk: Brexit talks could take seven years

Council chief warned UK could face long divorce from EU, as it could take up to seven years before the new relationship with Britain would be approved by other member states.

Opinion

Reform the EU, with or without Britain

The deal brokered by prime minister Cameron and the other 27 EU member states is the way forward, even if the Brits leave the EU.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

EU Commission clears Poland's access to up to €137bn EU funds

The European Commission has legally paved the way for Poland to access up to €137bn EU funds, following Donald Tusk's government's efforts to strengthen the independence of their judiciary and restore the rule of law in the country.

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