How Likely Is Brexit?

12th October 2015 / United Kingdom

The Brexit referendum could be called by David Cameron as early as March next year, just six months away. Six weeks before the actual referendum, rules dictate that political parties are unable to campaign by way of making major announcements to influence the outcome.

Like the Scotland referendum, Brexit could surprise right up to the last moment, in fact, it is sure to do so.

According to The Telegraph poll-tracker the public were exactly 50:50 in January 2013. Since then, its been downhill all the way for the OUT team and as at June 2015 it stood at just 27%.

Paddy power has remaining in the EU odds at 4/11 and leaving at 15/8.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said Britain’s chances of leaving the European Union have risen to 50 percent. But he would say that.

Open Europe has launched a “Brexit Barometer” to gauge the probability of the UK leaving the European Union. It regularly monitors polling and currently it stands at 55% to remain, 35% to leave and 8% don’t know.

In the meantime, three multi-millionaire political donors are set to fund the official campaign in favour of removing Britain from the European Union. Among the big spenders are Paul Cruddas, John Mills and Stuart Wheeler, who have collectively donated around £3 million to political parties.

The full list of donors will be announced Friday. Sources close to the campaign have said they expect donors to raise some £13 million towards the out campaign. The funds will be used in addition to the £7 million which the Electoral Commission says the group can spend during the official campaign.

Paul Cruddas has donated more than £1.2 million to the Conservative Party. John Mills has established himself as the largest individual donor of the Labour Party. Stuart Wheeler meanwhile has given UKIP more than £100,000. Other donors include Phones 4u founder John Caudwell and Alexander Hoare, whose family is worth more than £300 million.

We can take the Scottish referendum as some sort of template as there was a high degree of government influence and skullduggery and not much is likely to change given they got the result to go their way in the end. At the time, even the Bank of England openly stated it would have to flood the markets with millions to support the cash outflow from Scotland in the event of a YES vote that sent many over 45’s to worry about savings.

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Various organisations threatened to pull out of Scotland such as the banks, notably RBS.  Other large retail groups rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in the fight, particularly those with large Scottish workforces such as BP and pensions giant Standard Life.

So succesful was the threatening behaviour of corporates, with mass redundancies and what was tantamount to bank-runs, we can already see them getting involved in the Brexit debate and no doubt they will add considerable weight to their respective arguments.

Having previously suggested Brexit could mean an Airbus exodus from the UK, chief executive Fabrice Bregier has now retracted that statement, saying the aircraft manufacturer has “no intention of doing so.”

JCB states EU membership is not vital for trade. Lord Bamford, chairman of one of Britain’s biggest names in manufacturing and exports, stated recently that UK trade would be unaffected by Brexit.

Conservatives for Britain is growing in size. Established in June with only 50 members, the group has already grown in number and now holds more than 110 MPs, showing the party’s mood is swinging behind Brexit.

Union leaders now express doubts about supporting the “In” campaign. The TUC and Unison general secretaries, Frances O’Grady and Dave Prentis, have both told journalists that the trade union movement may not campaign in favour of the EU. We can expect more statements from union figures about how the EU has damaged their members’ pay and job prospects.

The UK’s financial regulator played down the impact of Brexit a few months ago. The (former) chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, Martin Wheatley, stated there will be little immediate effect on the UK’s finance sector, dealing another blow to the scaremongers. Soon after this statement George Osborne announced his departure, although the reason given by Osborne was that the regulator needed “different leadership”. It was well known Wheatley was a tough regulator and doing a good job.

Wheatley expressed disappointment about his departure, saying he had “unfinished business” as the City’s top regulator.

A leading businessman and former Labour trade minister has offered to lead the ‘out’ campaign in the UK’s European Union referendum. Lord Digby Jones, a former Labour trade Minster who served under Gordon Brown from 2007 to 2008, admitted he would be up for taking charge of the push to get the country out of the EU.

However, that role went to Lord Nigel Lawson, who served as Margaret Thatcher’s chancellor. He announced two weeks ago that he will lead a Conservative campaign to cut Britain’s ties with Brussels ahead of the upcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

The eurosceptic peer claimed EU reforms as a result of David Cameron’s much-vaunted renegotiation bid would only be “wafer-thin”, adding that such reforms being enshrined by “genuine treaty change… is not going to happen”.

And it appears he is right. Only today the British government has now stated it is demanding a ‘red card’ system that would allow national parliaments to override Brussels on legislative issues, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

It reports that David Cameron’s team is looking to win back four key concessions from Brussels in order to recommend Britain stays in the EU.

They are: an explicit confirmation that the UK will not be subject to ‘ever closer union’; a clarification that the EU is a “multi-currency” union; a ‘red card’ system to let groups of national parliaments reject legislation from Brussels; and a reorganisation of the EU to prevent non-euro countries being dominated by those who lie within the currency union.

Changes to migration rules were abandoned because of opposition from Eastern European countries, while there was not enough time to carry out treaty change ahead of the 2017 deadline for the referendum.

The reason that Cameron has gone for this system is that the last treaty change took eight years to complete and most importantly, Germany will boycott meaningful reforms for as long as its economy benefits from the status quo. That much was seen with Merkel’s exploitative and domineering posturing over Greece recently.

Like Scotland, the vote will likely be dominated by age groups or demographics. Those over 45 in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay, in fact 73% of those over 65 years of age voted to stay. 95% of Conservative voters wanted to remain. Most importantly, 58% of those that voted did not make their mind up before the last month of the referendum.

It appears that the case for Brexit to remain or leave is wide open, irrespective of the odds. My own view is that Brexit will surprise. Too many people feel that the system of government has failed them, that their children will do worse, that their prospects should have been better and they are now ready to kick that system.

Graham Vanbergen – TruePublica



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