- TNS survey finds 7-point lead for ‘Leave’ with nine days to go
- Axa CEO warns of ‘extremely high’ probability of Brexit
The campaign for Britain to leave the European Union led in a fifth opinion poll published over the past 24 hours, showing Prime Minister David Cameron is foundering in his efforts to persuade voters to reject a so-called Brexit. The pound fell to a two-month low.
The online survey of 2,497 adults carried out by TNS June 7-13 found 47 percent backing “Leave” and 40 percent for “Remain.” It comes after four phone and online surveys released Monday by ICM, YouGov Plc and ORB showed leads of between 1 point and 7 points.
With the June 23 referendum now just over a week away, Repeated warnings of the economic risks of a Brexit have failed to sway voters. Cameron has kept a low profile this week to allow the opposition Labour Party to make a series of interventions in an attempt to persuade their supporters, who are crucial to the outcome, of the merits of continued EU membership. In a further blow to the premier, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, The Sun, came out in favor of “Leave.”
“I’m sensing real momentum for ‘Leave’ around the country,” U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said on Twitter. “We can win this and get our country back!”
Earlier Tuesday, France’s largest insurer warned that there’s an “extremely high” probability of a Brexit. Neither Britain nor the EU as a whole is prepared for the negotiations that would follow a vote to leave and investors would face “a true landscape of uncertainties,” Axa SA Chief Executive Officer Henri de Castries said at a conference in Paris. Other countries could be encouraged to seek special treatment, threatening “to accelerate the unraveling of Europe,” he warned.
Sterling declined against all but one of its 16 major counterparts, dropping 1.1 percent to $1.4113 as of 4:38 p.m. in London, after touching $1.4091, the lowest since April 14. Implied two-week volatility, which is derived from options, rose to 40.5 percent -- three times the level at the beginning of this month.
As the plebiscite draws closer, contagion has spread through world markets. Both the S&P 500 Index and MSCI All-Country World Index fell for a fourth day, the longest losing streaks since February. Germany’s 10-year bond yields dropped below zero for the first time amid demand for safe havens.
The pound’s decline prompted a member of Parliament’s Treasury Committee, Wes Streeting from Labour, to say that “the warning signs are already there” of the damaging impact of a Brexit.
“Turning our back on Europe would wreck the British economy, putting millions of hardworking British people’s financial stability at risk,” Streeting said in a statement. “The ‘Leave’ campaign can’t dismiss the evidence.”
There’s a risk that a Brexit, which would “take several years to accomplish,” would prompt other members of the bloc to reexamine their membership, bond manager Bill Gross wrote Tuesday in a post on Janus Capital Group Inc.’s Twitter site. “Danger, however, is that others may get the itch -- France, Finland,” he said.
The government’s strategy to keep the U.K. in the 28-nation EU is under increasing strain in the final days before referendum, as the “Leave” campaign’s focus on reducing immigration appears to resonate more with voters than Cameron’s warnings of recession outside the bloc.
The Vote Leave group countered with an attempt at economic reassurance, promising that spending post-Brexit would be maintained on all the things the EU currently funds such as university research and farm subsidies, as well as cutting tax on fuel and increasing spending on the National Health Service.
‘Options and Choices’
“We’re going to take back control of the money we send to the EU,” Employment Minister Priti Patel told the BBC. “The government of the day will have options and choices as to how to spend that money.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn lined up with union leaders in the left’s biggest show of unity in the campaign to call on working people to vote against Brexit.
“Staying in the European Union gives us the opportunity to defend and extend the rights of people at work, gives us the jobs we need,” Corbyn told reporters in London. If there is a leave vote, “many at work will be significantly worse off when the bonfire of regulations promised by others take place,” he said.
Corbyn has run a low-key campaign, saving his first major speech on the topic until almost two months after Cameron called the referendum and concentrating on small, local meetings away from the national media, rather than headline-grabbing speeches.
With latest polls pointing to a ‘Leave’ advantage, the NumberCruncherPolitics estimate of the probability of a Brexit surged to 32.6 percent from 23.7 percent. Its creator, Matt Singh, wrote that “we have ample evidence that the move is real.”
In the betting markets, “the momentum is such that it seems inevitable Brexit will be favorite by the weekend,” said William Hill Plc spokesman Graham Sharpe.