Divided Polls, Economic Views on Brexit

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New polls of UK voters show the Brexit vote remains uncertain.  After several weeks of the vote to leave the European Union gaining, more recently the polls have become murkier, with a near-tie between the leave and remain camp. According to The Financial Times, a British financial newspaper, both sides have a 44% vote, while other polls show a spread of just 1% or 2% in favor of remaining.

The recent murder of British Member of Parliament Jo Cox caused both sides to halt their campaigning, but that did not stop an increasing number of pundits and editorials from arguing for one side or another.

British newspaper The Guardian published a lengthy economic warning that a vote to leave would wreak havoc on Britain’s economy. “We can expect a rise in unemployment, at least in the short term” was the newspaper’s headline, citing economists and political law experts from Cambridge, the London School of Economics (LSE), and several think tanks. “Brexit would lead to a fall in growth, jobs and investment in almost all scenarios,” The Guardian quoted political economy teacher Steve Coulter of the LSE as saying.

Despite the warnings, Britain’s economy has shown little signs of stalling before the looming uncertainty of a Brexit. While European bond yields continue to slide and economic growth remains far below 1%, Britain’s GDP growth has improved and its trade deficit, a key issue for campaigners supporting an exit, has narrowed slightly.

In a separate editorial, The Guardian said a Brexit would make Britain “the world’s most hated nation,” peppering the editorial with references to Nazi Germany and Napoleon. The editorial did not comment on currently hated nations, such as North Korea and Syria.

Independent Focus

After several months of arguing that the economic fallout of a leave decision remains unclear, proponents of a Brexit have shifted their focus to a discussion of political sovereignty and the impact of immigration on Britain’s economy and culture.

Arguing that the European Council (EC) consists of unaccountable officials whose high pay was not cut during the austerity imposed on EU member states, such as Greece, the Brexit camp said the EC has failed to impose discipline on itself or prove its accountability to the populace of EU member states or to the British public. Arguing the technocratic bureaucracy stifles Britain and limits its power over itself, the Brexit camp estimated a full 12% of current legislation limiting British lives stems from the EU’s oversight.

Meanwhile, Brexit supporters have also argued that EU membership forces Britain into a position to accept a high number of immigrants, whose economic contributions in terms of inexpensive labor and skills are substantially offset on the pressures the newcomers put on housing markets. With double-digit year-over-year increases in housing values in both London and pockets of England, a growing number of voters are focusing on the economic impact of housing demand from immigration.