More experts are weighing in on Britain’s upcoming referendum on its membership in the EU. A flurry of warnings from bankers, economists, politicians, and experts have bombarded Brits in recent months, with daily discussions at the BBC, The Times, the Telegraph, and other major British publications urging British citizens to vote to remain in the EU.
A Conservative government, attempting to placate growing skepticism of Europe’s value to the country, promised a referendum on the subject several years ago amidst heightened controversy that such a referendum could damage Britain’s place in Europe.
Now Britain’s Conservative government, led by the increasingly unpopular Prime Minister David Cameron, is pleading with voters to vote to remain in the EU, as the Conservative-led government releases several studies warning that a “Brexit” could result in a large recession or depression.
According to a recent poll by YouGov, David Cameron’s approval rating has fallen to 34%, while 58% of respondents said they disapprove of the Prime Minister.
Recent scandals about taxation and ultra-wealthy in Britain avoiding taxes have plagued the Prime Minister, especially after it was revealed that he is invested in companies that were involved in avoiding taxes through a Panamanian company.
YouGov, however, says that Cameron’s unpopularity has more to do with his staunch defense of the EU and insistence that the country stay in the union: "One of the main reasons for the shift is David Cameron's decreasing popularity among Conservatives – which may be due to his position on Europe rather than tax avoidance,” the group said.
The most recent cause for concern on a Brexit comes from the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) former Director, Peter Sutherland, who said manufacturers would face “appalling complexity” if the country left the EU.
Not all experts are convinced, however. The Economists for Brexit group has responded by dismissing Sutherland’s concerns, arguing that Britain can trade with the EU using WTO rules, as economist and Mayor of London economic advisor Gerard Lyons said in a rebuttal, "The reality is that the UK can leave the European Union and trade freely under World Trade Organisation rules,” he said.
The former WTO head also said that Britain’s banking sector, which has swelled substantially to house many of the European headquarters of EU and global banks, could suffer. Sutherland said in the BBC interview that Britain’s connection to EU—rather than its generous tax rules for ultra-wealthy expatriates, more lax accounting standards, and more generous compensation regulations—is the main driver of London being the financial hub of Europe.
"At the moment the banking system of Britain provides services all over Europe because by being part of the European Union they have what's called a single passport and they can operate everywhere,” Sutherland said, adding that banks in a post-Brexit Britain "would not have a single passport and many financial services companies might say 'we can't have our headquarters in a country that is outside the European Union' and they might well move."
These new concerns add to recent comments by the G7, the Bank of England Governor, and the Prime Minister of Britain.