This week has seen the Pound being effectively seesawed by EU Referendum news. The arrival of Purdah has done little to stem the flow of arguments surrounding the debate, with new claims and cases being put across from within and without the UK.
On the whole this week, the Pound Sterling to Euro exchange rate has fallen considerably, having started on a high note in the region of 1.3177 and closing around 1.2925.
Former WTO Leader Weighed In on Monday, as did Scottish ‘Leave’ Supporters
Compared to the rest of the week, Monday was a fairly quiet opening in terms of EU Referendum news. The two big arguments on either side of the debate came from the periphery; on the ‘Remain’ side, former World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Peter Sutherland stated that the UK’s economy was at risk of a ‘huge blow’ if it left the EU.
Making the case for ‘Leave’ was former Scottish National Party Leader Jim Sillars, who argued that the NHS could be privatised if the UK remained a member of the EU.
Other news was relatively minor; the story emerged that the UK Foreign Office has been spending over £1m per year on a defunct ‘Western European Union’ alliance, ‘In’ supporter Ken Clarke compared ‘Outer’ Boris Johnson to Donald Trump and Bristol City Council came under fire when it issued voting guides that appeared to favour a ‘Remain’ vote.
‘Leave’ Poll put Sterling to Euro in the Dumps on Tuesday
The Pound experienced its greatest loss of the week on Tuesday, with ‘Brexit’ polls squarely to blame.
Although Sterling had steadily appreciated to a weekly high prior to the drop, it quickly dived over the course of the morning when news emerged that the latest Guardian/ICM polls put support for a ‘Leave’ vote as high as 52%, compared to 48% assigned to ‘Remain’. It is thought that the latest swing in voter opinion was due to compelling ‘Out’ arguments made on the subject of immigration.
The ‘Leave’ group was also making headlines on its campaigning, with the case emerging for the UK to slash fuel VAT if it left the EU. The immediate counterargument to this from ‘Remainers’ was that the lost money from removed VAT could not be easily acquired elsewhere. The argument was also deflated when prominent ‘Leave’ supporter Chris Grayling admitted that such ‘Leave’ arguments could never be considered promises, and were instead ‘options’.
Britain Stronger in Europe Chair Stuart Rose made a rare appearance on Tuesday, making the case for remaining in the EU by pointing out that access to the single market was a vital source of support for national food and drink industries.
A final ‘Remain’ argument came on Tuesday from Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who argued that small businesses would lose out in the event of ‘Brexit’, while in neutral news, statistics emerged that showed around half of Labour supporters didn’t know which side the party supported in the EU Referendum.
OECD Warned of ‘Brexit’ on Wednesday, while ‘Points-Based’ Immigration Plans came under Scrutiny
The middle of the week saw no let-up for EU Referendum debates, with the day opening on a sharp rebuttal from Chancellor George Osborne about ‘Leave’ plans to scrap fuel VAT, which he labelled as ‘fantasy economics’.
The biggest support for the ‘In’ vote came from an external organisation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The international body stated that the UK could lose 3% of its potential GDP by 2020 in the event of a ‘Brexit’, and also warned that the UK on the whole would experience a major ‘economic shock’ in such an event.
Immigration continued to be a contentious issue for campaigners, with ‘Leave’ supporters stating that leaving the EU was the only way to control immigration, and that an Australian ‘points-based’ system of evaluating potential migrants’ worth should be implemented.
‘Remain’ supporters were quick to argue that such a system was ill-suited to the UK, while Netherlands PM Mark Rutte warned that such a decision would likely lead to European nations adopting similarly exclusionary policies towards British workers.
Minor stories consisted of the Trades Union Congress backing ‘Remain’ by stating that wages would drop if the UK left the EU, while reports emerged that voters on the whole were being put off by the displays of Conservative infighting.
Rebalancing of Polling Data and Labour Engagement in Debate Sent GBP up again Yesterday
Thursday’s overall spread of news and data saw the Pound appreciate against its peers, owing to a less alarming set of polling stats and a strong argument made for remaining in the EU by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In the former case, a TNS survey put small and medium-sized business owners as roughly even on which way to vote in the Referendum, while YouGov polls also put the two campaigns back on a level pegging.
In the latter, Jeremy Corbyn made an effort to silence critics about his apparent lack of enthusiasm in the Referendum and delivered the coveted ‘Remain’ speech that actually focused on the positives of staying ‘In’, rather than the negatives of choosing ‘Out’.
Elsewhere, global investment company PIMCO indicated that it saw ‘Brexit’ as a high probability, but nonetheless did not see many repercussions from such an outcome taking place.
The ‘Leave’ campaign targeted younger voters, by stating that housing prices would drop if the UK left the EU; this was quickly rebutted by the Prime Minister, who said it was not worth crashing the economy for the sake of property.
European Council President Donald Tusk warned against a ‘Brexit’, but also advised against EU officials striving for closing ties between nations, due to the alienating nature of such an approach.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel recommended an ‘In’ vote, by stating that nations within the EU had more say ‘at the bargaining table’ when it came to deals than those that were ‘outside the room’.
The last piece of Referendum news on Thursday focused on a clerical error, when it emerged that EU citizens currently in the UK had been given polling cards, despite not being eligible to vote.
Dissection of PM’s TV Q&A and Deportation Arguments Closed off the Week
Today has brought little in terms of high-impact Referendum news, with most media focus being on the PM’s Sky News question and answer session that was broadcast on Thursday.
Cameron repeatedly made the case for preserving the UK’s economy by staying in the EU, although critics picked up on the PM’s apparent avoidance of the immigration issue over the course of the event. Despite this, however, Cameron assured the audience that Turkey would not enter the EU until the year ‘3000’, due to its repeated historic failures to progress in the application process.
The ‘Leave’ camp has focused on foreign criminals in the UK today, having argued that not deporting these individuals is a sign of the failure of the EU.
Finally, JP Morgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon has warned that a ‘Brexit’ would likely necessitate job cuts in his company.
Looking ahead, the ‘Leave’ group is set to participate in a televised session on Sky tonight, under the same format as the previous ‘Remain’ offering.
That’s it for the UK Referendum roundup this week, but we’ll be back next week with all the latest UK-EU news to keep you up to speed with the debate as it progresses.
The Pound Sterling to Euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate was trending in the region of 1.2937 and the Euro to Pound Sterling (EUR/GBP) exchange rate was trending in the region of 0.7730 today.