Watching the UK’s big decision

Jim Belshaw did a good job on this last Sunday: Brexit Conundrums.

The Brexit campaign has been quite messy. According to the BBC, there is a large pro-Remain majority in the House of Commons, 454 MPs to 147. The vote is being held because of Euro-sceptic views within the governing Conservative Party, views that appear unrepresentative of the Parliament itself.

The electorate is polarised, with the majority of the young supporting remain, while leave support climbs with age. UK nationalists support leave, while Scottish nationalists support remain.

Do read the rest of Jim’s post.

My email Foreign Policy Morning Brief today says:

Top news: Sayeeda Warsi, the former chair of Britain’s conservative party, quit the country’s campaign to leave the European Union on Monday, in protest of “hateful, and xenophobic” tactics.

Warsi, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants to Britain, cited a decision by the so-called Brexit campaign to disseminate posters showing migrants queuing at a border crossing, with the caption “Breaking point,” as a reason for leaving.

“This kind of nudge-nudge, wink-wink xenophobic racist campaign may be politically savvy or useful in the short term but it causes long-term damage to communities,” Warsi told the BBC in a radio interview.

The Vote Leave campaign denied that Warsi was ever a member, an accusation she described as “disingenuous.”

Magnate Richard Branson threatened on Monday to further erode support for the Vote Leave campaign by launching his own remain campaign. The billionaire founder of the Virgin Group said leaving the EU would hurt British businesses.

Recent polls have shown the British public evenly divided ahead of the June 23 referendum.

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UK flags flying over EU Commission London Offices

Scotland seems firm against Brexit: New poll gives Brexit campaign a 10-point lead as Scots seem to want to Remain. That story is dated 11 June.

The UK appears to be heading out of the European Union after a poll showed the Leave campaign has opened up a 10 point lead with less than two weeks to go.

The shock result marks the end of a week of furious campaigning by both sides…

Things have tightened since then. The shock of the murder of pro-Remain parliamentarian Jo Cox on 16 June has had an effect. The latest polls show a swing back to “Remain”.

…since then [16 June], three more polls have shown a significant shift in support following a week in which the Brexit camp appeared to be gaining a significant advantage.

Nigel Farage has acknowledged that the drive to win over waverers may have been hit by Mrs Cox’s death.

“We did have momentum until this terrible tragedy,” he told Peston on Sunday. “It has had an impact on the whole campaign for everybody…”

This opinion piece by venerable commentator Neal Ascherson appeared two days ago in Herald Scotland:

FOUR days to go. As in Scotland two years ago, the torrent of public participation in England is running faster than the politicians can keep up with it. And there’s another resemblance. This referendum is supposed to be about membership of the European Union, in or out. But at a deeper, hidden level it’s a debate about English independence – England’s own indyref.

For all who remember Scotland in 2014, that giddy, looking-glass feeling only grows stronger. Giddiness can make you laugh, but it can also make you nauseous. It’s as if a film of 2014 was being played to us inside-out: the same lines, but spoken by lousy actors in strange costumes.

Here comes Project Fear again, with its dust-storm of factoids and fairy statistics. But here, too, come all those figures who brayed at the Scots that their banks would emigrate, their trade would be in deficit and their pensions would shrivel if they left the Union. And today many of these same voices, now in Leave, say that the banks will prosper, the trade balance will boom, the pensions will actually increase if Britain leaves the other Union.

Now it’s English voters who ask: “Why should our laws be dictated to us by distant people we never voted for?” (Aye, right …) On the other flank, those who dismissed the Yes movement as “anti-English racialism” now dismiss English anxiety about immigration as “racialist bigotry”. Which it sometimes is, but more often expresses the ill-informed but genuine worry of decent people…

And Donald Trump has had a bit of a go too:

As he prepares for a quick trip to Scotland this week, Donald Trump is again weighing in on Great Britain’s vote as to whether to leave the European Union.

“I would personally be more inclined to leave, for a lot of reasons like having a lot less bureaucracy,” Trump told the Sunday Times. “But I am not a British citizen. This is just my opinion.”

The “Brexit” vote on the European Union is Thursday, a day before Trump attends the reopening ceremony for one of his golf courses in Turnberry, Scotland…

On Trump’s interest in Scotland see my March 2016 post The Mad World of You Know Who on WIN/9 last night.

Certainly going to be interesting to see what happens in the UK in this coming week.

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