Brexit Campaign Resumes after Cox Killing

After a two-day hiatus, both sides of the Brexit debate resumed campaigning on Sunday. In a debate over immigration, both Leave and Remain sought to tone down the political rhetoric in response to the killing of Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox.

The death of pro-EU MP Jo Cox may have shifted the momentum back in favour of Remain, according to UKIP leader Nigel Farage. In a televised interview on Sunday, the UKIP leader said the Leave campaign had “momentum” prior to Cox’s killing and urged voters not to let “one man with serious mental health issues” influence their decision.

“I think we had momentum before this terrible tragedy,” Mr. Farage said. “When you are taking on the establishment you need to have momentum. I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next three or four days. It’s difficult to tell. But those who have made up their minds to leave – I think they will go out and vote.”[1]

Public opinion may have shifted in favour of Remain over the weekend, according to the latest figures from a UK Survation poll. The poll shows Remain out in front with 45% support compared to Leave at 42%. A separate poll from Opinium showed both camps were tied less than a week before the referendum.[2]

The economic and political consequences of Brexit have been debated at length by supporters and detractors of the European Union. The debate on Sunday shifted back to migration, a topic that the Leave side has used successfully in recent weeks to sway voter opinion.

MP Cox was not only a supporter of remaining in the 28-member EU, but also a defender of immigrants, including refugees from Syria.

“We can do far more to deal with the pressures caused by migration from inside the EU,” Cox wrote in an article that was reprinted in the Mail on Sunday. Cox also stated in the article that Brexit would not offer any guarantees of lower immigration levels.[3]

British Prime Minister David Cameron reminded voters over the weekend there would be “no turning back” from leaving the EU and that exiting the bloc would lead to a “probable recession.”[4]

Mr. Cameron’s concerns about recession are shared by the large majority of economists, who believe that Britain would be worse off if it left the EU, especially over the short-term. Key industries tied to tourism and housing may also be adversely affected, not to mention London’s financial services industry.

Adding to the complexity is the timeframe in which Britain would quit the EU. While Mr. Cameron has stated he would pull the plug right away should Vote Leave prevail, the Brexit campaign has criticized this approach as being too hasty.

Britain heads to the polls on 23 June to vote on its future in the European Union. Investors can expect heavy volatility in the financial markets in the days leading up to the crucial vote.

[1] Oliver Wright (June 19, 2016). “Nigel Farage says he is a victim of political hatred in response to Jo Cox question.” The Independent.

[2] Zero Hedge (June 19, 2016). “Nigel Farage On Brexit: “We Had Momentum Until This Terrible Tragedy” – Here Are The Latest Odds.” Zero Hedge.

[3] Alex Morales and Simon Kennedy (June 19, 2016). “Brexit Campaign Resumes With Migration Debate After Cox Killing.” Bloomberg.

[4] Simon Kennedy (June 18, 2016). “First Brexit Poll Since Jo Cox Killing Has ‘Remain’ in Lead.” Bloomberg.

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