Uncertainty, tension ahead of Britain’s vote on EU membership

LONDON, June 21 (Xinhua) — Uncertainty, division and tension continue in Britain two days ahead of a referendum on its European Union membership as campaign rallies resumed Tuesday.

Campaigning renewed after a three-day suspension following the murder of Pro-EU Labor Party lawmaker Jo Cox on Thursday. Both Remain and Leave camps are making last-ditch efforts to gain support, as polls on Monday show an uncertain outcome of the upcoming vote.

An ORB poll for the Daily Telegraph newspaper put the support for Remain at 53 percent, up 5 percentage points on the previous one, with Leave down to 46 percent.

A survey conducted from May 16 to June 12 by social research body NatCen found the support at 53 percent for Remain versus 47 percent for Leave, while an online poll over the weekend by YouGov for The Times shows a slim lead of Leave at 44 percent, with Remain at 42 percent.

“All the signs of ORB’s latest and final poll point to a referendum that will truly come down to the wire,” political strategist Lynton Crosby wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

The slightly Remain-tipped poll results led to a strong recovery of the pound sterling on market earlier Monday and a rise in Asian stocks on Tuesday.

Billionaire George Soros warned in The Guardian newspaper that a Brexit outcome would trigger a pound decline of at least 15 percent as in September 1992, and possibly a more disruptive more than 20 percent, with “an immediate and dramatic impact on financial markets, investment, prices and jobs.”

Gloomy predictions of other experts include a start of European Union breaking apart, and protectionism and nationalism harming global trade. An optimistic scenario limits pain elsewhere than Britain in Europe to a lesser extent, and suggests an affected global market soon to recover with no big economic damage.

Soros said in The Guardian that powerful speculative forces are eager to exploit any miscalculations by the British government or British voters.

Risks loom ahead with the Thursday vote deemed as a turning point in the political and economic fate of both Britain and Europe.

Risks from quitting and economic advantages provided by EU membership have been major arguments of Remain campaigners, including Prime Minister David Cameron. Supporters for Leave blame EU freedom of movement rules for immigrant inflows that they believe have stepped up pressures on public services and jobs.

J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series, said Monday in a blog posting: “We’ll have to decide which monsters we believe are real and which illusory.”

In her eyes, quitting the EU would amount to a protest “against everything about modern life that scares us.” She reckons nationalism is on the march across the Western world. “How can a retreat into selfish and insecure individualism be the right response when Europe faces genuine threats?”

The vote on EU membership has polarized Britons. Severity of the division may be reflected in the murder of Cox on Thursday.

The bloodshed led to a shift in polls away from Leave. Cameron led tearful tributes in Parliament on Monday to Cox, while urging unity “against the hatred that killed her.”


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