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Growing Brexit concerns in EU media

Many of the EU media continue to widely report on the UK’s EU referendum. Le Monde reports that, one week before the British referendum, the Remain camp is panicking, after four public opinion polls put the Leave camp winning with an unprecedented comfortable margin. Indeed, voters outside of London see a Brexit as the surest way to stop the flow of Eastern European workers into the country.

The Remain campaign’s economic argument is failing to convince, especially among Labour voters, who are needed to offset Euroscepticism. The polls show a shift towards a Leave vote among Labour voters; more than one in three (35%) is now in favour of Brexit. The leadership of the EU believes that the bloc could emerge stronger if Britain votes to leave, the Telegraph reports.

A senior EU diplomat told the paper that European leaders are increasingly expecting a Brexit, but are not prepared to offer any further concessions. Jean-Claude Juncker is now making daily calls to European capitals discussing contingency plans, but many believe that the EU could emerge stronger if its most reluctant member chooses to leave. The European Central Bank will also reportedly reiterate its readiness to support the markets in case the British vote to leave the EU, several EU media reveal.

According to a Reuters report, the ECB announcement is expected to be made on 24 June. The ECB will announce that it is ready do whatever is necessary to maintain market liquidity, as well as opening swap lines with the Bank of England (BoE), allowing for the exchange of Euro and GBP sterling, and the unlimited funding of European banks in both currencies. France and Germany might also be discussing a “common initiative”, a “recovery plan” to prevent Europe’s collapse should the UK decide to leave, L’Obs reports.

However, for the time being, they are keeping things under wraps, possibly to avoid interfering in the British campaign, “petrified” at the idea of a Brexit, or “to hide the absence of concrete propositions”. Meanwhile, George Osborne’s warning of a harsh post-Brexit austerity budget has been dismissed by the Leave campaign, and provoked a revolt from at least 65 Tory MPs, all British media and several EU media report. A Mail editorial describes George Osborne’s “deeply irresponsible” warning as an “act of utter desperation” it also argues that the facts do not bear his warnings out, with shares performing adequately and companies continuing to recruit in Britain, despite the referendum uncertainty.

In a joint article for the Telegraph, Michael Howard, Nigel Lawson, Norman Lamont and Iain Duncan Smith describe George Osborne’s warning as “ludicrous scaremongering”. Most UK media comment that George Osborne is no longer fit to be Chancellor following his warnings. US media, as well as Rai Tre and report that Nigel Farage led a flotilla on the Thames to demonstrate in favour of Brexit. Writing in the Times, David Cameron argues that Britain is stronger and safer in the EU, and that people advocating Brexit are “playing a dangerous game for their own political gain”.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Commissioner for Financial Markets and Stability Jonathan Hill accused the Leave campaign of intellectual dishonesty that risked inflicting serious damage on a vital sector of the UK economy. An FT editorial argues that Britain should vote to remain in the EU, not only for its own sake, but because of the far-reaching continental impact a Brexit vote would have. Writing in the Times, Simon Nixon warns that Britain’s EU referendum threatens to “send shockwaves” across Europe, highlighted by the volatility of markets this week.

Marco Zatterin argues in La Stampa that a victory for the “Leave” vote in the Brexit referendum will “unleash a storm”. In an interview with Die Zeit, Ursula von der Leyen claims that the EU needs the UK, or it might lose its grip on reality.Public scepticism in the UK towards the EU reflects a more general trend in Europe, Verslo Zinios writes. Emilia Palonen says on YLE TV1 that a Brexit could fuel the populist fires and question purpose of the EU. Writing in the Telegraph, Juliet Samuel argues that the EU needs to be more flexible or it could break up. She argues that the EU must accept the coexistence of two distinct projects – the eurozone states and the single market.

In his editorial for Libération, Alain Duhamel believes that whatever the outcome of the referendum, the EU will need to “reform itself in order to be loved”. Finally, Publico and FAZ report that the morning after the Brexit referendum, the main EU institutions’ leaders will meet to develop strategies to handle the outcome. The Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk and the President of Martin Schulz will meet to decide what steps should be considered towards a united Europe. They have been discussing the reinforcement of the European Union and the United Kingdom in several meetings over the past week, to create a strategy in order to minimise the referendum decision’s impact.



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