Brexit Watch: Rowan Dartington’s update

InvestmentEurope has decided to start a Brexit Watch of the most relevant comments from the asset management industry. Stay tuned!

The lack of a clear alternative plan to an EU membership is Brexit supporters’ biggest weakness, says Rowan Dartington Signature’s Guy Stephens

It is just over a week since David Cameron fired the starting gun on the EU Referendum. The campaign will have lasted four months by the time we actually get around to voting on 23rd June and it is already turning into a media frenzy.

On one side, we have the incumbent Government with all the top job holders supporting David Cameron which includes the Chancellor, Home, Foreign and Defence secretaries. A select few of the cabinet have chosen to support the ‘out’ campaign, with Boris Johnson being the main candidate with the most to gain should Cameron lose and inevitably have to step down.

A cynic would argue this is why he has chosen this position and his 24 hour delay on declaring his position suggested he was assessing more than his view on Europe!

So far, the clamour from industry and the heights of economic power and influence are overwhelmingly in favour of retaining the status quo. The main argument appears to be ‘better the devil you know’ and that a leap into the dark on the basis of nationalistic emotion could well turn into a nightmare.

It does appear quite convincing to us that to unpick all that has been put into place since the UK joined the Common Market in 1975 will create a huge amount of additional bureaucracy rather than its removal.

However, nothing is written down as to what will happen if the UK votes ‘No’, and this is probably the biggest weakness with the ‘No’ campaign. What is the alternative and what will it look like? A Government analysis has already said this week that this process could take 10 years, already contradicted by Commons Leader, Chris Grayling, who is not surprisingly supporting the ‘out’ campaign.

Last week also saw the spat involving Michael Gove over the legal robustness of what has been agreed in Brussels, with yet more contradictory debate which the man on the street will not understand or be particularly interested in.

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