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‘Remain’ battle ups as bigwigs take on economic risks

 

Bloomberg

Get ready for a pro-European Union onslaught. This week, voters tuning into the fraught battle over the U.K.’s future will hear from three heavy-hitters who have already warned about the risks of leaving the single market. The chancellor of the exchequer, the governor of the Bank of England and the head of the IMF are set to speak, while the National Institute of Economic and Social Research will share its view on the consequences of a Brexit.
As the nation’s referendum on its EU membership draws closer, Remain campaigners are putting the economy at the heart of battle, arguing Britons would be less well off outside the bloc. With about 20 percent of voters still undecided and surveys showing uncertainty is already hampering growth, those arguments may be pivotal for the outcome.
“When all these economic figures come out and speak, it’s about the cumulative effect,” said YouGov’s director of political and social research Joe Twyman. “This is an argument that is being pushed repeatedly and seriously by the Stay campaign, because they know the economy is the most important issue for lots of people.”
The interventions have been coming thick and fast, with high-profile figures including U.S. President Barack Obama and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pressing the case for Remain, while Brexit campaigners saying such arguments are scaremongering. Donald Trump said immigration in Europe made him think Britons would be “better off” outside the bloc.
The barrage has helped cloud the outlook for monetary policy and growth, intensifying the forecasting challenge for BOE officials. The central bank will publish new forecasts in its quarterly Inflation Report on Thursday, alongside its interest-rate decision and minutes of the May meeting.
Even though officials said last month they would treat the data cautiously until after the June 23 referendum, a gauge of services, the biggest part of the economy, has since slumped to the lowest in more than three years. That may “test the patience of the doves,” according to Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotiabank.
Carney, who insists he’s neutral in the debate, has been criticized by some lawmakers for expressing views that they say back Remain. The governor, who is set to give a press conference on the economic outlook on Thursday, responded by saying it would be “political” of him to suppress the central bank’s risk analysis.
The Brexit campaign gets some air time on Monday, when Vote Leave’s chief, Matthew Elliott, testifies to lawmakers on the economic and financial costs and benefits of membership.

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