FORECASTS & TRENDS E-LETTER
by Gary D. Halbert

June 14, 2016

“BREXIT” – Should They Stay Or Should They Go?

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Brits to Vote on Leaving the European Union on June 23

2. American Pollster  Frank Luntz Probes Brits on Brexit

3. Why Many Brits Support Leaving the European Union

4. Why Many Other Brits Favor Remaining in the EU

Overview

The citizens of Great Britain will make a monumental decision that will be felt worldwide if they vote to leave the European Union (EU) next week on June 23. If the Brits vote for “Brexit” it could eventually lead to the end of the EU and the euro. It could potentially lead to serious turmoil in the world financial markets in the days and weeks following the referendum if the vote is to leave.

Yet if Brexit passes, it does not mean that Britain will leave the EU immediately. We are told that there will be a transitionary period which could last a year or longer. Maybe this will limit the potential turmoil in the markets, but that’s far from certain. In any event, I think most Americans should understand the long-range implications of next week’s key vote.

I have read a great deal about what may happen if the Brits vote to leave the EU. It is clear that Brexit is part of a groundswell of dislike around the developed world for all things “Establishment.”  This growing trend also explains in part why characters like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders did so well in the election primaries.

To help us understand these trends and the important implications, I have chosen to reprint a very good analysis on this subject today. It appeared in TIME Magazine online last Friday and is written by Frank Luntz.  Mr. Luntz is a well-known political analyst, professional pollster, author and contributor to CBS News and the Fox News Channel among others.

You should read it. I will be writing more on this key topic in the weeks and months ahead.

Brexit: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

by Frank Luntz

Frank Luntz

The polls you’re reading on Brexit  – the United Kingdom’s June 23 referendum on whether it should exit the European Union – aren’t telling you the whole story.

While the commentators focus on the horse race, there’s something deeper and longer-lasting happening across the U.K. Brits have become canaries in the coal mine, offering Europe, America and the developed world a glimpse of what is coming in our elections.

The Brexit question represents the political conflict rapidly spreading across the globe: Do hardworking, taxpaying citizens fundamentally trust or reject half a century of globalization, integration and innovation? Have the promises of the political and economic elite helped improve their daily lives? Or is it time for a rethinking and redrawing of our political and economic systems from the ground up?

That’s why the majority of British voters’ heads may be with Remain, but their hearts are with Leave — and those hearts are winning out in these final days before the vote.

Public sentiment on the ground is evenly divided. In a nationwide survey my firm completed June 8, Leave had 49% of the vote, Remain 47%, and only a handful of voters (4%) remain truly, totally undecided.

Anybody who tells you today that they can predict the final outcome is either fooling or fibbing. It is truly too close to call. That, in itself, is an incredible story — given the range and [large] resources available to the ‘Remain’ campaign…

The underlying currents are moving in Leave’s favor — and they are doing so worldwide. Having conducted extensive polling and focus groups in the U.S., U.K. and across Europe, it is clear that more and more people have come to reject traditional theory and party orthodoxy, wreaking havoc on the politicians and political structures standing in its way.

In Britain, the choice is between whether we want to “put ourselves first,” or “continue contributing to the global community.” In America, the fundamental question for the upcoming election is similar, and just as significant: whether to seek changes at the margins, or blow it all up and start over—in the name of “Making America Great Again.”

Consider also the recent elections in Austria, where the far-right “Freedom Party” came within 1% of capturing the presidency. Or the current polling in France that has national-conservative candidate Marine Le Pen tied or ahead. People may not be taking to the streets, but they are using the electoral process to have their (increasingly extreme) voices heard.

But unlike in America, the underlying issue in the upcoming Brexit vote isn’t clouded by candidates or even political parties. That’s why the outcome of the referendum is so important not just across the English Channel but also across the Atlantic Ocean. This is a pure vote, up or down, on the question of being nation-first or a global participant.

For a majority of the British population, life today is just about getting through the day. They accept that Remain makes sense on a macro level; they get that the Big Guys (multi-national corporations, governments at all levels, political parties, even the media) benefit from The System—and the majority hopes that those benefits will one day trickle down to them.

They recognize that abandoning the E.U. requires a level of risk-taking that may not turn out well for the British economy overall. But an increasing number of Brits believe the consequences to the economy are more than outweighed by the feeling (if not the reality) that they are taking control of their country and their destiny once again.

After decades of feeling betrayed by the very same people and institutions that are now telling them to support the status quo — to Remain — the public appears ready to take matters into their own hands and demand radical change.

Yet on an individual, personal level, their hopes and dreams are anything but radical. It’s really about simple survival. In our polling, Britons are most worried about:

Day-to-day existence. Families and individuals are asking: “Will I have enough to pay the bills every month, and hopefully a little left over to save?” Translation: The E.U. may be relevant to political and economic leaders, but it is meaningless to (or even a negative for) the average taxpayer.

Generational survival. Parents are asking: “Will our children have the same, better or worse opportunities that I had at their age?” Translation: With Europe in perceived decline, why hitch our future to a sinking ship?

Services survival. Citizens are asking: “Do our current policies help, or hurt, the goal of preserving and protecting our pensions, benefits and NHS [National Health Service]?” Translation: with the flood of immigrants, asylum-seekers and refugees into Europe, a majority of Brits are crying out, “Enough.”

The side that addresses these very human questions best, wins.

In our U.K. survey, we presented voters with the statements [shown just below] made by both sides, and then asked them whether they agree or disagree with each one. As a general rule, statements need to receive at least 60% agreement to influence voter behavior. The mood of British voters is clearly and strongly anti-establishment, anti-elites, and anti-All-Big-Guys:

Public Support for Pro-LEAVE Campaign

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