“Leave or remain”. Forty-five million UK citizens are facing this question today. The polls for the Brexit referendum have opened at 7 a.m. local time and will close at 10 p.m. Then, there will be the counting. Currently, polls show a slight advantage of the “remain” over “leave”. Whatever the outcome, it will be a historic moment and Europe will undergo profound change. If “yes” prevails, the concept of the EU will be revolutionized. The Union will lose strength, ceasing to be an everlasting union and becoming a union from which a country can freely opt out. A dangerous precedent in terms of political and economic stability. Whereas a knife-edge victory of the ‘no’ will demand profound reflection from the Community institutions on what went wrong and made one of the founding states, the United Kingdom, come as close as this to saying goodbye to the European dream.
What we know for sure is that the effects of the victory of “leave” would be irreversible. President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, was clear in this regard. “I want to tell British voters that there are going to be no other negotiations with the EU after the one already concluded in February, when Prime Minister David Cameron made the most of what he could have and we have granted the maximum of what we could give” he explained. “Since the beginning of the election campaign, I have been defending the point of view that we need a fair and equitable agreement with Great Britain, and that is exactly what we have done.” The hope of Brussels is the failure of Brexit, but Juncker made it clear that the EU is not going to play any role in it.
The debate continues in Britain and turns in yet another long-distance duel between Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish nationalist Nigel Farage, who has lost the battle for the independence of his country and now hopes to win the one to make the entire Kingdom leave Europe. For Farage, the Brexit referendum is an “independence day” regardless of its outcome. He assures that in case “no” wins, “Denmark or the Netherlands are going to start packing their suitcases.” In short, Europe is dead, no matter how you look at it. “Talking about independence is meaningless” – the conservative prime minister roared, answering his rival and former mayor of London Boris Johnson (who supports Brexit too). Cameron remarked that it is up to the British people to peacefully decide on this question, because the people is “sovereign, and this consultation proves it.”
What worries Brussels the most is the economic impact of an eventual exit of EU member from the union. In recent days, in fact, financial markets have started to take a breather thanks to the fact that the “remain” has been gaining position in the polls. Meanwhile, pound to euro exchange rate is recovering, whereas pound to dollar exchange rate is slowing down, as markets are recovering halfway through an uninspired session conditioned by the eve of the vote. The only one to be still slightly losing position are Milan, which drops by 0.08%. Frankfurt goes up by 1.04%. London + 0.66%, Paris + 0.73%, and Madrid + 0.59%. And if the British press seems split between “leave” (as The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times) and “remain” (The Guardian and The Times), also the industrial world seems to be split: 1,300 British executives, including the CEOs of 51 out of the 100 top companies listed in “footsie”, support the vote against Brexit. Small businesses, on the other hand, would leave the EU willingly.