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Mon 27 Jun 2016 / Europe

The future: neither paradise nor perdition

There were many projections before the UK referendum on the possible economic effects of staying in or leaving the European Union. Now that the political decision has been made, we may reopen the question of the effects, with no need for exaggeration or endless doom-mongering. We can ignore the miracles promised by the Brexiteers or the dire predictions of the Remainers. What counts is forecasting the next 27 months or so when the UK will stay part of the EU.

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Fri 17 Jun 2016 / Europe

UK's one-off gain

The economic argument for ‘Brexit’ is not that the UK would make significant economic gains by leaving the EU. Rather, it is that leaving would be close enough to economically neutral in its effects that strong geopolitical, constitutional, and self-determination advantages can be achieved without prohibitive economic cost. Leaving the EU does not require economic justification. Staying does. Voters need only to believe the economic costs of leaving will not be too high.

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Wed 22 Jun 2016 / North America

Search for scapegoats

The US election campaign now underway has unveiled a battle for America’s soul. Presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump preys on fears in America’s rank and file about losing ground to globalisation, international trade agreements and immigrants. Trump has exposed a strain of unhappiness in the American body politic, which he suggests addressing by identifying scapegoats. The question is whether he could win the presidency and then lose at his own game of bringing others arrogantly to their knees.

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Tue 21 Jun 2016 / Europe

Outward-looking beyond Europe

Outside the EU the UK will be outward-looking. Through globalisation, technological change and urbanisation, economics knows ever fewer borders. Brexit can open the door for the UK to use its innate ability to adapt to new circumstances. By leaving the EU we can control and enhance our destiny in a world economy changing as never before.

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Sat 4 Jun 2016 / Europe

Voting for downgrade

Fulfilling the UK’s external funding needs would be challenging in the event of a vote for 'Brexit'. Reflecting a probable climate of economic vulnerability and political uncertainty, S&P has decided that, if Britain opts to leave, we would downgrade the UK’s triple-A credit rating. More polarised domestic and European political circumstances would pose risks for effective, transparent and predictable policy-making, raising questions about economic growth and the balance of payments.

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Fri 17 Jun 2016 / Europe

Disillusioned Europe

As Britons prepare to vote on 23 June over the UK’s European Union membership, a Pew Research Centre survey finds euroscepticism growing across Europe. People across the continent are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the EU’s handling of key issues. Whether Britain chooses to leave or remain, the Pew survey makes clear that further European centralisation would be deeply unpopular. A ‘United States of Europe’ belongs to the realms of unreality.

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Wed 1 Jun 2016 / Europe

Outside the EU, await Nike swoosh

The reality is that a country doesn’t need a trade deal to trade. Britain doesn’t need to be in the EU and its single market to sell into it. In economic terms there could be some sort of temporary shock from leaving. I have described this as a ‘tick’ or ‘Nike swoosh’; after some initial setback, the economy recovers well. So economics is on the side of Brexit. And this backs up the main argument for leaving, which is political: to restore democracy and complete accountability to Westminster and power to UK voters.

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Wed 29 Jun 2016 / Europe

Europe’s surreal referendums

Athens is a useful vantage point from which to reflect on the surreal nature of European plebiscites. After Britain’s 52% to 48% vote against European Union membership on 23 June, the lesson of history – especially the bizarre referendum U-turn over Greek austerity a year ago – is that a complete British divorce from Europe in the years ahead is highly unlikely. Much more probable is a flexible ‘halfway house’ relationship, far from the absolutist or apocalyptic predictions of Leave or Remain campaigners.

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Thu 23 Jun 2016 / Europe

The die is cast

The referendum has polarised British politics. It will ultimately lead to a significant realignment of the British political scene, in both personalities and parties. It has helped open a Pandora’s box on the Continent. And it raises existential and urgent political issues for European Union institutions and for national governments. In short, the referendum has changed much, and settled nothing. The die is cast; but we are far from the end of the game.

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Fri 3 Jun 2016 / Africa,Europe

Africans find it hard to hate

A UK decision to leave the EU would hit South Africa, as it would the rest of the world. As much as South Africa has pivoted to China and Russia in foreign policy, it is tightly bound to the City of London and to old loyalties, friends and experience in the UK. It exports almost no manufactured goods to its new friends in the larger emerging market economies. Those go to the US, the UK and the EU. Any disturbance of those markets would hurt. Overall, though, for most South Africans, the British referendum is a matter of indifference.

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