Brexit duo ex­pect to stay in EU

Cam­paign donors hedge bets on re­main­ing

Saturday Star - - WORLD - Reuters African

TWO of the big­gest donors to the Brexit cam­paign say they now be­lieve the project they cham­pi­oned will even­tu­ally be aban­doned by the govern­ment and that the UK will stay in the EU.

Peter Har­g­reaves, the bil­lion­aire who was the se­cond big­gest donor to the 2016 leave cam­paign, and vet­eran hedge fund man­ager Crispin Odey said they ex­pect Bri­tain to stay in the EU de­spite their cam­paign vic­tory in the 2016 ref­er­en­dum.

As a re­sult, Odey, who runs his hedge fund Odey As­set Man­age­ment, said he was now po­si­tion­ing for the pound to strengthen after his flag­ship fund pre­vi­ously reaped the ben­e­fit of bet­ting against UK as­sets amid wider mar­ket fears about the im­pact of Brexit.

The donors’ pes­simism comes amid dead­lock in Bri­tain’s par­lia­ment over the exit deal that Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has struck with the EU, which has cast sig­nif­i­cant un­cer­tainty over how, or even if, Brexit will hap­pen.

Har­g­reaves, who amassed his for­tune from co-found­ing fund su­per­mar­ket Har­g­reaves Lans­down, said the po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment are de­ter­mined to scut­tle Brexit and this will lead to a gen­er­a­tion of dis­trust of Bri­tain’s po­lit­i­cal classes.

The govern­ment, he said, is likely to first ask for an ex­ten­sion to the for­mal exit process from the EU and then call for a se­cond ref­er­en­dum.

“I have to­tally given up. I am to­tally in de­spair, I don’t think Brexit will hap­pen at all,” said Har­g­reaves, 72, who is one of Bri­tain’s wealth­i­est men and do­nated £3.2 mil­lion to the leave cam­paign.

“They (pro-eu­ro­peans) are bank­ing on the fact that peo­ple are so fed up with it that will just say ‘sod it we will stay’. I do see that at­ti­tude. The prob­lem is when some­thing doesn’t hap­pen for so long you feel less an­gry about it.”

Turn­ing Brexit up­side down would mark one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary re­ver­sals in mod­ern Bri­tish history and the hur­dles to an­other ref­er­en­dum re­main high. Both ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties are com­mit­ted to leav­ing the EU in ac­cor­dance with the 2016 ref­er­en­dum.

But Odey, who do­nated more than £870 000 to pro-leave groups, said that while he did not be­lieve a se­cond ref­er­en­dum will take place, he does not think Brexit will hap­pen ei­ther.

“My view is that it ain’t go­ing to hap­pen,” Odey said. “I just can’t see how it hap­pens with that con­fig­u­ra­tion of par­lia­ment.”

Bri­tain’s par­lia­ment is viewed as largely pro-eu­ro­pean be­cause about three-quar­ters of law­mak­ers voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 ref­er­en­dum.

Odey said he had changed his po­si­tion on ster­ling over the past month and that the pound “looks like it could be quite strong” and rise to $1.32 or $1.35 against the dol­lar. |

News Agency (ANA) RUSSIA said yes­ter­day it was im­por­tant for Syr­ian Kurds and the Syr­ian govern­ment to start talk­ing to each other in light of US plans to with­draw its forces from Syria .

Maria Zakharova, a spokesper­son for Russia’s Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs, told re­porters that ter­ri­tory pre­vi­ously con­trolled by the US should be trans­ferred to the Syr­ian govern­ment.

“In this re­gard, es­tab­lish­ing di­a­logue be­tween the Kurds and Da­m­as­cus takes on par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance,” said Zakharova.

She said that Moscow had the im­pres­sion that the US wanted to stay in Syria de­spite Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounc­ing a US with­drawal. | Reuters African News Agency (ANA)

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