By Yves Smith and cross-posted from Naked Capitalism
The officialdom in England and in much of the rest of the advanced world is suddenly in alarm over the possibility of a Brexit. US Treasury yields sank last Friday as investors ran for cover, and the flight to safety continued today as a surge in the yen led to a 3% fall in the Nikkei
The UK”s elites had been confident that frequent, loud “Don’t Touch That Dial” warnings, with vivid descriptions of all of the horrors that would ensue, would herd voters into line well before the June 23 polling date.
Instead, an online poll commissioned by the Independent showed the Leave campaign to be winning by a stunning 55% to 45%. That revelation coming on top of weak economic data from the US, put Mr. Market in a funk. The Financial Times’ “poll of polls” puts Leave in the lead by a smaller margin, 46% to 44%.
Moreover, the sense is that with only 10 days to the decision date, the Leave campaign is gaining momentum. The Conservatives have realized that having a bunch of toffs, big banks, and intrusive foreign leaders tell British citizens how economically damaging a Brexit would be seems only to have persuaded voters at most that the people at the top of the food chain would take a hit. Voters seem to be in a bloody-minded enough mood to be willing to take a hit if they can inflict some pain on their putative leaders and take the banking classes down a notch or two. Another sentiment (and one that the elites appear to deny) is that voters are willing to pay an economic cost, even a large one, for more national sovereignity. So now Labor leaders have been moved to the front line of the sales campaign.
But even if the referendum next week results in “Leave” getting the most results, that does not mean a Brexit will necessarily happen. There are at least two ways that the will of the public could be thwarted.
Peter Hitchens outlines one possibility, that Parliament refuses to honor the vote. From the Daily Mail:
I think we are about to have the most serious constitutional crisis since the Abdication of King Edward VIII. I suppose we had better try to enjoy it.
If – as I think we will – we vote to leave the EU on June 23, a democratically elected Parliament, which wants to stay, will confront a force as great as itself – a national vote, equally democratic, which wants to quit. Are we about to find out what actually happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?
Since the intricacies of Parliamentary procedure are well over my pay grade, I will leave it to our British readers to game out how the Parliament could maneuver to keep the UK from departing the European Union even in the face of “Leave” winning.
Aside from some sort of crude rejection, there is a second, time-honored way that has gotten recalcitrant voters to fall into line: keep sending them back to the polls until they give the desired answer…