LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s political class took a week off from the referendum to focus on the mayoral race in London and local elections up and down the country, leaving the Brexit debate to Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Britain will return to the Brexit fray next week.
Donald Trump said he thought Britain would be better off out of the European Union.
But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who leads the world’s third largest economy, said Brexit would make Britain less attractive for Japanese investors. Japanese companies employ 140,000 people in Britain.
Federal Reserve officials said Britain’s vote is shaping up to be the next global event to affect the U.S. central bank’s decision on when to next raise interest rates.
Emboldened by bookmakers’ odds that indicate Britons are likely to vote to stay in the European Union, some speculators are betting the pound will soar after next month’s referendum.
According to Thomson Reuters data, those bets, placed in recent days in the options market, are for sterling to hit $1.65 - a level not seen since September 2014 - the day after the June 23 vote.
Options that would pay out if sterling hit 1.5890 have also been placed, for June 27. Dealers say the trades are few in number, but if polls show the “Remain” camp edging ahead, demand for them could gather pace.
Implied probability of an “In” vote remained steady on about 70 percent for the week, according to Betfair.
* ORB poll taken April 27-29 showed 50-50 split on EU membership.
* Opinium poll taken April 26-29 showed 42 percent for In and 41 percent for Out.
* ICM poll, taken after President Obama’s visit last month, when he said Britain would be last in the queue for a trade deal with the U.S. if it left the EU, showed 46 percent for Out and 43 percent for In.
* ICM poll taken April 29-May 3 showed 45 percent for Out and 44 percent for In.
* TNS poll taken April 26-28 showed 39 percent for In and 36 percent for Out.
“I would say that they’re better off without it personally, but I‘m not making that as a recommendation - just my feeling,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News television, adding that he wanted Britons to make their own decision.
“Japan very clearly would prefer Britain to remain within the EU,” Abe told reporters during a visit to London. “Many Japanese companies set up their operations in the UK precisely because the UK is a gateway to the EU.”
He added: “A vote to leave would make the UK less attractive as a destination for Japanese investment.”
“Clearly if there’s an expectation that it actually will pass and the markets will react to that, then we have to take that into consideration in terms of how it affects the U.S. economy and the outlook.”
“I think the short term is unambiguous: If Britain votes to leave, there will be significant economic and financial instability. You cannot replace something with nothing. And therefore you have to scramble to create something else.”
“The longer term is trickier because there are two fundamental views of the EU: There is the German-French view, the ever-closer union - it’s not about economics, it’s ever- closer union - and there are the views of others that this is a super free trade zone. And if you run this over decades then these two views become inconsistent.”
With a tattoo of Winston Churchill’s face on his right forearm and a poem about English pride on his t-shirt, Michael Clarkson is not shy about his patriotism or his disdain for a Europe that lies “miles away, over the sea”.
Writing by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Larry King