Is anyone else bored to tears of the mud-slinging and vitriol which has come to characterise the Remain and Leave campaigns? With more than three weeks to go until the European Union referendum vote, the Brexit argy-bargy is increasing in volume on a daily basis.
Today’s shrill story comes from leading figures in the Vote Leave camp. Writing in The Sun, Tories Michael Gove and Boris Johnson and Labour’s Gisela Stuart (dubbed ‘The Three Brexiters’ by the red-top – there’s a fetching photoshop job if you want to check it out) say they want to be able to scrap VAT on fuel to help the poorest households.
Immediately, Chancellor George Osborne hit back saying this was ‘fantasy land’ economics while Remain campaigners accused Vote Leave of promising a ‘make-believe land of milk and honey’ if the UK left the EU.
We have another three weeks of this to look forward to. Nevertheless, amid all the incessant poll-taking, TV vox-pops and Newsnight shouting matches, there are scraps of interesting statistics and stories.
Today’s winner of ‘least-annoying referendum press release’ comes from SyndicateRoom, an equity crowdfunding platform. In an effort to assess how individual investors and savers feel about Brexit, the firm has surveyed more than 3,000 people. The result? The majority believe that the UK leaving the EU would have a negative impact on their finances.
And this wasn’t a survey of a random 3,000 citizens. SyndicateRoom’s research spanned crowdfunding investors for private companies to individuals who have invested in publicly-listed firms. According to SyndicateRoom, when comparing the views of investors across the spectrum of company equities, around £2,025 billion of assets will be at risk of harm if the UK votes to leave the EU, with an average £81,000 of invested assets per capita. Almost half of the investment at risk of value destruction is believed to be in the property market.
The study also found that more than half of respondents expect their savings to be adversely affected by Brexit, a figure evenly reflected across UK households, from high-earners to low-earners. As for the impact on the cost of living, women expect to be more adversely affected, with 54 per cent of men expecting to have better employment prospects if the UK exits the EU.
There’s more. Based on its own research, SyndicateRoom estimates that household expenditure would decrease by 4 per cent following a vote to leave, with 52 per cent respondents over the age of 50 saying that they would reduce their expenditure if the UK votes for Brexit on June 23
A separate study out today shows that half of the over 50s think their portfolio will fall if Britain votes to leave, compared to just over one in 10 if voters decide to remain. That’s according to a Saga Investment Service survey which also found that one in five of the over 50s are holding back from making new investments until they know the result of the vote.
The research by SyndicateRoom and Saga is today’s snapshot of the EU referendum debate. No doubt the next few weeks will see more and more of this kind of research, and more and more political cat-calling and venom. It will do little to encourage a high turnout on June 23 and nothing to enhance the reputation of those who sit in our Houses of Parliament.
Helen Nugent is the Online Money Editor of The Spectator