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As Brexit Battle Enters Final Week, New Poll Shows Shift Towards Leaving EU

Campaigns for both sides were suspended Thursday following fatal shooting and stabbing of Labour Party MP Jo Cox

Andrea Germanos

A week ahead of the so-called Brexit referendum, new polling shows the British public now leaning in favor of leaving the European Union.

The results of the Ipsos MORI poll published Thursday in the Evening Standard show 53 percent now in favor of leaving the EU and 47 percent in favor of remaining.

"It is the first time since [Prime Minister] David Cameron pledged the referendum in January 2013 that Vote Leave have come out ahead in the respected monthly Ipsos MORI telephone survey," the paper reports. Reuters also notes that the results mark a surge from an Ipsos MORI survey just last month that found just 37 percent in favor of leaving.

The Independent adds that the new poll "follows surveys in the past week from ORB, ICM, and YouGov which also show the Leave campaign opening up a margin over Remain."

The official Leave and Remain campaigns were suspended on Thursday after Labour Party MP Jo Cox died from an attack in her district of Batley and Spen. It is unclear at this point if the stabbing and shooting of the 41-year-old mother of two and Remain supporter was politically motivated.

The Guardian's editorial board writes, though, that the attack was "in a very real sense, an attack on democracy," adding, "This was no random event, and the police are investigating reports that the assailant yelled 'Britain First' during the attack." They continue:

This is not merely a chauvinist taunt, but the name of a far-right political party, whose candidate for City Hall turned his back in disgust on Sadiq Khan at the count, in sectarian rage at a great cosmopolitan city’s decision to make a Muslim mayor. The thuggish outfit denounced Ms Cox’s murder, as it was bound to do. But their brand of angry blame-mongering could very well serve to convince particular individuals, who may already be close to the edge, that some people are less than human, and thus fair game for attack. And all the more so at a time when divisive hate-mongering is seeping into the mainstream.

Indeed, as Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Conn Hallinan wrote, "The awkwardly named “Brexit” has stirred up a witches' brew of xenophobia, racism, and nationalism."

Explaining support for each side, Hallinan added:

The British Conservative Party is deeply split on the issue, with its most right-wing and anti-immigrant members favoring getting out.

The left is also filled with crosscurrents. While some argue for getting out because they see the EU as an undemocratic vehicle for the expansion of international capital, others are critical but advocate staying in. British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn — hardly a friend to international capital — opposes the Brexit.

Another member of the left on the Remain side is Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, who wrote that

an exit from the EU on 23 June would represent possibly the most right-wing exit imaginable. Even a fanatical optimist cannot believe that the values of internationalism and equality will be reinforced by a Brexit in these circumstances.

The last four weeks have witnessed a re-emergence of views on a mass scale that seemed safely assigned to the past. The mainstream campaign to leave the EU has pandered to nationalism, has built a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment and has fostered a notion that outside the EU we can return to an age when Britain was the world’s foremost ‘great power’.

Among those joining the late Cox and Dearden on the Remain side are Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Greek former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who joined forces to create the Another Europe Is Possible campaign, which argues: "We don't believe a British exit from the EU offers a path towards the social, citizen-led Europe we so urgently need. That's why we are saying 'stay in Europe to change Europe.'"

Varoufakis has written "that a democratic, prosperous Britain can only be won in the context of a pan-European struggle to democratise the EU." He added:

Brexit would not restore sovereignty, rationality or public services to Britain, but it would hasten the disintegration of the EU. Might this be a good reason to vote leave? Progressives must make a judgment call: do they believe that something good may come out of the collapse of our reactionary, undemocratic EU? Or will its collapse plunge the continent into an economic and political vortex that no Brexit can shield Britain from?

Issues facing the UK will remain long after the June 23 vote. As Guardian columnist Gary Younge put it recently,

the issues raised by this referendum [...] go to the essential questions of the role of the nation state in the neoliberal age: the capacity for democratic engagement under globalisation, and the ability of a continent once riven by war and genocide to keep the peace. These are not questions to which there are simple answers. Whether we vote yes or no, they will continue to challenge us and everyone else.

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