Brexit vote could turn UK into a 'safe haven' triggering EU disintegration, say Barclay
Britain's exit from EU would open a 'Pandora's Box' in Europe, warn analysts
28 JANUARY 2016 • 4:00PM
A British exit from the European Union could see the UK becoming a "safe haven" amid a disintegrating Europe, Barclays has said.
Analysis from the bank said a 'leave' vote would open a "Pandora's Box" in the crisis-hit continent, and could dissuade Scotland from breaking away from the relative safety of the UK.
"If politics in the EU turned for the worse, the UK may be seen as a safe haven from those risks"
Barclays said financial markets had failed to grasp the sheer "breadth" of the British vote, calling it one of "the most significant global risks of the year", and one which could lead to the collapse of the European project.
Investors have been selling off the pound in anticipation of an EU referendum, which could take place as early as the summer. Sterling has depreciated by 9pc against the single currency since November.
But if Britain voted for an EU exit, the political and institutional reverberations on the continent would be far greater than any economic fall-out, said the bank, who compared the implications to that of a "Grexit".
A number of European countries would be caught in the grip of extremist left-wing and right-wing populist parties, pushing them towards leaving the EU, Barclays told their clients.
"If politics in the EU turned for the worse, the UK may be seen as a safe haven from those risks, reversing the euro's exchange rate appreciation", said the report's authors.
"In that environment, Scottish voters could be even less inclined to leave the relative safety of the UK for an increasingly uncertain EU".
The warning echoes fears that Europe, rather than the UK, would suffer the worst consequences of a Brexit. Deutsche Bank's chief economist said earlier this week that Brexit would be "" for the continent, consigning Europe to the status of a "second rank" power.
"The referendum is generally seen as a ‘UK’ issue, when it is better seen as a European issue" said Philippe Gudin of Barclays.
Analysts highlighted the "emotionally charged" immigration debate as a "wildcard" which could see the UK leave the EU.
Survey data shows concerns about immigration have surged to become the most important issue facing the EU, according to voters - elicpsing fears over economy, terrorism, and unemployment since the start of 2015.
Should Brexit occur, this would embolden other member states who are struggling to control immigration and unleash a fresh wave of turmoil in the EU, said Barclays.
"The UK would present continental opponents of immigration with a politically potent example (and threat) of how to deal with one of the thorniest and most emotionally charged trans-national issues confronting European voters", they said.