Brexit donors believe UK will not now leave the EU

Two major donors to the Brexit campaign say they now believe the project will be abandoned by the government and the United Kingdom will stay in the European Union, Reuters has reported. 

Peter Hargreaves, the billionaire who was the second biggest donor to the 2016 leave campaign, and veteran hedge fund manager Crispin Odey told Reuters they expect Britain to stay in the EU despite their campaign victory in the 2016 referendum. 

As a result, Odey, who runs hedge fund Odey Asset Management, said he is now positioning for sterling to strengthen after his flagship fund previously reaped the benefit of betting against UK assets amid wider market fears about the impact of Brexit. 

The donors’ pessimism comes amid deadlock in Britain’s parliament over the exit deal that Prime Minister Theresa May has struck with the EU, which has cast significant uncertainty over how, or even if, Brexit will happen. 

Hargreaves, who amassed his fortune from co-founding fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown, said the political establishment were determined to scuttle Brexit and this would lead to a generation of distrust of Britain’s political classes. 

The government, he said, is likely to first ask for an extension to the formal exit process from the EU and then call for a second referendum. 

“I have totally given up. I am totally in despair, I don’t think Brexit will happen at all,” said Hargreaves, 72, who is one of Britain’s wealthiest men and donated £3.2 million to the leave campaign. “They (pro-Europeans) are banking on the fact that people are so fed up with it that they will just say ‘sod it we will stay’. I do see that attitude. The problem is when something doesn’t happen for so long you feel less angry about it.” 

Reversing the Brexit vote would be a major event as both main parties are committed to leaving the EU in accordance with the wishes expressed by the electorate in the June 2016 referendum. By overturning the will of the people, parliament would bring into question the UK's democratic credentials.

Another major donor to the leave campaign, Paul Marshall, chairman of the hedge fund firm Marshall Wace, which runs $39 billion in assets, told Reuters that abandoning Brexit would be wrong and highly damaging. 

“Despite the antics in parliament, the prospect of the 2016 referendum being overturned is in my view very small,” said Marshall, who gave £100,000 pounds to the campaign prior during the run up to the referendum. 

Marshall predicted the most likely outcome is that Britain will leave the EU without a deal in March, or the government will secure a revised Brexit deal, which may involve Brexit being delayed. 

In December of last year, U.S. investment bank J.P. Morgan said the chances of Britain calling off its divorce from the European Union had increased after a string of humiliating parliamentary defeats for Prime Minister Theresa May, and raised the probability of remaining at 40%.

Britain’s pro-Brexit trade minister Liam Fox has also said it is now possible that Brexit might not happen, as there was a real danger that parliament would try to “steal” Brexit from the British people. 

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