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UK EU referendum campaign focuses on economy and immigration

Opinion polls ahead of the UK referendum on EU membership have again showed a lead for those wanting to leave. Germany's DGB estimates millions of UK jobs could be lost if the country leaves the EU.

An poll published on Sunday has suggested the remain in the EU camp has lost four points in two weeks to the Brexit campaigners headed by former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

In the latest Observer/Opinium poll on the EU referendum, 43 percent of respondents said they wanted to leave, while 40 said they supported the campaign to keep the UK in the union. While voters in England are prone towards leaving, voters in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales appear to want to stay in the EU.

The results track other recent polls suggesting the remain campaign is losing steam due to concerns over immigration and excessive control from Brussels. Half of the 2,007 people surveyed said they believed that immigration would be under better control if the UK did leave the EU.

Economic warnings

There have been repeated warnings from top economists that a Brexit would have a damaging impact on the British economy.

Campaigning for the UK to stay in hte EU, Prime Minister David Cameron told the Mail on Sunday: "Nearly all experts agree there will be instant shocks to the economy if we leave the EU and there is clear and present danger of higher mortgage rates."

His Chancellor, George Osborne, gave a similar message to the Sunday Times: "If we quit the EU the country would be poorer, there would be volatility in the financial markets and that would push up mortgage costs irrespective of what the Bank of England might do with official interest rates."

The German Trade Union Federation (DGB) estimates up to 4 million people in the UK could lose their jobs in the event of a Brexit.

"If the British no longer enjoy the freedoms of the internal (EU) market such as free movement of goods and services, then four million jobs on the island are in jeopardy," the head of DGB, Reiner Hoffmann, told Germany's "Neuen Osnabrücker" newspaper at the weekend.

The shock to the EU market would also impact jobs on the continent, he added.

At the same time, European Parliament Vice President Alexander Lambsdorff said in a German radio interview on Sunday that a Brexit would not be the end of Europe and should not be viewed as a "horror scenario."

"A European Union without Germany or France is completely unimaginable, but we had a European Union without Britain at the very beginning," he said in an interview with "Deutschlandfunk." "It won't be the end of 'Project Europe', as some are describing it."

cw/jm (dpa, Reuters)

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