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Odey bets against Brexit as Peter Hargreaves admits 'despair'

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Odey bets against Brexit as Peter Hargreaves admits 'despair'

Leading fund sector Brexiteers Peter Hargreaves and Crispin Odey both now predict that the UK will stay in the European Union, with the latter actively positioning for Brexit to be abandoned.

Speaking to Reuters, Hargreaves – the second largest financial backer of Brexit, having donated £3.2 million to the leave campaign – said he was ‘in despair’ and said he had ‘totally given up’.

‘I don’t think Brexit will happen at all,’ he added. ‘They [pro-Europeans] are banking on the fact that people are so fed up with it that 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.’

A cross-party coalition of MPs have in recent days voted through a series of amendments that would restrict the government’s ability to act unilaterally following the near-certain defeat of Theresa May’s exit agreement once it is put to a delayed parliamentary vote next week.

He said it had become clear that the political establishment was determined to stay in the EU and predicted this would dangerously undermine public trust for a generation or more.

He predicted there would be a suspension of article 50, followed by a second referendum, which, he seemed to tacitly accept, would not favour the leave campaign this time.

Odey, who has experienced a rocky few years of returns as some big bets against the UK economy backfired, admitted that he had now positioned his portfolio for a sharp relief rally in sterling, which ‘looks like it could be quite strong’.

He predicted that the pound could rally by as much as 5.4% to a nine-month high of $1.35 if MPs put the brakes on Brexit. ‘My view is that [Brexit] ain’t going to happen,’ he said. ‘I just can’t see how it happens with that configuration of parliament’.

In November, Odey warned sterling could lose a fifth of its value if the UK exits Europe without striking a deal.

While a significant bet on a collapse in the value of high street property sent returns rocketing in 2018, that followed a series of misfiring bets that wiped out performance in 2017.

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