Britain’s credit rating could be cut by as much as two notches if it leaves the European Union, Standard & Poor’s told Reuters on Thursday.
A vote to quit the EU would be likely to result in a one-notch downgrade, which could be increased to two notches if relations between London and Brussels deteriorated significantly, the credit ratings agency’s chief European sovereign rating officer told Reuters in an interview.
Support among Britons for staying within the bloc has tumbled as an influx of migrants into Europe has pushed many voters toward opting for an exit ahead of a referendum due by the end of 2017.
S&P has rated Britain at AAA since 1978, but revised the outlook to negative in June, citing the risk of a so-called Brexit.
S&P’s Moritz Kraemer told Reuters that Britain would face a one-notch downgrade if it voted to leave, and possibly double that if relations between London and Brussels sour or that vote prompted secession by Scotland from the United Kingdom.
“Should we conclude that departure from the EU is likely over the medium term, we could lower the rating by potentially more than one notch, depending on the circumstances, such as the expected future relations with the EU,” Kraemer said.