Cameron signed new mortgage agreement eight days before EU vote - what did he know?

Did Cameron suspect a house move was on the cards?

Updated: 
EU referendum

It has emerged today that David and Samantha Cameron signed a new mortgage agreement with HSBC on 15 June - just days before the EU referendum. The Daily Mail reported that Cameron found the time in his hectic schedule of campaigning to Remain, to sign up for a new mortgage on his Notting Hill home. It has prompted questions as to whether he suspected a house move was on the cards.

Things have changed significantly for the family since signing the mortgage papers. Cameron announced he would be standing down in October, after the election of a new Conservative party leader. This will prompt a move from Number 10.

Did he know?

Naturally the timing of the mortgage agreement has led to speculation as to whether the two are linked at all. The Mail points out that the house was originally bought for cash, so this is a brand new loan, effectively taking equity out of their £3.5 million Notting Hill property.

In theory, they might have done this in order to buy a property elsewhere. The Camerons already have a second property - a £1.3 million cottage in Oxfordshire - but a move there would mean taking the children out of school, which would be a major step.

There are no clues available from the Land Registry documents, which only show that a mortgage has been taken out. We don't know how much it was for, and there are no clues as to what it will be spent on.

Unlikely

The idea that Cameron has special insight into how people were going to vote in the referendum seems a little far-fetched. Nobody knew which way the country was leaning - even going into polling day, there was a decent chunk of the population that had no idea how they would be voting.

The assumption that the couple needed to release equity to buy a home is also likely to be an overly simplistic one, especially when you consider how complex the Cameron's financial arrangements have been in the past. They have a number of sources of income, and a number of properties. It's unlikely they had any great fear of being homeless if they didn't cobble together a mortgage before Cameron lost his job.

Technically it is possible that Cameron decided he needed a Plan B if the vote went against him. It's also possible that he was worried mortgage rates might rise after the vote - so he wanted to get a mortgage while it was cheaper. On 5th June, he announced that one of the shocks to the UK economy in the immediate aftermath of a Leave vote could be higher interest rates on mortgages. This, he argued, wouldn't be as a result of a Bank of England rate change, but of market volatility making it more expensive for banks to offer mortgages. He said at the time Brexit could add £1,500 a year to the average cost of a mortgage, as banks hiked rates.

This is open to debate, however. As a Remain campaigner he was unlikely to voice the other side of the argument, but there are plenty of experts suggesting that mortgage rates could well come down as a result of the vote - because a flood of money into the relatively safe bond market will mean bond yields go down - which in turn makes mortgages cheaper for banks to arrange.

In fact, HSBC cut rates ahead of the vote - with a two-year fixed-rate mortgage at 0.99% - the bank's lowest-ever rate. The Cameron's property is too valuable for them to have signed up to this mortgage, but by far the most likely scenario is that a family with an eye for a financial benefit saw mortgage rates head south, and decided the timing was good to free up some equity in order to profit in some way.

According to The Telegraph, a Downing Street spokesman said: "People often change mortgages. It's a common practice. We didn't know what the referendum would be."


            	David Cameron resigns as Prime Minister after Brexit

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