Sunday 25 September 2016

EU Referendum: Massive swing to Brexit – with just 12 days to go

Polling carried out for ‘The Independent’ in London shows that 55 per cent of UK voters intend to vote for Britain to leave the EU in the 23 June referendum

Andrew Grice

Published 11/06/2016 | 11:28

Boris Johnson and David Cameron, the two Tories represent different sides on the Brexit debate. GETTY
Boris Johnson and David Cameron, the two Tories represent different sides on the Brexit debate. GETTY

THE campaign to take Britain out of the EU has opened up a remarkable 10-point lead over the Remain camp, according to an exclusive poll for The Independent in London.

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The survey of 2,000 people by ORB found that 55 per cent believe the UK should leave the EU (up four points since our last poll in April), while 45 per cent want it to remain (down four points).

 These figures are weighted to take account of people’s likelihood to vote. It is by far the biggest lead the Leave camp has enjoyed since ORB began polling the EU issue for The Independent a year ago, when it was Remain who enjoyed a 10-point lead. Now the tables have turned.

Even when the findings are not weighted for turnout, Leave is on 53 per cent (up three points since April) and Remain on 47 per cent (down three). The online poll, taken on Wednesday and Thursday, suggests the Out camp has achieved momentum at the critical time ahead of the 23 June referendum.

Differential turnout could prove crucial. ORB found that 78 per cent of Leave supporters say they will definitely vote – describing themselves as a “10” on a scale of 0-10, while only 66 per cent of Remain supporters say the same.

Read more: Special Report: Why 'Brexit' really matters to the 500,000 Irish living in Britain

The results will heighten fears in the Remain campaign that it is losing ground among Labour supporters, who are seen as critical to securing victory for it.  According to ORB, 56 per cent of people who voted for Labour at last year’s general election now back Remain when turnout is taken into account, but a dangerously high 44 per cent support Leave. Only 38 per cent of Tory voters endorse David Cameron’s stance by backing Remain, while 62 per cent support Leave.

Many people seem ready to vote for Brexit even though the poll shows they believe it involves some risk and think the economy is more important than immigration – widely seen as the Leave camp’s trump card.

The one crumb of comfort for the Remain camp is that when people were asked to predict the referendum result, the average figures were 52 per cent for Remain and 48 per cent for Leave. This “wisdom of the crowd” polling proved accurate during Ireland’s referendum on gay marriage last year.

The ORB survey highlights the stark generational differences over the EU. Seven out of 10 people aged 18-24 back Remain and 30 per cent Leave. Support for Leave rises up the age scale to 64 per cent among those aged 55 and over (figures weighted for turnout). Crucially,  just over half (56 per cent) of 18-24 year-olds say they will definitely vote, compared to more than 80 per cent of those aged 55 and over.

Support for EU membership is highest in Scotland, with 60 per cent backing Remain. But a majority of people in every other region of Great Britain favour withdrawal when turnout is taken into account. In London, seen as a strong area for the Remain campaign, only 44 per cent back staying in the EU and 56 per cent favour voting to leave. This is due to the turnout factor. Only 66 per cent of people in London say they will definitely vote, the lowest of any region.

Read more: Impact on Ireland: Five things that may happen if Britain leaves the EU

However, warnings about the economic impact of Brexit appear to have hit home. According to ORB, eight out of 10 people – and of Conservative voters – think leaving the EU would pose some risk, and only 19 per cent think it would pose no risk at all. But a majority of both groups are still prepared to take the risk.

Similarly, 52 per cent of people agree with the statement that the economy is a bigger issue than immigration when considering how to vote in the referendum, while 37 per cent disagree.

Seven out of 10 people think the campaign has been too negative so far, while only 15 per cent disagree. The Leave camp will see this finding as a sign that what it has dubbed Remain’s “Project Fear” has not worked.

Four out of 10 people believe that whatever the referendum result, it will not have much impact on their everyday life, but more people (44 per cent) disagree with this statement.

Polling experts say the result is still too close to call, and that there has been a late swing to the “status quo” option in previous referendums, including the one on Scottish independence in 2014. They also point out that telephone polls consistently give Remain a higher rating than online surveys.

Independent News Service

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