Thursday 26 April 2018

Brexit: Final opinion poll shows surge for Remain but vote will go down to wire

In the UK, the Brexit debate has become a battleground for the leadership of the Tory party. Pictured are London Mayor Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
In the UK, the Brexit debate has become a battleground for the leadership of the Tory party. Pictured are London Mayor Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Peter Dominiczak and Steven Swinford

The European Union referendum will “come down to the wire” following a surge of support among those certain to back Remain in the final days of the campaign, David Cameron’s election strategist says.

An analysis of a poll for this newspaper which shows that amongst definite voters, the Prime Minister’s Remain campaign now has a 7-point lead, with 53pc of the vote compared to Leave’s 46pc.

Read more: From passport controls to the Rugby World Cup: What would Brexit mean for Ireland?

Last week, Leave was one point ahead in the poll, its first lead since March.

However, amongst all British voters, Remain has just a 2-point lead on 49pc of the vote compared to Leave on 47pc, the smallest the gap has been since these polls began in March.

The surge for Remain comes in the wake of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox on Thursday last week.

The poll suggests that pro-EU voters are now more likely to turn out than people backing a Brexit.

But it shows that Leave is still making gains on policies such as the economy, suggesting that if the Brexit campaign’s supporters can be motivated to turn out and vote, the result of the referendum is too close to call.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph just three days before the country goes to the polls, Sir Lynton Crosby says the result of the In-Out referendum is still “uncertain” despite the boost for Remain.

Read more: Cameron urges voters to sign up as support swings towards Brexit

Lynton, who masterminded both Mr Cameron’s general election victory and Boris Johnson’s two mayoral election victories, says: “All the signs of ORB’s latest and final poll point to a referendum that will truly come down to the wire.

“Since the start of this polling series in March, Leave has seen steady improvements across a variety of attributes, ranging from the economy to credibility.  However it has also failed to quash the almost ubiquitous perception that it is the riskier of the two options.”

The leader of the campaign to keep Britain in the European Union has been accused of a “morally unacceptable” plot to use Mrs Cox's death to make case for Remain and “call out” Brexit supporters

Read more: Remain has just days to rally voters as new poll points to Brexit

The Home Office has warned that Britain’s immigration system risks being undermined after a judge ruled officials cannot detain asylum seekers they believe are posing as children without evidence.

Boris Johnson suggested that Nigel Farage is "bigoted" and "xenophobic" after controversy following a Ukip poster warning that Europe is at “breaking point” because of migrants.

The pound rallied and the FTSE 100 recorded its biggest one-day gain in four months amid signs the markets believe a Remain vote is increasingly likely.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, refused to rule out suspending the markets in the hours after a Brexit vote.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, insisted that he will not be to blame if Britain leaves the EU following claims from his own MPs that he has not done enough to support the Remain campaign.

Mr Johnson will on Tuesday take on Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, in the final televised debate of the referendum in front of a 6,000 strong audience in Wembley Arena.


Today’s poll for The Telegraph finds that turnout will be crucial to the final result of the referendum and that Remain voters are becoming increasingly motivated as polling day approaches.

The poll finds that turnout among Remain voters has risen by 9 points in the last week to 69pc.

Meanwhile, turnout among Leave voters has fallen by 4 points to 64pc.

Last week’s boost for the Leave campaign in a series of polls appears to have lessened Brexit-backers motivation to go to the polls on Thursday.

Leave voters’ expectation of a victory has increased from 24pc last week to 39pc today, the poll finds.

Meanwhile, 47pc of Remain voters expect Mr Cameron’s campaign to win, a fall from 54pc last week.

Sir Lynton writes: “This could be contributing to complacency among Leave voters – the same complacency problem I’ve previously highlighted as a potential threat for the Remain campaign – that is driving down the importance of voting on Thursday and, in turn, negatively affecting Leavers’ motivations to head to the polling booths.

“Alternately, it could be motivating Remainers who didn’t think their vote was needed to decide they better show up.  As I pointed out in my original column, the side that is most effective in motivating their voters to turn out on the 23rd will be the side that emerges victorious.”

The poll finds that Leave has significantly improved its position in policy areas such as the economy and national security.

When asked which vote “will create a stronger economy”, 40pc of voters now say Leave and 45 per cent say Remain. In May, Remain had a 21-point lead on the economy.

In a significant shift, Sir Lynton’s analysis finds that “staying in the EU is now seen as the riskier security option when it comes to terrorism”, with 40pc cent of voters saying Remain “will expose the UK to a greater risk of terrorism”, up 8 points in the last week.

Of those surveyed, 33pc said Leave will leave Britain more at risk, a fall of 6pc.

However, Leave is still seen by voters as the riskier option, according to the survey.

When asked which campaign “is a risk”, Remain has fallen one point to 27pc, with Leave gaining two points in the last week to 56pc.

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