Saturday 18 November 2017

Brexit: Race ‘too close to call’ as four polls give different sides the lead

Boris Johnson and David Cameron GETTY
Boris Johnson and David Cameron GETTY

Ben Riley-Smith

BRITAIN'S referendum on leaving the EU is “too close to call” as a string of polls released on the final campaign day showed neither side clearly ahead.

Four separate polls released on Thursday gave differing pictures, with two putting the Leave campaign ahead and two giving the pro-EU side the lead.

The result will be decided by which campaign can get out most supporters and how floating voters divide, according to polling experts.

Around one in 10 voters remain undecided despite months of campaigning and could only decide when they enter the polling booth.

Read more: 'Out is out,' Europe warns UK voters

There were also signs that those backing Brexit are more energised to vote, with the Out campaign given a seven-point lead by one poll when likelihood to turnout out was incorporated.

Campaigners from the
Campaigners from the "Vote Remain" group hand out stickers, flyers and posters in Oxford Circus, central London. Getty Images

Britain’s most trusted polling expert said there was little sign of the swing back towards staying in the EU that had been expected in the last week.

Prof John Curtice, the president of the British Polling Council whose exit poll at the 2015 general election revealed the Tories would win a majority, said there was little gap between the sides.

“[Remain] has grabbed some of the ground that it seemed to have lost in last week’s polls – but it’s certainly not grabbed back all of the ground,” he told BBC Two’s Daily Politics programme.

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

He added that “so far at least there isn’t any clear evidence” of the swing back to the Remain vote that expected as undecided voters considered the economic unknowns. 

The new polls suggest that trends in recent months remain unchanged as Britain votes in what has been dubbed the biggest decision the country will take for a generation.

Older voters are more likely to back Brexit, with almost twice as many people aged over 65 set to vote for leaving the EU than those under 35.

Read more: Cox: 'Brexit could spark disintegration of European Union'

More voters think they will be worse off if it leaves the EU, according to polls, while Tory voters are evenly split between voting In and Out.

Opinium Research’s final poll before the referendum, which asked around 3,000 people for their views, put Leave on 45 per cent and Remain on 44 per cent.

Adam Drummond, a polling analyst for the company, said: “This really is ‘too close to call’ territory with undecided voters holding the balance of the vote in their hands.

“Although referendum campaigns normally see a move back to the status quo as we get closer to polling day, this hasn’t yet shown up in our polls and the Remain camp will have to hope that it happens in the polling booth itself if Britain is to stay in the European Union.”

TNS’s final poll before the vote put Leave on 43 per cent and Remain on 41 per cent. Luke Taylor, head of social and political attitudes at the company, said: "Our latest poll suggests that Leave is in a stronger position than Remain, but it should be noted that in the Scottish Independence Referendum and the 1995 Quebec Independence Referendum there was a late swing to the status quo and it is possible that the same will happen here”

However two polls released on Thursday evening put the In campaign ahead. YouGov put Remain on 51 per cent and Leave on 49 per cent, while ComRes had the numbers at 54 and 46 – an eight-point In lead.

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