Brexit on a knife edge as pollsters say EU referendum result ‘too close to call’
Britain’s historic EU referendum is heading for a nail-biting climax, with last minute opinion polls showing the Remain camp edging ahead.
Four polls – YouGov, ComRes, BMG and ORB – put the Remainers between two and eight points ahead, although when the margin of error is built in the result is too close to call.
However, a fifth poll by Opinium gave Leave a 45-44 lead, with 11 per cent of voters still to make up their minds.
At the end of a bruising two-month campaign in which both sides of the European argument have hurled a mixture of statistics and insults at each other the latest polls suggest that undecided voters may hold the key to the result.
When pressed by YouGov to say which way they thought they would vote most of the ‘undecideds’ said they would probably back the Remain camp.
More than half of those polled by YouGov (54%) said Brexit was a risky strategy, while 34 per cent thought leaving the EU would be safe.
Twenty-nine per cent thought they would be worse off if Britain quit the EU and 10 per cent said they would be better off.
Immigration, jobs, investment and the economy were the most important factors in deciding how to vote.
YouGov said the race was still impossible to predict, but the company noted there had been a late trend towards a Remain vote.
At the same time, they said they expected a number of voters to only make their mind up today.
The YouGov survey confirms that Britain is split down the middle over the European question.
Most men favour Brexit while most women want to stay. London, Scotland and Northern Ireland are the only regions with a majority backing Remain, an indication of the tough task the Government will face in reuniting the country after the referendum result is declared.
Polls close tonight at 10pm and the first results from regional counting centres are expected to start coming through from about 1pm, although the final declaration is unlikely much before 7am on Friday morning.
The City of London, Europe’s financial centre, will be working through the night as investment analysts and brokers attempt to predict which way the vote is going.
G7 finance ministers are working on a statement to calm market fears if the UK votes to leave the European Union. Reuters news agency has reported that the statement will highlight the group’s view that “excess volatility and disorderly currency moves are undesirable” and would seek to reassure traders that the nations would take the necessary steps to ensure stability.
Chancellor George Osborne has warned a vote for Britain to leave the EU would see the pound sink and value of shares plummet and he has drawn up contingency plans to suspend trading on the London Stock Exchange.
A vote to remain could see a relief rally, although shares are unlikely to rise by as much as has been claimed in some quarters because the growing probability of a Remain vote has been priced into equities in the past few days.
There was no sign of a let up from the pro and anti EU camps during the last full day of campaigning.
Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown joined Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron at a Remain rally at the Universty of Birmingham and urged voters to reject “anti-immigrant, xenophobic isolationism”.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London and leading figure in the Leave campaign, urged voters to choose “hope over fear” and said Leave was “on the verge of victory”.
Sutton Coldfield Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell will vote for Britain to remain in the EU.
Mr Mitchell had been undecided but his name appeared on a ‘Conservatives In’ advertisement in the Daily Telegraph. Solihull Tory MP Julian Knight is also backing the Remain side.
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