Support for Brexit 'pulling ahead'

LONDON • Support for Britain to leave the European Union (EU) is pulling ahead of that for remaining in the 28-member bloc, according to reports and a polling firm.

A YouGov poll for ITV's Good Morning Britain programme yesterday put "Leave" voters at 45 per cent and "Remain" at 41 per cent - based on a survey of 3,405 people last Wednesday to Friday. And polling firm TNS said yesterday that the campaign to get Britain out of the EU has a two-point lead over the "Remain" campaign, citing a poll conducted in the third week of last month.

Forty-three per cent of respondents wanted Britain out of the EU, while 41 per cent wanted it to stay, according to the TNS online poll of 1,213 Britons. The difference was within the poll's margin of error. Sixteen per cent of respondents were undecided.

Britons vote on June 23 on whether to remain in the EU, with important implications for its trade, economic and political status.

The question for politicians and pollsters is whether the polls showing "Leave" in the lead are just a symptom of public doubt before a clear victory for pro-EU Prime Minister David Cameron or a sign that his luck has run out.

Two years ago, days before Scotland voted whether or not to stay in the United Kingdom, a YouGov poll suddenly showed the "Leave" side ahead. The pound plunged, Mr Cameron panicked - then Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom by a 10-point margin.

Pollsters aren't much help. Having been burned in last year's general election, when they failed to predict that Mr Cameron's Conservatives would win a majority, many have doubts about the reliability of their work on the referendum.

If more reason were needed to doubt the EU referendum polls, the online ones have tended to show the two sides tied, while telephone ones have put "Remain" ahead.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2016, with the headline 'Support for Brexit 'pulling ahead''. Print Edition | Subscribe