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Majority of voters are backing Brexit, according to latest EU referendum poll

31 May 2016

4:26 PM

31 May 2016

4:26 PM

The latest EU referendum poll indicates that voters have swung considerably towards backing Brexit. 52 per cent of people surveyed said they were planning on voting for Britain to leave the European Union, compared to 48 per cent who are voting in. The ICM poll, carried out for the Guardian, is significant for two reasons. Firstly, it flies in the face of the prevailing view that remain has surged ahead. In recent weeks, those campaigning for Britain to stay put in Europe appear to have enjoyed a significant margin of support over the leave campaign. A poll of polls compiled by WhatUKThinks last week suggested an almost exact opposite to the figures out today: giving remain 53 per cent of the vote to leave’s 47 per cent. But these latest numbers show a big swing the other way and make it clear that the referendum remains an open contest.

Secondly, the margin of the swing towards Brexit also makes this latest poll worth following particularly closely. Apart from at the start of May, the leave campaign have been pipped to second place in most polls which have been conducted. Whilst last year’s election showed the danger of reading too much into any poll, the fact that more people are backing Brexit – and appear to have shifted their stance on the referendum – shows that the leave campaign is doing something right. To give an idea of comparison here, an ICM phone poll also carried out by the Guardian two weeks ago handed remain a 10 per cent lead. With the purdah period having now kicked in – taking away the Government’s advantage in being able to count on its huge resources to convince Brits of the need to stay in – these results will act as a big boost for leave.

It’s still worth remembering, as Fraser Nelson points out, that many voters tend to stick with the devil they know. This means that in order for the change proposition (leave, in this case) to win, that side needs to enjoy a very healthy lead in the polls. Whilst it’s important not to read everything into today’s poll, that margin appears to have grown considerably and with it the chances that Britain could well vote out of Europe.

Will Britain vote to leave the EU? Can the Tories survive the aftermath? Join James Forsyth, Isabel Hardman and Fraser Nelson to discuss at a subscriber-only event at the Royal Institution, Mayfair, on Monday 20 June. Tickets are on sale now. Not a subscriber? Click here to join us, from just £1 a week.

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