We are definitely now in squeaky bum territory in the EU referendum. Leave has a seven point lead in today’s Times/YouGov poll, while yesterday the Guardian/ICM poll put Leave six points ahead. Meanwhile the Sun has splashed on its backing for Leave.
It isn’t a huge surprise that the Sun is supporting Britain leaving the European Union, given the stance it has taken in its leading articles over the past few months. But the newspaper still clearly sees that there is momentum behind Brexit, and that it will not look foolish or out of touch with its readers in supporting it. And that is what should worry David Cameron. John Curtice of Strathclyde University had a beautifully mild take on this yesterday, saying the Prime Minister ‘must now be feeling discomfort at the thought that the outcome really could be in doubt.’
The Leave campaign has the momentum, and it is also setting the agenda for the debate, which is also uncomfortable for the Prime Minister. He had, until purdah began, enjoyed being able to wield the might of the government machine against the Brexiteers, but since that government machine was forced to grind to a halt, Leave has enjoyed much more control of the debate. Pro-Leave MPs say they moved from despondency to feeling pretty hopeful shortly after purdah began, as they felt they were waging a war on an equal footing with their opponents. The question is whether the might of the government machine will have had enough of an effect to lead voters to back Remain once they are in the privacy of the polling booth.