In less than 24 hours, the polling booths will finally open. We’ve seen today the now familiar raft of letters from both sides calling on people to vote ‘Remain’ or back Brexit. 51 FTSE have signed a letter saying they think the UK should stay in the European Union. Whilst Tate and Lyle Sugars said Brexit would be the best way ahead for its business in a message to employees. But amidst this final push for votes, the polls show that tomorrow’s referendum will likely be an even race: the ‘What UK think’s’ poll of polls has ‘Remain’ on 51 per cent and ‘Leave’ on 49 per cent. So what if the margin between the two sides really is so small? In an interesting interview on Today just now, leading Brexit campaigner Daniel Hannan touched on the subject. Talking about what happens if ‘Leave’ win narrowly, Hannan said:
‘If half the country, or close to half the country have voted to stay, then there are obviously going to be elements of the current deal that are going to have to remain in place. I think we will need to take on board the concerns expressed by business if we (leave) have (won by) a narrow margin.’
Hannan’s words at such a late stage are an attempt to appear conciliatory to ‘Remain’ supporters. He is also aiming to show to voters that a Brexit vote need not result in any dramatic overnight upheaval. What’s particularly interesting, though, is the implication that a sizeable backing of ‘Remain’ would mean that ‘elements of the current deal (are) going to have to remain in place’. Hannan is suggesting that a significant (albeit a minority) backing of ‘Remain’ would give the UK more clout in keeping hold of the good bits of the ‘current deal’.
This is an interesting line of argument and one that certainly helps to imagine what the next step would be on Friday morning if the country wakes up to a ‘Leave’ victory. If ‘Leave’ does win, it seems plausible to suggest that the margin of their win would not be huge. And Hannan’s reasoning on Today is an attempt to show how significant support for ‘Remain’ might be used to show to other countries across the Channel that this vote isn’t simply a nationwide rejection of everything the EU means. Whether this washes with other EU countries, though, only time – and a narrow vote for Brexit – will tell.