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Brexit referendum: race too close to call, say pollsters

Thursday, June 23rd 2016 - 07:50 UTC
Full article 45 comments
Two polls showed “Leave” had the slimmest of leads, but a third showed the “Remain” ahead and betting markets indicated a pro-EU vote was more likely. Two polls showed “Leave” had the slimmest of leads, but a third showed the “Remain” ahead and betting markets indicated a pro-EU vote was more likely.
“With a race as close as this, the turnout level... will be critical,” said Luke Taylor of pollster TNS. “With a race as close as this, the turnout level... will be critical,” said Luke Taylor of pollster TNS.
“Out is out,” European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said in Brussels, dismissing any talk of a post-vote renegotiation just hours before polls open. “Out is out,” European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said in Brussels, dismissing any talk of a post-vote renegotiation just hours before polls open.
French President Francois Hollande warned an exit would be “irreversible” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wanted Britain to stay French President Francois Hollande warned an exit would be “irreversible” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wanted Britain to stay

Minister David Cameron invoked Britain's wartime spirit in a last-ditch bid to win votes on Wednesday on the eve of a knife-edge referendum on European Union membership that has put the continent on alert.

 “Winston Churchill didn't give up on European democracy... and we shouldn't walk away,” David Cameron told a crowd in Birmingham, his final rally in a campaign that has been described as one of Britain's most bitter ever.

EU leaders warned that leaving the 28-member bloc would be final, with just hours to go until a vote in which record numbers of Britons have registered to cast a ballot.

“If you jump out of the airplane, you cannot clamber back through the cockpit hatch,” Cameron warned, his sleeves rolled up and pointing for emphasis. “Put your children's future first.”

The Thursday editions of British newspapers captured the drama of voting day. “Independence day” was the headline of the pro-Brexit Sun, while the Times called it a “Day of reckoning”.

Two polls showed “Leave” had the slimmest of leads, but a third showed the “Remain” ahead and betting markets indicated a pro-EU vote was more likely.

“With a race as close as this, the turnout level... will be critical,” said Luke Taylor of pollster TNS.

A “Leave” victory would make Britain the first country to exit the European Union in the bloc's 60-year history, putting it in uncharted waters at an already troubled time.

“Out is out,” European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said in Brussels, dismissing any talk of a post-vote renegotiation just hours before polls open.

French President Francois Hollande warned an exit would be “irreversible” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wanted Britain to stay but that the decision was down to the British people.

The German and French leaders will meet in Berlin next week for talks Hollande said would work “towards re launching the European project”, already struggling with an unprecedented migrant crisis.

A final television debate underlined the muddied picture as a mix of politicians, television personalities and ordinary people squabbled over the pros and cons.

Earlier, planes with banners from the rival campaigns flew over London to woo the undecided.

“I do think that we are on the verge, possibly, of an extraordinary event in the history of our country and indeed in the whole of Europe,” said Boris Johnson, Cameron's main rival in the “Leave” campaign and possible successor.

US Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump, who arrives in Britain Thursday, also spoke out on Brexit again, saying he thought the country should “go it alone”.

A British withdrawal would trigger a lengthy exit negotiation, leading to the loss of unfettered access to its partners in the 28-nation market and forcing the country to strike its own trade accords across the world.

In Europe, the referendum has raised concerns of a domino effect of exit votes that would imperil the integrity of the bloc, already buffeted by the euro zone and migration crises.

Though many voters fret over the financial consequences of a Brexit, others relish the prospect of taking back power from Brussels and reining in high levels of immigration.

Momentum for the “Leave” campaign appeared to be upended with last week's killing of pro-EU lawmaker Jo Cox of the main opposition Labour party, which prompted concerns the campaign had been divisive.

“Jo's killing was political. It was an act of terror,” Cox's husband Brendan told thousands of mourners who gathered in London's Trafalgar Square to mark what would have been her 42nd birthday.

A floral tribute to Cox was also towed along the River Thames to a mooring outside the Houses of Parliament.

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • ElaineB

    Too close to call and Farage ducks out of the final debate to have dinner with his son Sam. Why would he do that when this is the most important issue he has campaigned on for years? He is toxic to the campaign and has been told to shut up is my opinion.

    Jun 23rd, 2016 - 08:33 am 0
  • Englander

    The leave campaign appear to have picked up momentum in these last few days.
    Dislike of Cameron/Osbourne and the EU elite could yet swing it.
    Not long to wait now.

    Jun 23rd, 2016 - 09:08 am 0
  • Conqueror

    @1. Did you read the article in the Daily Mail? Here a couple of really telling paragraphs.

    “It is unclear why he had not seen Sam, 27, who works at KPMG, for nine months.
    He had recently told ITV: 'I've got a son who works for one of the corporates and he's been told: ”You must vote to remain part of this otherwise terrible things will happen”.'

    Here are some thoughts. Family comes first. The son mentioned is from his first marriage. Possibly his eldest. Perhaps Mr Farage thought that he had already said all he had to say. Perhaps he considered it right to spend some time with his son advising the proper course of action when faced with a threat.

    Jun 23rd, 2016 - 09:21 am 0
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