Conflicting polls Saturday indicate Britons narrowly favor staying in the European Union — or want out by a 10-point margin.
The Opinium poll for the Sunday Observer newspaper indicated voters favor staying in the 28-member bloc by 2 points, 44 percent to 42 percent, with 13 percent still undecided, while an ORB poll for the Independent gave Brexit a 55 percent to 45 percent lead, its biggest of the campaign. A poll by the Telegraph indicated voters were split 50-50.
Voters decide June 23 whether to remain in the EU, a decision that will have far-reaching political, economic, trade, defense and immigration implications.
The ORB poll sent betting odds down Saturday as the British pound sterling weakened by 1.2 percent against the U.S. dollar to $1.4177 from $1.4343. The uncertainty also had a major impact Friday on the FTSE-100, which suffered its biggest one-day fall since the start of the referendum campaign, dropping 1.86 percent.
Bookmaker Betfair cut odds of staying in the EU from 78 percent earlier this week to 70 percent Saturday. Coral’s odds went from 5/2 to 7/4 and William Hills fell from 12/5 to 21/10.
“Ten days ago the odds were so firmly in favor of Remain, there was talk of bookies paying out early,” Coral spokesman David Stevens told Express. “But since then the money has come in for Leave to such a significant degree, we are hardly taking a bet of any note on Remain. And the gap between both sides is narrowing all the time.”
“The Remain camp has two weeks to convince those thinking about voting for Brexit that the risk is real,” ORB pollster Johnny Heald told Reuters.
The Telegraph reported Downing Street is beginning to panic as a result of internal polling indicating the Leave campaign is gaining momentum.
Scottish National Party leader Jeremy Corbyn warned Saturday a Brexit could lead to new referendum on Scottish independence but said it was too early to discuss the issue, the Guardian reported.
“I don’t think the European Union is perfect, nobody does,” Corbyn said, adding some of the rules enacted by the international body “are very important.” He said voting to remain, however, would not be an endorsement of “bureaucratic excess.”
The Economist reported Saturday that those favoring a Brexit are influenced by fear of foreigners, a longing for sovereignty and hopes to reverse globalization, while those on the continent fall into three camps: those who are worried about the impact, those who are not and those who see short-term opportunities as a result, particularly in the finance industry.
The third group sees a Brexit as weakening London, shifting jobs to Paris and Frankfurt, Germany. Already, HSBC has said it could shift 1,000 investment bankers from London to Paris while JPMorgan Chase has said as many as 4,000 jobs could be affected.
The Swiss reportedly are hoping it would get easier to negotiate with the EU if Britain also was on the outside.