Poms heading for Brexit

The latest polls in Britain are looking increasingly likely the UK will Brexit.

Public opinion has shifted towards the UK leaving the EU, two Guardian/ICM polls suggest as the referendum campaign picks up pace – with voters split 52% -48% in favour of Brexit, whether surveyed online or by phone.

Previous polls have tended to show voters surveyed online to be more in favour of Britain leaving the EU. But in the latest ICM research, carried out for the Guardian, both methodologies yielded the same result – a majority in favour of leaving.

“Our poll rather unhinges a few accepted orthodoxies,” said ICM’s director, Martin Boon. “It is only one poll but, in a rather unexpected reverse of polling assumptions so far, both our phone poll and our online poll are consistent on both vote intentions and on the EU referendum.”  

In the phone poll of more than 1,000 adults, 45% said they favoured leaving the EU, and 42% remaining, with 13% saying they did not know. Once the “don’t knows” were excluded, that left 52% in favour of Brexit, against 48% for remain.

Using online polling, 47% said they would like to leave and 44% remain, with 9% saying they were undecided. Excluding the latter, the result was the same as the phone method – 52-48 in favour of leaving.

The result using the online method is almost unchanged, but the phone polling appears to be picking up a shift towards leaving the EU, despite a slew of warnings from the most senior members of the government about the economic risks of doing so.

When ICM carried out a poll for the Guardian in mid-May, remain had a 10 percentage point lead among those polled by phone, on 55% to 45%. The online method produced the same result as the latest one: 52% for leave compared with 48% for remain.

People are starting to realise that Brexit has gained momentum. How has that happened?

If, come 24 June, the liberal establishment should wonder what could have possessed voters to be so stupid and small-minded as to vote to leave the European Union, they could do worse than ponder whether they didn’t win people over precisely because they treated them as “stupid” and “small-minded”.

It seems to have become an article of faith among many of those who wish to remain in the EU that there is not a single valid argument for wanting to leave. In their limited political imaginations their opponents are worthy only of ridicule. Captain Mainwaring in a Ukip blazer, Mrs Slocombe clutching a flag on St George’s Day: reference points so antiquated young people could never relate to them, throwbacks from the Formica years, class-ridden cliches from central casting. The arguments for staying in, it seems, are so self-evident they are barely worth making; the arguments for leaving are so obviously flawed they are barely worth taking seriously. Those who cannot be convinced deserve to be disparaged.

“In this camp we are the reasonable people,” says Labour’s in-chairman, Alan Johnson. “I think in the leave side they are the extremists on this.” The former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the referendum represented a choice between “Great Britain or Little England”.

As an electoral strategy this is clearly wrong-headed. You cannot persuade people by ridiculing them; you cannot allay their concerns by ignoring them. If this wasn’t already clear to those who lay themselves at the mercy of the voters every five years, you’d have thought Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader would have hammered it home. Tony Blair, and others, belittled those thinking of voting for Corbyn as people “who disdain government” and engaged in “Alice in Wonderland” thinking and then were stunned that the people they had insulted didn’t flock to their corner.

Sounds remarkably like Labour’s strategy worldwide. Calling voters stupid and retarded is never a winning strategy.


-The Guardian

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