Is Brexit the most likely outcome of the EU referendum?

UKIP Spring Conference
Is momentum now with the Leave side? (Source: Getty)

Dr Madsen Pirie, founder and president of the Adam Smith Institute, says Yes.

In the 1975 referendum, the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced major reforms to the EU. In fact, he had a scant handful of trivial concessions that made no difference whatsoever. The vote was to stay in because people were told they were joining an economic zone, rather than embarking upon a political union. In the meantime, power has increasingly concentrated away from Parliament and to the EU. David Cameron similarly announced major reforms, but offered a few minor, unenforceable concessions. We were told the promised referendum would be about “our fundamental relationship” with the EU, rather than about tweaking benefit and immigration controls. The “great deal” has barely been heard of since. The debate has been about whether we stay in a political union, or negotiate a purely economic union from outside it. The fear campaign is failing. At least as many reports suggest the UK will prosper outside the EU as suggest doom if we leave. The momentum is now with Brexit, and the UK looks likely to leave.

Damian Lyons Lowe, founder and chief executive of Survation, says No.

If the referendum were tomorrow, the UK would vote to remain, so the Leave campaign has work to do over the next 86 days. Last week, our second telephone poll of the year showed support for Leave up 2 points compared with our February polling. However Remain still stands 11 points clear on 46 per cent, with Leave on 35 per cent, and 19 per cent undecided. These figures are encouraging for Remain, and are in line with most other telephone polls published this year. Remain’s average lead so far in 2016 is some 13 points. But polls conducted online show a different picture, with nearly as many conducted in 2016 putting the Leave campaign in the lead as the Remain side. While we and others look to get to the bottom of this difference, my instinct is to trust telephone polling as a mode. It has been the most accurate during the UK’s recent referendums – on the alternative vote and Scottish independence. But keep an eye out for movement in the coming months.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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