Campaigners issued 11th-hour appeals as Britain prepares to vote on its membership of the European Union, with the two latest opinion polls showing a narrow lead for “Leave.”
An online survey by TNS on Wednesday put “Leave” two points ahead on 43 percent. It sampled 2,320 adults June 16-22. Luke Taylor of the polling company cautioned that “a late swing to the status quo” was possible. According to the survey, the voting intention figure for those likely to vote based on a turnout model from the last general election is 49 percent for “Leave” and 42 percent for “Remain.”
An earlier online poll published by Opinium showed 45 percent of respondents for “Leave” and 44 percent for “Remain,” a lead the company called “a statistical dead heat.” The poll, with a sample of 3,011 people, was conducted June 20-22.
The pound, trading close to a five-month high against the dollar, pared gains following the polls. The Bloomberg British Pound Index, which tracks sterling against seven major peers, ended lower in London.
European stocks also came under pressure in the final minutes of trading, after climbing again on Wednesday to extend their strongest three-day run since August. An index of betting flows compiled by Oddschecker shows the chance of Brexit has fallen to about 29 percent from 43 percent since June 14.
The polls are a boost for a pro-Brexit campaign that apparently came to a halt last week following the murder of Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox, a supporter of staying in the EU.
‘Fight of Our Lives’
With voting booths set to open at 7 a.m. on Thursday — and with a record 46.5 million Britons registered to cast ballots — rivals in an often-vitriolic debate made their final claims. Prime Minister David Cameron targeted the “Leave” campaign’s mantra that quitting the EU would mean “taking control” of policy on issues from the economy to immigration. “We are not shackled to a corpse,” Cameron said.
“Let’s vote for jobs, let’s vote for rights at work, vote for great opportunities for everyone,” Sadiq Khan, mayor of London and a “Remain” supporter, told a rally of Labour Party supporters in the north of the capital. “This is the fight of our lives. Let’s win this.”
Former London Mayor Boris Johnson kicked off a tour of the U.K., by plane, holding a salmon almost to his lips at the city’s Billingsgate Fish Market — a nod to the island nation. “This is our last chance to take back control and it’s worth fighting for,” Johnson, a “Leave” campaigner, told Sky News.