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Britain's 'In' campaign gains steam ahead of EU referendum, polls show

LONDON (Reuters) - British support for staying in the European Union has risen slightly, according to two opinion polls on Wednesday that add to signs the “Remain” campaign has gained momentum ahead of a referendum in June.

The 'Brighter Future In' campaign bus is seen at its launch at Exeter University in Exeter, Britain April 7, 2016. REUTERS/Dan Kitwood/Pool

An Ipsos MORI telephone poll of 1,026 people showed the “In” camp, supported by Prime Minister David Cameron, holding a 10-point lead over those wanting to leave the 28-nation bloc.

While backing for the remain campaign was unchanged from last month at 49 percent, support for the “Out” vote fell two points to 39 percent.

A TNS online poll earlier on Wednesday also pointed to a widening gap, putting the “In” campaign on 38 percent against 34 percent for the pro-Brexit camp.

“The last five pollsters to report ... have all reported a move to ‘Remain’ on their previous polling,” election analyst Mike Smithson noted.

Telephone polls have tended to give the “Remain” camp a bigger lead while online polls have the two sides running neck and neck.

Poll fluctuations have also influenced the currency market and on Wednesday sterling hit a three week high against the euro. The single currency fell to 78.675 having traded as high as 79.17 pence in the morning session. A British exit from the EU would rock the Union -- already shaken by differences over migration and the future of the euro zone -- by ripping away its second-largest economy, one of its top two military powers and by far its richest financial centre.

Pro-EU campaigners, including former prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major, have warned that an exit could also trigger the break-up of the United Kingdom by prompting another Scottish independence vote if England pulled Scotland out of the EU.

Members of Britain’s “Out” campaign say such warnings are overblown and that Britain would prosper if it broke free from what they say is a doomed German-dominated bloc that punches way below its weight.

IPSOS Mori said a poor turnout for the June 23 referendum would probably favour the Brexit campaign, cutting the lead of the “In” side to six points.

“Remain supporters say they are more persuadable to change their vote based on what’s best for the economy than are leave supporters on their key issue of immigration,” Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said.

When respondents in the TNS poll were asked how they expected Britain would vote, 40 percent said they thought Britain would opt to stay, 26 percent said voters would seek an exit and 34 percent said they did not know.

editing by Kate Holton and John Stonestreet