World News

British support for remaining in the EU narrowly ahead - polls

A bicycle with Remain in the EU branding is seen at an event attended by Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, at the Oval cricket ground in London, Britain, June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

LONDON (Reuters) - Britons narrowly favour remaining in the European Union according to two polls published in Tuesday’s newspapers, in contrast to surveys released on Monday which showed the campaign for Brexit ahead.

Support for remaining in the EU had a one-point lead in both an online YouGov survey published for The Times newspaper and an ORB telephone poll of those definite to vote conducted for The Daily Telegraph.

Britons will vote on June 23 on whether to remain part of the EU, a choice with far-reaching consequences for politics, the economy, defence and diplomacy but divergent polls have made it difficult to predict the outcome.

The ‘Remain’ campaign rose by 2 percentage points to 43 percent in the YouGov survey, overtaking the ‘Leave’ side which fell to 42 percent in a poll of 2,001 adults conducted on June 5 and 6.

In an ORB telephone poll released on Monday, support for remaining in the bloc fell but held a one-point lead over those wishing to leave the EU, smaller than the five-point difference in the pollster’s previous survey published on May 30.

Telephone polls have generally shown “remain” ahead by a comfortable margin whilst online polls have pointed to a tighter race that “leave” could win making it difficult to predict the outcome of the referendum.

Two online polls published on Monday by pollsters YouGov and ICM showed a swing towards “Out” as both campaigns seek to win over undecided voters with warnings over the economy and immigration.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lynton Crosby, the political strategist behind Prime Minister David Cameron’s election victory, said that ‘Remain’ had improved its overall performance according to ORB but when the findings were weighted according to the likelihood to vote, ‘Leave’ was catching up.

“The clear trend over the course of ORB’s polls for the Daily Telegraph shows that Leave campaign has a turnout advantage over the Remain campaign,” he said.

Reporting by Costas Pitas in London and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; editing by Andrew Roche, Bernard Orr