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'Leave' 10 points ahead in ORB poll on Britain's EU referendum

LONDON (Reuters) - The “Leave” camp was 10 points ahead of “Remain” with less than two weeks to go before Britain’s referendum on whether to stay in the European Union, according to a poll by ORB for The Independent newspaper published on Friday.

A poster encouraging people to vote to leave the EU is seen on the front of a house near West Kirby, northern England, Britain June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble

It was the biggest lead enjoyed by those wanting Britain to quit the 28-member bloc since the poll series started a year ago, The Independent said.

Britons will vote on June 23 on whether to leave the world’s largest free trading area, a decision with far-reaching implications for politics, the economy, trade, defence and migration in Britain and the rest of the EU.

The official Vote Leave campaign said on Twitter: “We don’t believe the ORB online poll, our data suggests it’s closer to 50-50.” It gave no further details, and the campaign could not immediately be reached for further comment.

ORB’s online survey of 2,000 people, conducted on June 8-9, suggested that “Leave” was on 55 percent, versus 45 percent for “Remain”.

The data was weighted to take account of how likely to vote people said they were. Those surveyed were not given the option of answering “don’t know”.

In an article accompanying the poll results, The Independent said “Leave” had extended its lead by four points since the last poll in the series, conducted in April. A year ago, “Remain” was ahead by 10 points.

When the poll data was not weighted for likelihood to vote, the result was “Leave” on 53 percent, up three points since April, and “Remain” down three points on 47 percent.

The poll also found that 78 percent of “Leave” supporters said they would definitely vote, while only 66 percent of those favouring “Remain” said the same.

Overall, opinion polls have been painting a confusing picture, with those conducted online tending to show “Leave” doing better than in those conducted by telephone - with a few exceptions.

Some recent polls have found “Remain” narrowly ahead, others that “Leave” was in the lead.

The mixed picture painted by the EU referendum polls has heightened market jitters about the outcome, with sterling repeatedly reacting to poll results. Sterling lost more than half a cent against the dollar GBP= soon after the ORB poll was released.

The British polling industry is under pressure over its surveys on the EU referendum question after it failed to predict the Conservative victory in last year’s general election. For months, the polls were pointing to an inconclusive outcome.

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon, editing by Richard Balmforth and Marguerita Choy