ORB Poll Is First Phone Poll To Put Leave Ahead

Posted on 15 March 2016 by John Curtice

One of the most important features of polling in the EU referendum to date has been a marked and consistent divergence between those polls conducted by phone and those undertaken via the internet.

The former have consistently suggested that Remain are well ahead; across all phone polls conducted since the beginning of this year Remain have on average been put on 59% (once Don’t Knows are excluded), while Leave have been credited with 41%.

Internet polls, in contrast, have consistently suggested that the referendum race is much closer, either putting Remain or Leave narrowly ahead. Since the New Year they have on average put Remain and Leave equal on 50% each.

This divergence was even in evidence when one company, Survation, switched from doing its referendum polling via the internet to doing so by phone. Survation’s last poll conducted over the internet (in mid-January) put Remain on 47% and Leave on 53%. In contrast, its phone poll, which was conducted immediately after David Cameron concluded the renegotiation of the UK’s terms of membership last month, put Remain on 59%, Leave on 41%, exactly in line with the average of all other phone polls.

However, a poll conducted by ORB and published in today’s Daily Telegraph, has broken this hitherto consistent pattern. Until now the company has conducted its referendum polling via the internet. Like other internet polls, these polls have put Remain and Leave neck and neck – indeed the two polls they had conducted since the turn of the year had on average put Remain on 50%, Leave on 50%.

But ORB’s poll today has been conducted by phone. Yet it fails to put Remain well ahead. Instead, once (a small proportion of) Don’t Knows are left to one side, Leave are narrowly ahead on 51%, while Remain are on 49%. Anyone who was hitherto inclined to believe that those polls conducted by phone were giving the more accurate picture of the state of the referendum race must now feel rather less certain about what the outcome will be.

Of course, a degree of caution is in order. Perhaps this poll is a ‘rogue’, its figures overestimating Leave’s strength simply as a result of the chance variation to which all polls are subject. And perhaps we should note that the sample for this poll, 823 voters, is somewhat on the small side, thus making it particularly vulnerable to chance variation. But the findings of future phone polls are clearly now going to be greeted with a renewed interest.

Differential Turnout?

In his write up of this poll, Lynton Crosby, the man often regarded as the architect of the Conservatives’ success last May, focused not on the fact that the poll was the first phone poll to put Leave ahead, but rather on its evidence that Leave voters seem more inclined to go to the polls than Remain voters – and that consequently Leave’s position may be rather stronger than appears at first sight. In particular, he reports that amongst those who say they are certain to vote, Leave are ahead in the poll by 54% to 46% rather than by the 51% to 49% margin amongst all those who expressed a vote intention.

There is certainly one reason why we might expect those who are inclined to vote to Remain to be less likely to vote than those who wish to Leave – they are much more likely to be younger and, in general, younger voters are less likely to make it to the polls.  At the same time, however, Remain voters are also more likely to be middle class ‘AB’ voters than working class ‘DE’ ones – and middle class voters are also more likely to vote. In other words, the demographics of the referendum vote do not all point in the same direction so far as the relative likelihood of Remain and Leave voters turning out to vote is concerned.

Still, there are some straws in the wind that suggest that Leave voters may be more determined than those who wish to Remain to make it to the polls. Apart from the evidence of today’s poll, ORB’s previous poll (conducted over the internet) found that a Leave vote of 52% amongst all respondents increased to one of 58% amongst those who said they were certain to vote. Meanwhile, in the last poll that they conducted over the internet, Survation found that 76% of Leave voters said they were certain to vote, compared with just 59% of Remain voters – though in this instance the poll’s headline figure (53% for Leave) took account of respondents’ reported likelihood of voting.

Not that what people say in polls about how likely they are to vote is necessarily a good guide to the prospects for differential turnout in either an election or a referendum. Polls find it easier to interview those who are likely to vote in the first place, and one of the patterns that undid them in last year’s general election was that the younger voters that they managed to contact were more likely to turnout than were younger voters in general. Still, that experience  serves as a warning that estimating differences in turnout is essential if polling is to be accurate. At the moment, however, most polls of referendum voting intention are not making any attempt to estimate possible differences in the likelihood of voting in the referendum. Perhaps it is now time that they did so.

 

John Curtice

By John Curtice

John Curtice is Senior Research Fellow at NatCen and at 'UK in a Changing Europe', Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, and Chief Commentator on the What UK Thinks: EU website.

82 thoughts on “ORB Poll Is First Phone Poll To Put Leave Ahead

  1. Can I ask who will be elligable to vote regarding eu immigrants? Can they vote depending on how long they have been in this country. Surely they will all vote to remain boosting the remain vote by thousands?? I am a leave supporter for too many reasons to state here. I wish I had the opportunity to face Cameron etc as not many of my points of view have been asked by interviewers. I recommend that people vote on how they themselves feel and not on who they support in the political scene or personalities. Listen to your own experiences. We voted In in the 70,s when the Common Market was a completely different organization we did not vote for the one we are in now. This is our chance to re evaluate our position, the very fact that we are having a referendem is the proof that we are and also Cameron etc not happy with the present situation we find ourselves in. He promised to get us a good deal, and said Nothing is off the table. Clearly he did not get a good enough deal and clearly he has proved that we do not have the voice to change things to our advantage while in the EU .He was snubbed on many occasions by other leaders and we are treated as inconsequential by many. They will still have to deal with us regarding exports etc, and they need us as much as we need them, they will not cut off their noses to spite their faces. Report

  2. Some facts about the EU:
    1. It is beyond democratic accountability
    2. It is institutionally corrupt
    3. The “Common Market” which the UK voted to be part of in 1975 is not the agenda which has been followed – the “architects” of the EU are liars working to a hidden agenda and, to a person, have been democratically rejected by their own electorates.

    If you want to remain part of this appalling debacle you are a turkey voting for double Christmas.

    Report

    1. You need to check your dictionary for the definition of the word “Fact” . What you have written here corresponds rather to “Xenophobic claptrap uttered by swivel-eyed loonies”. Report

      1. No need to be so insulting Andy makes you sound desperate also people might get the impression
        your comments are all a distraction you are in awe of EU not to mention subservient.How can you have such a poor opinion of the Brexits just because they have the guts to stand up for our country.They get respect they deserve dont get frustrated because they focus on issues that concern the public.I have a question for you is this P.M. comatozed?

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        1. Perhaps I overreacted, but what were posted as “facts” are not facts at all, they are opinions . There is a big difference, and in my opinion they bear little relation to reality. .And I happen to think that it is very much in our country’s interest to remain which means that I stand up for my country against misguided people who wish to damage it. Report

          1. And were all entitled to our opinions Most people respect other
            peoples even if they differ.Obviously I diagree withyou when
            you say that its in our countrys interest to remain.How can that
            be ?People will vote on what affects their everyday lives.Lots of people I know are struggling to get a place for their kids in a decent school.No doctors appointments for two or three weeks
            Where are three hundred thousand people a year going to live.Surely this is the realityand not inour countrys interest.Report

          2. I fear that you are right, people will vote on what they perceive affects their everyday lives. But I think that votes of this kind should be based on long-term strategic thinking. I don’t think that exit will change anything overnight, for better or for worse. In 10-15 years time, however ….Report

  3. Yanis Varoufakis would like us all to vote to stay in to democratise the EU from within, even though this has consistently been shown to be impossible.

    http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2016/02/28/is-greece-not-another-compelling-reason-to-vote-for-brexit-on-23rd-june/

    He is obviously a proponent of ‘misery loves company’.

    Why would anyone want to be part of a ‘club’ that treats any member so harshly?
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/03/01/europes-depression-is-deliberate-eu-choice-says-former-bank-of-e/
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    1. The FT did a “Lunch with Yanis Varoufakis” article this Saturday, and he did not come out of it looking very good. He came off as a guy who can see everyone else’s faults, but is blind to his own.

      One interesting thing he said was that the real arguments at the meetings that settled Greece’s fate were not between Greece and the rest, but between the representatives of the Commission and the representatives of the Troika, especially Germany.

      Following the conclusion of the famous deal Varoufakis says he is not sure that the Commission really exists any more, in the sense of having any effective power. I read that as meaning that Merkel really does run things on the principle that he who pays the piper calls the tune, and “democracy” has little to do with it.Report

      1. I have not seen the interview, but the Commission has never had power other than that delegated to it by sovereign governments under the Treaties. Those governments have all been elected democratically . It is preposterous to suggest that some dark power is seeking to subvert the arrangement and undermine democracy in the Member States . You might as well argue that the Civil Service in the UK is a dark power because it actually takes decisions about running the country under the aegis of the Government and Parliament. Report

  4. I for one think that these polls are rigged BiG buisness and money institutions are the only people in favor of remain…putting money and profit before the good of the country and its people.
    Hang your heads in shame!!Report

  5. I am staggered by these polls and how inept they are.
    I would love to know the demographics and size of these polls.
    My feeling , running an internet Referendum Page is the OUT campaign are far ahead. As for saying that people who want to vote out are in some way ‘the lower pecking order’ is ridiculous’. I suggest that the Leave campaign are more engaged and do their homework and realise the how bad the EU is for the Economy and Security. From the ‘IN’ campaign on the internet, they simply are not able to back up their postings with ‘facts’ so by in large , they do not post many articles because they are ‘shot down’ in flames.
    John, I suggest you change your Modis Operandi on polling as I suggest that you may have another General Election moment Report

  6. The overriding fact is that I want my vote back! If you believe in democracy you will vote to leave the EU. The EU is entirely undemocratic and that fills me with dread.Report

    1. I could not agree more. With democracy, you can try solutions, and if they don’t work out, you can change your mind. It’s hard to imagine a bigger change of mind than took place in 1979, when we elected Mrs T.

      But if you hand the decision-making over to the technocrats, there will be no changes of mind, no matter how badly things are going.

      Europe has gone from 5% annual growth and full employment to one percent growth and ten percent unemployment and the technocrats are convinced that they are doing just great.Report

  7. We have this club

    Its 8.5 Billion (Nett) to join so that you can trade free with our 300 million members. But you have very little influence, if at all.

    Honestly, your values are not our values.

    You want to trade at a level of 22.1 billion a year you say!

    OK no problem. (Smirking because that’s a hidden trade tariff of ~40% on all goods that our little cartel has swindled out of you.)

    Welcome to the Club.

    Wait a minute, you want to leave!

    Why?

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  8. Good point made by Jethro 51. Do we get UN observers in to oversee the referendum is conducted fairly and democratically?.(I presume having the referendum overseen by an EU body would be seen as the observers having a vested interest – the again when has logic ever been applied by the EU?) Report

  9. Is it me or are these polls a little TOO consistantly 50-50 or very close?
    I have read a lot of blogs from various sources about our EU relationship and what shows up time and gain is the large majority (80%+ ) of respondents who definitely want out of the EU and will vote for that. If the IN crowd are so numerous then why are they not more vocal? This is rather like the Moon Landing debate. A large number of people now reject the landings ever happened but the media stubbornly puts forward only one view – the official one. Anyone who genuinely questions that is a crank.
    I simply do not believe that after Cameron’s disastrous failure to get any change from Brussels and the lies he spouted to try to hoodwink the public, the OUT vote in the polls has not increased. That so many people are prepared to see our country overrun and taken over by foreigners is not credible. Are we being misled here? And when June 23rd arrives will the ballot be genuine or will HMG make certain that the majority has voted to stay IN? If the government oversees this referendum then it’s a case of ‘quis custodiet ipsos custodes?’ (who gaurds the guards themselves?). If it’s a question of trust- sorry, I don’t.Report

    1. ‘quis custodiet ipsos custodes?’

      It can only be Ipsos Mori, surely.
      Anyway, websites and blogs like this one aren’t representative. It will be ” a nice thing”, to quote Wellington after Waterloo. We shall see.Report

  10. From its very conception, the Common Market/EEC/EC/EU was designed to be non-democratic. The idea was to prevent war in Europe by taking the power to wage war away from individual nations. Power would instead be removed to Brussels. Oh yes, it was made to appear democratic from a national viewpoint. The electoral system in Britain, for example, is left untouched so that the populus goes on electing a new set of rulers (from a very short list) every 5 years. Behind the curtain, EU beaurocrats have replaced 75% of UK law with EU law. So our rulers no longer obey law enacted by our Parliament and proposed by our elected representitives. Nobody elected the Eurocrats who dream up in secret the laws and directives which our Parliament is powerless to change. It was all done by slight of hand from the beginning, not to fool our own political class (who new exactly what the true aims of this ‘club’ were right from the start) but to pacify the peoples of Europe until such time as total control was achieved.
    Control is achieved financially, politically and by force of arms. Poorer countries flocked to join the EU for what they could gain from it. The Euro was never intended to be a successful currency. Its purpose was to impoverish small economies like Greece and chain them to the EU for ever. Our politicians have given everything demanded to the EU over the years, including our Sovereinty. To admit they were wrong now, after 40 years, would be unthinkable. They are bought and paid for traitors to our great nation. Finally there is the European Army. The people of Western Europe are finally waking up to the monster that is about to become a Fourth Reich. The EU needs its own army to suppress peaceful demonstrations which EU law has made/will make illegal. I guarantee our leaders will vote in favour, regardless of what they say right now.
    And there you have it. The European Reich. And all achieved with the cooperation of our politicians since 1945.
    The people of Europe have always been denied any say in the progression of the EU and as a mass they are greatly feared by the bosses of the EU. National government has betrayed our trust time and time again. Only the people of Europe acting together can bring a halt to this failed experiment and replace the national governments whose betrayal made this regime possible. If we (theUK) vote to leave then I think a surge of patriotism may grip other countries and it may mark the beginning of the end for the European Experiment.
    A final thought: Whichever way the vote goes, how many people will admit to having voted to stay IN the EU, 12 months from now?Report

  11. I think one of the key factors which Mr Cameron and The In Campaign and the general scare mongering around the Brexit referendum is not addressing is this.
    I do not believe a successful Out vote will definitely mean the UK will be forced to leave. The EU simply does not work that way. I am not a gambling man but I would be prepared to place a fair sum of money on the following happening the morning after the Referendum if the UK has voted to leave the EU.
    Mr Tusk will be trying to track down Mr Junker (after all does anybody know what “The President of the EU” does). Meanwhile Frau Merkel will be on the phone saying something along the lines of “Die Britischer sind gegangen? Ich glaube nicht! “, which roughly translated is “The British are leaving – over my dead body”. It is not so much that Angela and the Germans want us to stay, the fact is they are petrified of the consequence if we leave.
    If you are an EU citizen and due to the failings of the management of the Euro there are no jobs in your country of birth and you wish to work (which the vast majority of non UK nationals who come to the UK wish to do – so no Xenophobia here and also Mr Cameron’s “in work benefits emergency brake fiasco” was a total waste of time and effort anyway), you have 2 initial destinations. These are the UK and Deutschland. If the UK were to leave the EU the 200,000 EU citizens who annually come to UK to work would go to Germany instead. Mrs Merkel got a ****** nose in last weeks regional German elections regarding the issue of migration and the potential extra annual influx of 200,000 EU citizens to Germany would seriously hurt her chances of winning the German General Election of 2017.
    In France M. Hollande would also be facing political pressure from the Front Nationale who would be likely to call for a referendum and give him a huge domestic political headache. But these are only 2 issues affecting the 2 main players in the EU (well the biggest and ugliest players at least). Add on the other 25 countries complaints about the loss of £55 million a day coming into the EU gravy train and it creates a massive earthquake within the EU.
    The EU’s solution – Hold an emergency Power Summit (because that’s what the EU leaders always do – last year the Greeks voted NO in a referendum and the Eurozone members a called an emergency summit, and then another one and then another one…….. ). This would give the EU the opportunity to admit that it gave David Cameron a pile of poo to polish last month and give the UK the possibility of a proper renegotiated EU membership deal. (I would also suggest sending Nigel Farage and Boris in as the UK negotiators and televise the whole thing. I would certainly buy the box set – fantastic entertainment value).
    The outcome of the above. The EU needs to reform or it will implode. A British Vote to leave will give the EU the rocket up the backside which it needs (the EU may talk about the need to change and reform but there is no will to actually do anything to achieve it). The UK gets a second chance to renegotiate our membership terms (who knows we might be able to go back to just having a Trade Agreement and be a member of a “European Common Market”- sounds familiar?).
    If after all this we cannot renegotiate from within we may have to accept that it is best we leave, but it will be an organized exit rather than the mass panic and rush for the doors which the whole of EU may face in the next decade. Like Turkey in last weeks migrant policy negotiations, the UK holds some Ace cards. But unlike Turkey Mr Cameron has not been prepared to play those cards to the UK’s best advantage.
    I say Vote Leave – we will have a second chance to negotiate membership (and we will still be negotiating from the inside – not the outside). We still have the chance to walk if it suits us best and in the long run we will be helping the EU massively to show that the EU in its current format is a current day version of the Emperors New Clothes.Report

      1. Another short comment: It is Article 50, not clause 50, and paragraph 4 says :

        “4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.”

        Interesting wording, no?

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        1. No, you have simply misunderstood it. The discussions concern the approach of the rest of the EU to the member that is leaving.

          If that member were included in the discussion, then it would be on both sides of the table. So no, there is nothing at all sinister here. It’s just common sense.Report

          1. I was merely underlining the implications, not the obvious aspect which you seem to feel the need to point out. Report

  12. Sovereignty is everything! Why should Britain be told what to do by people in Brussels that we did want and that we cant get rid of? (some from ex-communist countries) Also,a countries borders are its security. Without borders there is no security. You would never leave your house with the front door deliberately wide open, so why do it with your borders? The most dangerous threat at the moment, I believe is terrorism. Yes the economy is vitally important but the safety of our own citizens is even more important!
    How on earth David Cameron can say that we are more secure in the EU is the biggest piece of nonsense I have ever heard (and absolute deception!) Because he is making out that we are safer with our borders non-existent! Bear in mind that Turkey might be joining soon- with a population of 70 million. He is also very unpatriotic by making out that the Great British people don’t have what it takes to survive outside the EU. Absolute nonsense! The British have proven time and time again that they are great people. In 1940 we stood alone against Hitler, when nearly every other country in Europe had been over-run. The Luftwaffe met their match in the Royal Air Force.
    We have also invented and produced great things (without any EU) The truth is that if we leave, we will be able to make our own laws again and our own trade agreements- and deport terror suspects if we want. We will also be able to say goodbye to the European Court of Human Rights, which for some absurd reason seems to favour wrongdoers over good law-abiding citizens. It (ECHR) also has the power to rule over British courts- (which should never happen!)
    We will probably have only one chance to get out of the EU dictatorship (on June 23rd) -after that, we will probably have surrendered so much power that we will never be able to get out of it! We will have fallen for the ‘trap’. If you vote to remain, you have lost your right to ever complain about the number of migrants coming here, the lack of jobs, the low minimum wage, the cost of membership, and the silly regulations from the EU. and how Britain is probably in the worst state since WW2
    Please vote to LEAVEReport

  13. Strangely, Chatham House – amongst others – are saying that their research indicates that uneducated old people are Outers whereas clever young people (ABs?) say they are Remains. Strange to me because within the Outers’ comments on this site I don’t detect much senility, stupidity or particularly poor spelling or grammar.Report

    1. Possibly the comments of the Exiters on this site do not give a true reflection of the nature of the average Exiter ? It might be worth looking at comments posted on the websites of the Mail , Sun, Express etc.Report

  14. I am 70 years old have a long memmory of life pre EU which was pretty good. When we joined the EU which was then The Common Market it was for Trade and only consisted of 8 countries. We did not sign up to a be member of an organizasion of 28 countries!!

    The rules and regulations have spiralled out of control to an extent that we cannot now say we are totally in control of all our own countires laws and way of life. This is not the basis on which we voted yes in 1974!

    The majority of immigrant worker who come here are NOT contibuting to the wealth of this contry the reason being most of them are on basic or even less wages so do not pay income tax. and they also take out housing benefit etc etc to top up their wages.

    Two generations have grown up during our membership of EU so have little idea of what it was like before we joined. We were doing very well in this country up to then and only sort to join to improve trade benefits.” These are people who may feel that better the devil you know” but let me tell you Since 1974 this country has cow towed to every member of the EU and not had the guts to stand up against what we see as too much power over our own rights to make our own rules.

    We need to stand up and be a brave proud country again which not afraid to stand alone and trade with whoever we want and allow whoever we want into our own country. We are NOT a week Nation so lets stop acting like one.
    We need more people in the government who are not afraid to stand up for our rights in the EU. Once again the it seems that MONEY and power talk as it is only those who are making the most money, and may I say on the backs of cheep labour from Eastern European countries that stand to gain for staying in.

    There is absolutely no reason to stay in , We are and have historically proven to be, a Nation that can provide for ourselves with out the help of other countries in the EU . Where were they all in 1945??
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  15. I place a very high value on being able to hold our politicians to account for the decisions they take in our name. Any dilution of this, e.g. through the ceding of legislative power to the EU, I believe undermines the very essence of democracy.

    The nature of the ‘In’ campaign would tend to lead you to the idea that the current configuration of the EU is some kind of ‘divinely ordained’ arrangement, some immutable truth, some structure which it is unimaginable to think beyond. Yet there was life for the UK before we became members of the EU, and there would surely be life (and a good one) beyond it.

    The vast majority of countries in the world are sovereign nations and, properly led, make successful progress. There is absolutely no reason why the UK should not be able to do the same.

    The ‘In’ campaign argues that there would be major financial shocks in the event of us leaving the EU. That is possible, but we would get through such shocks. There may indeed be some pain in the short term, but sometimes we have to face some pain for the long term gain. We know that is true for life in general and membership of the EU is no exception.Report

  16. 100% leave and if I could vote leave a million times I would.

    I was never asked if I wanted to be in the EU and I don’t want to be in it. Whoever says we are stronger in Europe is (a) deluded), (b) unpatriotic and (c) obviously has more money than sense if they think giving it to the EU to give to Poland, Bulgaria and all the other countries which are poorer than us is a marvellous idea.

    Just think what we could do with all that money spent on the wellbeing of our citizens.

    A system which gives £55 million a day of OUR TAXES to someone else to control (notably countries we fought wars against), and gives away control of our borders leaving us open to terrorist cells and an unrestricted influx of immigrants does not make economic sense, nor does it improve national security. It is simply ludicrous. And nobody has yet mentioned that the EU hasn’t had its accounts audited for practically the last millennium, so God only knows what backhanders are being doled out every day to god knows who, and quite possibly politicians in this country who are telling us to stay in. I strongly suspect some of those already have cushy EU jobs promised to them if they sway the vote the EU’s way.

    Note once in the years we have been in the EEC or the EU have we EVER received back what we paid in. And if anyone starts bleating about not being able to survive without EU handouts in this country, as Nigel Farage correctly pointed out it’s not the EU’s money, it’s OUR money.Report

  17. No sensible person would claim that the EU is a perfect universe, but surely the question is rather : which is the lesser evil ? Staying in and trying to reform ? Or flouncing out in a fit of pique  hurling insults as we go ? The latter approach is clearly that favoured by UKIP  ; Nigel Farage has already demonstrated what our diplomacy and oratory could look like in future. He may not yet dribble as he speaks, but in other respects I have seen him do a passable impression of the Führer in full spate. Could that be why his fitness to lead is sometimes queried ?

    So, why should we stay ? My reasons are rational and strategic, and are based on UK national interest, unlike those of the Brexit brigade who appeal to nationalistic sentiment, and make unfounded assumptions about the future – eg that the other Member States would gladly agree to divorce on terms favourable to the UK . The economic case which they make for exit is laughable, and the accusations of EU bureaucratic interference are dishonest, ill-informed or exaggerated. The EU is our largest trading partner, and as an important member of the Council of Ministers and of the European Council the UK has, AND HAS ALWAYS HAD, a very big say in what is decided both economically and politically, and in what is done by the Commission.Report

    1. We have been unable to block a single proposal out of 72, but we should stay in because of all the lovely “influence” we have. Let me think about that.Report

      1. I’m not sure why the power to block, or obstructionism as I would prefer to call it, should be regarded as a measure of the success or failure of a relationship, be it political, economic or personal.
        Beyond economics, the power and influence of the UK, like those of the West in general, are both in decline. But politically the UK still carries more weight in the world  than its objective standing really warrants; this is true at the UN, in NATO, with the Commonwealth countries, and with the US, which is the only Western superpower. Incidentally, the US and the Commonwealth countries would also much prefer that we remain in the EU and I suspect it is because of the influence that we have therein.

        This enhanced standing is partly due to history : like France, the other Old Power, the UK is still a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, alongside China, the USA and Russia. Many people would suggest that post-reunification Germany, much the largest economy in Europe today, would be a far more appropriate member now than either France or the UK. The days of the Empire on which the sun never set are long gone, but in this area as elsewhere the UK still punches above its weight.

        But another reason for our continued influence is precisely that the UK has become an important member of this club of democracies called the EU – all speaking different languages but culturally very similar despite (or because of ?) having been engaged in ****** internecine warfare from about AD 1000 until AD 1945. Within the EU we are a big player, and the other members are eager for us to stay despite disagreements. One reason for this is obvious : when you look at the rise of the BRICS , it is not only the UK’s status but also that of other European countries that has diminished. I boldly combine the advice of Benjamin Franklin with the cautionary message of Hilaire Belloc and declare that we would all be well advised to hang together for fear of finding something worse.

        And speaking of Unions, the UK is itself a Union, one in which a lot of blood was shed before and after 1707. Do we really want to downgrade ourselves from a United Kingdom to become a collection of small-time players, picturesquely foggy tourist destinations and Trump golf courses? Theme parks based on the Industrial Revolution  and the Beatles?
        Scotland is likely to vote « Stay » . If England – in Churchill’s  misquoted words – « opts for the open sea » , the UK as we know it could cease to exist. Faced with today’s realities, Churchill the great man and realist would have recognised the folly of the open sea and opted for the devil he knew. I profoundly hope that when the time comes voters will do the same. I take comfort from the fact that at present, the bookies’ odds remain 2/5 on to 1/3 on in favour of remaining, so punters at least seem to have their heads screwed on. Report

        1. Scotland could choose to leave at any time, regardless of whether we are in the EU or not. That is a redundant argument.

          The international standing that the UK still has and its place on the Security Council has more to do with being a nuclear power than anything else. Same with France.

          We are not a big player in the EU – we are just the ones who keep trying to put a spoke in the works to stop the rest of them from forming a United States of Europe. From a foreign policy point of view I can see why we don’t want a whopping great USE on our doorstep; I can understand why the government can’t really come out and say that’s what they’re trying to do. On the other hand, the EU is now a crumbling, disintegrating mess. It has a bodged and fatally flawed currency; it is demonstrably unable to respond quickly or effectively to crisis situations; it has individual nation states openly arguing and taking matters into their own hands; and it is alienating millions of ordinary citizens across Europe who are having to turn to far-right organisations just to get their voices heard. There is no long-term future for the EU in its current state. If the UK leaves, it may well hasten the demise of the EU which can only be a good thing for anyone who loves Europe.

          The fact is that most ordinary European people do NOT want a United States of Europe. They have strong national identities, individual cultures, rich histories – they don’t want to give that up for some obscure political dictatorship. Many of them want to be in the EU because they get more out of it than they put in. But they will never put the interests of the EU above their own national interests – you only need to look at the migrant crisis to see how true that is. If the politicians continue to drag us kicking and screaming into their personal utopia against our will, there will inevitably be a revolution or a war at some point. There always is.

          I fear the EU. I fear for my children growing up in the EU. I can’t see any future for them if we stay in. The only hope is to get out now before it really kicks off. We know the EU is a devil – but Brexit doesn’t have to be.

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          1. To take your points one at a time :

            1. UK break up : Scotland can indeed vote to leave at any time, but my point was that a Brexit vote is likely to reverse the surprisingly small majority in favour of staying which was recorded in 2014.

            2. UK influence : The nuclear weapons issue has NOTHING to do with the Security Council. It was founded in 1945, held its first session on 17 January 1946 at Church House, Westminster, London, and its members were the winning side in WW 2. At that time, only the US was a nuclear power. France’s first weapons test was on Feb 13 1960, Russia’s (USSR) on August 29 1949 and UK’s on 3 October 1952. As I argued, UK and France were there for historical reasons.

            3. UK big player or not : There are six big players in the EU : Germany, France, the UK Italy, Spain and Poland. When it comes to voting in the Council of Ministers, their weight is reflected in a system of voting which weights the vote essentially according to population. The UK does extremely well in this respect; I admit that the system is complex, but surely not beyond the wit of human beings to understand. The proposition that we are constantly outvoted is balderdash, to avoid the use of more vulgar expressions which would probably be censored even on this website.

            4. The other points– well, there aren’t many that I can really address, because they are merely woolly statements of anti-EU sentiments. Let us take one : “they [the ordinary European people] dont want …… some obscure political dictatorship”. Without wishing to be rude – for it has never been my nature to be so – you should perhaps check the dictionary for the meaning of the three last words . The EU is amongst other things, and has been since its outset, a way of reconciling in a civilised manner the many differences which exist between our various Member States.

            My own fear for our children is rather a world in which Trump-style politics prevail, instead of the standards of civilised behaviour which, so far since 1945, have been the norm in Western Europe.

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          2. Hmmm, yes… a way of reconciling differences for the benefit of politicians, with little regard as to the needs or desires of the people they are supposed to represent. I don’t want my country’s government to be subservient to an organisation which is overwhelmingly populated by people with no interest in Britain whatsoever. The European Parliament is a convenient foil that allows the EU to pretend it is democratic whilst simultaneously taking control and power ever further away, out of the hands of the people. The British people should be able to elect a British Parliament that is able to govern Britain in its own interests, without recourse to or approval from anyone else. And we should be able to kick out every last one of them if they fail to represent us as we would wish – not just under a tenth of them, as with the current EU Parliament (and progressively less as new countries join).

            I assume that you don’t wish to discuss the faltering currency, the migrant crisis, the inability to react effectively to crisis situations, the persistent appeal and self-interest of the nation state above the EU or the rise of extreme right-wing organisations in Europe. Apparently these are all “woolly statements of anti-EU sentiments”, rather than cold hard fact which you can see for yourself if you choose to open your eyes. Inconvenient to your argument they may be, but they ARE facts.

            Maybe instead you could explain why the UK leaving the EU would prevent Western European countries from reconciling their differences in a civilised manner; or stop them from maintaining standards of civilised behaviour (as in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, presumably)? Will they descend into chaos and anarchy without us? Do you think that the other EU countries would want to punish us for leaving? Do you think they would go out of their way not to co-operate with us, or make things difficult for us?

            Incidentally, what do you mean by ‘Trump-style politics’? Is it his policies that you don’t approve of, or the fact that he shouts them loud and proud and doesn’t care what anyone thinks?Report

          3. The point is if we leave the EU will be without a major payment country and the loss of so many Billions to the EU and could easily cause the EU to collapse. That is the reason that they are trying to hide the massive increased costs of staying in the EUReport

          4. @Andy, you’ve obviously been reading too many history / economics books written by those who support the EU project. Arguing with you is pointless because you’ve been brainwashed. Being able to regurgitate EU propaganda doesn’t make you smarter than the rest of us.

            We have to take control of our own borders and get our sovereignty back. We need to look after our own citizens better, set our own laws and send those who refuse to integrate into society back home. There are far too many migrants and immigrants in this country who don’t have our best interests at heart. Let’s stop feeling guilty about what we’ve done in the past and start looking after our citizens better. Charity begins at home.Report

          5. Well said Laura I think your article is far more credible and to the point than Mr motor mouths article, hopefully there are a few more people who share your view and disregard the rantings of people who would gladly cede are democratic way of life that stopped Europe from being overrun by Germany during the last two wars. Report

          1. “Trump-style politics” means being deliberately insulting to opponents, women and inferiors; oversimplifying complex issues and suggesting ridiculous solutions; he appeals to the worst human instincts and his success so far is explained, in my view, by exploiting and stoking the genuine fears and insecurities present in his audience. I’m not aware of anything resembling a policy, but his strategy is clear.

            Were the UK to leave the EU this would not prevent continental Europe from continuing as it does today once they have waved us off into the sunset from the Grey Havens. Many would be sorry to see us go; others might well say “Thank God”.

            But look at the situation another way : the EU provides a set of rules for inter-State and Nation relationships within which most seem to manage quite well, a bit like the football World Cup. Do you think that England should withdraw from the World Cup because we haven’t won since 1966? Or should we perhaps instead try to play a bit better? Negotiate a separate set of rules of the game just for us, do you think? Or go off and play in the minor league with Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland as we used to do?

            I hope you appreciate the humour: one thing which appals me is the anger which the issue engenders and which appears online. And after all, if the UK were to leave, Brexiters would have to find another scapegoat on which to vent their spleen.

            All my comments have been entirely free of charge. I hope you can say the same. Report

          2. We have already negotiated a separate set of rules just for us. I’m just questioning why that’s necessary when we could just go off and play a different game more suited to our strengths.
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          3. Although what you have written here has nothing to do with my question, I would just comment that it will be perfectly fine with the UK if the rest of the EU continue with their integration. Why would it be otherwise?

            And as for rules, no, the EU does not do that. More and more, the rules passed down by the EU are international trade rules, not EU rules. So the EU is more and more a redundant body we don’t need. Report

        2. Andy How dare you have the cheek to prosume what Churchill would do or not do, he was always ready to stand up for what he beleaved in and the strength of the British PeopleReport

        3. Andy, I’m for staying in and have avidly watched the betting which, to me, is a much better indicator of what is likely to happen than the polls. People put their money where their mouth is, springs to mind.

          Disconcertingly, the betting is swinging towards the Brexit camp. Latest odds are 4/11 to remain and 2/1 to leave, in my view quite a significant shift in betting sentiment has taken place over the past month or so.Report

          1. Yes, and betting was the big give-away with the Scottish referendum. When even SNP supporters would not take what they claimed was “easy money”, I think we could all see which way things were going.Report

          2. With reference to your earlier compliment, the issue is complex and deserves more than the brevity of the “Yah! Boo! Sucks!” approach which seems so often to be the hallmark of the Out comments, with the exception of Laura’s. Report

        4. I have no doubt that the long term economic risks lie in staying in the EU. If you do not have control of your laws and do not have control of your borders, how can you possibly ensure your prosperity.

          The inability to control immigration will ultimately lead to a break down of the NHS and the welfare state. People who argue that immigration is an economic benefit simply do not understand the economics/accounting of the issue. Migrants tend to be employed in low wage jobs – if any job at all. They may pay £1500 or so in taxes. However the average cost of each resident in the UK is far higher than this. People use the NHS, use roads, use schools, etc.So in order to be a NET contributor their tax payment has to be far higher than most are paying in. That is why the government can’t get its deficit down no matter how hard it tries to cut.

          Then there are other important issues with respect to EU membership that are problematic: security, the threat to the indigenous culture, the cost to businesses that don’t trade with the EU, the lowering of wages for lower socio economic groups, etc.

          So I believe your economic arguments are rather naive.Report

    2. We’ve tried the ‘staying in and trying to reform’ approach for 40 years and failed miserably. We don’t need to flounce out or hurl insults. We just need to accept that the rest of the EU do not think like us and never will, and it is best for all sides if we make a dignified exit. We don’t want a joint currency. We don’t want ‘ever closer union’. We don’t want to be part of the Schengen zone. We don’t want a European army. What exactly DO we want, apart from a free trade deal? And if a free trade deal is all we want, then why can’t we just agree a free trade deal and forget political union altogether?

      I’d be interested in hearing your ‘rational and strategic’ reasons for staying in. You haven’t actually listed any…
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      1. Yes, that’s exactly right. When the common Market was a free trade area, we could fit in, because trade has no ideology. It’s either more or less free.

        But once the EU came along with its federalizing agenda, we ran slap into the difference between ourselves and Europe.

        The UK and Europe are distinct culturally, politically and economically. Once you get past trade and start to interfere in member states’ internal affairs, it only works for member states that share the political goals of the EU.

        Since we don’t share the political goals of the EU, it is time to part company with the EU’s political institutions and go back to a trading-only relationship.

        And for Europhiles to argue that we have “influence” if we would only go along with the other member states is inane.Report

      2. Laura well said! Andy stop trying to distract from the main issues you are
        starting to sound frustrated.You cant argue with the truth which is we are better of
        OUT.For many reasons already given.Report

  18. Vote Leave – listen to Nigel and other brilliant politicians i.e. Johnson, IDS, Gove etc. Imagine telling those EU immigrants that they have to pass a test before they come in. OK so there might be a tariff on cars – so what. My son’s bought a new Audi – I can’t wait to tell him his next car will be an Austin or Morris( completely revised in every way of course including a super duper car nationalisation manufacturing base that CAN’T be sold to oversea buyers (similar to arrangements that German car manufacturers have.
    I could go on but you get the drift that at long last we’ll have our GREAT country back again if we vote LEAVE!Report

    1. The drift I get is that you are a bit vague on hos the economy works. The idea that if we leave we will be buying Austins is pretty nonsensical.Report

      1. I think Simon has also failed to realize that the company that once made Austin cars went bust over 10 years ago. He’s obviously not too well informed!Report

  19. The reason I shall be voting to leave the EU is due to the incredible waste in that organisation, which I have witnessed first hand.

    The national highway N432 in southern Spain – the ~100kms long part in Andalucia. About 7 years ago, it was completely re-tarmacked with new crash barriers and again 5 years ago and again 3 years ago! The thickness of tarmac on this road is a sight to behold.

    Southern Europe is dotted with bridges and tunnels from nowhere to nowhere, nearly all funded by the EU, where tens of billions of Euros have been wasted because of utter incompetence. I see no reason why the British taxpayer should continue to fund this insanity.Report

  20. If our government loses the confidence of the British people we can vote it out of office every 5 years. We have no such power over the unelected EU decision makers in Brussels. If we have to pay a small temporary economic price for our freedom it is well worth paying.Report

  21. On the 24th June is the first UK release of teh new film Independence Day.

    A Leave vote will mean that we will have the power to get a much fairer and better deal in terms of reduced costs, control of our borders, free to arrange trade agreements more quickly with China, South American countries and Commonwealth countries. More nimble and more quicker.

    A remain vote will mean more of the gruel from the likes of the publically unelected Juncker and EU commission.
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  22. Well, I’m 100% a leave voter. I don’t know how anyone who believes in democracy could vote to stay in the undemocratic EU.

    “UK has influence in EU” ???

    UK Hasn’t managed to block 1 proposal voted on at EU council since 1996, during that time we have voted against 72.

    Those reading this. Let’s do a deal, hey.

    You give me £55 pounds every single day and I will give you back £30 pounds every single day but you can only spend it on what I say you can spend it on. Oh, and when I give you that £30 back (of your own money) you MUST wear a t-shirt that lets everyone one know I paid for the item you bought with it.

    Deal?

    Well, that’s the deal our weak government did with the EU. Only the UK chucks away about £55million of your hard earned taxes every single day to the undemocratic EU. Remember that when you see this ??outside a building in the UK.

    It’s simple:

    You either want the SOVEREIGNTY so many in the UK fought & died for or the UNDEMOCRATIC failing EU.

    You either want a LITTLE undemocratic EU or a GLOBAL sovereign #UK. It’s as simple as that
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