Project Fear: Success or Failure?

Posted on 27 May 2016 by John Curtice

As last week, much of the media commentary on the polls this week has suggested that Remain has made a decisive breakthrough. On Sunday The Observer kicked off with the contention that its latest poll from Opinium showed there had been a substantial shift towards Remain amongst Conservative supporters. This was followed by a poll from ORB for The Daily Telegraph, which for the second week in a row suggested that there had been a substantial move towards Remain amongst voters as a whole, a swing that was not only particularly marked amongst Conservative supporters, but amongst older voters too. Between them these reports suggested that the various warnings from David Cameron and George Osborne about the economic consequences of a vote to leave the EU, warnings that have come to be dubbed ‘Project Fear, were finally beginning to bear fruit for the Remain camp.

However, one or two polls do not make a trend, especially when in one instance the poll in question contains only 800 interviews and therefore its estimates for any particular sub-group can move up and down quite a bit simply by chance. It is much better to look at the collective evidence of all of the polls. Doing so raises considerable doubt about the validity of some of the claims that have been made about the Remain side’s apparent progress.

Above all, it is far from clear that there has been a significant movement to Remain amongst voters in general. In the Table below we show the latest estimate of the level of support for Remain and Leave (after Don’t Knows have been left to one side) for each of the companies that has been polling regularly during the course of the referendum. In each case we also show how this estimate compares with the one that was obtained when the same poll was conducted in the middle two weeks of April. Therefore for each poll we are assessing how much movement it has registered during the last month or so. However, we should note that in three instances the company in question either amended its weighting procedures, in each case in such a way as to give a slight boost to the level support for Remain. In these three cases the figure quoted in the final column is the one that would have been obtained if the change in question had not been made.


Referendum Vote Intentions in Each Polling Company’s Most Recent Poll

Polling table

* after taking into account the impact of methodological changes on the estimates of support for Remain and Leave.


Now, as some of the newspaper headlines have suggested, one or two polls have indeed identified a substantial move towards Remain. Indeed, at 61%, ORB’s estimated level of support for that side of the argument was higher than that recorded by any previous poll. Ipsos MORI too recorded a notable movement in that direction, and its estimate of 60% support for Remain equalled its previous all-time high.

However, these movements have not been typical of the results of recent polling. Most have detected no more than a movement of a point or two – in either direction – movements that are no more than the kind of change that can occur in a poll simply by chance. This includes four polls that were either conducted at the same time as ORB’s poll or more recently.  Meanwhile, although it is the oldest of the polls listed in the table, there has been one poll, from TNS, whose figures represented a sharp swing in favour of Leave.

As a result, if we take this group of latest readings as a whole, on average they have registered nothing more than the smallest of swings towards Remain – less than a percentage point. Maybe there has been a small swing to Remain during the course of the last month, but in truth we can say no more than that. There is certainly insufficient evidence to justify any claim that there has been a decisive shift that means that a referendum race that has long looked rather close has now become significantly less so.

Mind you, it is quite clear why someone might form the impression that the race is less tight than it was. Collectively the latest polls in our table are certainly better for Remain than for Leave. Only one actually puts Leave ahead, whereas six reckon Remain hold the advantage. But we should also note that all but one of the polls that put Remain ahead were conducted by phone. As we noted earlier this week, it has long been the case that polls conducted by phone have painted a more optimistic picture for Remain. What has changed is that phone polls of referendum vote intention are now much more numerous than they were

In the early phase of the referendum campaign, that is, up to the conclusion of the renegotiation of the UK’s terms of EU membership in mid-February, phone polls of referendum vote intentions were few and far between – only eight of the 58 polls published during this period were conducted by phone. In contrast, during the last two months more than one in three polls have been undertaken by phone, while our table above contains an equal proportion of both. This change in the balance of phone and internet polls has ensured that there are now more polls reporting that Remain are in the lead, thereby creating the impression that the mood has swung in favour of Remain when in practice little or nothing has changed at all.

But what of the claim that there has been a particularly marked swing in favour of Remain amongst Conservative supporters? All but one of the polls in our table tell us how those who voted for the Conservatives twelve months ago propose to vote in the referendum. In April they found on average that 45% of those who gave David Cameron his unexpected victory in May 2015 proposed to vote for Remain, while rather more (55%) said they would vote to Leave. Those numbers have shifted – but not by much. Now on average 48% of Conservative supporters say they will vote to Remain while 52% would prefer to Leave. (In contrast, the figures for Labour supporters have remained unchanged at 69% for Remain and 31% for Leave.) If the Prime Minister has made any progress amongst those who backed him a year ago at all, it has been no more than minimal. The coalition of people who delivered him an overall majority continues to be seriously fractured in this referendum.

Equally, the collective evidence of the polls suggests that there is little sign of a decisive movement in favour of Remain amongst the over 65s, who to date have proven relatively resistant to the idea of staying in the EU. Last month the polls on average reckoned that 40% of them would vote to Remain while 60% would opt to Leave. The equivalent gap in those same polls is now a little narrower – 43% for Remain and 57% for Leave – but not much. Meanwhile, the slight movement to Remain amongst this group is far from unique.  Support for staying in the EU amongst 18 to 24 year olds has edged up in those same polls from 70% in April (with 30% backing Leave) to 75% (and thus 25% supporting Leave). Consequently, the age gap in referendum voting intentions continues to look as sharp as ever.

In truth, these figures should not come as much as a surprise. For, despite the intense efforts made in recent weeks to persuade voters that a vote to Leave would have seriously disadvantageous economic consequences, it appears that there has been little change in the proportion of voters that think would indeed be the case. YouGov’s most recent poll does find that while 23% do think that Britain would be economically better off if we left the EU, as many as 34% think we would be worse off. However, those numbers are virtually identical to those YouGov obtained in April, when 22% reckoned we would be better off if we left and 33% felt we would be worse off. Indeed these figures are not dissimilar to those that YouGov have obtained since the beginning of the year.

Even ORB have reported much the same finding. A month ago it found that 48% believed the Remain campaign’s arguments were the more convincing when it came to creating a ‘stronger economy’, while only 34% reckoned the Leave side’s claims were more likely to achieve that objective. While the proportion who find the Remain campaign’s arguments on this issue the more convincing has increased to 53%, the proportion who find the Leave side’s position the more persuasive has also gone up, to 37%. As a result, the Remain’s side relative advantage on this issue is little changed.

All in all, then, there is little evidence that ‘Project Fear’ has had any immediate success in persuading voters of the alleged economic risks that would come with a decision to leave the EU. Equally, there is little sign that it has secured a decisive swing in favour of Remain either amongst voters in general or amongst key groups in particular. But maybe that is to judge the project too harshly. What certainly has not happened in the last four weeks is any kind of swing to Leave, even though many voters remain deeply concerned about the level of immigration that they feel comes with EU membership. By ensuring that the focus of media attention in the last four weeks has been on the economy, where voters were already relatively sympathetic to the Remain side’s case, rather than on immigration, where they are decidedly unsympathetic, the UK government’s efforts may at least have helped avoid any erosion of Remain support. If that means Remain are still at least narrowly ahead, the UK government may feel that it is a job well done. We will only find out whether it has been enough to ensure that there is a majority vote for Remain when the ballot boxes are opened four weeks from now.

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.

48 thoughts on “Project Fear: Success or Failure?

  1. Alberto

    Take your pick, good or bad is my definition.

    You can of course opt for any other combination like the good but foolish, bad but well meaning and so on. Any combination of political / corporate / religious drivers can also be strong motivators too. Either way, the EU is the only institution that stands any chance of regulating these people. It’s useful to keep in mind that there is such a thing as a “commercial decision”. It’s not considered morally right or wrong, just a necessary decision in the interests of business.Report

  2. Brexit supporters should look more closely at just what they are throwing their support behind. The EU is now in the process of adopting a whole range of new anti corruption laws and many (elite) members of the establishment and society consider these against their personal interests. Money laundering, tax evasion, etc. will be legally outlawed where possible. Naturally this will adversely affect some of our favoured Dependencies. This has not gone unnoticed in some quarters.

  3. No jon, wrong assumption. Illegal immigrants prefer not to enter UK through our normal legal points and ports of entry. You will understand better if we leave the EU, the French will be heard to say something like “quitter Calais”

    You have obviously not heard the latest from Germany either. We are not going to get the trading deals some have been foolish enough to expect.Report

    1. What “wrong assumption”? Illegals enter illegally. That means *not* in the normal way through the normal channels. What does that have to do with anything? It’s irrelevant to Brexit. Benefits is relevant.

      Oh, and Germany runs the EU now? I kind of thought that, but EU law actually says that after we invoke Article 50, the EU’s negotiating position is determined by the remaining members. Not by some random German headline. And some of the remaining members have 25% unemployment, or in the case of Ireland, do more trade with us than with the rest of the EU put together.

      I think the Eu’s negotiating position will be determined by enlightened self-interest. If their best case is for us to remain members, it follows that their second best case can’t be a disorderly bust-up, but instead to retain all possible ties with the UK except formal membership.

      I must confess I find europhiles a bit confusing. One day they are telling us how rational, wise and intelligent Europeans are, and the next day they want us to think that Europeans are actually the kind of people who throw tantrums that cut them off from two very important markets – the UK export market and the UK jobs market.

      Something suggests to me that with zero net growth since 2008 and above ten percent unemployment for eight years, European leaders will somehow manage not to go bonkers where trade is concerned.Report

  4. This will not be treated as “scaremongering” or “rubbish” by the ‘leave’ camp when reality sets in. A number of senior military officers have also voiced quiet concern in a number of other weak spots too.

    Namely merchant shipping, private aircraft.and under the protection of diplomatic movement as junior staff to senior officials.

    It’s actually been going on for decades but quietly ignored. However, still fools ramble on about EU citizens UK. Note this, legal immigration is irrelevant as they just come in, do whatever it is they came for and leave, usually for another EU country before returning home. Study the facts before swallowing rubbish from politicians.Report

    1. So illegal immigrants enter the country illegally? Is that really your point? Wow, stunning. Look, when we are the fastest growing country in Europe with about the lowest unemployment, then of course the UK will be an attractive destination for migration. How else could it be?

      For myself, I am in favour of immigration, as long as it consist of legal immigration, and people who come to the UK to work. Illegal immigration has little to do with Brexit. It is something we will have to manage in or out of the EU. It might be nice not to be hampered by the EU and its silly rules, but that’s a minor point.

      The real point is the UK being able to run its own benefits system, which UK taxpayers pay for, and not have other EU countries dump their welfare and unemployment problems on the UK taxpayer.

      Is it really so hard to understand that other EU members have *less* incentive to reform their economies and job markets if they can always use the UK as a dumping ground for workers that they are incapable of employing?Report

  5. Well, here we are again, moving back towards 50/50. Prof Curtice asks if Project Fear is working, and my answer remains the same as last week and the week before. Any project fear works in the short term, but not in the long term, when people have time to consider whether they are being conned.

    And I think we are seeing Project Fear running out of things to say. It’s like telling the same joke too many times. Today I saw a headline about the important issue that some faculty candidates are delaying their acceptance of job offers until after the vote. That seems a bit like scraping the bottom of the barrel to me.Report

  6. David Cameron was highly critical of Sadiq Khan in a speech in Parliament quite recently but is now prepared to share a platform with him. I think Cameron would ‘sup with the devil’ if it helped the ‘remain’ cause (not that I am suggesting Khan is).

    Notice how Cameron avoided the question of immigration and his pledge to reduce numbers to tens of thousands because he can’t achieve this while we remain in the UK. Uncontrolled immigration will take some of our services to breaking point, schools, NHS and housing are almost there now.

    The ‘remain’ side are trying to scare people into thinking the economy will collapse if we leave – it won’t – though some jobs may be lost or need to be changed in the short term. EU suppliers are not going to stop selling products to us and we to them. High tariffs would be in nobodies interest. (Don’t forget joining the EU caused our fishing industry to be decimated though loss of our exclusive fishing grounds and quotas, just one downside). Of course the economy is important but some small change here is not worth the loss of security, sovereignty and further subjugation to Brussels and possibly other unwanted diktats and participations of the EU. Another biblical reference comes to mind, ” For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul”, or country as here?

    There may not be another opportunity for us to get out of this quagmire that is the EU for many years and by then there will be few if any who had pre EU experience. We can see the brain washing that the ‘elite’ will bring to bear as exemplified by the likes of Cameron and Osborne now, so blind acceptance of being in the EU. I urge everybody to vote ‘Leave’.


    1. Referring to DC sharing a platform with SK very tacky.Both looking for cheap popularity.As for DC he has no principals or moral fibre blantantly lying .Hes just a posh spiv.
      However SK. If he really wanted to sway voters he could have shared a platform with One of the
      prominent remain group.Alan Johnson springs to mind.
      I feel he did no favours to the labour party or the remain campaign.Report

  7. Why we should Remain in the EU

    The three issues that separate the two sides are:-
    • Economics – will we be better off in or out?
    • Sovereignty and democracy – are we governed by Johnny Foreigner or in a co-operative arrangement with our European partners?
    • Immigration – is traditional British culture just about to be submerged beneath a tidal wave of newcomers or actually is it all pretty manageable / under control?

    The economic argument is the clincher for the rationalists

    I have asked in vain why Brexiteers believe we’ll do better outside the EU. But I recently got a bit of an answer from Tim Montgomerie in The Times. Which I summarise below:-

    1. If people think their income would be unaffected they would vote Leave by about 55% to 45%. If they think they would be £500 better off staying in then that turns round to 60% in favour of Remain.
    2. Brexiteers have three killer questions to ask. If the EU is so good at:
    a. Growth – why has the US grown so much faster over the last decade?
    b. Jobs – why is Spanish unemployment 21%?
    c. Trade – why are deals with Japan, the US and Canada at risk of breaking down?
    3. The positive economic case for leaving can be made in 5 pledges – on exit we would:-
    a. Create a new Office of Free Trade to quickly secure trade deals
    b. Set up a world-beating export support service
    c. Allow sterling to fall a bit
    d. Invite Britain’s employers to draw up an intelligent immigration policy encouraging professionals from the rest of the world and reducing low-skilled EU migrants
    e. Make European companies selling to UK our allies in renegotiating our relationship with the EU.

    I suspect that this is as good a case as the Leave camp will be able to make – tell me I’m wrong. But I don’t think it’s hard to rebut.

    The three killer questions are irrelevant. The Remain camp doesn’t have to claim the EU is good in those areas – only that on balance of probabilities we’d be better off in than out (easily done and not repeated here). And growth and jobs are more in the hands of the member states than the EU. The UK in particular needs to up its game on education and training and it ain’t the EU holding us back.

    The five pledges don’t hold water. You can set up an Office of Free Trade, and it would be a good idea, but you can’t just will it to succeed – wishful thinking. And the other four are open to us to do while in the EU – we don’t have to exit first.

    There are understandable issues relating to democracy, sovereignty, familiarity, ownership, pride where the EU could easily do a lot better and even EU haters might be able to feel less alienated

    1. I’d like the doings of the European Parliament to be reported in the newspapers as fully as our own parliament. I’d like to be familiar with the players, the issues, the legislative programme. Nothing is stopping this happening now except editors’ views of the demand for it.
    2. I’d like the Council of Ministers (unelected) to be clarified as a revising body like our House of Lords (also unelected) rather than an equal partner with the European Parliament (elected) in making law. Might require a treaty change – 5 years?
    3. I’d like the President of the European Commission (equivalent to our Prime Minister) either to be elected by the Parliament from among its members (so we elect him or her indirectly) or go for the US version of a separate Presidential election. This is because it’s the President who decides what legislation is going to be put forward for approval by the Parliament (just as our Prime Minister does, for example in the Queen’s Speech). Probably the same treaty change is required
    4. The Commission is essentially the Civil Service and the Commissioners equivalent to our Ministers. For completeness I’m unfussed by the Commissioners being unelected and nominated one per country – I don’t find that requiring our Ministers to be (usually) MPs is any advantage.
    5. I’d like the areas of competence of the European Parliament on the one hand and the member states on the other to be clearer. It’s rational and it’s in the treaties but it’s hardly top of mind. It ought to be just as familiar as the split of powers between our parliament and county councils. This ought to be do-able now and would pretty much follow were point 1 to happen.
    6. [In parentheses because this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, to say the least (!) – I’d like to see progress to the United States of Europe over 20 years. But even without that the rest of this list applies].

    The immigration argument is where Brexiteers follow their hearts rather than their heads – but the arguments don’t stack up.

    The UK is overcrowded. With 267 people per square km only Belgium and the Netherlands in Europe, big countries like India and Bangladesh and a handful of small islands and special cases like Kong Kong and Monaco are more densely populated than us. The roads are crowded, the sewage systems are stretched, there are not enough houses. And with the population forecast to grow, services like the NHS and schools will come under pressure. The character of the place is changing. The 1950s Miss Marple-land has pretty much gone; mosques, foreign restaurants and different clothing abound. In my opinion we need roughly to halve the population and to re-establish the essence of Britishness.

    But Brexit is not the answer.

    There are 3 types of immigrant:-
    • non-EU citizens,
    • the inter-related illegals / asylum-seekers / refugees; and
    • EU citizens.

    Brexit makes no difference to non-EU citizens. We can give visas to Indian doctors and Australian engineers. We can allow in foreign students. Or not. Whether in or out of the EU.

    See Hans Roslin’s excellent 3 minute video for the story on illegals, asylum seekers and refugees – . The problem here is nothing to do with the EU – we are not in Schengen. We can spend more on border security whether we are in or out of the EU, Brexit makes no difference. The real answer, for which the UK should lobby, is for the United Nations to run the camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan or wherever, do the asylum claim checking and then allocate approved refugees to all United Nations members. It is not for the asylum seeker to choose where he is granted asylum.

    So the issue then is EU citizens. And this needs to be addressed. Urban liberals might welcome the cultural infusion and new restaurants on the High Street but a lot of ordinary people are worried about the effect on jobs and wages. Here the answer lies in our own government departments of Work and Pensions and Education. EU citizens only come here if they can find a job and that only happens if (a) they are more qualified than an unemployed Brit or (b) they are willing to work for less.

    Our education system is nothing to boast about – we have 1 million adult illiterates filling the prisons and the ranks of the unemployed, we don’t do brilliantly in international rankings. Our technical skills training is poor – tell me I’m wrong. The DWP is not pro-active in directing job-seekers to the training they need to become employable. All this is easy enough to fix – so just fix it, it has nothing to do with the EU.

    And then the benefit system could do better. Before Mrs Thatcher took on the miners there used to be a stigma to being on the dole. It wasn’t a good thing but it meant that people tried very hard to find a job. We can change the benefit system to incentivise work and to NOT incentivise having babies. Not an overnight job but do-able. There are several ways to skin this cat but, for example, we could set up Universal Basic Income (UBI) for every British citizen (not EU citizens) so that everyone can have adequate food and shelter while getting rid of most other benefits. [Switzerland has a referendum on this soon – it won’t be accepted but it shows that it’s not only Finland that’s thinking of it]. We could then raise the minimum wage so that it is noticeably higher than UBI – then if you want luxuries you have to work AND it is illegal for employers to hire cheap unskilled EU labour to displace a Brit from a job.

    Finally don’t admit to EU membership countries with such a notable difference in living standards that ALL jobs, not just those on the minimum wage, would be attacked. With the present 28 member states we will have EU accountants competing for jobs with British accountants on both cost and quality – but that’s what we want. That’s the healthy market.
    We don’t have to exit the EU to put these things right – indeed if we exit we still have to put them right.

    So that’s it – Remain is the rational choice.

    1. Thats your opinion and you are entitled to it .However I hope you have the grace to accept other peoples opinion.

      As Brexit does seem to be making an impression on the general public according to most posts.Report

  8. Oh, another thing, when an Elector has gone to the pollong station and, Horror of Horrors, has “spoiled” their ballot, it should still be counted in the Turnout Figures! They had turned out so to do! Report

  9. Old Woman. Observing quietly from the sidelines, I find the wild claims and counter claims of woe and destruction being bandied about, to be wholly off putting. The major players appear like stroppy children in the playground. These are our Leaders!
    However, what matters to me and I suspect to many others, is the prospect of being completely subsumed by Brussels. With all our faults Britain , used to be a great country, albeit having much to answer for, around the world: but this is 2016, our past mistakes are just that, past. Now is the time to move on in a much changed world. It will not end when we leave the beaurocratic nightmare which is
    The EU!

    1. Correct. Until then we remain “Insel Affen” little englanders incapable of sharing sovereignty. Very much unlike the other 27 other EU states.Report

    2. Yes, and it’s not just sovereignty, but democracy. The rest of the EU is pretty relaxed about the EU’s democratic deficit, probably becasue they don’t have Anglo-Saxon style democracy themselves. Think of France, where once elected a Preside3nt can do much as he likes. He is not accountable to Parliament, there are no weekly questions, he cannot be prosecuted for any crime, and as Hollande demonstrated a couple of weeks back, he can issue a “reform” of the labour market using a provision in the Constitution that allows him to do so without referring to Parliament.

      For us, the EU system is a very regressive step. It would take us back to the days before 1688. We would revert to the period of Charles II or James II, when an unelected executive had enormous, uncodified, powers which could be exercised in secret. The Bill of Rights would be a dead letter. We would have a European Parliament that is a discussion shop that in practice rubber-stamps whatever the executive wants.

      Giving up three centuries of democratic progress and making the “citizen” completely subserviant to the state, seems like a high price to pay for what the remainers insist are the “benefits” of EU membership.Report

  10. I just hope that the remain voters will stand up and be counted when the Euro collapses and we will be asked to double our contribution to the EU, or will it be difficult to find anyone who voted to remain.

    Has anyone actually seen the deal that Cameron came back with in print, all I have heard is that Merkel has already reneged on part of the deal. Why has Cameron not made everyone aware of this deal, if it is as good as he say’s why is he hiding it from us.

    I began with an open mind on the issue but I cannot see a future for us remaining in a broken EU.

    Let’s not forget we are voting for the future of our children and grandchildren.

    Please get all the facts and seriously think before you vote.

    1. For you my friend, reality is visual, not intellectual. A close vote either way will provide all the unwelcome facts you will need for the rest of your days.Report

    2. Right, Cameron’s deal is not enforceable. Lambsdorff explained quite clearly why. The EU has its own legal identity, so an agreement bvetween member states, even a unanimous one, cannot bind the EU. In fact, it cannot even bind future Governments of member states.

      The rest of what you say is clearly true. The EU outside the UK is in deep economic trouble, with about zero net GDP growth since 2008 and unemployment above 10% for the last eight years.

      When conditions like this persist for so long, people start to lose patience with Berlin – sorry, Brussels – and begin to elect candidates from parties that promise to take action at the national level that the EU is incapable fo taking. And that is the process of disintegration.

      We are already seeing a serious dispute between the EU and Poland, with EU sanctions on Poland probably only prevented by a likely veto by Hungary. Merkel is losing support in Germany in local elections, and in France the next presidential election will pitch Le Pen against one or other of the two has-beens, Hollande or Sarkozy.

      We have been so brain-washed about the EU that we now accept quite astonishing conditions as normal. Hollande is saying that he will run for re-election if he can get France’s 10% unemployment to “begin” to come down. Can anyone imagine 10% unemplooyment in the UK at a time when the rest of the World is growing quite well, or a PM proposing to run on a platform of trying to get it to “begin” to come down?Report

  11. Why the Fear of Remaining.
    The UK’s Interests and contentions are shared by almost all EU States.
    Being In, we are able to effectively contribute to unified reforms.
    To the benefit of establishing a realistic,effective and respected EU.Report

    1. That is of course is true but account must be taken of those who want out at any price and are guaranteed to vote. unlike the Remain side.Report

    2. You make it seem so easy. If what you say is true, how is it that after so many decades of UK membership, the EU remains so completely unreformed, and is now in such economic trouble?

      The EU represents our interests only if you define our interests to be those of the EU. If you defined the UK’s interests with respect to the UK, we are suffering from a very large trade deficit with the EU, loss of control over our own country, and like other EU members, we are having decisions imposed on us that are determined by anonymous and unaccountable civll servants. That is a *very* strange definition of UK interests.Report

      1. jon livesey · 30 May 2016 at 10:30 pm
        Nothing incorporating 27 EU States is ever going to be “easy”.—Even the USA with 200 yrs. experience continues to flounder—‘socially’.

        UK’s “membership for decades” Has long been half hearted, particularly regarding the Ideology ethos and its reality.
        We have not been alone, some more subliminal than others, in being there for our own interests..
        Where and when our politicians have engaged in enlargement issues, its contributions have come from our history of empirical integration,.together with what that culturally entails.
        Something few other EU states have experienced, much less succeeded in.
        Hence side lined until the unprecedented religious, cultural and mass migration events of this decade.

        “The EU represents our interests only if you define our interests to be those of the EU”
        Being nothing more than progress

        Our trade deficit is of our making or to put another way of ‘our not making’.
        Our Manufacturing Industry, productivity and skills being significantly lower than that universally available.

        Loss of control of our country is a myth,
        No democratic country loses control. It may be unsuccessful in conducting its will or political preferences, which in essence may well be archaic and even unacceptable to our citizens.
        Our aims, goals and aspirations are little different than particular other Western European Nations.
        Together with whom, if we are within, would democratically reform that which is archaic elsewhere to mutual benefit.

        1. As you say, “Nothing incorporating 27 EU States is ever going to be “easy”” so why persist with some thing difficult that seems to have limited benefits.

          The Common Market did a good job by establishing free trade and common standards, but now we are getting free trade and common standards at the international level, so it’s not clear what the added value of a particularly European setup is.

          And no, loss of control is not a myth. If we were integrated into the EU we would lose most of the democratic advances we have made since 1688, and we would go back to a system in which an unelected executive has enormous powers and Parliament has few.

          To call that a “goal” or “aspiration” of the British voter is not correct.Report

    3. Doyen its not fear of change but its time for change if the electorate have any self respect they will show their strength and vote out.
      You mentioned reforms.Its common knowledge there is no such thing as reforms in the EU.Report

  12. True Democracy makes this Simple.
    Particularly whilst the electorate largely remains confused by rhetoric.
    Many of whom are likely to vote with emotional patriotism, rather than assessment of essential, realistic implications..
    Whilst the referendum affords public opinion.
    It should be ‘weighted’ by an absolutely “Free Vote” of all Parliamentarians within the House of Commons.
    Ideally ‘before’ the public are required to vote.
    Good Bad or Indifferent—-We then get what we deserve.

    1. Good posting but most voters have now confused key issues with the differences between democratic and direct democracy. Most MPs would just chicken out and vote with their constituents emotions and not the longer term needs of the UK and future generations. Anything for a quiet life.Report

  13. I am very glad people like Curtice still call it close because it might be fatal to Remain if people believed the phone polls and felt there was no need to go out and vote.

    However I still find Curtice’s argument a bit peculiar.In order To believe it is close, we must essentially disbelieve the phone polls. They must be wildly wrong. Does he think this? He doesn’t or won’t say.

    1. You make an interesting observation in that posting David. The inference is that Brexit care more about the future of Britain than Remain ? Therefore they will turn out to vote in far greater numbers.

      Alternatively, Brexit supporters are instinctively more inclined to racism, xenophobia, bigotry and plain old fashioned stupidity since immigration is now at the top of the agenda and the economy has little meaning to them ?

      Remain can therefore be dismissed as unpatriotic, lazy and couldn’t care less where they live or who’s running the show. They have no real reason to bother voting as long as they’re fed, housed and have got the latest iphone and a decent car.Report

  14. There’s no such thing as project fear, just fear in a project. There is still no statement from the brexiters as to how they envisage an “out” vote actually benefiting UK ? We await your words of great wisdom.

    Until then it was all just a stupid Tory plan to get a false majority at the last General Election by keeping the walking dead members of their party on side. Naturally their dopey Constituency MPs have to go along with what their Constituents and association want so they can be forgiven.Report

  15. I find it very sad that a lot of the ‘remain’ voters are only doing so under the duress of false information from the treasury (they ALWAYS get their predictions wrong) the Bank of England’s Canadian Governor indicating a slight downturn in the economy for a few months, and the IFS predicting similar short term downturns (while raking funds from the EU into its own coffers). Then there is the prospect of world war three, house prices through the floor, and of course, huge unemployment problems.

    I can see that Remain have lots of validity in these forecasts. It is obvious to all but the most stupid of us, that we must leave our borders completely open to unfettered and unlimited migrants by the hundred thousand. We do, after all, have a vast number of empty houses in which to place them, we’ve built dozens of new hospitals and schools, in which to offer them free healthcare and education for their children, and our economy is now performing so brilliantly that there are at least two jobs available to every single migrant who comes in.

    David Cameron has refused to engage in a live tv debate with those who disagree with the above, so we can only assume he is 100% right about all of the above, and he has absolutely no need to defend his view in an honest exchange of views in front of the UK public. He can’t be expected to waste his time on such matters, matters he describes as ‘the most important decision of our lives’ whenever he gets the chance.

    From day one, Cameron has regurgitated ‘safer, stronger and more secure’ inside the EU, but what happens after the vote in June, when the Greek bailout proceeds, and the other economies continue to fail? Well, that’s easy, the UK has unlimited resources to throw at Brussells to help solve these problems, VAT went up from 17.5% to 20% pretty much the same day we gave DC the keys to No. 10 and there seems no prospect of that astronomical rate ever coming down again, so while we are used to it, why not put it up to 22.5%? That’ll sort out the Greek crisis for sure.

    As to the 350 million pounds we donate to the EU every week, well, as ‘Remain’ say, this is a lie, it is ‘only’ about 220 million per week after rebates and project support. The only thing that ‘leave’ can offer us is the right to question our lawmakers, the right to run our own economy, the right to control our borders in a reasonable and fair way, and the right to spend our own money as we see fit – I can see why the victims of ‘remain’s’ project fear have decided to turn against a Brexit, why would we want these freedoms restored to this great country? It makes no sense, it is much better to pass all power to tax us, spend our cash, make hundreds of petty laws every year, and all by an unaccountable group of Brussels based civil servant committees who have no knowledge of most of the 28 countries in this strange organisation dubbed the EU

    So let’s all vote for Remain this coming referendum day, it will feel like you are a lemming jumping off a cliff, a turkey voting for Christmas, but at least Mr Junker (I know it’s miss-spelled) will have a broad grin on his face come the morning of June 24th when he reads that we are now solidly welded into the EU for at least another 50 years. I imagine the Kebab shops of the UK are very worried about the number of Turkish people due to arrive after the vote dust has settled – we’ll have a new shop on every corner in a few years…!

    God Bless the UK, it was nice knowing you while we were still actually British, and not Europeans.Report

  16. IF undecided voters are short of FACTS—-here are a few to think about !

    This is FUNDAMENTALLY a vote about who governs our country. At present Brussels makes a majority of our laws and these are rubber stamped by our Parliament —–AND EU LAW SUPERCEDES UK LAW. These are FACTS.
    We must surely vitally regain control of our country and its borders

    . This is one instance where the economy is not supreme. It is our freedom and independence which is being stealthily being taken over by the unelected, inefficient , meddling bureaucrats in Brussels. The scaremongering and speculative messages regarding the likely effects of a Brexit on our economy by Osbourne are deplorable BUT EVEN IN THE EXTREMELY UNLIKELY EVENT OF HIS WORST SCENARIO(which was to cause a relatively small and temporary blip to our economy), IT WOULD BE A SMALL PRICE TO PAY FOR OUR FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE—–ON TWO PREVIOUS OCCASIONS WE FOUGHT WORLD WARS TO PRESERVE THEM—without regard to the cost in lives and treasure. These also are FACTS. NOW NATO keeps the peace—another FACT
    The ONLY way to control immigration of EU citizens is to leave the EU —–another FACT!
    There are over 500million people in the EU with a right to live and work in the UK, and if only 1% decide to come here that is an additional 5 million population to our country. It is a no brainer that this has a direct result on the capacity of our public services. We need to control immigration and admit people with the skills required to benefit our country and a share of asylum seekers AS COnTROLLED BY THE UK AND NOT THE EU!.

    The UK expects every man and woman to do their duty and VOTE TO LEAVE the EU on 23rd JUNEReport

    1. Shouty nonsense! This is precisely the sort of isolationist stupidity that led to two world wars. Not only this but if you think that the aftermath of Brexit will be a ‘blip’ in the UK economy, you are going to get a very nasty shock if you get what you want.

      PS. FACT! Brussels makes about 12% of our legislation NOT the majority, and while there are a lot of irritating problems with the EU, sending the world into a recession and ruining the UK economy for a generation (most likely followed by a breakup of the UK), seems like a pretty daft move.Report

      1. Nigel you sound like a scared rabbit in the headlights.Dont underestimate the the strength and resilience

        of the British. If we stay in P.M. will surrender anything EU demands.Hes proved how weak he is and he

        has also made it blatantly obvious with his lies he has no respect for the people or the UK.He must go.Report

  17. I think the answer is that any Project Fear can work in the short run but not in the long run. We saw this in the Scottish Referendum, when a last minute campaign to point out the dangers of independence helped to defeat the SNP, but immediately after the vote the SNP were out there insisting that the UK Government had already broken its “vows”.

    And it could be the same thing here. If they get the timing right, a last minute surge of scaremongering could win the referendum for Remain, but as soon as we see what the EU has been keeping quiet in its pipeline of new regulations, a lot of people could feel very cheated.

    If we vote to remain, then all the predictions of disaster if we leave become moot, and no-one will be out there saying they were right. No-one will be able to say that; only that they convinced the voters. And when the voters then find out that the EU intends to raise an army or regulate what tea-kettle you have in your kitchen, there could be quite a negative reaction.

    Apart from a vote to leave the EU, I think the worst outcome for Remain would be an ugly win that was also a close one. A 55/45 defeat in Scotland has just led to calls for a second referendum, and that could become a constant refrain in UK politics if we vote to Remain by a similar margin. And especially if the Remain campaign make claims that are widely mocked after the vote is in.Report

  18. Ireland had a referendum a few years back and when they went against the EU and Government by voting against”, the Irish Government told the people “wrong answer and to go away and think about it again. The Government then step up the campaign of fear saying what would happen if they said no and held the referemdum again until they got there yes vote! but all the things the Government said would happen if they voted no again still happened even though they voted yes. Perhaps if we vote “leave” the same will happen here…… lolReport

  19. Age is not necessarily the most important factor, a persons employment ,financial status, type of education and upbringing , the openness to think about the likely effects of each scenario ,will all play a serious part in the final decision.
    At the polling station the big factor will be the security of knowing what we have, and the insecurity of not knowing what we might have.Report

    1. And “knowing what we have, and the insecurity of not knowing what we might have” will pan out that the older folk remember a time before EU and how it can be (not Armageddon) moreso than younger cohort who know nothing other than EU and hence will approach their decision with (unnecessary) trepidation.Report

  20. Yes I agree John, been running a split spreadsheet one for phone the other for online – the latter still shows leave ahead albeit slight. Overall, I thought the changes since beginning of march are -0.2% for remain and -0.1% for leave with a corresponding increase in don’t know – hardly surprising. In fact I would say that ‘project fear’ if anything has moved people to the DK category from both camps.

    In this day and age of instant comms the SWINGS which occurred in the 60/70 &80s are noticeable by their absence and I think that 23 June will begin with those who made their mind up some time ago about 50/50 split. It will be the DKs who will make the difference and by and large that will happen in the voting booth – anecdotally I think it is more likely to benefit Leave as the DKs are probably middle age and beyond and fed up with the EU, but we will see. Report

  21. This is all propaganda by the government the only way they can get the remain vote is through fear, how can people be so stupid not to realise they are being manipulated. Do you really believe that everyone will want to stop trading with the UK if we left the EU, do you really think everyone will suddenly want to leave the uk or be kicked out if we leave the EU, do you really think the British will be kicked out of other European countries if we left the EU. No is the answer to all these questions, the EU will fall and the UK will remain the finance centre of Europe as no one will trust anyone else! people working and contributing to the economy will remain, countries like Greece will continue to need expats to survive. All the rich that say we should remain will jump the EU like rats jumping a sinking boat especially to protect their money. Life will go on. VOTE LEAVE Report

    1. I completely agree with this. If I ask myself what is rational behavior for the rest of the EU, the answer is to be as negative and threatening as possible up to the day of the vote.

      Then the best case for the EU is that we vote to Remain, but then the second best case, if we vote to leave, is to preserve as much as possible of the connections between the UK and EU even if the UK is no longer in the EU. After all, if their best case is that we remain members, their second best case *cannot* be a messy bust-up that harms both sides.

      There is another argument in favour of this which is that in any case nothing much happens for two years, during which we negotiate the terms of exit. Two years is plenty of time for everyone to calm down. And more importantly, two years is plenty of time for companies inside the rEU to remind the politicians of the importance of the UK export market and the UK jobs market.

      I can’t prove it, but I think that two years after a Brexit vote, we would have a partial free trade agreement with the EU that concentrates on the main categories of trade, and leaves smaller categories “to be done”. And after two years, the UK will have hammered out a system to control immigration that is merit and points based, and which gives a slight preference to rEU citizens.

      All of our other lines of cooperation with the rest of Europe should be unchanged: NATO, CERN, Eurofighter, Weather Centre, Interpol, fusion power and on and on down to Eurail passes.

      And a clever politician, either in the UK or rEU will be busy selling this outcome as *so* *much* better than a worst case outcome. When a messy bust-up harms everyone, it just isn’t going to happen.Report

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