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23 June 2016

Immigration dominates as voters head to the polls

The latest IpsosMori issues index puts the European Union and immigration at the height of voters' concerns.

By Stephen Bush

What’s the European referendum about? Britain Stronger In Europe, the cross-party campaign to secure a Remain vote, want to make it a vote on the economy, the economic benefits that accrue thanks to membership of the European Union, and the risks that a leave vote would represent.

IpsosMORI’s monthly issues index is out – and it makes for nervy reading for pro-Europeans.

Immigration dominates

The number of people listing immigration as an important issue facing the country has increased in the campaign’s final days. 27 per cent of respondents list it as the “most important issue” facing the country today, a six point increase on May’s IpsosMORI issues index. 48 per cent list it as “one of” the most important issues, a 10 per cent increase on May’s issues index.  These are both well outside the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus three per cent.

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Concern over the European Union is highest among groups that incline towards Brexit

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The number of people listing the European Union as an important issue facing the country is at a 17-year high, as 20 per cent make it the most important issue facing Britain today while 32 per cent make the issue one of the most important issues facing Britain today.

Concern about the European Union is highest among the groups of voters that are most likely to back a Brexit vote, at least according to previous polling. 44 per cent of rural voters list it as a top concern against just 26 per cent of urban voters.

But ABs, Remain’s most loyal group, are also concerned about the European Union.

People in NRS grades AB are the most likely to back a Remain vote, and concern about the EU is higher in that group than the national average, at 40 per cent.

Economic worries remain in the margins

But pro-Europeans will be nervous that just eight per cent of people make the economy their most important issue and only 27 per cent make it one of the most important issues, suggesting that economic worries may be marginal as voters decide which side to back in the referendum contest.

However, few voters expect a Brexit vote

It is worth noting that most voters across all polls expect Britain to vote Remain. It could be that economic worries are penetrating but that voters believe that Britain will avoid the economic hit of a Leave vote.