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22 June 2016

Who will win the EU referendum?

Polls, betting odds and markets all predict a win for Remain – but a narrow one. 

By New Statesman

On Thursday 23 June, Britain goes to the polls to answer the question “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” Early on, polling showed a consistent majority for the EU, suggesting an easy win for Remain. But the question of who will win the referendum is now incredibly close.

Early Brexit predictions have been tested by a series of poll results putting Leave ahead. That gap has narrowed in the latest EU polls, but the markets have reacted nervously to the possibility of Leave. On the other hand, bookmakers have been steadfast for Remain: the latest Brexit odds show a vote for staying in the EU is still the favourite outcome.

Meanwhile, pundits have weighed in with their own positions on who will win the referendum. Read on to see the full range of Brexit predictions, and check back on Friday 24 June to see who called it correctly.



EU referendum polls have shown the erosion of an early lead for Remain – and in the penultimate week of campaigning, three published polls gave Leave a substantial margin of victory.

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Does that mean Leave is guaranteed success? Not necessarily. As the 2015 General election showed, polling can go wrong, and the recent good news for leave could prove to be merely outliers – subsequent polls have either reversed or reduced the lead.

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Stephen Bush points out that turnout will play a big part in the ultimate result: Leave has the edge among older voters, but Remain is popular among affluent voters who are among the most likely to vote. Add to that the “don’t knows” who have yet to make up their minds (9% according to YouGov) and a tendency for voters to revert to the status quo, and could be headed for a narrow win.

Brexit prediction: A win for Remain (but a narrow one)



The latest Brexit odds show that bookmakers have remained consistent throughout the campaign, with Remain still the favourite.

Does that matter? Odds aren’t necessarily a good guide to the outcome, so Brexiteers can take heart.

Brexit prediction: A win for Remain



Financial markets have proven highly sensitive to poll moves. The OECD Brexit report warned of dire economic consequences for Britain in the event of leaving the EU, and public opinion shifts to Leave were followed by heavy falls for the pound. It regained strength at the end of last week – but markets are likely to be volatile until the result comes in (and, if Leave wins, beyond).

Brexit prediction: A win for Remain



Offering an opinion is the essence of punditry, but making predictions (and so making yourself a hostage to fortune) is a different matter. However, some writers have pitched their lot in for one side or the other:

Polly Toynbee (the Guardian) – A win for Remain  

“The polls say the vote hangs in the balance. But I refuse to believe it. I don’t believe Britain will take leave of its senses and plunge down into the dark and rancid place the Brexiters would drag us. I want our country back – and I expect it to step back from the brink of this midsummer madness.”

Ian Leslie (the New Statesman) – A win for Remain  

“Once you see that this is really all about the economy, and that most voters use their vote to minimise risk and hassle, then you’ll see why I’m confident about a win for Remain.”

Stephen Bush (the New Statesman) – A win for Leave

“Not because the In campaign is a ‘team of losers’ – the campaign has made a number of talented hires. Not because it won’t run a ‘campaign of hope’ – risk aversion is a much more powerful force in politics as in life and is the right course of action. But because the extreme likelihood is a July referendum next year, doubtless against a backdrop of another refugee crisis.”

However, the refugee crisis has failed to dominate news this year as it did in 2015, and Stephen has subsequently written four reasons why why it could still be a Remain vote after all.

Dan Hodges (the Mail) – A win for Remain  

“The defining issue of British politics is no longer whether the Brexit camp can win, but how they choose to lose.”

Brexit prediction: A win for Remain