Knife-edge EU referendum sets soothsayers abuzz
The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that Britain's EU referendum result is going to be close.
One of the main references is the polling average compiled by the WhatUKThinks website, which is currently predicting 51 percent for "Remain".
Hard and fast predictions are hard to come by but here are a few forecasts ahead of the June 23 vote:
- Online polls: 50-50
Cheaper and less time-consuming than phone surveys, Internet polls have become prevalent in Britain in recent years and are predicting a roughly equal split between the "Leave" and "Remain" camps.
A couple of recent online polls have even put the "Leave" camp ahead, sending the value of the pound plunging and scaring the pro-EU side, with Prime Minister David Cameron quickly calling a news conference to rebut key arguments made by the Brexit camp.
Some pollsters are wary though, saying these polls may have overestimated the "Leave" vote because highly motivated anti-EU voters tend to reply more quickly and in greater numbers online, skewing the result.
- Phone polls: 'Remain' victory
The picture is very different when it comes to phone polling, which shows a roughly 55 percent to 45 percent split in favour of "Remain", according to British Polling Council president John Curtice.
There have been fewer phone polls in recent days, which means the WhatUKThinks average is still close and there is also the possibility of voters becoming more risk averse and pro-Remain as the vote nears.
- Bookmakers: 'Remain' victory
Betting companies are overwhelmingly confident that the pro-EU camp will win, although the odds they offer for pro-EU gambles have narrowed in recent days.
A "Brexit barometer" compiled by Ladbrokes gave "Remain" a 73-percent chance of winning compared to just 27 percent for "Leave" on Friday.
Ladbrokes and William Hill were offering 3/10 odds for "Remain", meaning that a £10 bet would win just £3. The same bookmakers had 5/2 odds for "Leave" on Friday, meaning a £10 bet would win £25.
During a campaign stop last week, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage put his money where his mouth is and bet £1,000 on "Leave" at Ladbrokes.
He stands to earn £2,500 if his side wins.
- Markets: 'Leave' victory?
The financial markets have been far less certain on the result, falling sharply in recent days as the "Leave" campaign appears to have gathered momentum.
"It is becoming extremely worrying for the financial markets and expect more sterling losses" if polls show a Brexit lead," Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at currency trader FXTM said earlier.
On voting day itself, the value of the pound could become a key indicator as to the final result, if British media reports about banks and funds commissioning private exit polls are to be believed.
There are no official exit polls for the referendum.
- Election expert: 'Leave' victory
A respected election expert, Lord Rob Hayward, has this week said that "the balance of probability is that the nation will vote to leave", saying that polls may be underestimating support for Brexit.
Hayward said Labour supporters have not been motivated to vote "Remain" and polls underestimate "Leave" support among voters he categorises as "mortgaged, married, male, mid-30s-40s with kids".
Hayward correctly warned that polls were underestimating support for the Conservatives ahead of last year's general election -- a victory for Cameron that has seriously discredited pollsters who had predicted a much closer-run race against Labour.
- Brewery: 'Remain' victory
A British brewery has launched a range of beers to stimulate debate over European Union membership, with early results suggesting that guzzlers are united with their continental counterparts.
Little Valley Brewery in Yorkshire has brewed 10,000 pints (5,600 litres) of three pale ales, bearing the names "In", "Out" and "IDK" (I Don't Know).
Punters are encouraged to order according to how they will vote and at the Aire Bar in Leeds, staff told AFP the results from one day of this informal poll were clear -- 62 percent in favour of "In".
© 2016 AFP