Not many lend much credence to opinion polls after their poor show during the May 2015 general election, but if bookmakers are to be believed, it is a close race between the “Remain” and “Leave” camps in the June 23 referendum on Britain’s future in the EU.
The gap between the camps is narrowing, according to bookmakers Coral, who are offering odds of 1-3 that Britain will vote to remain in the European Union and odds of 12-5 that the vote will be for a Brexit.
A spokesman said: "The flurry of recent bets we’ve had on Leave means that the referendum is getting closer to call. Ten days ago the odds were so firmly in favour of Remain there was even talk of bookies paying out early, but since then, the money has come for Leave to such a significant degree, we are hardly taking a bet of note on Remain, and the gap between both sides is narrowing all the time according to our odds.
“Following the money and avoiding the spin might be the wisest choice for punters when it comes to predicting this outcome.”
The bookmakers’ analysis came within hours of another live appearance by Prime Minister David Cameron and UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage on ITV on Tuesday night. Both faced similar questions and provided similar answers with practised ease.
Former foreign secretary William Hague, a Eurosceptic-turned-Europhile, said on Wednesday leaving the EU risked the “fragmentation of the western world”. He said the political climate had shifted significantly since the mid-1990s, when his hostility to the EU was at its peak.
Hague told BBC he saw the EU as “the lesser of evils” compared with the damage a leave vote will deliver to the economy and to international instability. “We are in an imperfect world and many of the choices we make in life or in politics are between the lesser of evils,” he said.
“I remain a critic of the EU…but you still have to make a cool-headed decision when it comes to leaving. It is in the interests of the people of this country, in the interests of their jobs and businesses in particular (to remain in the EU).”