EU referendum morning briefing: voting begins in knife-edge poll

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The big picture

Polling stations opened this morning at 7am, and the preceding few hours were strewn with final pleas from politicians.

And if the polls are correct in saying the percentage of those voters still undecided could be in double figures, there might yet be receptive ears for those pleas to fall upon. So here they are, in a nutshell.

David Cameron: “It is a fact that our economy will be weaker if we leave and stronger if we stay … Put jobs first, put the economy first.”

Boris Johnson: “Democracy is vital but it only works when you can kick the buggers out when they make a mistake. If we vote to leave we can take back control of our democracy and our immigration policy.”

Nicola Sturgeon: “I believe in independence for countries but I also believe independent countries must work together for the greater good … If we vote remain, we protect them; if we don’t vote remain, then we put all of these things at risk.”

Gordon Brown: “This is not the Britain I know, this is not the Britain I love. The Britain I know is better than the Britain of these debates, of insults, of posters.”

Yvette Cooper: “What the leave campaign have done is push lies and also pit human beings against other human beings. That is what is wrong, immoral and just not British.”

Andrea Leadsom: “Tomorrow we will either wake up to the bright freedom of our independence day, or to the humdrum drudgery of just another day under the newly triumphant eye of the Brussels bureaucracy.”

Nigel Farage: “Let’s stop pretending what this European project is: they have an anthem, they are building an army, they have already got their own police force, and of course they have got a flag. At the end of the day … when people vote they have to make a decision – which flag is theirs?”

John Major: “If our nation does vote to leave … we will be out, out for good, diminished as an influence upon the world, a truly Great Britain shrunk down to a little England, perhaps without Scotland, perhaps with a grumpy Wales, and certainly with a Northern Ireland divided from the south by the border controls that would then be the edge of the European Union.”

Iain Duncan Smith: “David Cameron is colluding with the EU and lying to the British people. Families are suffering the consequences of uncontrolled migration – a direct result of the EU’s obsession with freedom of movement.”

Jean-Claude Juncker: “Out means out. British policymakers and British voters have to know that there will be no kind of renegotiation.”

Tim Farron: “You’ve got to hold and give but do it at the right time. You can be slow or fast but you must get to the line. They’ll always hit you and hurt you, defend and attack. There’s only one way to beat them, get round the back.”

(And in case you didn’t know why the remain campaign was reminiscing fondly about John Barnes.)

You should also know:

Poll position

There won’t be official exit polls this evening, so the last-ditch forecasts are all we’ll have until the real results land. And those final polls tell us that remain is ahead, that leave is ahead, and that it’s neck-and-neck.

  • ComRes for the Daily Mail and ITV News puts remain on 48%, leave on 42% and undecideds on 11% (yes, that’s 101% – let’s assume there’s some rounding here). With undecideds lopped off, it becomes remain 54% to leave 46%.
  • YouGov gives In a two-point cushion, with remain leading leave by 51% to 49%.
  • Opinium swung a notch the other way, with leave on 45%, remain on 44% and 9% still to make up their minds.
  • And a final TNS poll also edges the Outers ahead, with leave on 43%, remain on 41% and 16% not decided or not voting at all.
  • The FT poll of polls rounds off the campaign with remain on 47% and leave on 45%.

Number Cruncher Politics – which stood out in last year’s general election for actually predicting a Conservative victory – now puts the probability of a remain win at 74%.

What happens next

Don’t expect too much today, bar politicians and voters heading to polling stations. (Nonetheless, stick with the live blog, won’t you?) It all hots up after 10pm, when voting stops and counting starts. So, in Friday timings:

  • 00.00-00.30: Expect Sunderland to declare. They’re always super quick. Other authorities, including Wandsworth and the City of London, are also due to report early.
  • 2am sees a big tranche of announcements, with 22 councils due to speak up around now.
  • By 3am, we’ll be two-fifths of the way through. Stay strong. Drink caffeine.
  • At 3.30am we should hear from a number of Scottish authorities, including Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
  • 4am: 88 authorities announce their counts. We might wonder if we can make a guess at this point. Don’t hold us to that.
  • 5am: 90% of the way there. You might start to think about sleep. Hang on.
  • By 8am, we really should know the result. Have breakfast. Toast with a bucks fizz. Drown sorrows. Call in sick. Go to bed.

Read these

Paul Mason, writing on Medium, says a vote to remain is not a mandate for the “neoliberal, anti-democratic” EU:

On Friday, with the referendum over, I will join with radical and progressive movements across Europe to oppose your austerity strategy and the political cant that justifies it – aka neoclassical economics. And I will go on fighting the austerity imposed by the UK government …

I hope remain wins tomorrow. But the problem will still be there: neoliberal austerity promoted by the European Union is destroying the values of Europe. A generation of young people is being taught to despair and fear the future.

For this reason I will push for a mandatory re-run of a referendum on EU membership every seven years. I encourage the peoples of all other countries to exercise this right regularly.

Juliet Samuel in the Telegraph writes in defence of the referendum campaign:

For all the fear and anger and viciousness, I believe voters will make the right decision. I’m not referring to which way they’ll vote. I mean that voters broadly understand, either instinctively or rationally, what the arguments are and where they stand. We’ve heard time and time again in this campaign how ‘confused’ the public is and how desperate for ‘facts’ voters are. Esteemed commentators have wrongly concluded that this makes people unqualified to vote on such a serious matter.

The opposite is true. The insatiable desire for ‘facts’, the endless letters and phone-ins and questions, tell us that voters know they are not hearing definitive predictions, but points of view and spin. They would like certainties, but they have not heard anything that amounts to one. And so they know that their vote in the referendum is really just a judgment call: whom do I trust? What risk can I bear? And, fundamentally: what do I value?

Max Colchester and Jenny Gross in the Wall Street Journal win fascinating fact of the day with news that residents of the Isle of Man cannot vote in the referendum (but Gibraltarians can):

The debate over Brexit, as Britain’s potential exit from the EU is known, isn’t simple. Neither is figuring out who gets to cast a vote.

During world war one, the UK passed laws allowing ‘British subjects’ from across the empire to vote in UK general elections. The empire crumbled but the rights live on. People from some 53 countries can vote in the referendum as long as they live in the UK or Gibraltar, a British territory off the tip of southern Spain. People residing in Gibraltar can’t vote in general elections but got a pass for this one …

The Isle of Man counts as abroad … Today, it is a ‘self-governing Crown dependency’, which means it isn’t part of the UK, even though Britain is responsible for its foreign affairs.

The day in a tweet

Well played, Germany: they don’t think it’s all over.

If today were a song ...

All the polls would tell us it has to be Europe’s The Final Countdown. But no! What do the polls know, anyway. Let’s go for the Hokey Cokey instead: in, out, shake it all about. That’s what it’s all about.

And another thing

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Powered by article was written by Claire Phipps, for on Thursday 23rd June 2016 07.07 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010