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Remember this from June 23/24 2016 – the final 12 hours on the Brexit referendum betting markets

December 6th, 2018

As the polls closed punters rated Remain as a 93.5% chance

With Brexit totally dominating the political scene at the moment I thought it might be useful to look back to the night of June 23rd 2016 when the referendum results came in and how the betting markets reacted.

Just before the polls close the then UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, conceded defeat. YouGov published a poll taken during the day showing with a clear lead and news of these figures appeared for hours at the bottom of the screen on the main TV channels. On the foreign exchanges the pound soared and so did the betting. Remain appeared a certainty as the chart shows.

Because the totally different exit polls had proved right at the previous three general elections many were attributing to YouGov the same level of credibility.

The first actual results came in just before 0100am from Newcastle. This had Remain ahead but not by the margin that had been projected for a big metropolitan with its demographics.

Then Newcastle was followed by Sunderland which showed a Leave lead in excess of projections based on its demographics.

In spite of this the Betfair exchange remained stubbornly showing Remain as strong odds-on favourite. Then as other results came in the pattern was broadly the same and the narrative moved to wait for some London results.

I wasn’t convinced. The word from the weekend beforehand was that the postals were going particularly well for Leave and I was ultra cautious. This was something that we couldn’t publish on the site and I had no way of knowing whether those with this information were giving the proper picture. It made sense though because the profile of postal voters meant they were most likely to be Leavers

What is intriguing about the chart is that in the early hours of the morning there was a double crossover. Leave became favourite just after 0300 but then it moved back to Remain as the first London results came in. That soon switched back with the realisation that this was not going to be enough.

Tens of millions were wagered that night. From a selfish PB and betting point of view I’d love another referendum.

Mike Smithson