Archive for the 'EU Referendum' Category


The polls did NOT get BREXIT wrong: Only 41% had REMAIN leads. 59% didn’t

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Is it too much to expect Britain’s PR people to check simple facts?

One of the enduring myths from June 23rd was that the polls got it wrong. Some did but most in the official campaign period didn’t as shown in the chart.

That esteemed body that allegedly speaks for PR people, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), has announced it is holding an inquiry into polling specifically referencing GE2015 and the June 23rd referendum. Certainly the former was a big polling fail and there has been a major inquiry into what went wrong and many pollsters have made changes. Quite what PR men can add to the serious examination that has taken place is hard to say.

But the suggestion that keeps on getting repeated is that the polls got BREXIT wrong. This is rubbish as I keep on repeating. There were more LEAVE lead polls carried out during the official campaign period than REMAIN ones. The figures were 14 REMAIN leads, 17 LEAVE leads and 3 polls had it tied.

It is certainly true that two or three of the final polls were off the mark but the overall picture was reasonably good.

A big factor was postal voting which started more than three weeks beforehand and represented maybe a fifth of all votes. The greater the time gap between the act of voting and being polled is bound to increase errors.

Mike Smithson


And now what you really wanted to know about LEAVE and REMAIN voters – how often they change their underpants/knickers

Thursday, November 24th, 2016


Remember: Normal polling margins of error apply


Five months after the vote and BREXIT is as divisive an issue as ever

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

Very few referendum voters have changed their minds

As we get closer to the PM’s target invoke Article 50 date of March 31st we are going to get a lot more polling like that above. The fact is that the June 23rd outcome was very close, LEAVE chalked up 1.89% more than the 50% required for victory, and the nation remains split.

The big issue in the next couple of weeks will be the Supreme Court hearing on whether the Royal Prerogative can be used to trigger the process. The big development this week is that the Scottish and Welsh governments have been joined to the action sparking of the speculation that Nicola Sturgeon could have a veto.

On the betting front William Hill are now making it odds-on, 4/6, that TMay won’t be able to trigger Article 50 before her end March deadline.

Mike Smithson


DPP considering complaint that the LEAVE campaigns misled voters in breach of election law

Monday, November 7th, 2016

It’s hard to know how to assess the seriousness

This afternoon’s report is the first anybody has heard of this and it is difficult to know what will happen if anything.

The complaint has been made by Prof Bob Watt, who is an expert in electoral law at the University of Buckingham. The Guardian report notes:

“Watt and his colleagues who have prepared the case say it centres on “instances where the leave campaigns continued to make assertions of fact that were knowingly misleading”, including the oft-cited claim of the EU costing the UK £350m a week.

That claim, made by Vote Leave, was contrary to evidence from the Office for National Statistics, Watt said. Other instances cited to the DPP include alleged misrepresentations on pro-Brexit leaflets that Nissan and Unilever supported leaving the EU.

Watt also cited Vote Leave’s posters that claimed “Turkey is joining the EU”, as well as the assertion that “the UK has no border controls whilst in the EU” when billions are spent on the UK Border Agency…”

I noted at the time that LEAVE was moving into dangerous territory by continuing with the £350m claim even when the ONS had called on it stop.

What the DPP will make of this we’ll have to see.

Mike Smithson


New YouGov polling finds REMAIN voters far from being reconciled to leaving EU

Friday, October 14th, 2016

80% of remainers think we’ll be worse off – just 5% better off

This is quite an interesting question from YouGov which the firm’s been using in one form or another since well before the referendum.

The splits in the chart are the most stark – how those who voted REMAIN view it compared with LEAVE voters. Amongst GE2015 voters just CON voters tell YouGov that they believe country will be better off. 32% say worse off.

Amongst the different age group the 65+ segment is most confident that this will end well with 44% saying better off to 28% worse off.

Clearly we have to wait to see what sort of deal TMay & co end up with and things can change. Maybe the Tories are helped by such low expectations?

Mike Smithson


For your evening’s entertainment the wonderful Fascinating Aida sing “So Sorry Scotland”

Monday, October 10th, 2016


Brexit’s victory was miniscule and a swing of just 1.85% would’ve produced a different result

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

Theresa May is wrong to assert that the referendum outcome was “clear”

The chart above shows the winning margins in the four major referendums that there have been in the UK and illustrates just how small the LEAVE victory on June 23rd was compared with the other big UK rerefendums. Certainly the 1975 EC vote and the 2011 AV one gave very clear results which it is hard to argue with.

Scotland’s IndyRef in September 2014 had a double digit margin against independence and although this was not as emphatic as the two other one it has broadly closed down the issue.

Remember how ahead on June 23rd Nigel Farage was preparing for a debate in the event of a close outcome declaring the 52-48 wouldn’t be big enough. In the end it was even smaller. John Rentoul in the Indy takes issue with the way TMay is describing the outcome:

“ of the least convincing lines in her speech last Sunday was that “the referendum result was clear”. You do not have to be a last-ditch Remainer to wonder whether a 52 per cent vote was a clear enough mandate for something as big as leaving the EU.

Some Leavers might even notice that the British Election Study carried out after the referendum found that 6 per cent of Leave voters had “regrets about the way you voted”, while only 1 per cent of Remainers had. Which would mean, if they acted on their regrets, that a re-run of the referendum might have gone 51 per cent to 49 per cent the other way.”

But we are where we are and, I’d suggest, that the rookie PM has got to be more subtle about the way she expresses things. Her cack-hand approach has driven the week’s collapse of the pound on the foreign exchange markets which has caused more voices to be raised against her.

Mike Smithson


A look back to EURef: Even at 3.10am, five hours after counting began, REMAIN was still a 51% chance on Betfair

Saturday, October 1st, 2016


The extraordinary moves on the biggest night of political betting ever

Even though it is now more than three months away I am still getting asked question and being invited to give talks on what happened on the betting markets on that memorable night for political punters – the EU referendum results. The above has been prepared for a session in Brussels that I am taking part in later in the month.

Michael Dent of Liberty Tech, is now providing what is an extraordinary resource (£) on his site – historical Betfair odds down to 10 minute segments on past big political and other events. The chart above has been created from the night of June 23/24 2016.

I found it fascinating to see the dramatic changes on that night. Remember when TV results programmes opened at 10pm with news that Nigel Farage had “conceded” defeat and, of course that YouGov poll carried out on the day that had a REMAIN 4% lead. Then as Newcastle and Sunderland were followed by other results showing that REMAIN was doing nothing like as well as expected the price started to move out and LEAVE became favourite for the very first time.

Then it was all reverse when the first London numbers started coming in with marked REMAIN leads. This led to the market totally turning round and at 0310 REMAIN was the odds on favourite.

Looking at my Betfair history I got on LEAVE, my first referendum bet, at 0054, at 2/1.

Mike Smithson