Britons will vote on whether to remain in the European Union in two weeks time. According to recent opinion polls, it’s currently a very close contest and the final margin of victory is probably going to be slim.
The final result isn’t expected to be announced until around 05.00 a.m. BST on Friday June 24. However, the northwest city of Lancaster could give us a massive clue about the final result hours before the official declaration.
This is because Lancaster is set to be Britain’s bellwether region. This means that the way people vote in this region will broadly indicate how people are voting nationwide.
That is according to Chris Hanretty, Reader in Politics at the University of East Anglia. In a recent blog post, Hanretty explains that public opinion towards Britain’s EU membership in Lancaster is very close to the national median.
This was reflected in a nationwide survey YouGov conducted last year. YouGov found that Lancashire — the county where Lancaster is located — was neither Europhile nor Eurosceptic. It was mixed.
This means that if on June 23 voters in Lancaster lean towards either Leave or Remain, then this voting trend is expected to be replicated across the country.
Hanretty told BI on Thursday: “Lancaster’s a bellwether because you’d expect it to be tied if the referendum were a dead heat. That’s not an exact rule — there’s a big margin of error of five percentage points either way — but it’s a useful rule.”
“You’d expect Lancaster to be tied because in 2014 it was slightly less likely than other areas in England to vote UKIP, but not so much so as to push clearly over into the Remain camp.”
Hanretty says in his blog that the result from Lancaster is expected to be announced at an estimated time of 03:30 a.m (GMT).
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