The latest polls on Britain’s referendum over whether the country should stay or leave the European Union show a vastly mixed picture of what the result could possibly be.
However, polls are pretty pointless for predicting the outcome of the referendum, and are not a major pricing point when calculating the odds, Jamie Loughead, head of politics at the UK bookmaker Star Sports, told Business Insider.
“Absolutely — the polls are erratic,” said Loughead when Business Insider asked whether polls were not accurate and therefore difficult to determine a clear consensus on how people are voting.
“While I would say the polls are only one of the sources I look at when I want to calculate my odds, I don’t believe they are scientific and there are questions over how the questions are asked, the sample size, and what methods pollsters use.
“One factor that skews the polls is the difference between how the polls were cast for the Scottish referendum compared to this one.
“The difference is there appears to be no ‘let’s star in the status quo’ option. Voting remain does not mean the status quo, as many feel there are things that need to change.”
Currently Star Sports has odds of 1/2 for Remain (66.6%) and 2/1 for Leave (33.3%).
“At present we are in line with the market, but keener to take a bet on Britain to remain,” said Loughead.
He also added that while analysts and Brexit supporters have said that immigration is one of the major key factors into building support for leaving the EU, Loughead said that there are actually five other issues that could make or break a Brexit.
These are the five points:
- The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
- The outcome of Tata Steel.
- The NHS.
- Anti-David Cameron and anti-George Osborne feeling.
- The last minute TV debates.
Firstly, the reason why immigration is a big dealbreaker for the Remain campaign is because Brexit already has a core group of voters that feel Europe’s refugee crisis or the EU’s Freedom of Movement Act is enough to vote for a Brexit.
“The hardcore 30% [of the Leave campaign] have already been won [by Brexit campaigners]. The remaining percentage of floating voters or those uncertain of how to vote will be the key to how the referendum is won,” said Loughead. “Immigration is not the issue to win over the middle ground.”
Europe may be experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II but Loughead said those other five factors are more likely to push voters that are sitting on the fence, to vote for a Brexit.
For example, the TTIP deal is something to be agreed between the EU and the US. So it isn’t something the UK could just opt out of. Considering Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said that the UK could be better off leaving if TTIP passes, it may be a blow to the stay campaign.
Furthermore, there is some talk that TTIP would affect Britain’s unique National Heath Service — which is free for anyone in the UK.
On top of that, Loughead also sees how the increasing criticism over two key figureheads for the Remain campaign — UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne — could affect voting.
“There is anti-Cameron and anti-Osborne feeling at the moment. Lately on the disability welfare cuts and now with the ‘Panama Papers’ stuff. This could really impact the whether Remain support if they can’t turn it around.
Loughead also pointed out that while we have just under 3 months until the vote — we will only get a realistic view on how people will vote after the TV debates.
“I believe the TV debates, where one will be 48 hours before the referendum, will be key in swaying votes,” said Loughead.
“Remember in 2010, how a good TV debate could do a massive amount of help (or damage) to a politician or party depending on their performance. It really helped (former deputy prime minister) Nick Clegg. It could pull in some undecided voters right in, in the last minute,” said Loughead.
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