Behind the noise of the referendum battle, five out of the seven most recent opinion polls showed the campaign to keep Britain in the European Union was in the lead, betting odds indicated a much higher chance of a vote to remain, and sterling rose.
Boris Johnson began the week by saying the European Union was following the path of Adolf Hitler and Napoleon by trying to create a doomed European super state.
Michael Heseltine said he feared Johnson’s “judgement is going” while European Council President Donald Tusk said such a comparison was absurd. Johnson dismissed the criticism as “synthetic outrage”.
While the “In” campaign may have been cheered by the poll numbers and betting odds, turnout could decide the referendum, according to Vote Leave boss Matthew Elliott.
The “In” campaign should be worried by a poll which showed 63 percent of students could not even name the date of the vote while 54 percent were not even aware it was being held in June.
Sterling’s trade-weighted index rose to its highest since Feb. 5 on Thursday and was on track for its best week in 10 months. A robust retail sales report for April along with growing expectations that Britons will vote to stay in the EU have made sterling the best performing G10 currency this week.
Implied probability of an “In” vote rose 9 percentage points to 79 percent from around 70 percent last week, according to Betfair.
William Hill cut its odds of Britons voting to remain to 1/5, the lowest level to date and indicating an implied probability of 83 percent, a spokesman said.
* ICM telephone poll: In on 47 percent, Out on 39 percent, 14 percent undecided.
* ICM online poll: Out on 47 percent, In on 43 percent and 10 percent undecided.
* ORB telephone poll: In on 55 percent, Out on 40 percent, 5 percent undecided.
* TNS online poll: Out on 41 percent, In on 38 percent, 21 percent undecided.
* YouGov online poll: In on 44 percent, Out on 40 percent, 12 percent undecided.
* Ipsos MORI telephone poll: In on 55 percent, Out on 37 percent, 8 percent undecided.
* Comres poll: In on 52 percent, out on 41 percent, 7 percent undecided.
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Following are the main stories:
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“Who would be happy if we left?” Cameron told an audience in London. “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin might be happy. I suspect [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi might be happy.”
KREMLIN SPOKESMAN DMITRY PESKOV
“We are used to the Russian factor being one of the regular tools used in the U.S. electoral campaign, but for us it’s a new thing that the Russian factor or the President Putin factor is being used in the Brexit debate.
“It is a new phenomenon … and let’s not forget that President Putin has spoken more than once about our interest in forging good partner-like and mutually beneficial relations with EU nations.”
Johnson told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper that the EU lacked democracy and a unifying authority and was doomed to fail.
“Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically,” Johnson was quoted as saying in an interview.
“The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods. But fundamentally what is lacking is the eternal problem, which is that there is no underlying loyalty to the idea of Europe,” the former London mayor said.
EU’S DONALD TUSK
Tusk told reporters in Copenhagen that Johnson had suffered “amnesia” and a “dangerous blackout” of memory: “When I hear the EU being compared to the plans and projects of Adolf Hitler I cannot remain silent,” the former Polish premier said.
“I’m not advising the British electorate how to vote. But for centuries the British people and the world have benefited enormously from a confident forward-looking and outward-facing UK – and based on my desire to see the UK and US both grow stronger in the years to come, I’m hoping that tradition continues.”