EU Referendum: Concern over Immigration Delivers a ‘Significant’ Poll Boost to the Leave Campaign as Voters React to Claims over UK Border Control
Christopher Hope, Telegraph, May 31, 2016
Public concern over immigration has delivered a “significant” boost to the Leave campaign amid growing concern about Britain’s ability to control its borders, a new poll suggests.
Leave now has 46 per cent of the vote share, with Remain on 51 per cent. The five point gap has been cut from 13 points last week.
The poll, by ORB, was carried out last week when new figures revealed that migration had risen to record levels; forecasts showed that immigration would add 4 million people to Britain’s population; and images of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean in their attempts to get to Europe emerged.
It also coincided with a series of attacks on David Cameron over his failure to cut migration to the tens of thousands. Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Priti Patel all took aim at the Prime Minister over his broken pledge.
Sir Lynton Crosby, the strategist who masterminded David Cameron’s election victory, suggests that the focus on migration in the past seven days has boosted the Leave campaign.
Writing for the Telegraph he says that the “increasing focus on lack of control over immigration and associated message discipline” had helped the case of the Leave camp.
The poll came as David Cameron, the Prime Minister, yesterday told an audience that the UK was now “on track to be the best multi-faith, multi-ethnic opportunity democracy anywhere on earth”.
In another day of the EU referendum campaign:
- Home Secretary Theresa May ordered a new fleet of patrol boats to help target migrant smugglers in the English Channel amid fears the UK was facing its “worst ever borders breach this summer” in a boost for the Telegraph’s Border Security campaign;
- The pro-EU former Justice secretary Ken Clarke claimed that the Out campaign was using the referendum to push a “leadership bid” for former London mayor Boris Johnson;
- The Leave campaign launched an attack on Sajid Javid, the Business secretary, suggesting that his priority is “his political career” as he campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU;
- The Electoral Commission ordered a council to pulp a “biased” EU referendum voting guidance leaflet after it was sent out to tens of thousands of homes in Bristol, amid fears that the leaflet had been sent to other homes across the UK
The latest ORB/Telegraph poll found boosts for for the Leave campaign across the board as voters reacted to claims that the Government was powerless to prevent more migration from the Continent if Britons vote to remain in the EU on June 23.
The poll, which surveyed 800 voters last week, found that 52 per cent of voters believe that quitting the EU would improve Britain’s immigration system, up two per cent on last week. Just 23 per cent–down six points–thought remaining in the EU would do the same.
Forty eight per cent agreed that quitting the EU would “give us greater control of our lives”, up 4 per cent, while those who thought remaining would be better fell 7 points to 30 per cent.
In an analysis for the data, Sir Lynton Crosby, who masterminded the Conservative Party’s general election victory last year, said the research suggests that voters believe “Leave has the right position on the issue”.
Sir Lynton warned the Leave campaign the voters who had switched sides were “not yet locked in” adding that “they will need continue to campaign with the same effort over the coming weeks if they are to bridge the vote gap”.
In a blow for the Remain campaign Sir Lynton said the figures showed the Brexiteers had “neutralised terrorism as an issue–with 35 per cebt of voters saying Remain exposes the UK to a greater risk of terrorism 35 per cent of voters saying the same of the Leave campaign”.
Sir Lynton added that “despite the drop-off in the Remain campaign’s support” the Remain side “do still lead on both vote and the metrics about campaign performance detailed above and thus hold a strong position with less than four weeks to go”.
He said: “The challenge for the Leave campaign is to persuade more voters of their position. Their existing voters are more motivated but they need more voters to be convinced that voting out offers something better.
“In my experience, it is with about three weeks to go when voters start to pay real attention to the choice they are being asked to make.
“Whatever they feel about what they have been doing now is the time for both campaigns to put in the hard work.”
The poll came as Mr Cameron shared a stage with Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor at a pro-EU rally, describing him as a “proud Muslim” just weeks after criticising him in the House of Commons that for allegedly associating with extremists.
Mr Cameron used the rally to stress the cross-party nature of the In campaign, insisting that he was not part of “some massive establishment conspiracy” and would “speak clearly” about the Remain case.
He said: “I know there is uncertainty, I know there is confusion. I will do everything I can in the next 24 days to speak clearly, to speak positively about the future our country.”