For the first time since the UK’s European Union membership referendum was announced in September 2015, polls show the “leave” camp leading the “remain” camp just a week ahead of the crucial June 23rd vote.
According to the NCP rolling average of polls cited by Bloomberg the number of Britons supporting the UK’s exit from the EU moved up to 46.0%, compared to 45.4% for those favoring Britain stay in the central European governing body.
The NCP average mirrors tracking by, which shows “leave” edging past “remain” for the first time ever, favoring “leave” by a margin of 44 to 42.
Polling in June has seen significant increases for the “leave” camp, leading “remain” in most polls and topping 50% for the first time ever.
While most observers still predict the UK will vote to remain in the EU, the likelihood of a “Brexit” – or British exit from the EU – has risen significantly.
Citing NCP, Bloomberg now sees a 39% chance of a Brexit, compared to a 33% chance on Monday and 25% chance last week. Betting odds have also seen a rise in the chances for a UK exit, with an aggregate of odds from Betfair and Predict It now showing a 40.4% chance Britain will leave the EU.
The referendum has divided the UK’s major political parties, splitting the ruling Conservative party between opponents of a Brexit, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, and supporters of the “leave” camp including former London Mayor Boris Johnson. Polls show a majority of Conservatives favor a Brexit, with 51% supporting the “leave” camp according to The Economist, compared to 38% who wish to see the UK stay within the EU.
Those numbers were roughly reverse for Labour, with 59% supporting “remain” to 32% favoring “leave”. The smaller UKIP and Liberal Democratic parties were far more polarized, with 93% of UKIP voters endorsing a Brexit, compared to just 24% of Liberal Democrats.
Opposition to the UK’s continued membership in the EU has been fueled in recent years by growing concerns over mass immigration, terrorism, and ongoing economic stagnation. Working class Britons, who disproportionately support leaving the EU, have been hardest hit by changes to the British economy.