#Brexit referendum at t minus three: what we know

Just three days before the EU referendum in the UK and there are no definitive signs that the Britons have chosen which way to go. The odds are back closer to £UK 2 for each  1 £UK placed on leave after they were briefly at one to one (i.e. the bookies consider a remain vote much more likely), the polls are back to a more even stand after a trend towards the leave vote, in the last days before the shooting death of Jo Cox, with the undecideds being persistently above 10% of the sample (ODDS, The Economist Poll, The Financial Times poll of polls).

Google trends shows that the impact of the Jo Cox tragedy is persistent. The share of searches for “leave eu” in the “leave eu” or “stay eu” dichotomy are not recovering and the share of searches for “reasons to leave the eu” is still trailing but bouncing back after “reasons to stay in the eu” had taken the lead in the aftermath of the Jo Cox shooting.

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Overall the prospects of safely predicting the outcome of this referendum continue to remain murky. Regarding Google search we continue to have very little change in the sort of searches that compose the leave and stay realms. The searches remain of the kind seeking for info rather than revealing voting intent. The break down in leave searches after the shooting death of Jo Cox may imply that the leave campaign’s “patriotic” message may have been contaminated by a more wacky flavor which became unattractive to a portion of the Britons.

Many commentators say that the current turn towards remain as we approach the zero hour is due to the fact that the safer remain option is winning out but I beg to differ. As I have written elsewhere the principle of parliamentary sovereignty makes the outcome of the referendum non-binding. This means that advocating and voting for Brexit is cheap talk and hence a safe opportunity to air any and all grievances with the status quo. It is hence the rational hand to play even if you are dealt a bad hand in life but in reality you want to stay. This is why both Cameron and the Europeans insists that “in is in, and out is out”: they are desperately trying to remove any ideas of cheap talk. I believe that the protest aspect is more powerful for voters but that in the aftermath of Jox Cox’s death this may have changed.

Finally whatever the outcome, if it is a close call in either direction the fight for the way forward of Great Britain will not be over. Even if the UK narrowly votes stay it is unlikely that the country will play a useful role in the European project. The damage has been done.