Unless there is a truly stunning reversal soon, a victory for Remain is increasingly looking to be mathematically impossible.
England outside London is voting 60% Leave. The two biggest Remain hotspots, London and Scotland, do not have the numbers to make up for it.
Meanwhile, Wales and Northern Ireland are too evenly divided and too low in numbers to make a big difference anyway.
As of the time of me writing this sentence, Leave is on 53% and that is despite the fact that thrice as big a share of the votes have been counted from Scotland as from England.
The Independent has a list of regions (see full map right) to watch as bellweathers of the referendum result which are predicted to get 50/50 in the event of a split vote. In the event, these bellweathers seem to be consistently voting around 55% in favor of Leave.
(1) This looks like it is turning out to be yet another disaster for British polling.
Whereas it was predicted that in the last days British voters tend to shift to the status quo, drawing on the experience of the Scottish referendum, it appears that the true underweighing was with regards to conservative positions. This was demonstrated during the UK 2015 general elections, which pollsters predicted would be a close run thing but in reality saw a decisive Conservative win. In other words, their tendency to underweigh conservative voters – the “Shy Tory” factor first identified in 1992 – remains as prevalent as ever.
Also contrary to conventional wisdom prior to this referendum, online polls have turned out to be more accurate (or rather less wrong) than telephone polls.
(2) It appears that Thomas Mair’s murder of Jo Cox did not impact on the Leave campaign as many people – myself included – anticipated it would.
(3) What comes next? Well, again assuming no stunning reversals, this is going to be a long, drawn out process.
First, as many referendums and dank memes attest, the EU doesn’t like to take no for an answer. This will be a long and drawn out process. The Guardian, the voice of the British neoliberal Left, is already beginning a discussion on whether the EU referendum is legally binding.
Alexander Mercouris argues the effects either way won’t be big because he no longer sees the UK as an influential Power. There is merit to that interpretation but I think he overdoes it. The EU is a fragile construction and once a big member leaves there might well be a tipping point, especially since the remaining rich members will have to foot more of the bill for Eastern Europe’s “convergence” funds and bailing out Greece every other year.
I think the effect on the British economy will be modest. All the economists forecasting doom belong predominantly to a London/Brussels/Frankfurt centered class that tends to have overly inflated ideas of the importance of the finance sector and free trade to economic growth (which Brexit is going to impact far more modestly and gradually than they project anyway). This is not to say I agree with Eamonn Fingleton that protectionism is some sort of panacea either (that particular honor belongs to human capital). But being outside the EU is not some kind of economic death sentence. It’s not like Switzerland is a byword for poverty and isolation.