On April 26, 2016, The Guardian reported that the Church of England published a short prayer for the EU Referendum:
God of truth, give us grace to debate the issues in this referendum with honesty and openness. Give generosity to those who seek to form opinion and discernment to those who vote, that our nation may prosper and that with all the peoples of Europe we may work for peace and the common good; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The article says that the prayer was carefully worded to maintain neutrality.
However, the Right Reverend David Hamid, the Anglican Suffragan Bishop in Europe, told The Guardian he hopes Remain wins because a number of his congregants are British expats living and working on the Continent. He also thinks remaining in the EU secures peace.
The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, also supports Remain because he prefers the status quo; it is easier, he says, for countries to work together.
Apparently, so do those placing EU Referendum bets with Ladbrokes. On May 21, Matthew Shaddick (‘Shadsy’ at PoliticalBetting.com) wrote an article for The Spectator discussing the bets placed recently on the referendum’s outcome. Shaddick is Ladbrokes’ head of political odds. He says:
Bookies have seen a very substantial swing toward Remain over the last few days. The odds on the UK staying in Europe have collapsed from 1/3 last week to 1/5 today. This shows that the chances of Brexit are now at a new low of just 21 per cent compared to the giddy heights of 40 per cent at the end of 2015.
On balance, the polls have probably been better for Remain recently, but there’s still a lot of variance, with some surveys still showing Leave ahead. However, the betting public can only see one result: with more than nine pounds out of every ten wagered at Ladbrokes over the last month being staked on a Remain victory.
Conventional wisdom and history tells us that bookies are not often wrong. Shaddick reminds us that they got the results of both the 2014 Scottish Referendum and 2015 UK election results correct.
On the Referendum, I’ve gone for a bet on Remain winning with between 55 per cent and 60 per cent of the vote, but if the odds for Leave get any bigger that might become the value bet.
No doubt he has seen the results of a huge poll of 22,000 voters, published in The Independent on May 18 and to be released in full later this month. The Independent says:
The outcome of the EU referendum vote is on a knife edge with little more than one month to go, according to one of the largest surveys to date.
… Remain has a narrow lead of 43 to 40.5 per cent, according to new data from the British Election Survey.
But the advantage is wiped out among voters who say they are very likely to vote – giving Leave the victory by 45 per cent to 44.5 per cent.
We have one month left until voting takes place on Thursday, June 23. Meanwhile, the name calling on the Remain side is ramping up. As James Delingpole, journalist and Leave supporter who is in Brexit: The Movie, put it for The Spectator:
… if I were an undecided wondering where to place my X, I think the thing that would swing it for me would be the marked difference in tone between the two camps — with the Remainers coming across as shrill, prickly and bitter, and the Brexiters surprisingly sunny, relaxed and optimistic.
This isn’t what you might have expected at the start of the campaign. Really, it makes no sense. When you’re the odds-on favourite with the weight of the global elite behind you — Obama, Lagarde, Goldman Sachs, the BBC, Ed Balls — you ought to be able to afford to be magnanimous, jolly and decent. It’s the anti-EU rebels, the spoilers, the malcontents, you’d imagine would be most afflicted by rage, spite and peevishness.
But it hasn’t turned out that way. Yes, there has been some vicious factional backbiting between the different Brexit camps, I can’t deny that. The tone of their campaigning, though, has been almost weirdly upbeat: Boris larking about with Cornish pasties and angle-grinders; Gove batting off Marr with his effortless good cheer; Farage with his pint-and-fags common touch; Martin Durkin with his insightful, inspirational and often very funny crowd-funded documentary Brexit: the Movie.
He’s right. I certainly won’t be discussing it offline anymore. Once was enough. Everyone — bar one, thanks to Brexit: The Movie — I know is for Remain. If Leave wins, I’ll never hear the end of it, until five years from now, when we turn our nation into a hybrid of Switzerland and post-war Germany.
It seems to me that the Remain people are fearful Leave might just squeak through. We can but see.