Brexit Poll: Majority of Brits Want to Leave EU as Referendum Looms

by Alastair Jamieson /  / Updated 
Image: Part of a flotilla of fishing vessels campaigning to leave the European Union sails past Parliament on the river Thames in London
Part of a flotilla of fishing vessels campaigning to leave the European Union sails past Parliament on the river Thames in London on June 15, 2016.STEFAN WERMUTH / Reuters

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LONDON — Public opinion in Britain has swung sharply in favor of quitting the European Union, according to a poll published exactly one week before the country’s historic referendum.

An Ipsos MORI poll published Thursday in London’s Evening Standard newspaper found 53 percent of Brits now want to leave the trade and customs bloc — a so-called "Brexit" — with 47 percent wanting to remain a member, excluding 'Don't Knows'.

It comes two days after a similar poll in The Times also put the "Leave" side ahead for the first time, overturning what had previously been a steady lead for the "Remain" campaign.

Related: Why Britain Could Quit E.U. and Why America Cares

The surge in support for "Leave" has spooked Prime Minister David Cameron’s aides — and financial markets. The value of Britain’s pound sterling currency fell again against both the dollar and the euro by 9:45 a.m. local time (4:45 a.m. ET) in early trading Thursday while London’s FTSE 100 was also down 34.53 points at 5,932.27.

Voters go to the polls June 23 in the first significant vote on the issue in decades.

On Tuesday, Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun called on its readers to back Brexit — a blow to Cameron, who is in charge of the cross-party "Remain" effort.

Rolls Royce on Wednesday became the latest big business to register a view, arguing that Britain should stay in a letter to its 23,000 employees in the U.K. The engineering company warned that Brexit would be bad for business amid uncertainty about the future.

Britain's finance minister warned that quitting the EU would damage the economy and force him to raise taxes and slash spending. That claim infuriated some members of his own Conservative party who say leaving would save Britain hundreds of millions of pounds a week in membership costs.

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