16.30 – So much for the inevitable swing back to Remain. The latest Opinium poll puts Leave on 45% to 44% for Remain. Their last poll at the weekend had the two level-pegging. This will do nothing to calm the already frayed nerves of Remain campaigners.
EU referendum poll:
Remain: 44% (-)
Leave: 45% (+1)
(via Opinium, online / 20 – 22 Jun)
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) June 22, 2016
For what it's worth, Opinium got the vote share results of the London mayoral election pretty much spot on.
15.28 – We've reached that time when people are making their final predictions for the EU referendum result. Buzzfeed today asked the bosses of all the leading pollsters for their predictions about the result and they have unanimously come down on the side of a Remain victory. But before Remain supporters get too excited, it's worth remembering that their record on such matters is not good. When the Independent carried out a similar exercise in advance of the 2010 general election, polling chiefs also delivered a unanimous verdict, in that case in favour of a Tory majority. Their record in the subsequent general election was similarly poor.
As I wrote a couple of weeks back, the record of most pundits and academics at predicting these things is dire. Previous studies have shown that when it comes to predicting election outcomes, you'd be better off trusting in the flip of a coin.
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) June 3, 2016
For that reason I'm not going to make a prediction of the result. The polls are simply too close to call with confidence, even if my hunch is that there are very good reasons to believe we could be heading for Brexit.
14.27 – Boris Johnson was asked repeatedly on Radio 4 about his own policies on immigration. Despite claiming that immigration levels were too high, he refused to say by how much. Asked for a rough estimate of how high net immigration should be, he replied: "I can't give you a number," before adding: "I think it will be lower than 333,000 a year."
He also refused to say how many illegal immigrants he would like to include as part of his proposed immigrant amnesty.
This is dangerous territory for the former mayor. If Leave wins tomorrow, it will be on the back of millions of voters who believed they were voting for dramatically reduced immigration levels. If a post-Brexit government led by Boris Johnson failed to deliver any meaningful reduction then it would cause deep resentment.
But on the other hand, if a PM Johnson actually did fulfill that expectation it would cause severe damage to the economy and confirm many of the economic warnings he has spent this entire campaign dismissing. If on the other hand, Boris loses the referendum, he will still be in a very good position to become the next prime minister, without any of the difficulties or potential betrayals that a Leave vote would bring. Either way, the best outcome for Johnson's future prospects still looks like a narrow Remain win.
14.15 – Michael Gove has just apologised for his ridiculous comments yesterday comparing economists and other experts warning about the impact of Brexit, to scientists who supported the Nazis. He told ITV News: "Yes I am sorry. I was asked a direct question and I answered it in a clumsy way with an inappropriate historical analogy."
"I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone with that so I regret it, I misspoke and I apologise."
However, news of his apology didn't quite reach his Leave colleague Boris Johnson who told the World at One: "Michael Gove has run an absolutely fantastic campaign and he is right in what he says, I think.
"Some of these experts, they totally failed to foresee the crash of 2008. They got it 100% wrong."
14.13 – Adam Bienkov here taking back control from Ian.
11:25 – "Go out and do it. Vote with your heart, vote with your soul. We can make tomorrow our independence day. The passion and commitment is on our side of the argument. Most of our voters will crawl over broken glass to make that vote tomorrow. But we need non-voters to go out and vote for their country tomorrow. I genuinely believe we are going to win this."
11:23 – The referendum is "the people versus the establishment". Spare me. He recounts how Bob Geldoff shouted abuse and showed his little finger to Farage during that flottilla nonsense. That was directed at fishermen as well as him apparently. He really plays into that sense that those supporting the EU are the ones doing very nicely. "We can vote to get our pride and respect as a nation back".
11:18 –The EU is actually a "customs union or a big business cartel". He says the regulations now effect the 88% of the British economy which doesn't trade with Europe. We're prohoboted from maing our own deals with the rest of the world. And we pay a net membership fee of £34 million a day. He stresseds that number isn't contested. He brings out his passport. "We don't even have a British passport anymore, we have a European Union one." He goes on: The EU has a flag…. And tomorrow when people go to vote they must decide which flag is theirs." This is red meat stuff for Kippers. Standard chest-thumping stuff.
11:16 – Nigel Farage is making a speech and talking about the "lonely road" which got him here. There's been lots of "sound and fury" about what will happen if we stay or leave the EU. But no-one has talked about what the EU really is, he goes on. I'm already losing the will to live.
10:57 – A fascinating study by the The Online Privacy Foundation has highlighted how irrational people become when evaluating the information around the EU referendum. Using Facebook studies, the group examined the psychological biases, personality traits and attitudes of 8.995 voters.
They found that people's ability to interpret a set of numbers correctly varies wildly depending on whether they agree with the findings on a given topic. So when Leavers are shown data suggesting immigration is beneficial, their numeracy skills collapse. When they're shown data suggesting immigration is damaging, they go back to normal. The researchers used a control question about skin cream treatment to compare these test results with their normal mental functioning.
But it's interesting to note that whatever the questions or the assumptions behind them, Leavers' ability to interpret a set of numbers correctly are typically worse than Remainers' are.
The report also describes the personality types most closely associated with Leave and Remain. Leave are more likely to be personality type Right Wing Authoritarianism and therefore concerned with following tradition and less accepting of outsiders. Remain are more likely to be personality type Openness, which is associated with tolerance and attraction to new experiences.
Read the full thing here.
10:18 – Major just said: "Let us turn the telescope of introspection around". I'm pretty sure he actually prepared that line.
10:08 – Christ alive they've wheeled out John Major again. It is remarkable the way he's tranformed himself into some sort of elder statesman now. But not quite as remarkable as the fact Remain thinks this is the person to give their key address on the last day of campaigning. Also, David Cameron is wearing a jumper. Harriet Harman is with them. I'm not convinced this is the best way of challenging Leave's anti-establishment message.
"The prime minister is quite young," Sir John says. "Well, youngish." He says he remembers the referendum in the 70s. Many say Europe changed since then, but "the world has moved on and we have to move on with it or be left behind".
09:58 – It was an odd panel on the debate: Boris Johnson (Con), Gisela Stuart (Lab) and Andrea Leadsom (Con) for Leave. Then Sadiq Khan (Lab), Ruth Davidson (Con) and Frances O’Grady (Trades Union Congress) for Remain.
Stuart, Leadsom and O'Grady seem to have rather fallen by the wayside with most of the coverage focusing on Johnson, Khan and especially Davidson, who must at this stage be the most widely admired and popular Conservative in the country. Last night did nothing to change that, with commentators almost universally handing her the debate.
"The star of the debate," the Independent said of her. "Davidson repeatedly challenged the leave campaign – and Boris in particular – for not having specifics to back up their arguments. She was feisty without being overly aggressive and proved why she has been so successful at improving the Tories fortunes north of the border."
Davidson is remarkable in her ability to put forward a positive, unifying patriotism which non-Conservatives can get behind as much as Conservatives do. But there is a real limit to her ability to succeed in Westminster, beyond the small matter of her not being an MP. No matter what happens this week it's hard to imagine the Tories electing someone so pro-European.
The two lines which appear to have most inspired the audience were from Johnson and Khan, although they didn't have to try hard. The Telegraph was rather taken aback by the enthusiasm in the audience. As am I. Who are these people? And why are they so into it? It's quite disturbing.
“Before the show began, David Dimbleby, the host, issued a plea to the crowd," the Telegraph recounted. "'Don’t boo,' he said, 'because it's such an important debate, and it's being intently listened to by people at home. So please restrict yourselves to applause…' As a matter of fact, applause was the problem. I don't know how it sounded on TV, but inside the arena it drowned out chunks of the debate, as did whooping, cheering and groaning. Mr Dimbleby looked on helplessly."
That whooping, cheering and groaning reached it's height when Khan told Boris "your campaign has been Project Hate". It then reached another peak -apparently the highlight of the night – when Johnson said that "if we vote Leave and take back control, this Thursday can be our country's Independence Day.".
The Express loved it, as you might imagine. "Audience members at Wembley arena got on their feet and even chanted the former London mayor's name following his rousing speech," their reporter said.
The fact that the two highlights came from comments like this again shows just how irrelevant the EU has become to this debate. This is about the culture war: diverse metropolitanism on the one hand and nativist solution on the other, looking outward versus looking inward.
09:22 – It's nearly over. After interminable months of campaigning, we're on the last day. Tomorrow, Britain goes to the polls for the most important vote in yadda yadda yadda. You know the script by now: expressions of historic importance, followed by false or misleading statistics, followed by a bit of culture war. That's your referendum campaign and it can't end soon enough. The big event last night was the absurd spectacle of a Question Time on the EU held in Wembley arena. I didn't watch it myself – no point lying, if I watch another EU referendum debate I'll have to swallow my eyes – but I'll be rounding up some of the best commentary of the event in the next half hour.