Lancaster’s EU referendum result is likely to indicate what will happen nationally on June 23, says a leading politics professor.
Chris Hanretty, professor of politics at the University of East Anglia, said that Lancaster is set to be Britain’s “bellweather” region, broadly indicating how people are voting nationwide.
Prof Hanretty said his research showed that public opinion in Lancaster towards Britain’s EU membership is very close to the national median.
Using various data sources he has predicted that the vote in Lancaster will be too close to call, while Lancaster MP Cat Smith said she “didn’t think anyone could call the result on this one”.
Prof Hanretty’s research indicates 42.8 per cent will vote remain, and 42.8 per cent will vote leave.
This is compared to Wyre (36 per cent remain, 49 per cent leave), Preston (40.3 per cent remain, 42.7 per cent leave), and Ribble Valley (39.3 per cent remain, 44.4 per cent leave).
Prof Hanretty said: “You’d expect Lancaster to be tied if the whole thing was tied.
“If you look at 2014 and the European Parliament allocation results, Lancaster was slightly less likely to vote UKIP than the rest of England, but not so much so that it would push over into the Remain camp.
“The second thing is that the local authority covers lots of different areas, and there’s a general pattern that people living in cities are more likely to vote Remain.
“The estimates for the City of Lancaster includes both urban and rural areas.
“But these numbers are founded on lots of uncertainty.
“I’ve combined lots of different sources of information, with a limited number of respondents and it wouldn’t surprise me if the vote swung five per cent either way.
It’s based on the demographic make up - the percentage of people with different qualifications, and there’s a general pattern that higher education areas are in favour of Remain.
“It’s also based on age profiling, socio-economic factors and housing.
“And then how well UKIP and the Tories did in the 2014 general election.”
Lancaster’s EU referendum election result is likely to be announced at 3.30am on June 24.
Counts will get under way when polls close at 10pm on the Thursday June 23 at 382 local centres around the UK.
These local results will be declared as the counts are completed before being collated at 12 regional centres,
The BBC says it is a safe bet that from 4am onwards there should be pretty clear picture of which way the vote is going.
A chief counting officer will announce the overall result at Manchester Town Hall.
Cat Smith said: ““Lancaster might be the microcosm of the country for the pollsters but, given their recent attempts, I’m not sure how much credence I’d give them!
“One thing is for sure though, and that is every vote will count.
“The referendum looks close and whilst I don’t make political predictions I don’t think anyone can call the result of this one.”