You could call it swing Saturday or crossover day, for this Saturday, 19 January, marks an important moment. This is the day, in theory, when the country turns remain. Even if not a single person has changed their mind since the referendum, the demographic shift alone will have done the heavy lifting. Enough old leavers will have died and enough young remainers will have come on to the electoral register to turn the dial on what the country thinks about Brexit.
The psephologist and founding YouGov president, Peter Kellner, calculates that the leave vote has been declining by about 1,350 a day, taking into account the differential turnout: the young turn out to vote much less often than the old. By using exactly the same proportion of every age group turning out to vote exactly as they did in 2016, demographics alone will have transformed the UK into a remainer nation.
The true “will of the people” looks considerably more questionable if it turns out to be the will of dead people – not the will of those who have the most life ahead of them to face the consequences. Does this guarantee remain would win a referendum this year? Of course not. People are changing their minds, though polls show predominant movement in the pro-remain direction. But once a ferocious campaign gets under way there’s no knowing what might swing opinion. No one expected the leavers’ two toxic lies to spring out of the wicked imagination of the likes of Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove – £350m a week extra for the NHS and 70 million Turks destined for our shores.