Just before 6.30pm on Friday evening the pound was trading at 1.4343
Sterling fell by more one per cent against the dollar on Friday evening as traders absorbed the latest Independent poll showing the country moving towards a vote for Brexit.
Just before 6.30pm the pound was trading at 1.4343 against the dollar having recovered some ground in recent days.
But within moments of publication it had fallen to 1.4234 – down 1.57 per cent on the day.
The reaction reveals the extent of market jitters about the possibility of the UK actually voting to leave on June 23.
If that does happen the Bank of England – and most respected market analysts – expect to see very sharp falls in the price of sterling.
The Bank has made contingency plans to try and back up the currency – by buying pounds from foreign reserves
But, as the Black Wednesday sterling crash showed, such strategies can be high risk and even central banks are sometimes unable to control the markets.
The Independent poll showed the Brexit campaign has opened up a remarkable 10-point lead over the Remain camp.
The survey of 2,000 people by ORB found that 55 per cent believe the UK should leave the EU (up four points since our last poll in April), while 45 per cent want it to remain (down four points).
These figures are weighted to take account of people’s likelihood to vote. It is by far the biggest lead the Leave camp has enjoyed since ORB began polling the EU issue for The Independent a year ago, when it was Remain who enjoyed a 10-point lead.
Even when the findings are not weighted for turnout, Leave is on 53 per cent (up three points since April) and Remain on 47 per cent (down three). The online poll, taken on Wednesday and Thursday, suggests the Out camp has achieved momentum.
The Independent poll follows a number of other recent surveys – all showing a vote to leave which has weighed upon the pound.
However polling experts believe the Remain camp may pull back as June 23 gets closer.
They say that in previous polls voters tend to favour the status quo when they actually get into the ballot box – as opposed to what they say to pollsters.
However for the polling industry there is a lot at stake in calling the right result. Pollsters completely failed to predict the result of the 2015 General Election and will be desperate to get it right this time.