One of the world’s leading experts in computational propaganda has concluded Vote Leave’s illegal overspending was “very likely” to have been sufficient to swing the result of the referendum.
Professor Philip Howard, director of the Oxford Internet Institute, has presented exhaustive analysis of the campaign’s digital strategy to the High Court which concludes it reached “tens of millions of people” in its last crucial days after its spending limit had been breached.
It is more than plausible that the reach was enough to change the outcome to Leave.
The evidence will be put to the High Court on Friday, in a landmark case that is poised to rule within weeks whether the referendum result should be declared void because the law was broken.
Professor Philip Howard, director of the Oxford Internet Institute, at the university, said: “My professional opinion is that it is very likely that the excessive spending by Vote Leave altered the result of the referendum.
“A swing of just 634,751 people would have been enough to secure victory for Remain.
“Given the scale of the online advertising achieved with the excess spending, combined with conservative estimates on voter modelling, I estimate that Vote Leave converted the voting intentions of over 800,000 voters in the final days of the campaign as a result of the overspend.”
Separate research has revealed 20-30 per cent of people decided how to vote within a week of polling day, with half of these doing so on election day itself.
That means Vote Leave could have influences a huge number of voting decisions and may have potentially turned the result on its head within days of the vote taking place.
Now the campaigners will ask the High Court for permission to use the report as evidence, when a potentially explosive legal challenge gets underway on Friday.