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The Brexit voter deadline is being extended - and the 'Leave' side is livid

Hundreds of thousands tried to register online to vote at the last minute, which caused the site to crash.

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT has said it will extend voter registration for the EU membership referendum after a last-minute surge in demand crashed the applications website but Brexit supporters cried foul.

Yesterday’s midnight deadline for registering to vote will be extended by 48 hours, the government announced.

Emergency laws will be rushed through parliament tomorrow, two weeks ahead of the historic 23 June vote, to legalise the extension.

Hundreds of thousands of people tried to register at the last minute causing the online site to fail.

Applications came particularly from younger voters who according to opinion polls tend to favour staying in the EU and ‘Remain’ campaigners had complained the glitch would lessen their chances of victory.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign said in a statement:

They’ve just told the House of Commons that their website crashed last night because of the high demand.
But we know that the government and their allies are trying to register as many likely ‘Remain’ voters as possible.

He added:

Don’t let the government skew the result of the referendum.

“Whitehall will do anything to stop this country taking back control from the EU,” he said, referring to the centre of government administration.

Youth vote

Around 132,000 of the 525,000 people who did successfully register yesterday were aged under 25 compared to around 13,000 from the 65 to 74 age group.

“We think it is right to extend to midnight tomorrow to allow people who have not yet registered time to get the message that registration is still open and get themselves registered,” Cabinet Office Minister, Matt Hancock, said.

Tim Farron, leader of the fervently pro-EU Liberal Democrats which is Britain’s fourth-biggest party, said:

Younger people are overwhelmingly pro-European, and if they are disenfranchised it could cost us our place in Europe.

The surge in requests came immediately after a tense TV face-off between Prime Minister David Cameron and anti-EU leader Nigel Farage.

Cameron fended off hostile questions about high immigration rates of EU workers while Farage was forced to defend himself against charges of racism.

The referendum campaign has intensified long-held euroscepticism in Britain but a major survey this week showed it was not alone.

The Pew Research Center survey said opposition to the EU has also increased in traditionally more positive countries. For example in France there was a 17-point drop in EU support to 38% over a single year.

In the 10 countries surveyed only Greek voters, forced by the EU and international lenders to adopt a harsh austerity programme, are more upset with Brussels than the French.

The union is still supported among newer members, with 72% of Poles and 61% of Hungarians expressing a favorable view, compared to only 27% of Greeks.

In Britain, it found 48% of voters were unfavourable to Europe and 44%t were in favour.

The WhatUKThinks website’s average of the last six domestic opinion polls puts the ‘Remain’ camp on 51% and the ‘Leave’ campaign on 49%.

‘Little England’ vision

In yesterday’s debate Cameron faced repeated questions from the audience on high immigration from other EU countries , the ‘Leave’ side’s trump card during the campaign so far.

But the Conservative leader attacked what he called Farage’s “little England” vision and said a Leave vote would mean “quitting, and I don’t think we’re quitters”.

Warning that Brexit could lead to Scotland leaving the UK, he said:

You don’t strengthen your country by leading to its break-up.

Scotland’s governing secessionist Scottish National Party has said Britain voting to leave the EU, while a majority of Scots voted to stay in, would trigger a second referendum on independence.

However, a TNS survey of 1,008 Scottish voters found that in those circumstances, Scots would still not back independence, just as in the September 2014 referendum.

Excluding “don’t know” voters, 71% of Scots would vote to remain in the EU, but 56% would vote to stay in the UK if Britain pulled out of the bloc, the poll found.

Read: Brexit vote would mean border checks and a “shock” to the North’s economy – Osborne >

Read: Irish in Britain being ‘lovebombed’ into staying in EU – but why? >

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