Sterling Flies As Surveys Point To UK Staying In EU

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EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Two opinion polls on Monday suggested that the "Remain" camp had recovered some ground in Britain's European Union referendum debate following the murder of a pro-EU lawmaker, but a third poll found those wanting to leave were ahead by a whisker.

Britons will go to the polls on Thursday to decide whether to quit the bloc they joined in 1973, a choice with far-reaching economic and political consequences for Britain and the whole of Europe.

Both sides resumed campaigning on Sunday after a three-day hiatus following the killing of Jo Cox, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour Party and passionate advocate for Remain. Cox was shot and stabbed in her constituency on Thursday last week.

An ORB poll for The Daily Telegraph newspaper found support for Remain at 53 percent, up 5 percentage points on the previous one, with support for Leave on 46 percent, down three points.

"All the signs of ORB’s latest and final poll point to a referendum that will truly come down to the wire," said Lynton Crosby, a political strategist who advised the ruling Conservative Party at the last national election in 2015.

Respected social research body NatCen found Remain on 53 percent and Leave on 47 percent in a separate survey. It said it had used a robust, randomized sampling method in line with recommendations by an official inquiry into why the polling industry got last year's election wrong.

However, an online poll by YouGov for The Times showed Leave ahead on 44 percent with Remain on 42 percent.

Sterling had its biggest one-day rise in seven years on Monday, driven by expectations of a vote to stick with the EU.

Those wishing to stay in the bloc, including Prime Minister David Cameron, have focused on what they describe as the economic advantages provided by EU membership and the risks posed by a British exit, or Brexit.

Those arguing to leave have focused on what they say are pressures on public services and jobs created by high immigration levels that cannot be reduced due to EU freedom of movement rules.

Prior to Cox's murder, last week's polls had shifted toward Leave, but at the weekend the momentum appeared to shift back toward Remain.

(Reporting By Elisabeth O'Leary; editing by Estelle Shirbon)

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