Ben Lowry: This referendum might be so close that you would be mad not to vote

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When the PM committed to a referendum in 2013, I thought that Northern Ireland would vote 70-30 for Remain – a similar ratio to support for the Good Friday Agreement.

I assumed it would be similar to the 1998 GFA referendum – 95%+ of Catholics voting for Remain, and Protestants split 50-50.

I use the word Protestant deliberately – I would have anticipated perhaps 60% of capital ‘U’ unionists to be in favour of Brexit, but perhaps 80% of those people who are from a Protestant background but who are not capital ‘U’ unionist (ie (Alliance, Tory, Green and previous non voters) to back Remain.

Given that there are more capital ‘U’ unionists than other voting (or occasional voting) Protestants, that would work out at roughly a 50-50 split among Protestants overall.

But latest polls suggest that the community-wide figure in NI is more like 60-40 in favour of Remain than 70-30.

This is because Protestants are moving steadily towards Brexit (something that I have noticed anecdotally) but so are Catholics, almost a quarter of whom support quitting Europe.

When all these pro-Union politicians began flying in to warn about the threat to the Union from Brexit, I wondered if republicans might be tempted to push that scenario along. Is that the main reason for this shift among Catholics? Or are many nationalists simply fed up with the EU?

I am surprised if it is the latter, given the pro EU tradition in that community.

But one thing is clear: you would be mad not to vote in this referendum.

[Click here to see a scenario in which Scotland and NI could keep England in the EU against its will]

A scenario that was initially much discussed was the one in which England voted out in sufficient numbers to bring out the rest of the UK, despite the latter voting In.

This would then, the theory goes, fuel resentment in Scotland, and possibly Northern Ireland too.

It now seems that England might vote indeed Leave, but by an insufficient margin to pull the UK as a whole out.

Thus it is the English who might start to feel resentment, and towards the other three countries in the UK.

This is a trend that in any event has been slowly building since the rancour of the Scottish referendum of 2014, and has been apparent in the large minority of English – around a quarter – who by the end of that campaign were saying that they were happy for Scotland to go.

Either way, the vote might be so tight this coming Thursday that every ballot will be crucial.

Ben Lowry: Despite what supporters of Brexit say, it might just blow the UK apart

Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor