EU referendum: Britain would leave if vote were held now

Populus poll finds majority of Britons would vote to leave EU in wake of Cameron's big speech

LAST UPDATED AT 10:35 ON Fri 25 Jan 2013

BRITAIN would choose to leave the European Union if a referendum were held today, according to a survey conducted in the wake of David Cameron's pledge this week to hold an in/out vote by the end of 2017. 

The Populus poll for The Times highlights the scale of the prime minister's "gamble" in promising Britons a say on EU membership.

The study found 40 per cent would vote to leave, 37 per cent would vote to stay and 23 per cent do not know, which translates into 53-47 majority in favour of what's been dubbed a 'Brexit' - Britain leaving the EU. That figure takes into account how likely people are to vote and strips the don't knows out of the equation.

Many people have already made up their minds, regardless of whatever membership terms the Tory leader manages to renegotiate with European leaders, the Times reports.

Surprisingly, the survey indicated that Cameron's landmark speech had not delivered his party a significant boost – and therefore had done little to improve his chances of winning an overall majority at the 2015 general election.

Only eight per cent of UKIP supporters surveyed said they were now more likely to vote Tory, while 75 per cent "remained unmoved" by the speech. Twenty-three per cent of Liberal Democrat voters and 26 per cent of Labour voters said Cameron's EU policy made it less likely they would switch allegiance to the Conservatives.

The Populus poll comes out as The Independent reports that Conservative ministers who wish to campaign for Britain to leave the EU will be forced to resign.

Meanwhile, Cameron told CNN yesterday that he wanted to be remembered as a leader who improved the country's position within the EU. "I feel very confident and positive that having set out a plan - explained to the world, to our European partners, to the British people, British business - everyone can see there is a plan to change Europe for the better, and to secure Britain's place in it." · 

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I think The Week needs a lesson on statistics and interpreting opinion polls.

If 40% vote for and 37% vote against with the rest "don't knows", how does this translate into "53-47 majority in favour of what's been dubbed a 'Brexit' - Britain leaving the EU."

In my view it shows a narrow (3 percentage point) majority in favour of leaving the EU. Bearing in mind the unremittingly negative press from Murdoch, the Mail, Telegraph etc, that looks much smaller than might be expected.

Once some actual data and evidence about the costs and benefits of our membership are shared I would expect to see a significant majority for staying in.

Well put. Assuming that the "don't know"s would automatically vote for exit from the EU seems a bizarre leap, and probably says more about the reporter wanting to make a compelling headline than anything else.

Thankyou for the comment. The figure has been clarified. As The Times explained the percentages relate to those who expressed a view one way or another and also take into account their likelihood of a person voting.

Britain leaving the EU is bad how? Seriously, these people are idiots who want a global empire, they won't have it, globalization has failed yet again. Free Trade and democracy with a council of Europe is FAR better then this political fascist state of EU.

Original and bold way of interpreting statistics. The reporter must be a true mind reader, since he/she is capable of telling what someone will do, even if that person says "I don't know". The best one can tell is that the Brits want to be half in and half out of the Union. So what to do with this kind of brilliant result? Look, dear politicians, if you have the ambition to lead a country, well, lead it! That's why you get paid for. Don't sit back and hope for the country to lead itself.

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