David Cameron's EU referendum bolsters support for membership
Poll indicates number of those who want to withdraw has dropped to 39 per cent
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 28 February 2013
David Cameron’s promise of an in/out referendum on Europe has boosted public support for staying in the EU, according to The Independent’s latest poll of polls.
Although Conservative Eurosceptics welcomed the Prime Minister’s pledge in January to hold a referendum by 2017, it appears to have set back their cause as people focused on the choice they would have to make in such a vote. His speech prompted warnings from some businessmen that withdrawal could harm job-creating trade and foreign investment in the UK.
Before Mr Cameron’s landmark announcement, opinion polls showed that 48 per cent of the public wanted to leave the EU, while only 31 per cent would vote to stay in. But four surveys taken after his speech averaged 39 per cent in favour of withdrawal, with the same proportion backing continued membership.
“It would appear that in opening up the prospect that Britain might be able to renegotiate its terms of membership of the EU, the Prime Minister’s speech has served to persuade some people that perhaps the EU is an institution that can be tolerated after all,” said John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, who compiled the poll of polls.
He said the apparent failure of the Cameron speech to stem the rise of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) and the apparent reduction of Euroscepticism, suggests that Tory MPs and strategists were misguided in thinking that Ukip’s rise is simply a consequence of anti-EU feeling. Professor Curtice said there are two possible reasons why Ukip is still doing well – concern about immigration in an era of continuing austerity and because the Liberal Democrats are no longer available as a party to use to express dissatisfaction with the Government.
The latest weighted average of the polls conducted by ComRes, Ipsos Mori, ICM and Populus shows that Labour extended its lead over the Tories from 9 points in January to 13 points last month. Labour is now on 43 per cent (up 2 points on the previous month), the Tories 30 per cent (down 2 points), the Lib Dems 10 per cent (down 1 point), Ukip a record high of 9 per cent (up 1 point) and other parties 8 per cent (unchanged). These figures would give Labour an overall majority of 118 at a general election.
Today senior EU figures warned Mr Cameron that his apparent threat that Britain would leave the union unless it won a “new settlement” would backfire.
Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, told a London conference staged by the Policy Network think tank: “How can you possibly convince a room full of people, when you keep your hand on the door handle? How to encourage a friend to change, if your eyes are searching for your coat?”
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes
Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reading are...
£10 per hour: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienced note taker...
£4800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: A full time...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...