David Cameron should resign if Britain votes to leave the European Union, the majority of the public believe, according to a new poll.
The latest figures from Ipsos Mori suggest 48 per cent of people think Britain should have a new Prime Minister in the event of a vote for Brexit, while 44 per cent believe Mr Cameron should stay on.
The polling will cause concern in Downing Street. While Mr Cameron has said he would not resign if Britain voted to leave, his party is deeply divided over the EU referendum, and fears are growing that backbenchers could force a leadership challenge in the event of a Leave vote or a narrow Remain victory.
However, the poll also shows the Remain camp holding on to its lead, with 49 per cent saying they would vote to stay in the EU, and 41 per cent backing Brexit.
The telephone poll of 1,023 adults was conducted between 19th and 22nd March. It found little evidence of voters changing their minds over the past month. Two thirds said they had definitely made up their minds – up one point – while a third said they could still change their mind, down two points.
Polling concluded on the day of the Brussels terror attacks, so the figures are unlikely to strongly reflect whether public attitudes have changed as a result of the atrocities.
Meanwhile the Bank of England has said that economic uncertainty surrounding the referendum could increase the cost of borrowing and further weaken sterling.
What has the EU ever done for us?
What has the EU ever done for us?
1/7 1. It gives you freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe
As a member of the EU, UK citizens benefit from freedom of movement across the continent. Considered one of the so-called four pillars of the European Union, this freedom allows all EU citizens to live, work and travel in other member states.
2/7 2. It sustains millions of jobs
A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, released in October 2015, suggested 3.1 million British jobs were linked to the UK’s exports to the EU.
3/7 3. Your holiday is much easier - and safer
Freedom to travel is one of the most exercised benefits of EU membership, with Britons having made 31 million visits to the EU in 2014 alone. But a lot of the benefits of being an EU citizen are either taken for granted or go unnoticed.
4/7 4. It means you're less likely to get ripped off
Consumer protection is a key benefit of the EU’s single market, and ensures members of the British public receive equal consumer rights when shopping anywhere in Europe.
5/7 5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime
Another example of a lesser-known advantage of EU membership is the benefit of cross-country coordination and cooperation in the fight against crime.
6/7 6. Our businesses depend on it
According to 71% of all members of the Confederation of British Influence (CBI), and 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business.
7/7 7. We have greater influence
Robin Niblett, Director of think-tank Chatham House, stated in a report published last year: “For a mid-sized country like the UK, which will never again be economically dominant either globally or regionally, and whose diplomatic and military resources are declining in relative terms, being a major player in a strong regional institution can offer a critical lever for international influence.
Former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling said that the assessment by the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee showed the UK economy would be “more vulnerable and less resilient if we vote to leave the EU” which he said could lead to higher mortgage rates for families and higher interest rates for businesses.
However, Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Vote Leave said that the UK would be able to secure a post-Brexit trade deal that would enable economic growth and job creation, adding that “the biggest risk to the UK economy… is Britain remaining in a declining political union where we are outvoted and our trade is held back”.