Majority of British public wants to leave EU

Conservatives and Ukip 'at war' as ComRes survey for The Independent finds 54 per cent want Britain to leave the EU provided it could keep its close trade relationship with the bloc

The Conservatives and the United Kingdom Independence Party were "at war" tonight as they both rejected a controversial call by a senior Tory for them to forge an electoral pact.

Michael Fabricant, a Tory vice-chairman, exposed his party's fears about Ukip's advance by proposing the anti-EU party stand aside at the 2015 election in return for a referendum on EU membership. The call struck a chord among many Tory MPs but was disowned by the party leadership.

The turmoil came amid fresh evidence that the public is turning against the European Union. A ComRes survey for The Independent found that a majority of people (54 per cent) want Britain to leave the EU provided it could keep its close trade relationship with the bloc, while 36 per cent disagree.

The finding suggests that Eurosceptics who want the UK to withdraw from the EU might be able to win an “in/out” referendum if they could persuade the public that trade ties with the other 26 EU members would not be damaged. Pro-EU campaigners claim Britain would have little say over trade rules if it left.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage contemptuously dismissed the proposal by Michael Fabricant, a Conservative vice-chairman, for an electoral pact with the Tories. Mr Fabricant provoked uproar by suggesting that Ukip could step aside at the next election in return for a promise by the Prime Minister to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership, as The Independent disclosed yesterday.

Mr Farage insisted his party was “at war” with the Tories, declaring that he could not even contemplate speaking to them while Mr Cameron was leader because he had broken a previous promise to hold a Europe referendum.

The Conservatives “categorically” ruled out any prospect of a deal. Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, said: “I want to win the next election outright of course for the Conservatives so that we have an outright majority and we don’t have to be in coalition.”

A Tory spokesman said: “Michael Fabricant does a great job campaigning in by-elections but he doesn’t speak for the party on this issue. The safest way to protect Britain’s interest in Europe is to vote Conservative. That’s why we’ll have Conservative candidates in every seat at the next election.”

But Mr Fabricant won the support of fellow Tory MP Stewart Jackson, who warned that Ukip could do “very serious damage” to the Conservatives at the ballot box. He called on the Prime Minister to “show real leadership” by calling a referendum on EU membership alongside the next general election.

According to ComRes, people are evenly divided on whether Britain should remain a full member of the EU. Some 46 per cent agree, while 45 per cent disagree. Those aged 18-34 are the most likely age group to agree (71 per cent), compared to 34 per cent of those aged 65 and over.

Labour’s 11-point lead in its last survey for The Independent four weeks ago has dropped to seven points. Labour is on 42 per cent (down two points), the Conservatives 35 per cent (up two points), the Liberal Democrats 10 per cent (down two points) and others 13 per cent (up two points). The figures would give Labour an overall majority of 84.

Ukip is up one point to 6 per cent. Some 7 per cent of people who voted Conservative at the 2010 election now support Ukip, as do 3 per cent those who voted Labour.

ComRes interviewed 1,002 GB adults by telephone between 23-25 November. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. Data were also weighted by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy