Over a quarter of Ukip voters actually want to stay in the European Union

Support for EU exit in the eurosceptic party is strong but far from unanimous

More than a quarter of Ukip voters would vote to remain in the European Union, a new poll has found.

While the eurosceptic party’s voters  are more hostile to the EU than any other group’s – with 72 per cent in favour of leaving – a substantial minority would vote to remain.

A YouGov poll for The Times newspaper found that 28 per cent of ukip voters would vote to remain in the EU – despite the party’s stated raison d’etre being leaving the bloc.

The finding appears to illustrate the way in which support for the eurosceptic is not necessarily driven by outright hostility to membership of the European Union.

In recent years the party has emphasised a wider array of policies than only Britain's relationship with Europe.

Ukip voters were still significantly more hostile than Conservative voters, the next most eurosceptic group. 55 per cent of Tories support leaving the EU while 45 per cent want to stay.

Large majorities of Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, and Green voters all want to stay in the European Union, with over 60 per cent from each party supporting and around a third supportive of leaving in all cases.

In geographic terms most regions of the UK are fairly evenly balanced in terms of leaving and staying in the EU, with East Anglia narrowly the most eurosceptic and London the least in England.

The exception is Scotland, however, which is clearly in favour of remaining in the European Union, with 60 per cent support for remaining and 40 per cent support for leaving.

The Conservative manifesto pledged to hold a referendum on European Union membership by the end of 2017. 

The vote was set to follow a renegotiation of the terms of EU membership by David Cameron.

Recent hints from Prime Minister appear to suggest it could be held by the end of this year, however.

The PM has also found little support for changes to freedom of movement and benefit rules amongst his European Union allies, who would have to agree to any major changes.

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