France wants Britain to leave the EU the most, study of member countries shows

The proportion of French people who want Britain to remain in the EU is half the percentage of Irish people against a Brexit

The French are keener on Britain leaving the EU than any other nationality in the bloc, a study has found.

More than 40 per cent of French respondents to a survey thought the UK should leave the EU, some three months ahead of the June referendum.

The research also showed many people in France also support having their own in/out referendum.

The majority of other EU countries show overwhelming support for the UK continuing its 40-year alliance.

But while 56 per cent of French people thought Britain should remain in the EU, 44 per cent wanted it to withdraw from the political and economic bloc, according to a the University of Edinburgh survey.

The figures were noticeably lower than in other countries such as in Germany, where 73 per cent wanted the UK to remain, Ireland, where 79 per cent wanted them to, and Sweden (67 per cent).

The survey asked respondents a question phrased identically to that which will be posed to Britons on June 23: "Should Britain remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"

Francois Hollande has before warned the UK against leaving the bloc

And while Germany and Ireland in particular thought the UK's economic prospects and international voice would be weakened by a vote to "Leave", France did not.

"In [...] France, it is remarkable that more people think the UK economy would do better outside of the EU than there are people who think it would do worse if the UK remains a member of the EU, than there are people who think it would do worse if the UK remains a member of the EU," said the authors of the study.

A total of 30 per cent of respondents thought Britain's economy and, separately, its voice, would be "a lot or a little better" by withdrawing.

However, of those French people who think the British economy would suffer by leaving the EU, a third of those still thought the UK should leave - showing they think it should suffer the economic consequences anyway.

A laissez-faire attitude towards the political or economic fall-out of leaving the bloc after 40 years might also explain why many of the French themselves are in support of leaving.

About 53 per cent of French respondents said their nation should have a vote - against 29 per cent who did not want a referendum and 18 per cent who did not know.

Given the opportunity to vote, French opinion divided between 44 per cent saying they would stay and 33 per cent saying they would leave, with the rest unsure.

The figures appear to show that a possible referendum in France would be not dissimilar to the race in the UK, where latest polls show a narrow lead for the "In" camp, according to The Week.