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Monday, December 02, 2013

A revealing portrait of UK voters' scepticism about the EU

A cross-border poll by Opinium, due to be launched tomorrow, of voters in the UK, France, Germany and Poland, as well as British business executives, tells a familiar story about UK voters' attitudes to the EU: they feel the costs outweigh the benefits.

UK business respondents were more likely to say EU membership is a good thing (47% versus just 26% of UK adults generally) and that it has more benefits than drawbacks (40% saying more benefits versus 19% of UK adults). Although the picture is mixed. Business respondents were evenly split on whether to vote in or out in a referendum but 38% thought the UK economy would be better off if Britain left the EU versus 31% who said the economy would be worse off.

The pollsters note that, "While people in the UK see the benefits of some areas of EU membership (specifically the lack of customs duties or tariffs, easing restrictions for businesses, tourism and travel), these are all overshadowed by the overwhelming majority saying that EU membership has had a negative effect on immigration to the UK."

But perhaps the most striking comparison is how Brits and voters from the other countries polled emotionally or culturally identify with Europe. 50% of the British public feel the UK is "not European". In Germany the figure is just 11%:

This illustrates that, for the British public, the processes and mechanisms of the EU are as controversial as specific EU policies. This is why systemic change to the EU (such as an effective red card for national parliaments) is so important.

Despite these cultural differences, when asked how much or little EU integration they would like, the most popular option among voters in every country was: "Some matters are handled by the EU but countries are able to opt-out and use national vetoes to protect their interests":

In addition, all countries support the idea of different levels of EU membership "where there are policies that all countries have to be a part of (e.g. trade, the single market) but some which countries can opt-out of (e.g. criminal justice or Euro membership)." UK business respondents were particularly positive of this idea with 68% supportive of different levels of EU membership and just 12% opposed.

So there is support in the UK and some of the other key member states for a more flexible model of EU membership. However, the large number of 'don't knows' among UK voters and their emotional ambivalence about the European project would suggest that wining support for a new deal in a referendum won't be straightforward, particularly unless the reform is substantial.


Anonymous said...

The Attorney General's comments today about the EU overstepping it's mandate and illegally trying to grab power from sovereign states won't help their cause.

What happens when EU institutions and the ECHR behave illegally?

What are the safety mechanisms to protect us from them and who will bring them to justice?

The EU is out of control and is acting against our national interest and we have little or no protection from them.

Free trade. Absolutely NO sovereignty.


Anonymous said...

Further to my first post, the citizens of the UK need to understand how and why our our MPs, who we pay to represent us and protect our interests, have put us in this position without a mandate from us.

Serious questions need to be asked as those responsible are either incompetent or have seriously neglected their duties.

What do you say MPs and Lords?


Anonymous said...

It is noticable that less than 50% think that the eussr has any benefit.

Edward Spalton said...

The supposed benefits of free trade have been grossly over-estimated. We have a massive adverse balance of trade with the EU. In 1972 we were told that our exports would boom once we were inside the common external tariff.
Our main EU export has been skilled British jobs. We get spanner and screwdriver work back, if we are lucky.

I have a statement by a diplomat from the time of the negotiation of the Iron & Steel Community (1950). He says that British Intelligence knew that Germany and France had secret additional agreements that each would subsidise the other industry when competing with the UK - in order to "pastoralise" Britain.

He was so disgusted with HM Government's consent to the treaty that he resigned his promising Foreign Office career and rejoined his regiment, then bound for Korea.

Subsequent events make more sense in the light of this information.

Anonymous said...

More Eurofascist, pro-EUSSR spin from Open Europe.

Sad. Sad. Sad.

grai said...

The only reason the Poles want Europe to continue is because they need a fast track out of their own failed country. That says more about Poles and Poland than it does about Europe.ivalular

Rollo said...

Anyone who has tried exporting an aircraft hangar to France or Germany or any of the other big EU economies will know that there is no such thing as the single market. Whereas we welcome imports, in most of the EU deliberate and rampant protectionism is the order of the day. No wonder we have a £50 BILION per year of trade deficit in goods with the EU. Incidentally my company exports 80% of our product; virtually none to the EU.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see how close the UK and France are from the graphs.

Unknown said...

The eu wants their court's to interpret the law and make pro-eu judgements. This is the best way for states to lose independence.

Anonymous said...

What is not being asked is how much do various groups of people actually know about the EU. It has been discovered recently, for example, that some do not even know they are already members of the EU, so little do they hear about it-hence the worry over changing the wording on the proposed referendum. When are we going to see mainstream media describing the EU,(what it does, how much it does and how it does it) How many know the answers to questions such as who runs Britain. Why do some people think the EU is a bad thing etc etc. I suspect it suits some very much indeed that most people are kept in ignorance.