Sunday

17th Feb 2019

UK support for EU membership hits new high

Britons would vote to remain in the EU by a 10 point margin, according to new polling published on Wednesday (25 February).

Forty-five percent of Britons would back continued membership of the bloc, while 35 percent would vote to leave, according to pollsters YouGov. The lead for the ’IN’ campaign is the largest since YouGov began monthly polls on the question of EU membership in September 2010.

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  • UK support for EU membership is at its highest level since 2010, according to a new poll by YouGov. (Photo: Defence Images)

The growing support for EU membership, which is up from 42 percent last month, marks a big shift since the depths of the eurozone crisis in 2011 and 2012 when a majority of Britons favoured leaving the EU.

At its lowest, a mere 28 percent favoured continued membership in May 2012, when the ‘OUT’ campaign led by 23 points.

In its analysis of the data, YouGov notes that rising support for the UK’s EU membership has been mirrored by a steady increase in economic confidence in both the UK and eurozone economies.

“Just as many of the bumps in public opinion regarding the EU have coincided with critical moments in the Eurozone crisis and the Great Recession, support for the Union has risen more or less in tandem with rising economic confidence,” said YouGov in a statement accompanying the poll. 

“One possible explanation for the movement towards ‘IN’ is that voters have become less interested in disrupting the status quo as they have increasingly felt its rewards,” YouGov added.

YouGov also points to a slight decline in support for the UK Independence party, the only UK party which campaigns for an exit from the EU.

For its part, a survey by rival pollsters Mori last autumn suggested that the rise in popularity of UKIP had actually coincided with increased support for Britain remaining part of the EU.

Britons will go to the polls in May in what is set to be the closest and most fragmented general election for a generation.

Although the EU is unlikely to be one of the major issues during the campaign, both the Conservatives and the opposition Labour party have promised to clamp down on EU migrants' access to welfare benefits.

David Cameron has promised to renegotiate the UK’s membership terms if he wins the election, followed by an in-out referendum before the end of 2017, but has come under increasing pressure to bring forward his plans for a referendum to 2016.

Neither Labour or the Liberal Democrats support an ‘in/out’ referendum, warning that it would destabilise the UK economy.

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