Do a majority of Brits back an EU exit?

27 November 2012


Independent, 27 November 2012

The issue of Europe hasn't been out of the headlines much in the past week, following the breakdown in EU budget negotiations and a call from Conservative Party Vice-Chairman Michael Fabricant for an electoral pact with UKIP based around a proposed referendum on Britain's continued membership of the European Union.

This morning, the Independent suggested that should such a referendum be put to voters, the UK could soon be saying adieu to Brussels. The paper reported that a poll it had commissioned from Comres had found that 'the majority' of UK citizens wanted to leave the EU.

Any reader that took a look at the tables provided by Comres might have been surprised to find therefore that the pollsters appear to have found precisely the opposite. When asked whether or not they agreed with the statement "Britain should remain a full member of the European Union", 46% of people agreed, with 45% disagreeing: a slim but undeniable majority in favour of the status quo.

The 'majority' that the Independent is referring to is actually the proportion that agreed with the statement "Britain should leave the European Union but maintain close trading links." 54% backed this stance, with 36% disagreeing.

As we've covered previously, Comres has found the same thing before. In 2009 it asked exactly the same questions, and found a 55% majority in favour of both remaining a full member state and withdrawing with full trading links.

The Independent does mention in its article that the 'majority' it refers to is for those wishing to withdraw but 'maintain close trading links'. However its headline certainly doesn't tell the whole story: there is actually still a very slight majority in favour of 'remaining a full member of the EU' on the latest evidence.

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