Report: UK feels less European than neighbours

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UK support for the EU is balanced on a knife edge with half the population ready to vote for leaving the EU tomorrow and far fewer people identifying the country as European, according to a new survey published yesterday (2 December).

The report – produced by Opinium Research – polled respondents across France, Germany and Poland and the UK, revealing that Germans were twice as likely (86%) as their British counterparts (40%) to consider that their country was European.

50% of UK citizens would vote to leave the EU in a referendum held tomorrow, with 36% voting to stay. UK voters are also more likely to say the economy would be better (41%), rather than worse (22%), after an exit from the EU, with 29% of people stating that an exit would have a positive impact on their personal standard of living, whilst 15% thought it would have a negative one.

The findings revealed clear divisions of opinion between Conservative and Labour parties' voters, and between the business community and consumers.

Differences reflect shades of political opinion

Labour voters favour the UK remaining an EU member (48% compared to 36%), but Conservatives would vote to leave by a significant margin (58% compared to 33%).

UK business have remained more positive about the benefits of EU membership (47%) than consumers (26%), with more stating a withdrawal would be bad for British business (37%) than good (32%).

Britons were less likely to consider their country ‘European’ (40%) than French (59%), German (86%) and Polish (70%) respondents.

They were also least likely to select other EU countries as the country they felt closest to. The UK feels closest to other English-speaking countries such as the United States (33%), Australia (31%), Canada (23%), New Zealand (23%) or Ireland (23%). The most popular non-English speaking countries amongst UK respondents were Germany (14%) and France (11%).

The survey also found that around one-fifth of German (17%) and French (19%) citizens believe a UK exit would have a positive impact on their own countries.

'How many more wake up calls are needed?'

Significantly more consider that a ‘Brexit’ would have no effect on their country, with 38% of Germans, 35% of French and 28% of Polish people considering the impact to be neutral.

"Leading foreign investors in the UK, the Americans, the Germans, and the Japanese have all told us: Don’t leave the EU as it will reduce Britain’s standing and influence in the world and make it a less attractive place to invest," said Tom Parker, the managing director of Cambre Associates, a Brussels based consultancy which commissioned the report with London-based consultancy Lansons.

“And yet the message is clearly still not getting across. With a referendum around the corner, how many more wake up calls are needed before it’s too late,” added Parker.

Opinium surveyed consumer more than 4,000 consumers and 274 business leaders across the four countries to compile the report.

Timeline: 
  • 2017: UK Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged a referendum on UK's EU membership
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