Support for EU membership in UK at record high

uk_and_eu_flags.jpg [Sheffield Tiger/Flickr]

Support for Britain remaining in the European Union is at its highest in more than four years, according to a poll published on Tuesday (24 February).

YouGov found that 45% of those surveyed said they would vote to stay, compared to 35% who would opt to leave.

That was a record level of support for the EU, compared to a low of 28% in May 2012, it said.

YouGov surveyed 1,772 adults between 22-23 February.

“Support for staying in the EU has climbed to 45% from a low of 28% found in May 2012, when ‘out’ led by 23 points,” YouGov said.

The results coincided with a fall in support for the Eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP).

>> Read: Support for UKIP slips before May election

Under pressure from Eurosceptic members of his Conservative Party, and the rising popularity of UKIP, Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to renegotiate Britain’s EU ties before holding a referendum by 2017 if re-elected on 7 May.

The opposition Labour Party, narrowly ahead of or level with the Tories in most polls, has said it will not offer such a referendum unless there is a substantial shift of powers from London to Brussels.

YouGov said support for remaining in the EU had risen roughly in tandem with economic confidence.

“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’s William Jordan.

“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,” the pollster said.

Britain's Conservatives have promised an in/out referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017 if they win May's general election. 

Prime Minister David Cameron, said he would campaign for the UK to stay in the EU, but only if was able to reform, saying “Britain’s national interest is best served in a flexible, adaptable and open European Union.”

>> Read: Cameron takes gamble with in/out EU referendum pledge

Meanwhile, the opposition Labour Party has also considered an EU referendum but said it would only do so if there was a substantial further shift of powers from London to Brussels.

>> Read: UK Labour too considers EU referendum, timing unknown

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