UK poll shows slight majority for Brexit

Half-covered BNP advert. Colchester, 2009. [Allister & Lily Lovett/Flickr]

A small majority of Britons want to leave the European Union, according to a new opinion poll released on Tuesday (24 November).

Fifty-two percent of 2,000 people polled by ORB International last week said they thought Britain should leave and 48 percent said it should remain.

There was no option for undecided.

Last month, 53% favoured remaining in the EU, down slightly from 55% in September, according to ORB, which conducts surveys for the Independent newspaper.

ORB said it was the first time in its six months of polling on the same question that a majority of Britons had opted to leave the European Union.

The survey saw a strong divide between generations, with 69 percent of respondents aged 18 to 24 wanting to remain in the EU. Only 38 percent of those aged 65 and over want to remain.

The strongest support for EU membership was in Scotland and Wales, while in England support was below 50 percent in most regions, the poll showed.

>>Read: MacShane: The people will want to give Europe a kicking in the referendum

Pro-EU campaigners say that the refugee crisis has begun shifting opinion against membership, though they argue the Paris attacks may help bind sympathetic Britons to the region more closely.

The poll was carried out before the attacks claimed by Islamic State group jihadists which left 130 people dead.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to hold a referendum by the end of 2017 on the country’s EU membership.

Cameron, who says he supports Britain remaining in the EU, has outlined demands for a deal to stay, angering several European leaders who say they are unrealistic.

Most demands are aimed at exempting Britain’s economy from certain EU regulations and reducing migration from certain member states into Britain.


Britain’s governing Conservative Party won an absolute majority in the UK general election on 7 May 2015. With 12 more MPs than the other parties combined, the Conservatives no longer have to rely on a coalition partner.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised to renegotiate the UK's relations with the European Union. The renegotiation will be followed by a referendum by the end of 2017, to decide whether or not the United Kingdom should remain in the EU.

If he achieves the reforms, Cameron will campaign to stay in. Otherwise, the Conservatives might campaign to leave the EU. This decision could have far-reaching consequences for trade, investment and Great Britain's position on the international scene.

Some other European countries are ready to listen to Cameron's concerns on issues such as immigration, and may be prepared to make limited concessions to keep Britain in the bloc.

But EU leaders also have their red lines, and have ruled out changing fundamental EU principles, such as the free movement of workers, and a ban on discriminating between workers from different EU states.


  • 17-18 December: EU summit dedicated to possible reforms to accommodate the UK ahead of the referendum.

  • 2016: Likely year for British EU referendum.

  • 2017: Self-imposed end of year deadline for British Prime Minister David Cameron to hold his in/out referendum.

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