On Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron offered the British people a referendum on the U.K.’s membership of the European Union by 2017 at the latest if the Conservatives win the next General Election.
New polling suggests that the British would choose to quit the E.U. From AFP:
In the first major survey since Cameron pledged on Wednesday to hold a public vote on Britain's troubled EU membership by the end of 2017, 40 percent said they would vote to leave and 37 percent to stay, the Times newspaper said.
Stripping out the 23 percent who were undecided and taking into account how likely people said they were to vote, the survey conducted by Populus for the Times said the figures translated into a 53-47 vote in favour of quitting.
Polling from Yougov published today shows that Labour are ahead of the Conservatives by 10 points. What is also of note is that the Eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is only one point behind the Liberal Democrats, who are some of the U.K.’s strongest Euorphiles.
Given the current situation the 40 percent of the British public who would vote to leave the E.U. will only get to do so if Conservatives win the next election, which is far from a certainty.
Although more would vote to leave than to stay in the E.U. it is important to remember that David Cameron believes that the U.K. should remain part of the E.U., be it in a “renegotiated relationship.” In fact, it is also the opinion of the Obama administration that the U.K. should stay within the E.U.
A lot can change before 2015, and it will be interesting to see how many voters are tempted to vote for the Conservatives at the next General Election because of the promise of a referendum. However, given the history of British politicians making promises on referendums some British voters will probably be understandably skeptical.