Government Shift on Euro Would Slash Eurosceptic Lead

Blair holds Key to Referendum Success

Blair holds Key to Referendum Success

The gap between supporters and opponents of UK entry to the single currency would be slashed if the Government took a strong lead in promoting entry, according to a poll published today by the GMB.

The poll, conducted by MORI on behalf of the GMB, shows the gap between potential supporters and opponents of a single currency has fallen from -31 points in July, to -22. But when respondents are asked how they would vote "If the Government were to strongly urge that Britain should be part of a single European currency", the gap narrows even further, to just -12.

According to the survey, 31% of the public currently support British entry into the Euro, whilst 53% are against. This compares to 27% in favour, and 58% against, in a similar poll conducted in July.

However, when respondents are asked how they would vote if the Government were to campaign strongly for entry, 37% say they would vote in favour if a subsequent referendum, with 49% against, a net deficit of -12. In contrast, a similar poll in July recorded net opposition of -22, with 32% of respondents saying they would support a Government led campaign in favour, and 54% against.

The poll indicates that a strong endorsement from the Prime Minister and the Government would in itself produce a 5% swing in support for entry.

The survey was conducted in the wake of press reports that Government Ministers and Union leaders were preparing to step up the campaign to spell out the benefits of the single currency.

Commenting, John Edmonds said, "This poll shows that the supertanker of British public opinion is gradually starting to turn".

"But what it also reveals is the extent to which success or failure in a referendum campaign lies squarely in the hands of the Prime Minister. If Tony Blair and his Ministers retain the courage of their convictions and 'go for it' then it's clear that the British people are ready to be won over."

Topline Results

  • A representative quota sample of 1,979 adults aged 15+ in 160 sampling points throughout Great Britain.
  • In-home, face-to-face interviewing took place 10-13 September 1999
  • Data are weighted to known profile of Great Britain
  • Results are based on total sample of 1,979 adults unless stated otherwise
  • Where percentages do not add up to 100%, due to computer rounding
  • An asterisk (*) indicates a figure below one half of a per cent

Q1 If there were a referendum now on whether Britain should be part of a Single European Currency, how would you vote?

In favour 31%
Against 53%
Don't know 16%

Q2 Why you are in favour of Britain joining the Single European Currency? Any other reasons? Base: All in favour at Q1 (601)

Bring Europe closer together 33%
Risks of not joining/Britain will be left behind 21%
No need to change money when going abroad/no commission 20%
Increased business competitiveness 15%
British companies expand into Europe 15%
Increase Britain's influence in Europe 15%
Boosted exports 11%
End to currency speculation 9%
Cheaper goods 8%
More jobs/reduce unemployment 6%
Lower interest rates 4%
Euro has been a success so far 4%
Lower taxes 3%
Cheaper mortgages 2%
Lower inflation 2%
Other 15%
None of these *%
Don't know 8%

Q3 Why are you against Britain joining the Single European Currency? Any other reasons? Base: All against at Q1 (1066)

Britain losing overall control over its economy 28%
Britain should not be part of Europe at all/don't feel European 25%
The pound is part of our heritage/history 21%
Loss of Britain's sovereignty 20%
British economy not compatible with rest of Europe 10%
Prefer strong pound to weak Euro 9%
Don't trust European Union/they are corrupt 7%
Loss of control over exchange rates 6%
Euro has been a failure so far 6%
Loss of control over interest rates 5%
Job losses/unemployment 2%
Not enough information 2%
Higher taxes 2%
Currency change confusing/confusing for old people 1%
Higher pension costs 1%
Other 16%
None of these 1%
Don't know 5%

Q4 Why are you undecided about whether Britain should join? Any other reasons? Base: All who don't know at Q1 (312)

Don't know enough about the issue 43%
Don't understand economics/don't know whether it will be good or bad for British economy 17%
Too early to judge whether it will be a success 13%
Not interested 10%
Cannot decide as politicians and economists are split on this issue 6%
Need to wait to see if British economy comes closer into line with countries that have adopted single European currency 2%
Don't think this is important 2%
Other 13%
None of these 2%
Don't know 14%

Q5 If the government were to strongly urge that Britain should be part a Single European Currency, how would you vote?

In favour 37%
Against 49%
Don't know 14%

Q6 Whose opinions would you trust most on whether Britain should join the Single European currency? Q7 And whose opinions would you trust least on this issue?

Q6 Trust most Q7 Trust least
Major banks 21% 10%
Government ministers 14% 40%
Economists 27% 5%
The newspaper I read 9% 33%
Business journalists 7% 9%
Representatives of large businesses 17% 8%
Representatives of small businesses 1% 5%
Trade union leaders 9% 14%
None of these 20% 9%

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