Ipsos Political Monitor November 2012

The British public is split on the future of Britain's relationship with the European Union according to new a new Ipsos poll.

 British public split on our future with the European Union

CON 32 (-1); LAB 46 (+3); LIB DEM 9 (nc)

The British public is split on the future of Britain’s relationship with the European Union according to a new Ipsos poll.

Around half (48%) of Britons say they would vote to leave the EU in a referendum while 44% would vote for Britain to stay. But  when offered more options, the public shows a broader range of views:

  • 13% want closer political and economic integration
  • 29% want to keep the relationship broadly as it is now
  • 28% want Britain to be part of an economic community, without political links
  • 23% want to leave the European Union altogether

Appetite for further integration has notably fallen since 1996 when a quarter (24%) wanted a closer union.

There is a split among Coalition supporters with six in ten (58%) Conservatives saying they would vote to leave the EU compared to four in ten (41%) Liberal Democrats. Liberal Democrats are also the most likely to want to stay in the EU (56% compared to 37% of Conservatives). Labour supporters would vote to stay in by 52% to 39%.

With David Cameron meeting other European leaders next week to discuss the budget, three in ten (31%) Britons want a cut to the EU budget in real terms while 46% want a freeze in real terms. Just 14% want to see rise in the EU budget.

The Ipsos Economic Optimism Index is at the highest level since July 2010, following the announcement that Britain is no longer in recession. Three in ten Britons (29%) believe the economy will improve in the next year while a third (35%) expect it to get worse and a similar proportion (34%) think things will stay the same. This gives an Economic Optimism Index score (% ‘improve’ minus % ‘get worse’) of -6

Among all those certain to vote, 46% say they would vote for Labour at an immediate general election, 32% would vote for the Conservatives and 9% for the Liberal Democrats.

Approval ratings for the government and all three party leaders are also up slightly from October: 

  • 31% are satisfied with the government, 62% dissatisfied
  • 40% are satisfied with David Cameron, 54% are dissatisfied
  • 40% are satisfied with Ed Miliband, 43% are dissatisfied
  • 27% are satisfied with Nick Clegg, 59% are dissatisfied

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos, said :

Euroscepticism has dipped slightly since the treaty furore last year, but is still at historically high levels – and it is interesting to see the range of views among the public when offered more options. Meanwhile, it remains a dividing line between supporters of the different parties.

 Technical note

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,014 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 10-13 November 2012.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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