Survey of MPs on the European Union

Ipsos MORI surveyed UK MPs on their attitudes to the European Union and the forthcoming EU referendum.

Survey of MPs on the European Union

Half (50%) of MPs say they will vote for the UK to remain a member of the EU regardless of any re-negotiated terms of membership, while just over a third (35%) say it depends on the terms of the negotiations. However, there are clear party differences; while almost nine in ten Labour MPs (87%) have already decided that they will vote for the UK to remain, just 11% of Conservative MPs have already decided to vote for the UK to remain. Instead, most Conservatives (61%) say they will decide how to vote after negotiations about the terms of membership, while a fifth (20%) say they will vote for the UK to leave regardless of the renegotiations.

Those who say that their vote depends on the re-negotiated terms of membership are most likely to feel that the most important outcomes would be to do with “border control” and “controlling access to the welfare state”.

Just three in ten MPs expect the renegotiations to make at least a fair amount of difference to Britain’s terms of membership of the EU – most (68%) think the renegotiations while make little if any difference (saying “not very much” or “none at all”). Conservative MPs are slightly more optimistic about how much difference the renegotiations will make – just over half (52%) think it will make at least a fair amount of difference.

Regardless of this, the majority of MPs (70%) think the British public will vote in favour of remaining in the EU, with MPs from both parties generally in agreement on this (64% among Conservative MPs and 85% among Labour MPs). MPs perceive that the main driving force behind people voting to remain in the EU are “People don’t like change / prefer the status quo” and “Economic security/stability”. On the flip side, MPs perceive the main factors influencing people to vote for Britain to leave the EU are “Border control / immigration” and “Sovereignty / managing our own affairs”.

When asked what the EU mean to MPs personally, the most common responses from Conservative MPs are “bureaucracy” (77%) and “not enough control at external borders” (64%). Labour MPs make very different associations with the EU – the most common two are “freedom to travel” (82%) and “economic prosperity” (74%). Likewise, when asked to choose which words describe their feelings about the EU, Conservative MPs opt for “uneasy” (69%) and “angry” (25%) while Labour MPs answer “hopeful” (64%) and “proud” (42%).

There is also a clear difference in opinion between the two parties on whether the UK has benefited from being a member of the EU. Nine in ten (90%) Labour MPs agree that the UK has greatly benefited from its membership of the EU, but this drops to just 25% among Conservative MPs – instead, 51% of Conservative MPs disagree that the UK has benefited from membership.

With regards to the future of the EU, six in ten (61%) MPs are pessimistic (76% among Conservatives and 50% among Labour) rather than optimistic (39% among all MPs, 24% among Conservative and 50% among Labour).

This set of tables are from the latest wave of the Winter 2015 survey of Britain’s Members of Parliament, part of Ipsos MORI Reputation Centre’s programme of regular multi-sponsored studies among key audiences.

Technical details:

  • Fieldwork dates: 6 November – 18 December 2015.
  • 129 MPs were interviewed in total, with the questionnaire versioned so that 98 MPs answered this section of questions (49 Conservatives, 40 Labour, 8 SNP and 1 from other parties).
  • An initial sample of 413 MPs were contacted to ensure that those interviewed closely represent the profile of the House of Commons.
  • Interviews were conducted face-to-face.
  • The total sample interviewed is closely representative of the House. Based on those asked each question, data have been individually weighted where necessary to reflect the true balance by ministerial status within party.
  • Sometimes the percentage result for “Total MPs” may be greater than the sum of the percentage results for Conservative, Labour and SNP MPs, as it also includes results from other parties. Where results do not sum to 100%, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of “don’t know” categories.
  • All answers are in % format. Data is weighted. Bases shown in these toplines are unweighted base sizes, results shown are all weighted.

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