Recent polls (pdf) show the public moving away from isolationism and towards a more pro-European stance, confirmed by the latest Sunday Times/YouGov poll (pdf) showing a majority in favour of EU membership for the first time this Parliament.
As the graph below shows, there has been a pronounced shift in recent weeks – from November 2012 to the present, the proportion of those polled favouring quitting the EU is down 17 points from 51 per cent to 34 per cent, with the share voting to remain in the EU up ten points from 30 per cent to 40 per cent – its highest level since December 2011:
Analysing the figures, YouGov’s Peter Kellner notes:
In less than two months, a 21-point lead for leaving the EU has been replaced by a six-point lead for remaining a member. Some clues to what has happened come from the following breakdown by party:
As those figures show, there has been a marked shift among the supporters of all three parties; but the biggest shift has been among those who voted Labour at the last election.
I have used past vote, rather than current vote, so that we are able to make a like-with-like comparison of the same groups of voters. Opinions by current party support can be found in our detailed tables, but some of the changes in attitude from one poll to the next may reflect the ebbs and flows of people moving to and from each party.
It seems that some of the shift can be explained by the clear support for remaining in the EU expressed by Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander, his shadow Foreign Secretary. Maybe the widely reported views of President Obama, an especial favourite with Labour voters, have also played a part.
The poll also found that, if David Cameron were able to renegotiate our relationship with Europe and put it to a referndum, 55 per cent would vote to remain in the EU on these new terms, with only 22 per cent opposed. Fifty nine per cent of those polled say the prime minister is right to seek to negotiate with other European countries to change Britain’s relationship with Europe; 21 per cent say he is wrong.
• Cameron’s Gathering EU Storm – January 14th, 2013
• Business leaders warn Cameron over EU renegotiations – January 13th, 2013
• Should Labour call for a referendum on the EU? – January 7th, 2013