Survey: Britain likely to remain in EU despite euroscepticism

Euroscepticism is widespread but British voters are still likely to vote to remain part of the European Union in a referendum in June, according to a survey published Wednesday.

Nearly two-thirds of 3,000 people interviewed face to face for the 2015 British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey were sceptical about the EU, but only 30 per cent want Britain to leave the EU, political scientist John Curtice of NatCen Social Research said in a report.

Almost half of the respondents agreed that EU membership was "undermining Britain's distinctive identity" while only a quarter thought the economy would improve if Britain left the EU, Curtice said.

"While the seemingly widespread cultural concern that exists in Britain is the foundation of many a doubt and grievance about Britain's relationship with the EU, on its own that concern is typically insufficient to persuade someone that Britain should actually leave the EU," he said.

"Only if they are also convinced of the economic case for withdrawal are people highly likely to want to take that step," said Curtice, who was the only leading analyst to correctly forecast the result Britain's general election last May.

"It is this that explains why a nation that appears keen on quite radical reductions in the scope of EU-wide activity and entitlement is not necessarily one that will, when the time comes, vote to leave."

However, EU President Donald Tusk warned Wednesday that the bloc's ability to handle the migration crisis would be of "key significance" to the British referendum campaign, urging member states to embrace a common European approach.

"If this emerging unity of action on the migration crisis is violated by anyone, they may in fact contribute to the UK leaving the EU," he told EU lawmakers during a plenary debate in Brussels.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has urged people to vote for remaining part of the EU after he negotiated a deal for reforms that would give Britain a "special status."

Voters in the June 23 referendum are expected to be asked the single question: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

A YouGov poll for The Times, published on Wednesday, suggested that 38 per cent of people want to leave the EU and 37 per cent want remain, with the remaining 25 per cent undecided or not planning to vote.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49
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