Britain’s future in the European Union would rest on a knife-edge if a referendum was held immediately, according to a research poll carried out for The Times: 40% of voters back an UK exit while 37% want to keep ties with Brussels and 23% do not know.
The Populus survey would translate to a 53-47 vote in favour of leaving after other factors, such as likelihood to vote, were taken into account, according to the newspaper.
Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted he wants Britain to remain within the EU, although under a renegotiated settlement. Meeting fellow EU leaders for the first time since announcing his plan to stage an in/out referendum on UK membership, he insisted Britain was not “turning our backs on Europe”.
Attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, PM Cameron discussed the proposals in a 15-minute meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, who has indicated she is open to a “fair compromise” with Britain.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he is “still none the wiser about exactly what this great re-negotiation means”.
In an interview with The House Magazine, he said: “It was a well-crafted speech and obviously very well delivered. But in terms of the content, look, the Conservative Party will obviously ride away with headlines about the referendum today. My own view is that it will be a tactical victory today for a strategic mistake tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband sought to clarify his own position on Europe, after appearing to rule out an in/out referendum in the House of Commons. He said: “I am being clear. I do not think it makes sense, now, to commit to an in/out referendum years ahead.
“And the reason why it does not make sense is clear from what the priority of the British people is. Their priority is jobs and growth and living standards and I’ve got to say what I think the right priority is and I do not believe now it makes sense to commit to an in/out referendum.”
The director general of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy, said it was unclear whether leaving the EU would damage Britain’s trade with Europe. Lamy told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “Whether a change in the relationship between the UK and Europe would change the trade relationship remains to be seen.
“I’m not saying I don’t think so, but I know countries - like Norway or Switzerland - who are not members of the EU and whose trade relationship with the EU is very open.
“I am not saying it won’t, and as always the devil is in the detail. What would be the consequences of this in trade remains to be seen, but we have examples of countries who are not members of the EU and whose trade with the EU is open - maybe not as open as if you are a member of the EU, but open.”
Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!
Another bunch of dead-headed reporters who think they can guess the outcome of an EU In/Out referendum.Jan 28th, 2013 - 10:47 am 0
23% don't know! Or won't say, or are waiting for a campaign to help them decide, or - any one of thousands of reasons why people do not disclose to anyone what their voting intentions are.
NONE of my friends in the UK will vote to remain in the EU, NONE. So on my 'poll' it will be 100% vote to chuck the porkers out of our trough.
Just as 'scientific', just as valid. Just as rediculous.
The people of the UK voted to join and remain in a trading organisation. Since then we have seen more and more sovereign powers devolve from Westminster to Brussels. That will be crux of this referendum, if the vote is to leave, then the EU only has it's own Federal ambitions to blame.Jan 28th, 2013 - 11:40 am 0
@1 ChrisRJan 28th, 2013 - 12:29 pm 0
Exactly. I know that I am undecided. If being in the EU is so beneficial to the UK then the politicians should explain why.
If they can't do that, then obviously being in the EU isn't beneficial to the UK and we should get out.
I personally think the whole EU system needs revamping, and unelected beaurocrats shouldn't be allowed to make and dictate policies that affect all the people of the EU. The need to be held accountable, and the European Parliament needs to become a proper parliament, with proper rules, regulations and powers.
Until that is done, the EU will be prone to corruption and the haemorrhaging of the tax payers money into stupid inane things that mean nothing, while important things are left to slide.