EU membership on a knife-edge as polls tighten

David Cameron & Angela Merkel

Tuesday’s YouGov poll for the Sun suggests that if there was an in/out EU referendum, a thin majority would vote to remain 40%-39%.

A previous poll at the start of the month put those wanting to stay on 42%, three points ahead of those wanting to leave, suggesting that the polls are tightening.

However, Tuesday’s poll also suggests that if David Cameron can get some renegotiations then those wanting to stay in the EU will increase to 55%, whilst those wanting to leave would fall to 24%.

This suggests that if some people who would vote to leave see changes that the Prime Minister makes as valid an acceptable then many will switch their minds.

The poll suggests that Conservative voters would be mostly affected if this change took place. In the original question, 48% of those intending to vote Tory said they would vote to leave the EU, whilst 32% said they would vote to remain in the union.

But if David Cameron succeeds in renegotiating then 66% would vote to remain in the union, whilst just 22% said they would still vote to leave. For the other main parties any renegotiation is likely to have a smaller effect:

Those in Labour wanting to remain before negotiations: 62%. After: 68%.

Lib Dem voters wanting to remain before: 73%. After: 83%.

And interestingly, some in UKIP would be willing to switch if renegotiations were successful. 94% of those intending to vote UKIP want to leave the EU, but if negotiations were successful the figure would fall to 77%.

It is clear that the future of the UK in the EU will be considerably affected by how successful David Cameron’s renegotiations are, and how his own voters judge him on that.

To give an idea as to what a successful renegotiation might look, like a poll last month, by YouGov, which suggested a majority of Brits would vote to leave the EU, saw staggering majorities in favour of some big changes, such as limiting benefits on EU migrants for a year.

David Cameron, if he wins the next election, will have a tough set of negotiations on his hands. If he fails, the United Kingdom has a much higher chance of leaving the EU. If he succeeds, the UK’s future in the EU will depend on how his own voters judge him in his success.

The survey asked 1648 GB adults between the 14th and 15th December. The full results of the poll can be found here.

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