FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 26 February 2016

Voters Are Sceptical About Europe, But That Doesn't Mean They'll Vote For Brexit

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by John Curtice, NatCen Social Research

After all the haggling around the dinner table in Brussels, voters in Britain will now have to make their big choice. In a referendum to be held on June 23, they will either have to say they want to stay in the European Union on David Cameron's renegotiated terms or indicate that they would prefer to leave.

For many voters this will not be an easy choice. New research based on NatCen's latest British Social Attitudes survey reveals that scepticism about the EU is widespread. Yet at the same time, many are not sure about the wisdom of actually pulling out.

In the survey, of five different possible options for Britain's relationship with the EU, the most popular by far, backed by 43%, was that Britain should remain in the EU but try to reduce its powers. That, of course, is precisely the sentiment to which Cameron has been trying to appeal through his renegotiation.

Another 22% said that Britain should leave the EU. If we put the two groups together, this means that nearly two-thirds of voters (65%) can be regarded as at least to some extent sceptical about Europe.

Could go either way? NatCen

This scepticism expresses itself in a wish to curb much of the EU's scope. For example, no less than 68% think that the ability of EU migrants to claim welfare should be reduced.

But it also extends to areas that Cameron has not attempted to renegotiate. For example, as many as 59% would want to stop people from other EU countries getting NHS treatment, a move that would undermine the reciprocal emergency access to another nation's health service that all EU citizens currently enjoy.

Meanwhile, 51% want to end the automatic right of people in the rest of the EU to come to Britain to live and work. In other words they want to scrap the freedom of movement provisions that many in the EU regard as one of the cornerstones of the institution.

Nevertheless, when these very same respondents were asked whether they wanted Britain to "continue" to be a member of the EU or to "withdraw", just 30% said "withdraw". No less than 60% said Britain should maintain its membership.

Evidently there is something that persuades voters that scepticism about the EU is not necessarily sufficient reason to leave.

Sceptical ... but not out

Much of voters' scepticism is fed by cultural concerns about the consequences of membership - the perceived implications for Britain's sovereignty and identity - concerns that have probably been heightened by the high level of EU immigration during the last decade or so.

Nearly half (47%) of all voters believe that Britain's membership of the EU is undermining the country's "distinctive identity". And almost everyone who holds that view (86%) is a eurosceptic.

Cameron does a deal in Brussels. Reuters/François Lenoir

At the same time, however, many are wary of the economic consequences of actually leaving the EU. No less than 40% say that Britain's economy would be worse off if it were to leave, while just 24% believe it would be better off - another 31% feel that perhaps it would not make much difference either way.

How would Brexit affect the economy? NatCen

It is this wariness about the economic consequences of leaving that largely accounts for voters' relative reluctance to back withdrawal from the EU. Among those who think the economy would be worse off if Britain left, just 6% actually support withdrawal. Even among those who think leaving would not make much difference, only 31% support want to head for the exit.

Only among the minority who think that the economy would be better off if Britain left is there substantial support for withdrawing. As many as 72% of this group back that option.

The implications for the two sides in the referendum race are clear. The Leave campaign cannot afford simply to rely on voters' doubts and scepticism about the EU. It has to convince them that Britain would actually be better off economically if it left.

The Remain camp, meanwhile, has to persuade Britain's sceptical voters that the prosperity delivered by the EU means its tendency to "meddle" in Britain's affairs is a price worth paying.

In any event, expect to hear a lot more about the economics of the EU between now and June.

The ConversationJohn Curtice, Senior Research Fellow, NatCen Social Research

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.

You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Econintersect Contributors


Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Take a look at what is going on inside of
Main Home
Analysis Blog
A New Era of Central Banking?
Is Free Trade Harming the Economy?
News Blog
China Moves To Put North Korea In Its Place
Trucking Data Improves In January 2017
February 2017 Chemical Activity Barometer Has Strong Gain
Infographic Of The Day: 2017's Top New Year's Resolutions
Early Headlines: Asia Stocks And Dollar Up, Oil And Gold Steady, Nat Gas Plunges, Fed's Williams Says Low Rates Will Last, Steep UK Brexit Bill, Greek Poverty, China Stocks Look Up? And More
Climate of the Southwest
Did the Romans Create both Christianity and Islam?
The Psychology Behind Trump's Awkward Handshake ... And How To Beat Him At His Own Game
Most Lawsuits Against Trump Related To Travel Ban
Average Gasoline Prices for Week Ending 20 February 2017 Statistically Unchanged
Explainer: Trickle-down Economics
How The United States Is Governed
What We Read Today 21 February 2017
Investing Blog
The Real 401k Plan Manager 20 February 2017 Technical Summary 21 February 2017
Opinion Blog
The Blame Game
Fascism Defined And Described By Oswald Mosley
Precious Metals Blog
Deflation And Gold: A Contrarian View
Live Markets
22Feb2017 Pre-Market Commentary: Wall Street May Take A Break Today And Open Flat And Down, US Dollar Remains Higher, Crude Slips, Investors Watching Yellen Today For Higher Interest Rate
Amazon Books & More

.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government



Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2017 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved