Two ICM polls have come up with similar results: the one commissioned by the News of the World showed that 25 per cent will say “yes” to Britain, signing up to the constitution, 55 per cent “no” and around “20” are undecided. The other one, commissioned by the New Frontiers Foundation showed a 21 per cent support for the constitution. The News of the World also points out that when asked whether they thought voting no meant that Britain would have to leave the European Union, 51 per cent said that they did not think so, while 39 per cent did. Whether this was the 39 per cent saying that they thought that should be the case or they merely believed that it was so, is unclear.
The government has not succeeded so far in either frightening or convincing people that voting against the constitution is the same as voting for withdrawal, which will, presumably, be the main plank of its campaign. In fact, they may not find the argument all that useful. For, if they really do believe that there is only one way for the European Union to go and that is to the proposed constitution; if they really do believe and show that they believe that the EU cannot ever change directions, cannot ever reform, no matter what its peoples want, then they will hand a very powerful weapon to their opponents.
A Downing Street spokesman, predictably, pooh-poohed the results. The debate has not started yet and, in any case, the constitution has not been agreed on. When people see what is in it, they will change their opinions. This presupposes that there will be serious changes discussed at the June summit, for the people have shown quite clearly that the constitution, as it stands, is not to their liking.