Saturday, April 24, 2004

Two thirds want to stay in EU

According to an ICM Research poll, in which 1,010 people were interviewed between 22-24 April for the News of the World, only a quarter of the British public will vote ‘yes’ in the constitutional referendum. The question asked was: “Do you believe Britain should sign up to the EU’s constitution?” Some 55% said ‘no’– with just 20% undecided.

But the poll also revealed that the British public believes strongly that Britain must not withdraw from the EU altogether. Almost two thirds of those expressing an opinion said they believed that Britain should stay in.

The Guardian, on the other hand, today cited “Labour strategists” who believe that the referendum can be won, claiming that almost half of the 50% declared no voters (their estimate) are persuadable, as are the 30% in the don't-know camp.

Based on the News of the World survey, these Labour strategists appear optimistic, although Blair’s judgment - that an “in-out” referendum is winnable – is supported. Bearing in mind that the 1975 referendum started with a 74 percent majority for leaving (the EEC), and the percentage was effectively reversed on the day, Blair starts with an easier task than did Wilson in 1975 – as long as he can keep the issue focused on withdrawal.

Clearly, Blair will appreciate the support of UKIP, which is still seeking to maintain that a vote against the constitution means withdrawal. “No” campaigners will need to redouble their efforts to distance themselves from the Independence Party, if they are going to convince the electorate that “no” simply means blocking the constitution.

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