Well over half of British voters now want to leave the European Union, according to an opinion poll that shows anti-EU sentiment is sweeping through all three main political parties.
The Opinium/Observer survey finds that 56% of people would probably or definitely vote for the UK to go it alone if they were offered the choice in a referendum. About 68% of Conservative voters want to leave the EU, against 24% who want to remain; 44% of Labour voters would probably choose to get out, against 39% who would back staying in, while some 39% of Liberal Democrats would probably or definitely vote to get out, compared with 47% who would prefer to remain in the EU.
The findings will make sobering reading for all three major parties, which are at risk of losing support to the buoyant anti-EU party Ukip – now two points ahead of the Lib Dems on 10%.
Overall just 28% of likely voters think the EU is a “good thing” while 45% think it is a “bad thing”. The 18-34 age group is the only one in which there is a clear majority backing the EU, with 44% saying membership is good, against 25%.
The poll will pile yet more pressure on David Cameron to negotiate a tough deal on the EU budget as he prepares for a Brussels summit, beginning on Thursday, at which EU leaders will attempt to hammer out a financial deal for the union for the seven years from 2014.
The prime minister’s problems deepened on Saturday when one of the ringleaders of a recent Commons rebellion on EU financing, the Eurosceptic MP Mark Reckless, predicted an even bigger revolt if Cameron returned from Brussels without having negotiated a real-terms cut in EU spending, or wielded a veto.
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