This morning there was a substantial YouGov poll on EU renegotiation in the Sun – the full tabs are here. YouGov have done regular tracker polls in the past on how people would vote in a referendum on the EU, which tend to show a slight majority for leaving as things are, but a hefty majority for staying in if David Cameron manages a renegotiation of some sort and recommends a yes vote. It raises the question though of what exactly would past muster as a renegotiation.
On the principle of renegotiation most people think it is desirable – three-quarters of people want to see some renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU, but are split over how extensive it needs to be. 24% think our current relationship is broadly okay as it is, and just needs some reassurances and rule changes. 27% want to see more substantial renegotiation with opt outs or changes to EU powers. 25% think there needs to be massive and fundamental changes for EU membership to be in British interests. Asked what things they’d like to see as part of renegotiation, what powers they’d like to see returned, immigration unsurprisingly came out top (and the related issue of benefit rights for EU migrants came third).
However, whatever they might like to see, in practical terms only 15% think that other EU countries would agree to significant changes. 43% think only minor changes and clarifications are achievable, 24% think other EU countries wouldn’t agree to any changes at all.
So, how would people vote if there was only a modest renegotiation?
- If David Cameron secures a major renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union, with substantial changes and opt outs then 52% of people say they would vote to stay in, 23% would still vote to leave.
- Realistically however, the chances of David Cameron getting massive British opt outs are probably quite remote – more likely if it happens he’ll get some more modest rule changes and guarantees, but no major changes in which areas the EU has powers. In that scenario then the vote would be much closer – 39% say they would vote to stay, 38% would vote to leave.
- Finally, if David Cameron secured no renegotiation at all and had to come back and hold a referendum on the relationship with the EU as it is now 32% say would vote to stay, 45% would vote to leave.
Of course, these are just snapshots of the present situation, not predictions of what would happen after a referendum campaign… a lot could change in an actual EU membership referendum campaign (remember early AV referendum polls!), but it underlines the importance of the renegotiation and how it ends up being framed in the public debate – a referendum in the wake of what is portrayed as a win that protects British interests would be very different from a referendum in the wake of a perceived failure to get a good deal for Britain.
Meanwhile, tonight’s regular daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 38%, LD 10%, UKIP 11%