Two very similar new polls about the European Union in advance of the newly negotiated EU treaty – ICM for Open Europe and YouGov for Paul Sykes’s Speak Out campaign.

Both polls show around half the public think that the EU already has too much power (in slightly differently worded questions YouGov found 59% thought the EU had too much power, ICM found 49%). Few people (6% in YouGov’s poll and 15% in ICM’s) thought the EU should have greater powers.

Both also found an overwhelming majority in favour of a referendum if the new treaty gives extra powers to the EU – 78% in YouGov’s poll and 86% in ICM’s.

ICM asked how people would vote in a referendum on a treaty that “gives more powers to the EU” – 65% said they would vote against, with only 26% voting in favour. YouGov’s question was slightly more subtle – only 4% said they would vote in favour, 40% said they would vote against, 45% said it would depend upon the exact details of the treaty. This is actually an interesting result, and one that shows the difficulty facing the government in trying to win any such referendum: 40% of people say they will vote against a European treaty almost regardless of what the actual contents are. To win a referendum, the government would need to win over the vast majority of the 45% of people who say their vote would depend on what was actually in the treaty and, presumably, are open to pursuasion.

Finally ICM asked whether it would make people less likely to vote Labour if Gordon Brown ratified the treaty without allowing a referendum. 21% of people said it wouldn’t make them less likely to vote Labour, 74% said it would. As regular readers will know, I’m not a fan of questions like this and prefer the format YouGov sometimes use were people are given the option of saying “No difference – I’ll vote Labour anyway” and “No difference – I wouldn’t vote Labour anyway”. A lot of the people answering this question and saying it would make them less likely to vote Labour wouldn’t vote Labour if hell froze over. 86% of Tory identifiers, for example, say it would make them less likely to vote Labour. In this case though, it doesn’t seem to be just Tories expressing concern – 43% of Labour identifiers also say it would “definitely” make them less likely to vote Labour. Of course, saying that to a pollster to send a message is different to actually changing your vote, but it’s worth remembering that Europe isn’t an issue that only worries Tory voters in the shires.


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