Jonathan Jones

Britain’s euroscepticism hardens

Britain’s euroscepticism hardens
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With the European financial crisis rumbling on, anti-EU sentiment in Britain is deepening. Two polls — one by YouGov for PoliticsHome and the other by Angus Reid — show that 50 per cent of the public would vote for Britain to leave the EU if there was a referendum.  

Of course, this is nothing new. Brits have long been the most eurosceptic of Europeans, as Fraser noted a couple of months ago. In fact, we're the only country where more people think our membership of the EU is bad than think it's good:

The hardening of eurosceptic sentiment does seem to be due to current events: 34 per cent say that the Greek crisis has made them more favourable towards us leaving.

Despite all this, the majority of the public think Britain will still be an EU member in 2021. Given the seemingly strong support for leaving, this may seem surprising, but there are a few reasons why they might be right. For one thing, David Cameron seems determined to make sure that Britain gets more out of the EU. As he told Fraser and James last week, "There will be opportunities for Britain to maximise what we want in terms of our engagement with Europe." Success on this front would go some way to assuaging the 13 per cent of Brits who said they would vote to leave the EU but do in principle support membership.

In addition, while polls such as these are interesting, it's worth remembering that the public as a whole simply don't regard Europe as a major issue. Last month, just 3 per cent told Ipsos-MORI that Europe, the EU or the Euro were important issues facing Britain.