‘Let’s stay together’, Europe pleads with a reluctant Britain

Brexit

Brexit

With just two weeks to go before the June 23 referendum, EU countries have indicated they overwhelmingly want their British partners to reject a “Brexit” withdrawal from the European Union, according to a poll of nine member states.

In stark contrast to poll results in the UK, which show a slight lead for the “Out” camp of 43% (against 41% for “Remain” while 16% remain “undecided”) the TNS survey, conducted in nine EU countries late May, found that all these northern-European countries wanted Britain to remain a member of the bloc.

Despite an “Out” campaign that has verged on the xenophobic as it tackles the difficult subject of EU immigration and open borders, the poll found that 79% of Germans, 65% of French and 64% in Poland favoured Britain voting to remain, as well as 62% in Denmark, 63% in the Netherlands and 62% in the Czech Republic.

A separate question, which asked whether respondents believed Brexit was likely to happen, showed a widespread conviction that the UK would vote to remain: only 40% of French people, 30% of Germans and just 26% of Poles believe British will leave the EU.

Even in the UK, only 26% of respondents said they believed Britain would actually leave the EU.

Anxiety

According to TNS director of political polling Edouard Lecerf, the poll demonstrates widespread anxiety in Europe that the Brexit vote comes at a time of “heightened fragility” in the EU, caused primarily by the migrant crisis.

“The fact that so many people say they don’t believe Brexit is going to happen may be down to a certain amount of denial, particularly in France,” he told FRANCE 24.

On the same day that TNS published its survey, Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and standard-bearer for the “Out” movement, told the Financial Times he hoped a Brexit would be the first “domino” in the disintegration of the entire European Union, and that other member states would do “whatever they can to stop Britain leaving”.

“The days of big, artificial blocs are gone,” he told the newspaper, adding that he wanted to see “a European continent of individual, sovereign democratic states that trade with each other”.

Bookies predict UK will remain in the EU fold

If the polls are neck and neck, Britain’s bookmakers, whom many believe are a more accurate predictor of the outcome of the referendum, have consistently placed “Remain” as favourite (with odds hovering around 1/3 on Monday June 6).

The bookies were credited with predicting a sizeable vote for Scotland to remain in the UK in last year’s referendum (the pollsters said it would be neck and neck).

 

They also accurately predicted David Cameron gaining a parliamentary majority for his Conservative party in the June 2015 UK general election, while thepolls showed he would fail to form a government without a coalition.

Opinion pollster Lecrf cautioned that a marginal lead for Brexit in the UK should not be read as a prediction that the UK would actually vote to leave on June 23.

“Lots of factors come into play on voting day, particular in referendum, such as fear and self-interest,” he said. “Much depends on what happens in the wider EU between now and June 23, particularly in terms of Europe’s migrant crisis, to which the British are particularly sensitive.”

As for the bookies, Lecerf said that while they were an “interesting” way to look at the possible outcome of a referendum, “gamblers tend to use information from pollsters, and not the other way around”.