New research from TNS shows that a majority (52%) think the government should renegotiate the terms of United Kingdom’s membership of the EU, with only 7% disagreeing. Indeed, renegotiation appears to be important to both sides of the EU membership debate, with 47% of those who favour staying in the EU saying the government should renegotiate membership, rising to 72% of those who want to leave.

The poll reveals a perception that the UK is unfairly treated during EU negotiations, with 45% holding this view and only 12% disagreeing. In particular, 48% of the public believe the UK has less influence than other member countries of a similar size, with only 14% not holding this view.

However, the poll of 1,199 adults in Great Britain reveals that confidence in the UK government’s ability to negotiate a better deal for the United Kingdom within the EU is particularly low, with only 5% of the general public very confident that the UK government would be able to do so. In contrast, 41% are not at all confident and 22% don’t know.

The research also shows that 49% of those who say they are certain to vote would opt to leave the European Union if a referendum on the UK’s membership was held. Currently 41% would opt to stay in the EU and a tenth (10%) of those who say they would definitely vote in a referendum are undecided, suggesting any future vote would be close.

When those in favour of leaving the EU were asked for their reasoning, the top answers given were:
• ‘stronger border controls’ (56%)
• ‘reducing foreign interference in the justice system’ (48%)

When those in favour of retaining EU membership were asked for their reasoning, the top answers were:
• ‘good for trade’ (63%)
• ‘provides freedom to work and live in other member states’ (35%)
• ‘boosting foreign investment’ (33%)

Unsurprisingly opinion towards EU membership varies according to support for political parties. Among those certain to vote in a referendum, 91% of UKIP supporters and 49% of Conservative voters are in favour of leaving the EU. In contrast to this, 64% of Labour supporters would opt to stay in the EU, but a significant minority (25%) would opt to leave.

Commenting, Dr Michelle Harrison, CEO of Kantar Public said “This latest research shows that many voters favour renegotiating the UK’s membership of the European Union – including a significant number of those well-disposed to the EU.”

“Those in favour of EU membership cite trade benefits as the main reason for support, while those who wish to leave often point to immigration and interference in the justice system rather than to any economic benefits of leaving. This suggests that making the case for EU membership based on trade benefits is unlikely to sway those who favour leaving due to fear of immigration.”

Notes for editors

TNS Omnibus interviewed a representative sample of 1,199 adults in Great Britain between 24th and 28th April 2014. All interviews were conducted as online self-completion. The data is weighted to match population totals for age, sex, social grade, working status, presence of children, 2010 voting patterns and region.

About TNS UK

TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and stakeholder management, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presence in over 80 countries, TNS has more conversations with the world’s consumers than anyone else and understands individual human behaviours and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of the world. TNS is part of Kantar, one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy groups. Please visit www.tnsglobal.com/uk for more information.

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