A Kantar Public poll has found that the British public feels strongly that generating economic growth and reducing unemployment should be viewed as bigger priorities for the Government than renegotiating EU membership.

When offered three options; stay, leave or don’t vote, currently 43% of the population would be in favour of the UK leaving the European Union, slightly higher than the 39% who would like to remain (and 18% who wouldn’t vote). If we look at the party split on this issue we see more of a divide, with 59% of Labour supporters and 61% of Liberal Democrat supporters in favour of remaining in the European Union, compared to 56% of Conservatives and 90% of UKIP voters who want the UK to leave.

When offered a list of reasons for wanting to leave the EU, the most popular were to allow stronger border controls (49%) and reduce interference in our justice system (47%). In fact, if border controls were renegotiated, 35% of those who are against EU membership say they would vote in favour – pushing the vote to stay in the EU up to 54% and only 18% wanting to leave.

Other than border controls, the following reasons were seen as important by the British population:

  • Ensuring that the trade the UK does with the rest of the world does not decline (80%)
  • UK attracts investment abroad (78%)
  • The UK is the place that companies chose to operate their European Headquarters (63%)
  • Being allowed to live and work in other European countries freely (59%)

However, only one in five (19%) even put the EU agenda in their top three priorities for the UK Government. Policy priorities much higher on the list were issues such as creating jobs and improving the economy:

Generating economic growth 45
Reducing unemployment 43
Stricter border controls  38
Reducing the national debt 31
Investing more in healthcare  30
Reducing income inequality  27
Improving the future opportunities of young people  24
Reducing crime 23
Investing more in social care for the elderly  20
Renegotiating our position in the EU  19

Top priorities for improving public life in the UK (% – rating each as a top three priority)

Michelle Harrison, CEO of Kantar Public said: “Although business leaders and politicians quite rightly see the EU as a priority issue, the majority of British people want to feel their leadership is focused first and foremost on reinvigorating the UK economy. Our research would suggest that those who wish to re-engage the public with the EU should spend more time demonstrating that these two objectives are not mutually exclusive.”

POM September

Notes to editors
Detailed tables for this survey can be found below. Please treat with caution those figures where the sample size – the unweighted base – is less than 50.

TNS Omnibus interviewed a representative sample of 1,132 people between 29th August and 2nd September 2013.

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 Kantar Public
Kantar Public is a leading provider of specialist social research, offering insight into public policy to government and not-for-profit clients. Delivering a range of approaches including bespoke proprietary research and consultancy, random probability survey capabilities, as well as social marketing and polling, our work informs policy makers across national and local Government at the highest level. Kantar Public forms part of the Kantar group of companies. For more information please visit us on our website www.tns-bmrb.co.uk/.

For more information please contact:
Laura Chatterton
Tel: 020 7656 5054
Email: Laura.Chatterton@tnsglobal.com

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