Brexit: Voters back EU membership as support for a referendum falls

Guy Bentley
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Are Brexit supporters fighting a losing battle? (Source: Getty)

As things stand, Britain is more likely than not to vote to stay in the EU than support Brexit if there is a referendum following the General Election.

A new poll for the Times' Red Box showed 34 per cent of people said they would definitely vote for Britain to remain in the EU compared to just 18 per cent who were certain to vote for Brexit. Support for having a referendum on Britain's EU membership has also dipped from 58 per cent two years ago to 50 per cent today.

But things aren't all bad for the eurosceptics with 32 per cent of voters saying they were "persuadable" in either direction. The figures show there is all to play for if Britain does indeed hold a referendum in the next few years.

The prospect of Brexit has received an icy reception from the business and finance community. In a survey of 2,600 chief executives across 36 economies conducted by Grant Thornton, nearly two-thirds - 64 per cent - said Brexit would have a negative impact on Europe. This compared to 45 per cent which feared Grexit would harm the EU economy.

Looking at the UK specifically, recruiter Marks Sattin found that 55 per cent of finance workers said a Brexit would be a bad idea - while 20 per cent didn't know, and 14 per cent wanted a "third way".

The chances of Brexit remain slim given that having a referendum at all will depend on the outcome of the General Election. According to Oxford Economics, the betting markets put the probability of the General Election producing a government able to hold a referendum at just 18 per cent.

If the there is then a 50-50 chance of the referendum resulting in a vote for Brexit the chance of British withdrawal fall to just nine per cent. David Cameron has made a referendum of Britain's EU membership a red line in any possible coalition agreement.

If the Tories win a majority, which according to the polls appears unlikely, they will renegotiate Britain's terms of membership and put the new deal to the people in referendum. Ed Miliband has ruled any possibility of an EU referendum under a Labour government.

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