By Alison Little | Express | Jun. 12, 2012
DEMANDS for the British people to have a say on our role in Europe got a huge boost yesterday.
A new poll showed more than 80 per cent of voters are crying out for a referendum.
Nearly half of voters – 49 per cent – want their voices heard straight away, according to the survey.
A further third, 33 per cent, believe that there should be a vote “in the next few years”.
David Cameron, delivers his statement at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg
in revealing people’s deep dissatisfaction with Brussels in our popular crusade to get Britain out of the EU.
We have consistently said Europe has changed so dramatically since 1975 – when Britons last had a referendum – that another is long overdue.
Yesterday’s survey by Populus underlined the strength of feeling and will fuel many MPs’ calls for greater urgency.
Labour MP and former minister Kate Hoey said: “This poll shows that the message the Daily Express has been carrying for many months is resonating with the public. A referendum is not a sideline issue – it is crucial to the public and must happen.”
Leading Tory eurosceptic MP Peter Bone said: “The political elite are scared of asking the question. They know people don’t want the EU, they don’t want the £41billion membership fee, they want border controls returned, they want decisions made in Parliament.”
Britons show us exactly how they feel about the EU
He added: “If the problem is Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, then the Prime Minister should say to him: ‘If you don’t like it, then go to the country, we’ve got to have this referendum’.”
Ian McKenzie of referendum campaign group the People’s Pledge said the latest poll came as no surprise.
In its local referendums on the issue, its first trial in Thurrock, Essex, found 90 per cent of respondents are in favour of having a vote.
Canvassing in the Manchester area, in the Lib Dem Parliamentary seats of Cheadle, Hazel Grove and Manchester Withington, is gauging views there.
Populus found backing shared almost evenly across Tory and Labour voters, while the 74 per cent of Lib Dems wanting a vote was not far behind the 82 per cent across the whole population. Older voters are slightly more in favour.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
Chancellor George Osborne has raised speculation about the possibility of a vote in recent days. And former Labour Foreign Secretary Lord Owen is the most senior politician so far publicly to back a referendum. As we reported, he proposes a twin-question format.
Yesterday’s poll for The Times newspaper suggested at first glance that the answer to those questions might be uncertain, although a large number of people are evidently open to being convinced in a full-blown campaign.
There are similar scenes across Europe
It also showed most of those expressing an opinion wanted to leave although the questions did not explicitly spell out the option. On if Britain should belong to a single market in a wider European Community, 40 per cent said No, 32 per cent Yes and 27 per cent Don’t Know.
Answering the peer’s second proposed question of whether to stay in the EU with the option kept open of joining the more integrated eurozone, 44 per cent said No, 36 per cent Yes, and 19 per cent Don’t Know.
Meanwhile, eurosceptic think tank Open Europe said yesterday that failure quickly to rewrite our terms of membership would result in unstoppable public support for what it believes would be a damaging exit.