A new YouGov poll shows a clear majority of voters in favour of leaving the EU: 52% want to leave, against only 30% who want to stay in. Amongst Conservative voters, that ratio rises to 66 against 22 — a three-to-one majority.
The poll was commissioned by Nikki Sinclaire, a former UKIP MEP, now independent (and thus a standing monument to UKIP’s factionalism, which has seen several resignations from their MEP ranks). Ms. Sinclaire may well have her own axe to grind — indeed she certainly does. But nonetheless the poll was conducted by YouGov, no doubt with their usual impeccable professionalism, so I think we have to accept the result.
The poll also shows that 60% of the public (74% of Conservative voters) want an In/Out EU referendum, while only 25% (19% of Tories) don’t.
I put it to David Cameron some time ago that the great majority of Conservatives disagreed with his view that British membership of the EU was in our national interest, and that perhaps he as Party Leader ought to take this into account. His reply was uncompromising: he didn’t want an In/Out referendum, because (again) he believed membership was in our national interest.
But you don’t have referenda merely to confirm your prejudices. You have referenda to give the people their chance to have a say. There’s something uncomfortably paternalistic in saying, in effect “I won’t let you have your say on this question, because you disagree with my settled opinion, and I happen to know that I’m right and you’re wrong”.