According to a newly released poll of citizens in four European countries, half of Britons would vote to leave the European Union (EU). While 50 percent of United Kingdom citizens said they would vote to leave the EU, only 36 percent said they would vote to stay in the EU.
The desire of British citizens to exit the EU contrasts with the sentiments of French, German, and Polish citizens who the poll found want to remain in the EU. Public opinion in the United Kingdom regarding membership underscores the knowledge that Britain does not need the EU to flourish economically, and that conversely, by leaving the EU, the U.K. would be free to pursue what is best for Britain free of the cumbersome and often undemocratic institutions of the EU bureaucracy.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership in the EU by 2017, contingent upon remaining in power following the anticipated 2015 general election in the U.K. When asked whether EU membership is a “good thing” or a “bad thing,” 42 percent of Britons said it is a bad thing versus only 26 percent of Britons who view the EU as a good thing.
The poll also found that the general public in the U.K. believe—by a margin of 48 percent to 19 percent—that EU membership brings more drawbacks than benefits. The tide of public opinion against the EU is not likely to recede soon as Brussels continues to try and absorb more and more competencies and powers at the expense of member state capitals and national legislatures.
In addition to confirming that most British citizens want to leave the EU, the poll also found that, despite damage done under the Obama Administration, Britons remain staunch proponents of strong ties with the United States. When asked who they would generally side with in a hypothetical U.S.–EU disagreement, by a margin on 37 percent to 10 percent, Britons would take America’s side.
A United Kingdom outside the EU would strengthen the U.S.–U.K. Special Relationship. The U.S. should look forward to the day when the citizens of the U.K. will get to voice their dissatisfaction with EU membership on the record.