Saturday 10 December 2016

Ireland's relationship with the EU remains strong

There has been a surge in support for Brexit in the UK, but fears of a break-up of the EU are overstated

Published 12/06/2016 | 02:30

'The Europe-wide poll, meanwhile, has found between 62pc and 65pc of people in each other country polled opposed Brexit, rising to 70pc in Ireland.' Stock photo: Getty
'The Europe-wide poll, meanwhile, has found between 62pc and 65pc of people in each other country polled opposed Brexit, rising to 70pc in Ireland.' Stock photo: Getty

While the campaign to take Britain out of the European Union has opened up a 10-point lead in the UK, fears that Brexit could lead to a break-up of the EU are wildly overstated.

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If anything, the campaign in the UK seems to have hardened attitudes throughout most of the rest of Europe as to the financial benefits of the union.

Nowhere is that view more strong than in Ireland, whose relationship with Europe continues to be strong, according to a continent-wide opinion poll published today.

Fewer than one in 10 people in Ireland believe the UK should leave the European Union, the Millward Brown opinion poll has found.

The Sunday Independent regularly commissions Millward Brown, whose findings in the recent general election campaign closely mirrored the final result.

Last month the firm polled Ireland as part of a TNS Public Affairs multi- country survey on the referendum. This poll found a massive 70pc of people in Ireland believed the UK should stay in the EU, only 9pc believed it should leave and 21pc did not know.

Germany, France, the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland and Luxembourg, as well as Ireland, were polled as part of the survey.

The poll found that the UK was the only country where more people said Leave (43pc) than Remain (41pc).

Since that poll was taken, however, the campaign to take the UK out of the EU has opened up a remarkable 10-point lead in Britain.

The Europe-wide poll, meanwhile, has found between 62pc and 65pc of people in each other country polled opposed Brexit, rising to 70pc in Ireland.

In France, for example, support for Brexit has actually fallen - down 7pc in May to 34pc - while support for Brexit is at only 15pc in Germany and the Netherlands, and falls to only 6pc in Poland.

However, only a slim majority (51pc) of people in Ireland believe the UK will vote to remain while 21pc believed it would vote to leave and 25pc did not know.

Polling firms sometimes ask what people believe will actually happen, as opposed to their personal view, as this can more closely reflect the outcome of elections and referendums.

Interestingly, in the Europe-wide poll, 43pc of people in the UK believe the country will vote to remain, dropping significantly to 26pc who believe Brexit will take place while 31pc did not know.

The Millward Brown poll concentrated on the financial implications of Brexit and did not ask questions in relation to the immigration issue, concerns around which are believed to be behind the surge in support in the UK to leave .

Fifty per cent of Irish people polled think the EU will be worse off financially if the UK were to leave while only 10pc thought the EU would be better off. Eighteen per cent thought it would make no difference and 18pc did not know.

In the UK, 40pc thought the country would be financially worse off while only 25pc thought it would be better off. It remains to be seen if financial concerns ultimately trump concerns related to the immigration issue on June 23.

Asked if they would like to see a similar referendum in their country, 61pc of Irish people said no while only 13pc said yes.

Th e poll found somewhat stronger support for a similar poll in other countries: the Netherlands (38pc), Denmark (32pc), Finland (31pc) and Poland (25pc).

However, while more people than not in the Netherlands would like to see such a referendum there, far more people than not (49pc v 33pc) would vote to stay in the EU.

Sunday Independent

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