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DMU politics students' snap poll surprises by finding people in favour of EU

More than 70 per cent of people in Leicester want Britain to stay in the European Union, a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) poll has found.

But, in line with national predictions on voting patterns, it seems older people are more likely to want to leave the EU.

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Students from De Montfort University’s Department of Politics and Public Policy (PoPP) asked people for their views at Leicester’s Highcross Shopping Centre and polled students at the university as part of the 100 Ideas for Europe campaign, which is being run ahead of the EU Referendum on 23 June.

They have released the interim findings as people across Europe celebrate Europe Day today (9 May), a celebration of unity and peace. The theme for 2016 is “united in diversity” to reflect the different cultures, languages, religions and political parties represented across the EU.

More than 700 people completed the DMU survey, which asked questions to gauge people’s understanding of Britain’s relationship with the EU and whether they perceived benefits of being part of the EU.

The link between age and voting preference became clearer once the age ranges of the 28.5% of people who said they would vote Leave were analysed. Of those aged 18-24, 12.4% said they would vote Leave; among those aged 25-34, it was 17%; 31.6% of 35-44 year olds would vote for Brexit. Among 55-64 year olds, 42.4% would vote Leave and in those aged 65 and over, that figures rose to 59.6%.

Professor Alasdair Blair, Head of the Department of Politics and Public Policy, said: "The results from the survey are interesting in that they indicate that more people wish to remain in the EU than leave, which runs counter to the viewpoint that has been presented by the media.

"These results were actually a surprise to members of staff based on our conversations with members of the public in the pop-up shop, where the underlying tone of the conversations was Eurosceptic. This might be because those who wish to leave the EU have stronger viewpoints than those who wish to remain and in turn wish to express these viewpoints.

"An interesting aside is that the split between the percentage who wish to remain and leave was broadly similar to that of the last referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Community in 1975, when the outcome was two-to-one in favouring of remaining."

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Top of the list of concerns about the EU was inability to control migration (cited by 44% of people), laws being made at EU level (42%). Cost of membership was noted by 31%.

Of those who said the UK benefited from the EU, 8% favoured leaving. Of those who did not see an advantage in membership, 89.8% said they would vote Leave.

The snapshot survey was compiled over three days at Highcross Shopping Centre and at DMU and of those who took part, 87.9% of respondents were eligible to vote.

People associated the EU with regulation (noted by 38.8% of people), and being powerful (37.7%). The words least associated with the EU were ‘transparent’ (7.6%) and ‘responsive’ (10.3%).

Jonathan Rose, VC2020 lecturer in research and politics methodology, said: "In terms of predicting why people want to leave the EU, the most important predictors are: whether people see a benefit to the EU, whether they think the UK will be stronger or weaker outside of the EU, and the respondent’s age. With these three pieces of information we can explain 67% of the variation in whether people want to remain or leave the EU." 

Posted on Monday 9th May 2016

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