What Lib Dem members think about an in/out referendum & the future of the UK in Europe

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

By 2:1 majority, Lib Dems reject new EU referendum

EU flag - Some rights reserved by European ParliamentDo you think the Government should or should not call a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union?

    32% – Should

    63% – Should not

    5% – Don’t know

And 92% would vote to remain if there were an in/out referendum

If there were a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, how would you vote?

    92% – I would vote to remain a member of the European Union

    5% – I would vote to leave the European Union

    0% – I would not vote

    3% – Don’t know

Almost half Lib Dem members back greater UK integration in EU

Thinking about Britain’s relationship with Europe, which would you most like to see?

    49% – Britain remaining in the European Union, integrating more closely with our European neighbours

    34% – Britain remaining in the European Union as it is

    12% – Britain remaining in the European Union, but with a repatriation of powers that means membership is on the basis of a free trade agreement and no more

    2% – Britain leaving the European Union completely

    4% – None of these

Here’s a selection of your comments:

Why is everything about “in”, “further in”, “out” or “further out”. The EU needs a massive amount of reform of policies – whether this is “further in” or “further out” for the UK is irrelevant to all but Daily Express journalists.

We should leave the EU but set up trading arrangements like Norway and Switzerland. Don’t forget how prosperous Hong Kong was, as a little trading outpost on the edge of a huge monolithic bloc called China!

Status quo is always easiest. IF we are to re-negotiate, let’s be clear that the dialogue will in some areas involve further integration and in other areas some repatriation.

Britain remaining in the European Union, working to create a more liberal and cost-effective EU where the principle of subsidiarity is adhered to closely.

Perhaps we don’t need more integration, but we do need to engage with the EU more effectively!

Britain does well out of its membership of the EU and the EU does well despite the many challenges it faces. When will we finally hear about the advantages of membership?

The EU is a source of so much business and academic goodness, UK society would crumble without it! As an academic who has worked on EU projects, it really is vital.

The press has spent so long putting it down that people do not understand the benefits. It there was a referendum, it would need legislation to ensure that all of the facts were given to everyone.

The euro was a big mistake, and so was the extradition treaty. But it makes no sense to be mindlessly anti-EU.

I’d like to see closer co-operation on some things (defence, foreign policy, the environment) and a lighter touch from the EU on most economic and contractual matters including health/safety and procurement. A Liberal approach should be based on the wish to bring power down to the lowest level possible, but to establish democratic structures to deal with things that can’t be handled locally.

If people vote for a real US of Europe (similar to USA) that is fine but so far nobody has bothered to ask the people and ‘the project’ proceeds by stealth.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Over 500 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 7th and 11th December.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    11 Comments

    • The prospect of a referendum is simple nonsense. We can’t negotiate any of the things that the “out” side is talking about without first making deals with the other countries of the EU and the chances that they’ll even entertain offering favourable returns for a hypothetical referendum are basically zero. So any referendum will be based on a fantasy of what we’ll get: the ‘out’ voters will be voting for an unknown phantom based on the wishful thinking of the ‘out’ advocates.

    • “We should leave the EU but set up trading arrangements like Norway and Switzerland. Don’t forget how prosperous Hong Kong was, as a little trading outpost on the edge of a huge monolithic bloc called China!”

      Why do people constantly harp on about China when they clearly have no understanding of that country or its economics.

    • Kinda puts into proportion and perspective the occasional anti-EU comments left here on LDV. Lib Dems thankfully remain a staunchly pro-European party.

    • This is an issue where Im in line with the majority. Theres a general problem with referenda – if they arent on an issue the voters think is really important then they may well choose to answer some other question, eg “do you like the cuts”?
      While a small minority get hysterical about The EU, for most voters its a long way down their list of priorities.

    • ” If this carries on much longer they will give up on Britain and shrug their shoulders and say, “OK, well **** off then.”
      Sounds good. An instant saving of £75 million for a referendum not needed.

    • @ Paul Barker
      “The EU, for most voters its a long way down their list of priorities.”
      This is not true. People recognise that the EU affects their lives negatively, in many subtle, and not so subtle ways.
      Don’t bother reading the articles in the links below. Read instead, the comments section. And just as importantly, the many multiples of recommends, approvals, or ‘thumbs up’.
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/14/lib-dems-write-off-next-election
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2262061/Beating-heart-Britain-wants-stay-EU-Cameron-rules-early-vote-says-public-fully-consulted.html#comments
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9799816/David-Cameron-We-must-stop-the-bossiness-of-Brussels-but-remain-in-EU.html#disqus_thread

      Lib Dems may like to pretend that a referendum is of minor importance, but the public, very much think otherwise. Does UKIP at 16% and LibDem at 8% tell you nothing?
      Those online commenters know or expect that Cameron is on the verge of trying to concoct some kind of faux referendum offer, in his ‘soon to be’, speech. But they will not wear yet more political lies and manipulation. They want an IN/OUT straight vote, and nothing less will do.

    • @John Dunn,
      “An instant saving of £75 million for a referendum not needed.”

      An instant loss of revenue of £75bn, as depression ensues.

    • David Pollard 17th Jan '13 - 10:00am

      LibDems should be concentrating on making the point that IN LAW if there are any changes proposed to European treaties THEN THERE HAS TO BE A REFERENDUM. LibDems voted for this. In the meantime we should be co-operating with member states to get out of the financial crisis we are in (which is getting worse by the day as the Euro strengthens). And if we want to be a little bit naughty, we should point out that this is only a Conservative problem.

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