David Cameron: the pro-Europeans’ secret weapon

Writing for the European Council on Foreign Relations, YouGov’s Peter Kellner highlights an important polling finding:

In July this year, YouGov asked this question: ‘Imagine the British government under David Cameron renegotiated our relationship with Europe and said that Britain’s interests were now protected, and David Cameron recommended that Britain remain a member of the European Union on the new terms. How would you then vote in a referendum on the issue?’…

42% say they would vote to stay in, while 34% would vote to leave.

Tory voters swing right round, from 58-29% for leaving the EU when we ask the conventional in-out referendum question [without Cameron’s endorsement for a ‘yes’ vote], to 55-34% for staying in, if that is what the Prime Minister recommends.

The degree to which Conservative voters can sway a referendum result if they get a strong steer from their party’s leadership mirrors the experience of the AV referendum campaign. When Cameron started campaigning strongly for a no vote in that referendum, Conservative supporters switched in large numbers and the overall figures moved sharply as a result.

* Mark Pack is Party President and Co-leader of the party. He is editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and Polls.


  • Yes, it sounds like a good ruse for pro Europeans. However, what if the 1922 Committee, get awfully frustrated by Cameron’s inability to see the (UKIP), writing on the wall, and decide to do an in/out referendum of their own in relation to David Cameron staying in Number 10?
    Your theory assumes that Cameron will make it all the way to 2015. Can that be assumed?

  • Liberals and Social Democrats have long held a pro-european stance. This sort of debate going on in England shows exactly why Scotland’s place in the EU can only be guaranteed through Scottish independence. Only with a yes vote in 2014 will Scotland’s membership of the EU remain in Scottish hands.

  • Simon Titley 8th Oct '12 - 2:39pm

    Isn’t there another lesson here for the Liberal Democrats? Of the three categories of opinion listed in Peter Kellner’s article, the ‘Progressive Internationalists’ are most closely aligned with Liberal Democrat opinion. Indeed, no other party speaks for such people. Anyone looking for our core vote, please note.

  • Simon Titley 8th Oct '12 - 4:23pm

    @jedibeeftrix – To answer your two points:

    1) Don’t knock 25%! It would be a healthy core vote, equivalent in size to that of the Tory and Labour parties. And a core vote is a base, not a limit. A core vote strategy entails consolidating the core then using that as a base to build out and appeal to others.

    2) Yes, more ‘progressive internationalists’ currently say they would vote Labour. That’s partly a reflection of the fact that Labour is currently doing much better in the polls generally than the Liberal Democrats. But also, the Liberal Democrats haven’t done much lately to appeal to ‘progressive internationalists’; indeed, in recent elections (and particularly in Euro elections), the party has deliberately played down its internationalism in a perverse attempt to appeal to the sort of voters least likely to vote Liberal Democrat. If the Liberal Democrtats want to win over ‘progressive internationalists’, they must give such people good reasons to vote instead of worrying about not causing offence.

  • Paul McKeown 8th Oct '12 - 6:19pm

    I disagree with the conclusions drawn in this piece. Reading Kellner’s polling research:

    This analysis suggests two big implications.

    “First, Worried Nationalists comprise by far the biggest single group. In a referendum on whether to leave the EU, Worried Nationalists give the anti-EU lobby a head start. Although they could be outvoted if virtually all the Pragmatic Nationalists lined up against them with the Progressive Internationalists, I find it hard in practice to see how the British would vote to stay in the EU unless a fair number of nationalists could be lured from the “worried” to the “pragmatic” column.”

    Anyone who thinks a referendum on membership of the EU can be won at present by the “IN” campaign has stars in their eyes. Forget it, the issue is simply too poisoned for any sort of rational debate.

  • John Stevens 9th Oct '12 - 12:35pm

    This is a complete misrepresentation of the position. The turn around in Tory opinion in favour of staying only comes after a re-negotiation that would give us a status barely distinguishable from that of Norway (though not in Schengen). If MP thinks this would be a pro European win the LD’s have clearly finally forfeited their remaining credentials as resistants to the rise of euroscepticism.

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