EFTA 62%, EU 38%: Cameron’s speech does little to turn the tide of Euro-scepticism

Following David Cameron’s surprisingly pro-EU speech given the current context, a new YouGov poll has found that his warm sentiment has done little to thaw Britain’s frosty outlook on our country’s relationship with Brussels.

The YouGov survey found that, 40% are still undecided about the best course for Britain’s European future. Of those that have made a choice between remaining within the EU or opting for a viable alternative in the form of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), just 38% were in favour of remaining within the EU. By contrast, support for EFTA and the European Economic Area (EEA) is substantially higher, with 62% opting for this approach.

When YouGov carried out the same poll in 2010, it found support for EFTA was just 3% greater than support for the EU, while in 2013, this difference has grown markedly, with 15% more support for EFTA than the existing EU model. The effect of pro-EU politicians has had some impact, with 2012 poll results showing EFTA at +23%. Even so, the latest results demonstrate the EFTA option still has a better chance of winning a referendum. Britain’s collective attitude towards Europe can be characterised as one of openness towards EU alternatives.

This stronger support for EFTA than the EU is despite there being a distinct lack of media coverage or debate on the issue, even though Britain has previously been a member of EFTA. The public has repeatedly asked for a referendum, to have a say on continuing the EU experiment or choosing a practical alternative; one which makes economic sense. Most opinion polls have shown the same pattern of results: 30% of us are in favour of remaining with the EU, 30% would like Britain to leave it, while 40% want a simpler European model. Despite this, Government rhetoric has repeatedly called for an in/out referendum, polarising voters and neglecting the 40% of us that want a viable middle-ground.

Robert Oulds from the Bruges Group, summarises the poll’s findings: “The public are interested in EFTA/EEA as an off-the-shelf alternative to the EU; one which has a proven track record and allows the UK to run more of its own affairs. It’s time for the UK public to be given a choice of upgrading to EFTA/EEA, which would mean Britain enjoys all the benefits of EU trade links but without the EU political system running it.”

Company Directors from big business, together with politicians both here and abroad, are paying lobbyists to serve their own interests, by applying pressure on Government, EU institutions and voters to maintain Britain’s membership within a failing EU. The British public have shown interest in another option; a proven economic alternative, that will better serve the wider interests of the country. For further information on the EFTA alternative, please visit www.brugesgroup.com.