A new poll says most Brits want a fresh referendum on EU membership

Martin Banks

Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) A former senior UK MEP says the campaign for Britain to rejoin the EU should now “be taken very seriously.”

The comments by veteran pro-European Edward McMillan-Scott come after a UK national newspaper published a poll showing support for a referendum on Brexit has hit 65 percent in the UK with only 24 pc opposed.

Two years after the UK transitioned out of the European Union the poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Britons now support a referendum on rejoining.

A Savanta survey for The Independent newspaper also shows that the number of people who oppose another vote has fallen, with less than a quarter of voters now against a referendum.

The paper states that the number who say there should be another vote is now 65 percent, up from 55 percent at the same point last year, although they are split over the timing.

The Independent says the most popular options were now, at 22 percent, and within the next 5 years, 24 percent, followed by within 6-10 years, 11 percent. Just 4 percent thought another vote should be in more than 20 years, while those who said there should never be a second referendum have fallen from 32 to 24 percent, according to the paper.

It says the survey also found 54 percent now say Brexit was the wrong decision, up from 46 percent last year, on the first anniversary of Britain’s exit. A total of 56 percent now think leaving the EU has made the economy worse, up from 44 percent.

About 50 percent of those surveyed believe the UK exiting the EU it has made the UK’s ability to control its own borders – a key Brexiteer pledge – worse, up from 43 percent to 50 percent. Those who think it has worsened Britain’s global influence is also now 50 percent, up from 39 percent, according to the paper and poll.

Reacting, McMillan-Scott told this website, “In my talks in Brussels in recent years I have stressed the activities of the Remain/Rejoin UK activists.”

He coordinates many of these through his “Europe House” meetings, comprising over 100 academics, activists, journalists and others.

Senior EU people like Klaus Welle, a former secretary general of the parliament, have repeatedly said that British rejoining will only be countenanced seriously if polling shows consistent 65 percent in favor.

McMillan-Scott was a regional coordinator in 1975 for the European Movement in the campaign to keep Britain in the EU.

He later became the last and longest-serving UK Vice-President of the European Parliament.

He said: “In 1975 the ‘In’ vote was 67 percent of the UK electorate. And today, two years after the beginning of the hard Brexit willed on us by Boris Johnson, the 52-48 percent referendum result in 2016 – predicted by Nigel Farage as “unfinished business” – has turned into a 65-24 percent for a second referendum in a New Year poll. 

“This is the margin which Brexit-watchers in Brussels like David McAllister, Guy Verhofstadt and Klaus Welle regard as the basis for taking the UK’s Rejoin movement seriously”.

McMillan-Scott was elected a patron of the European Movement in 2014 and has coordinated a 100+ group of senior Remain activists and politicians since the 2016 referendum. They raised over £2m for the People’s Vote campaign, which nearly won a parliamentary majority in 2019, until what he calls “Boris Johnson’s stooges” collapsed it, just days after a million-strong demo in Westminster.

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Martin Banks is an experienced British-born journalist who has been covering the EU beat (and much else besides) in Brussels since 2001. Previously, he had worked for many years in regional journalism in the UK and freelanced for national titles. He has a keen interest in foreign affairs and has closely followed the workings of the European Parliament and MEPs in particular for some years.