As David Cameron sweats on whether to stand by his word and hold a national referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, we analysed findings from our Future of Britain study of 2,000 nationally representative respondents to find out how the nation feels towards this European paradox.
73% of respondents are concerned about Britain’s relationship with Europe. This concern towards our flailing relationship with the E.U. manifests more strongly as age increases. 65% of 16-24 year-olds are worried about our relationship with Europe, increasing steadily to 83% among the 65+.
Looking at these results, we could make an assumption that the 65+ want us to stay in the E.U., but the reality is that their concerns are because of the E.U.’s growing influence over Britain.
When asked if it is important for Britain to stay in Europe, only 53% of those aged 65+ agreed versus the more pro-European 16-24s (71% agreed).
The 65+ group are in fact 8% more likely to be concerned with Scottish independence than they are with Britain leaving the E.U.
This Euro-skepticism shows through when we look at who people blame for the current economic downturn.
According to our Future of Britain study, 36% of all respondents blame the European Union, increasing to 48% among the 65+. This all paints an uncomfortable picture for Britain’s continued membership.
And here’s an uncomfortable stat for David Cameron. At the last general election, turnout for the 65+ was 76% and only 44% for under-24s, so no wonder he is reluctant to call a national referendum on the subject.