By Dave Taylor
The more international parts of Britain want to stay in the EU, although they would be outvoted by the narrow nationalism of most of England, a YouGov poll has revealed.
Asked “If there was a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, how would you vote?” 50% of Scots would vote to stay in the EU, while 49% of Londoners would agree with them. In both areas, only 34% would vote to leave Europe.
However, Scots and Londoners represent less than a quarter of the population of GB, and their wishes would be overwhelmed by the rest of England who apparently prefer isolation – support for staying in the EU is only 36% there, while 48% want to leave.
The poll replicates many previous surveys which show Scotland and London sharing a view that international co-operation is mutually beneficial, although their reasons for doing so may be different.
For example, while 45% of Londoners considered “greater control of British fishing waters” as an important aspect of EU renegotiation, 67% of Scots saw that as a priority. That’s not to say that that percentage of Londoners or Scots actually give a damn about fishing – those opposed to the EU will have a knee-jerk reaction against “Brussels control” over anything.
The importance lies in the difference between the two percentages. In Scotland, control over our waters is seen as important by two thirds of people.
While this poll was conducted purely in terms of the UK (strangely termed “Britain” by YouGov) relationship with the EU, it has interesting implications for a Scottish negotiation within the EU for an adjustment of the terms currently applicable to UK membership.
The Scottish Government’s White Paper makes it clear that they envisage the important aspect of independence for the EU as being the reallocation of the UK’s current membership conditions – especially budgetary ones – between the two consequent states. The effects on other EU countries would, therefore, be fairly minor.
With that in mind, it’s worth noting how Scots think the EU would react to internal renegotiations (GB figures in brackets) “In practical terms, what sort of renegotiation of Britain’s membership do you think other EU countries would agree to?”
“None at all – other European countries would probably not agree to any changes in Britain’s relationship” : 27% (24%)
“Minor changes – other European countries would probably agree to minor changes and clarifications in Britain’s relationship with Europe, but nothing major” : 44% (43%)
“Significant changes – other European countries would probably agree to significant changes to Britain’s relationship with Europe, including allowing Britain to opt-out of some EU rules and powers”: 10% (15%).
John Major may well say think that an independent Scotland would face a decade-long fight to be admitted to the EU as a separate member state, but he also thinks that the Beatles are “established stars”. That’s pretty good for a group that broke up 43 years ago, and half of whom are dead!