Chief concerns – The Economist (blog)

7 months ago Comments Off on Chief concerns – The Economist (blog)

THE issue of Europe became an increasing concern for the British public in the first quarter of this year, according to Ipsos MORI’s latest polling. This is perhaps unsurprising, coming as it does less than three months before a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (presently public preference is finely balanced between those wanting to leave and those wanting to remain). When asked to pick just the “most important issue” facing the country, nearly 10% of Britons fretted about Europe/the EU in early 2016 (up from 2% for the same period in 2015) while 20% included it as one of their most important concerns (see chart). More people also expressed concern about immigration in the latest poll, while worries about health and the economy—both prominent domestic issues in recent years—have subsided.

When focusing only on Conservative voters, immigration and Europe feature again as two primary anxieties (echoing the national sentiment), far more than they did in the run-up to the general election a year ago. This obviously points to uncertainties related to ”Brexit”. To win the referendum, the “remain” campaign will have to rely on a combination of support from both Conservative and Labour voters. Europe has also soared up the latter’s list of concerns, but Labour voters also worry greatly about housing, poverty and social security. A “leave” campaign that plays heavily on these fears and paints Brussels as an overbearing authority that undermines Parliament could seduce Labour voters as much as Tories. Prime minister David Cameron has a big challenge ahead if he is to convince the electorate on both sides of the political divide to side with his campaign to stay in Europe.

Chief concerns – The Economist (blog)

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