As UK and European parliamentarians start to return from their long summer break, a nationwide poll of 11,211 over 50s, the largest of its kind, reveals a yearning for a referendum on the UK’s relationship with the EU, and some interesting regional variations.
Tim Pethick, strategy director, Saga Group said: “As the UK’s political parties consider their commitment to a referendum and its timing, the nation’s over 50s, who are the most likely to go enter the polling booth, have spoken out.
Saga’s poll reveals an overwhelming desire for voters to have their say - and to have it sooner rather than later. However, with 33% currently in favour of remaining within the EU, 45% wanting to leave and 22% undecided all is still to play for.
One of the striking things from the poll is that the Scots, who have their own referendum on independence in 2015, are the least keen on the UK having a referendum in principle, and are the region least inclined to favour independence from Europe.”
Overall 73% of people are in favour of an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Support for the principle of a referendum does not appear to vary by sex, but it does appears to get marginally stronger as you get older (72% for those aged 50-59, compared to 78% for those aged 80-89). Whilst there is still a majority in favour of a referendum, it is less pronounced amongst the highest socio economic groups (AB – 67% support, C1- 77%, C2- 85%, DE -87%. Support is weakest in Scotland with 64% in favour and London (66%), and highest in East Anglia with 76% in favour.
If there were a referendum then overall 65% of people wanted it to be held before the next general election and 35% favouring a post general election ballot.
There were significant variations by social class with those in socio economic group DE most wanting a say before the next General Election, and those in social economic group AB being least in favour of a pre-general election ballot (AB – 58%, C1 – 69%, C2 - 82%, DE - 83%). Londoners and Scots were less in favour (73% and 72% in favour of a pre-election ballot) than other parts of the country. There were just small variations by sex (male 63%, females 68%) and small variations by age (67% for those aged 50-59 and 62% of those aged 80-89).
Asked how they would vote if there were to be an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU the nation is split with 33% in favour of retaining membership, 45% in favour of leaving and 22% would not say or were undecided. So there all is still to play for.
18% of men were undecided, whilst women were more open-minded with 27% yet to decide. As you get older the more certain people appear, with those undecided falling from 27% of those aged 50-59 to just 14% of those aged 80-89 (50-59 – 27%, 60-69 20%, 70-79 19%, 80-89 14%). East Anglia has fewest wavering with just 19% answering won’t say/ don’t know, whilst in the North East a quarter of people have yet to decide.
In favour of EU membership
Social class is the key factor in determining support for the EU with 40% of the nation’s ABs saying they would vote to stay in the EU compared with C1 – 26%, C2 18% and DE 16%. More men than women would support staying in the EU (36% men vs 29% women). That saying they are in favour of EU membership does not vary much by age (50-59 – 32%, 60-69 - 34%, 70-79 - 31%, 80-89 - 34%). The Scots are most in favour of EU membership (42%), closely followed by Londoners (41%).
Out of the EU
Social class is the key indicator of support for leaving the EU with 61% of those in social economic group DE favouring Britain going its own way outside of the EU. This compares with 59% of C2s, 49% of C1s, and 39% of ABs. There is little variation by sex (46% of men and 44% of women). The older you are the more likely you are to be in favour of leaving the EU (50-59 – 41%, 60-69 46%, 70-79 - 50% and 80-89 52%). The majority of those in East Anglia would vote to leave the EU (53%), the next most Eurosceptic regions are East Midlands (49%), South West (48%) and Yorkshire & Humberside (48%).