“I get restless talking about the entry of the Turks and the exit of England”: Athens & Madrid

By Lord Ashcroft

 

For our latest round of research into how the rest of Europe views the EU, Britain and the prospect of Brexit, Lord Ashcroft Polls visited two southern capitals: Athens and Madrid.

Our focus groups in Greece were timely. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned that his country was in danger of becoming a “warehouse of souls”, with more than 40,000 migrants unable to move on as neighbouring states close their borders. Not surprisingly, the issue was top of the agenda for our participants: “it is a matter of the survival of the state.” Greece would find it impossible to absorb such vast numbers, let alone integrate them, and the costs could be huge, both financially and in terms of social cohesion.

Yet there was strikingly little resentment in our groups against the migrants themselves (more…)

“If they leave, it’s the beginning of the end”: Stockholm & Riga

Riga

By Lord Ashcroft

Our latest view of how the prospect of Brexit looks elsewhere in Europe comes from the North and East: Sweden, which is struggling to maintain its social model in the face of unprecedented migration (as well as being, according to my recent survey, the most popular country in the EU); and Latvia, a former Soviet republic now two years into membership of the euro.

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“Would we need a passport to go to Belfast?” My Brexit focus groups in Dublin

Ireland-EU flags

By Lord Ashcroft

For the latest of our series of Europe-wide focus groups Lord Ashcroft Polls visited our nearest neighbour. As my recent polling in EU countries found, Ireland is among the keenest members of the Union, giving the highest positive rating to their membership after Malta, Spain and Poland. (The UK was the joint third least enthusiastic – only Sweden and the Czech Republic gave lower scores). (more…)

Has the renegotiation done more to boost Remain – or Leave?

By Lord Ashcroft

The summitry is over, the deal is done, and the plan David Cameron set out in his Bloomberg speech three years ago is nearing completion.

In promising the in-out EU referendum, he was determined that voters would not be asked to settle for things as they were. As he put it, “a vote today between the status quo and leaving would be an entirely false choice… It is wrong to ask people whether to stay or go before we have had a chance to put the relationship right.” Instead, the new government would negotiate “a new settlement” for the UK in a more flexible, democratic, accountable European Union with the single market at its heart.

The scheme had several virtues from Downing Street’s point of view (more…)

‘You Should Hear What They Say About You’ – what our European neighbours think of Britain and the EU

Lord A colours front page - updated

By Lord Ashcroft

David Cameron is in Brussels to finalise his renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership terms. Many voters would never be persuaded to stay whatever he came back with, but as my recent research found, some undecideds could be swayed if the PM convinced them he had won a good deal.

But the question of Britain’s place in the EU is about more than the precise restrictions to benefits for new migrants, or any commitment to cut back on excessive business regulations. My new polling among more than 28,000 voters throughout Europe helps to explain why.

Most European voters want the UK to stay in the EU. This is particularly true in Ireland, our closest neighbour, of old allies like Malta and Portugal, and in new accession countries like Lithuania and Romania (more…)

What kind of referendum voter are you?

By Lord Ashcroft

 

My referendum polling has found seven different kinds of voter, from those who are sure they’ll vote to leave to those who are sure we should remain.

A quarter of us are Nothing to Lose voters, who think Britain is on the wrong track, are worried about immigration, and think we should definitely go.

One in seven are in the Global Britain group – who are optimistic for the UK, believe staying in the EU is a bigger risk than leaving, and think we’d do better in the global economy outside the EU.

One in five are Hard-Pressed Undecideds, who worry about their own prospects but are not sure whether problems like immigration will be dealt with better inside or outside the EU.

One in seven are in the Listen to DC group – they’re undecided how to vote but think leaving sounds like a bigger risk than staying, and could be persuaded by a strong lead from the PM.

One in eight of us are in the If It Ain’t Broke group – believing we won’t be able to solve problems like immigration whether we’re in or out, so might as well avoid the risk of changing.

Just over one in ten are in the I’m Alright Jacques group – they’re happy with life, optimistic for Britain, positive about immigration, and think leaving would be too big a risk.

The remaining tenth of the population are Citizens Of The World – the most committed to staying in the EU, they value free movement and having human rights guaranteed by Europe.

 

What kind of referendum voter are you? Take our quick survey to find out.

“If Britain leaves, we’ll be left behind with all these losers”: Amsterdam

Clogs

By Lord Ashcroft

My latest focus groups looking at how other Europeans see Britain and its place in the EU took place in the capital of one of our closest neighbours. It is sometimes said that the Dutch are more similar to the British than any of the other inhabitants of Europe. How much did our Amsterdam participants think the two countries had in common?

“Well, they drive on the wrong side of the road.” (more…)

“The Brits would be happier outside. But we don’t want them to leave”: Berlin and Paris

Berlin

By Lord Ashcroft

Last week the focus group trail led the Lord Ashcroft Polls team to the cities British sceptics regard as the heart of the Euro-conspiracy: Berlin and Paris. Again, we assembled groups of men and women with a range of social backgrounds and political leanings, and enlisted the services of a simultaneous translator. How would views in the core of Old Europe compare to what we heard last week in Poland and Bulgaria, particularly when it comes to Britain’s part in things?
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Brexit? A view from “New Europe”

Sofia airport

By Lord Ashcroft

Earlier this month I published my latest research on how British voters are coming to terms with the issues in the EU referendum. There will be plenty more of that to follow. But to add an extra dimension, we decided to peer through the other end of the telescope and find out how our debate looks from elsewhere in Europe – how people in other member states see Britain’s attitude to the EU, what they think about some of the questions British voters are grappling with, what they make of David Cameron’s negotiating demands and, frankly, whether they care if we stay or go. (more…)

How the polls went wrong – and why they are still worth listening to

By Lord Ashcroft

The preliminary results of the British Polling Council inquiry into the general election polls have been published. The findings give the industry plenty to think about.

According to the inquiry team, led by Professor Patrick Sturgis of Southampton University, the main reason the final polls did not reveal a decisive Tory lead was that polling samples – the people who took part in the surveys – were not sufficiently representative of the voting population. For example, the team highlighted evidence from the polls they examined that in the oldest age group, those aged 65 and over, too many participants were at the younger end of the scale, and not enough were aged over 75. (more…)