Study finds just 15 per cent of Tory members will definitely vote to leave the EU

Just 15 per cent of Conservative party members would vote for the UK to leave the EU regardless of whatever reforms Prime Minister David Cameron manages to negotiate in the run-up to a referendum. 

12 June 2015

Nearly two-thirds of Tory members (63 per cent) say that their vote is dependent on the outcome of the negotiations, while one in five say they would vote to stay in the EU no matter what.

The findings are the first set of results from a comprehensive study of the views of UK party members, led by Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, and Paul Webb, professor of politics at the University of Sussex. The field work was carried out by YouGov between 12 and 24 May 2015.

The study found that Labour party members are strongly in favour of EU membership, with 82 per cent saying that they would vote to stay in regardless of the outcome of any negotiations.

Members of Ukip are, unsurprisingly, strongly in favour of withdrawal from the EU, with 86 per cent of party members saying that they would vote to leave, regardless of any negotiations on membership.

Lib Dem, Green, and SNP party members strongly support continued membership of the EU, with – respectively – 86 per cent, 82 per cent, and 81 per cent of members stating that they would vote to stay in, regardless of any renegotiated package the prime minister manages to obtain from other member states.

Tim Bale notes that the results for Conservative Party members will offer “a degree of solace to David Cameron after a difficult week” as he begins negotiations with his EU partners.

“The results confirm what Cameron and Osborne must have been hoping: the number of die-hard ‘out regardless’ members of the party grassroots is small – and probably smaller than many of their most Eurosceptic MPs might like. On the other hand, it reminds the leadership that it still has to deliver a deal that satisfies the ‘persuadable’ 63 per cent.”

According to Paul Webb, “statistical analysis shows that, all other things being equal, members are more likely to want to leave (regardless of renegotiated terms) the more right-wing or less educated they are, and the more that they feel immigration is damaging to the UK economy”.

The findings form part of a three year study on the demographics, motivations, opinions and activities of party members in the UK. The study is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

More information

I would vote for the UK to remain a member of the EU regardless of any re-negotiated terms of membership 

19.4 per cent (Con), 84.7 per cent (Lab), 86.0 per cent (Lib Dem), 81.3 per cent (SNP), 0.5 per cent (Ukip), 81.9 per cent (Green)

I would vote for the UK to leave the EU regardless of any re-negotiated terms of membership 

15.3 per cent (Con), 4.7 per cent (Lab), 2.1 per cent (Lib Dem), 4.6 per cent (SNP), 85.7 per cent (Ukip), 2.0 per cent (Green)

My vote would depend on the terms of any renegotiations of our membership of the EU 

63.3 per cent (Con), 9.2 per cent (Lab), 11.6 per cent (Lib Dem), 10.6 per cent (SNP), 13.1 per cent (Ukip), 13.4 per cent (Green)

I would not vote/don’t know

2.0 per cent (Con), 1.5 per cent (Lab), 0.3 per cent (Lib Dem), 3.5 per cent (SNP), 0.6 per cent (Ukip), 2.7 per cent (Green)