Half of British voters favour leaving the European Union, a new poll showed Monday, days before Prime Minister David Cameron travels to Brussels for talks aimed at keeping Britain within the bloc.
The ICM poll for the Vote Leave campaign found that 50 percent of voters would choose so-called “Brexit” if undecided voters were excluded from the tally, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.
The percentage of voters who want to leave the EU had long trailed the number who want to remain according to ICM polls, but the poll’s findings also echo a November 24 survey by ORB International that showed 52 percent of Britons want to quit the 28-member bloc.
Cameron heads to Brussels on Thursday hoping to breathe new life into Britain’s bid to recast its ties with the EU, ahead of a British referendum on membership due by the end of 2017.
If undecided voters are included, 42 percent of the 2,053 voters surveyed would stay within the EU and 41 percent choose to leave.
The newspaper did not publish ICM’s methodology, and the polling firm has not yet published a detailed report online.
Talks between Britain and its EU partners have faltered over Cameron’s demand to limit benefits payments to migrants, a measure he hopes will stem immigration from EU member states.
Other EU countries say this would harm the bloc’s principle of freedom of movement and lead to discrimination between EU citizens on benefits they are entitled to receive.
If freedom of movement within Europe remains unchanged, 45 percent of voters would leave the EU, and only 40 percent would choose to remain, the ICM poll found.
Cameron wants to remain in the EU, but is under pressure from eurosceptic members of his Conservative and many voters to cut immigration and repatriate more powers from Brussels.