Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Majority of British public favors leaving the EU in upcoming 2017 Referendum, poll finds

In light of the recent mass-media attention on ISIS and the heated controversy over the mass-migration to Europe from Middle-Eastern refugees, a relevant topic in the form of the upcoming "in-out" referendum planned for 2017 by the British as to whether or not they will continue being a part of the European Union has been largely overshadowed.

To give you some background, one of the Conservatives' primary platform promises in Britain while running for election was to hold a referendum (nation-wide vote) on whether or not the UK should stay in or leave the EU. The EU is an economic and political partnership involving 28 different countries that was started after WWII to foster economic co-operation and growth on the idea that countries dependent on each other for trade are less likely to have conflict and go to war with one another. It has since expanded to become what has been termed a "single market" where the member states essentially are part of one large country and mostly use the same currency in form of the euro.

Though there has always been support for passing the referendum, especially in older age groups (62% of those over the age of 65 want to leave the EU), the recent hysteria and backlash against the immigration in many EU countries has caused public opinion to shift in favor of passing the referendum, according to an opinion poll for The Independent - the first time their monthly survey has shown a majority for the "Brexit" (short for British-exit). 52% of those surveyed want to see Britain leave the EU while 48% wants to stay and preserve the status quo. However, as we went over in class, polls are not infallible and often fail to account for circumstances relevant to the issue at hand. For one, the sample size of The Indepedent's monthly survey was only 2000 people; in a nation of 64.1 million people, that sample size is hardly representative of the whole and leaves room for an enormously large margin of error that is only amplified by the fact that the people subscribed to the Independent and taking the survey are likely more inclined to change and expressing their opinions through taking this poll than those more moderate and more likely to vote no in the upcoming referendum but less likely to express their opinion in this poll. However, even taking all of this into account, it is still undeniably true that there is at least a marked upwards shift in public support for a change of some kind in response to the economic instability and social issues plaguing the EU today. In our world today in which all countries are inextricably linked to one another in some shape or form, Britain - being one of the core members and founders of the EU - leaving will undoubtedly have significant side-effects and unforeseeable consequences to the stability of Europe as a whole.

What do you think the British public should do in regard to the referendum? Is their argument for change and the backlash against the Middle-Eastern refugee migration and extremist terrorism valid? What will the long-lasting effects, if there are any to speak of, be if the British were to leave the EU in the 2017 referendum?



Rachael Howard said...

What do you think the British public should do in regard to the referendum?
-I am not sure what you are asking... the public voted in this poll, it is their opinion- how would they do something about that? If you are asking what should the general public do about the outcome of this poll then I think that they should conduct another poll with a much larger sample size and look at the outcome of that before making any decisions.

Is their argument for change and the backlash against the Middle-Eastern refugee migration and extremist terrorism valid?
-I do think that the argument for change is valid. I also think that the backlash against the refugees and terrorism is valid as well. At the moment, I couldn't imagine living in Europe. I would be scared to use public transportation, be in large crowds, and attend large events. I think it is reasonable for the people to have backlash; they want to feel safe again. I also think that a lot of people think that the refugees will hurt Britain economically, which is fair. The refugees (this is all speculation, I do not know for sure) probably don't speak the same language yet, which would make it hard to get a job, which would make it nearly impossible to support themselves and provide for themselves with food and shelter. Therefore, the government would have to pay to support them, and since that money has to come from somewhere, they would either have to raise taxes or go into debt.

What will the long-lasting effects, if there are any to speak of, be if the British were to leave the EU in the 2017 referendum?
-If the British were to leave the EU I think the EU would suffer a lot of instability since they are one of its biggest members. I also think that a lot of countries would lose their faith in the EU, which also may cause other countries to leave. Ultimately, I think if the British left, it would lead to the EU deteriorating.

On another note, while this poll does raise an interesting question; the poll does not have much validity. Due to this, I think that there is a chance that the majority of the British public do not want to leave the EU.

Jeffrey Song said...

Thanks for the response.

Regarding your question, I'm asking if you think Britain should vote to stay in the EU or leave it. Since we know the background of the EU and the general function of Britain's role in it (might require some external research), I was hoping that you would be able to provide a 3rd party neutral opinion on what you think the British public should do for the sake of their best interest, whatever it may be.

I agree with your other responses, but I'd like to offer these two articles (Indiana gov. and usnews.com) to elaborate on the refugee's positions and status in their host countries. When you say that the "government has to support them", the current US refugee program (considering their current situation, the EU currently has an even less helpful refugee program) does not provide long-term subsidized housing (Each refugee instead receives a stipend of about $1000 to cover their housing for ~3 months). In addition, refugees are subject to the same taxes as citizens of the nation, are not tracked by the government after arrival, and do have to apply for jobs without special consideration of their status. The government may not be doing as much as you might think; much of the work is done by the refugees themselves and is a long process of rebuilding and hard work to be able to succeed in their new host country.

Sources: http://www.in.gov/isdh/24670.htm

Finally, I definitely agree that the poll doesn't perfectly represent the entire British public, no poll ever does, so there is definitely the possibility that the poll may not be entirely valid like you mentioned. However, 2000 people is a decently large sample (1/30,000 people in Britain) and thus does have some sort of weight that indicates a shift towards an increase of some degree to positive public opinion supporting the Brexit in the upcoming referendum.