news vote 2001search vote 2001
 You are in: Vote2001: Online 1000
Main Issues 
Crucial Seats 
Key People 
Results &  Constituencies 
Opinion Polls 
Online 1000 
Virtual Vote 
Talking Point 
Voting System 
Local Elections 

N Ireland 

BBC News

BBC Sport

BBC Weather
Monday, 4 June, 2001, 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK
Labour poll boost on Europe

Labour appears to have regained its lead on Europe, according to a new ICM poll for BBC News Online.

The latest poll will provide gloomy reading for the Conservatives - and may explain why they have decided to back off from campaigning hard on the euro in the last week of the General Election.

The new poll, which was carried out between 29 May and 3 June, shows that Labour now narrowly leads as the party that "will best protect the UK's interests in the European Union" - registering 36% of voters polled, compared to 35% for the Conservatives.

That compares with a Conservative lead on the issue of 41% to 30% in the Online 1000 poll last week, after Baroness Thatcher had entered the campaign.

Britain to adopt the euro

More than 80% of potential voters questioned by ICM believe that Britain will adopt the single European currency in the next 10 years.

That is despite the fact that the population is deeply divided on whether or not they personally favour euro membership.

Q. Regardless of your views on the Euro, do you think Britain will adopt the Single European, Currency (the Euro), in the next 5 years, 10 years, 25 years, or, never?

The poll findings suggest that the public is resigned to the UK adopting the singley currency - making it difficult for the Conservatives to mobilise those voters who are undecided about the issue.

Europe has also declined in significance for voters since the question was last asked by the News Online poll two weeks ago.

In the first week of the General Election, 23% of voters said that Europe was the issue that would have the greatest influence on how they vote, more than anything else. Now, only 19% say that - with health, at 23%, overtaking Europe as the most important issue facing the electorate.

Labour is also increasing its lead as the party most trusted to manage the economy, gaining the support of 49% of potential voters (up 5% from last week), compared to just 29% for the Conservatives (down 3%).

Conditional support

The poll shows that there is a large group of voters who are not absolutely committed either for or against euro membership.

Around one-third (35%) back the Labour Party's "wait and see" attitude, believing that "Britain should join at some point, but the conditions are not yet right".

Q. Which of these statements comes closest to your view about Britain and the European Single Currency, the Euro?

Around one-quarter of those surveyed (23%) say that Britain should never join the single currency, while slightly more (26%) say that "joining could cause big problems" and should be ruled out for the next few years.

But adding in the small band of euro-enthusiasts (12%), the UK is broadly split down the middle, with 47% willing to consider euro membership with the right conditions, while 49% of the voters in our sample want to postpone or rule out membership of the single currency.

That suggests that, if Labour was re-elected, it would have a fighting chance of convincing the electorate to back a single currency, were it to decide to call a referendum on the issue.

Young and better-off back euro

There are some important differences between men and women, and different social groups, in support for euro membership.

Generally people in higher social groups are more in favour of Britain joining the single currency, with 57% of those in social class AB backing the euro, compared to 38% in social class DE.

That is bad news for the Conservatives, who have traditionally relied on support from the better-off groups.

Another problem for the future is that young people are more inclined to back the euro, with 54% of the 25-34 age group conditionally supporting the single currency, compared to just 43% of the over-65s.

And pro-European voters now seem less likely to vote Conservative. Of those who said they voted Tory in the 1997 General Election, 31% backed euro membership, while only 19% of those who say they will vote Conservative this time are in favour of the UK joining the euro.

Whatever their views, most Britons believe the UK will eventually join the single currency.

Just 9% of the population believe the UK will never join the euro, while 7% say it won't happen in the next 25 years.

But 42% believe that the UK will be in the euro within 10 years, and 40% expect euro membership within five years.

ICM interviewed 1,112 adults in England, Scotland and Wales between 29 May and 3 June, 283 by telephone and the rest by email.

BBC News Online poll questions