By Muhammad Mussa
LONDON (AA) - Voters in the UK support the idea of holding a second EU referendum by a 16-point margin, according to a poll conducted in mid-January and released Friday, one of the largest carried out since the Brexit vote.
The survey, conducted by pollsters ICM as part of the Guardian Reporting Project, revealed that 47 percent would favor having to vote on the final deal once the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU are known, with 34 percent opposing such a move.
With the exception of the one-fifth who are undecided, the poll shows a lead of 58 percent to 42 percent for a second referendum. The statistics represent a rising interest in the notion of a referendum as concerns mount over the handling of negotiations in Brussels and the direction it is taking.
Although public opinion remains split on the issue, the survey has also revealed that the increased backing has come -- to the surprise of many -- from both sides of the debate, with one-quarter of leave voters being in favor of having another referendum on the final deal.
As well as revealing the rising interest of another referendum, other key findings of the survey include mounting concerns on the impact of leaving the EU, with 43 percent of voters anxious that Brexit will have a negative effect on the UK’s economy and a slight majority believing it will leave a negative impact on the “British way of life”.
In addition, the Brexit demographic divide has hardened, with young voters 17 percent more likely than before to vote ‘remain’ and adults over 65 even more determined to vote ‘leave’.
Within the Labour party, there are growing signs that voters are becoming increasingly open to the idea of a second vote, with 9 percent of the party’s leave voters switching to remain and even stronger support for a second referendum in Labour constituencies throughout the nation.
Throughout the different regions of the U.K., the ICM survey revealed a widening geographic gulf, with voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland even more likely to vote remain and voters in parts of England and Wales staunchly supporting leave.
As the weakness of the government’s mandate and negotiating stance becomes clearer, support for the renewed vote has also been found in unlikely areas. Nigel Farage, the ex-UKIP leader and staunch campaigner of the leave camp, said earlier this month that “maybe, just maybe, I’m reaching the point of thinking that we should have a second referendum on EU membership”.
Overall, the ICM survey confirms a small but increasingly persistent shift of public opinion to remain in the EU, with 51 percent in favor of remaining and 49 percent opting to leave.