Lib Dem members’ views on the European Union (more divided than you might expect)

by Stephen Tall on October 3, 2011

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 550 party members responded, and we’ve been publishing the full results.

85% back EU membership… but 51% reject move to ever closer union

LDV asked: Which of the following options would be your ideal future for the UK and the European Union?

  • 48% – The UK should remain a full member of the EU and work towards ever closer union, economically and politically.
  • 37% – The UK should remain a full member of the EU but reject working towards ever closer union, economically and politically.
  • 12% – The UK should secure substantial renegotiation of its existing relationship with the EU but remain a full member.
  • 2% – The UK should leave the EU altogether and instead negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU.
  • 1% – Don’t know.

The Lib Dems are traditionally identified as the most pro-European of all the parties, so it’s interesting to see the different views among our sample of party members here. Although the single most popular answer (with 48%) is the most pro-integration response, not many fewer (37%) believe that the UK’s position within the EU should remain the status quo, with no further push towards ever closer union. In total, 14% believe the UK is already in too deep, though full withdrawal is advocated by just 2% of Lib Dem members.

There are two ways of looking at the figures. On the one hand, a massive 85% of party members back the UK’s membership of the European Union. On the other hand, however, a bare majority of the party membership, 51%, believes the UK should resist any moves towards closer ties.

Here is a selection of your views:

  • The UK should remain a full member of the EU but refuse closer union UNTIL such time as the EU has been restructured into a less bureaucratic and more Liberal form.
  • Alone, the UK represents only 1% of the world’s population, but, together, the EU is the world’s largest economy and can help create a multi-polar world where European states are not sidelined by the USA or China.
  • A network… multi-speed Europe would be better than trying to move all the chess pieces at the same time. The right to decide what sovereignty is pooled remains an important one and should sometimes be reversed. We do not for example still need a coal and steel community or agricultural policy.
  • The UK should join the Euro. Malcolm Bruce’s historic case for this remains valid. Investment in UK manufacturing will decline if costs are in £ and revenues in Euros and exchange rate fluctuations could wipe out any profit.
  • Closer union must come with increased accountability and reform.
  • We should work towards reform of CAP. We should push for more democracy in EU decision making. We should make every effort to avoid too much legislation coming from Brussels.
  • It seems that the UK is not really playing a proper role therefore we should step back and re-negotiate the pressing points, like money, Common Agricultural Policy.
    • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 550 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 11th and 15th September.
    • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.
    • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll