As Prime Minister David Cameron prepares to travel to Brussels for a vital summit to renegotiate Britain's conditions for remaining in the EU, a new poll has found the number of voters who would like Britain to leave now matches those who wish to stay. The referendum on whether to remain in the EU is likely to take place in June 2016 after the referendum bill passed through the Lords on 13 December.
The new poll, carried out by ICM for the Vote Leave campaign and carried in the Daily Telegraph on 15 December found that when the undecided are discounted, those who with to remain in the EU accounts for 50 per cent of those asked. It is thought to be the first time the number pledging support for a "Brexit" has matched the "Remain" campaign since 2013.
Chief executive of Vote Leave Matthew Elliott told The Telegraph: "If you look at the polling from today, it looks very, very different than it did right after the general election, when everybody was writing off the chance of a leave vote in the referendum. People couldn't see how leave could possibly win and now, on the eve of the crucial European council, the fact that both sides are now neck-and-neck means we have made up a lot of ground in the last year."
Cameron will attend the summit in a bid to limit immigration to the UK and reduce benefits for migrants living here. However many sceptics believe he has an impossible job. When voters were polled about immigration, the number who said they would leave the EU rose. If "freedom of movement" regulations remain unchanged, 45% would leave while 40% would opt to stay in. The poll also found those saying they wish to leave are far more enthusiastic about voting in the forthcoming referendum.
Cameron is said to have told close allies that if he is unsuccessful in renegotiating a better deal for Britain, he will lead the campaign to leave. However his public position remains that he wishes Britain to remain in the union - so long as it gets a better deal.