IRELAND has been revealed as one of the strongest supporters of Britain remaining in the European Union (EU), according to a new EU-wide poll.
Former Tory peer and polling expert Lord Ashcroft asked 28,000 voters from across the EU’s 28 member states their views on a potential ‘Brexit.’
It revealed that 72 per cent of Irish people wanted Britain to remain in the EU, behind the nation’s most enthusiastic supporters Lithuania and Malta; with Austria, Cyprus, France and Luxembourg happiest for Britain to leave.
A total of 60 per cent of the continent-wide voters want Britain to remain in the EU, while 10 per cent think a Brexit is the best outcome.
When the referendum on Britain’s EU membership takes place, Irish, Maltese and Cypriot citizens living in the country will be the only EU citizens from outside Britain who will be allowed to cast a vote.
Prime Minister David Cameron is continuing his attempts to persuade fellow EU leaders to agree to his reforms package, despite speculation that the referendum, initially expected to be held in June, could now be delayed to 2017.
While the poll identifies significant support for Britain to remain in the EU from Ireland, it’s second biggest trading partner behind the US, the Irish didn’t shy away from criticism with the greatest number of respondents using ‘arrogant’ as the first word to describe their closest neighbours, ahead of ‘reserved’.
The poll also found that EU citizens view Ireland as their fifth most favourable country in the world, behind Sweden and Britain, which came first and second respectively.
Ireland has also been revealed as the fourth most most enthusiastic EU member, with 71 per cent of voters backing the country’s EU membership, behind Malta, Spain and Poland.
Voters in Ireland and Britain both said free trade with other counties was the best thing about being a member of the EU.
Just over half of people who took part in the poll in Ireland thought Mr Cameron’s list of the five main changes to the draft EU mandate, renegotiating the terms of Britain’s EU membership, were beneficial to the EU in any case.
One of the main terms Mr Cameron hopes to change is the reduction of child care benefits for non-UK residents.
Furthermore, the survey found that the scale of immigration from other EU countries was the biggest concern for British voters, while respondents across the continent as a whole, believed that the imposition of unnecessary rules and regulations was a negative factor.