Screen shot 2015-02-01 at 13.38.58I was surprised to discover recently that this site hasn’t polled its readers about staying in or leaving the European Union for over three years – and the question then was not clear-cut, since it also suggested a renegotiated membership.

There is value in a regular snapshot of whether Party member readers and others would leave or stay as matters stand, and we will return to it every quarter or so.  For the record, the present view is: Stay 33 per cent, Leave 58 per cent, Don’t Know 9 per cent.

The proportions for leaving and staying are a touch higher and lower respectively than I would have anticipated, but I doubt if they will surprise overall – though fewer polls of party members (as opposed to MPs) have been conducted elsewhere than one might expect.

These findings are certainly significant in one respect.  David Cameron will surely move some of the Leavers to Stayers in the event of a post-May renegotation – even if it does not result in a large-scale return of powers.

None the less, it is reasonable to assume that the floor for the former can’t fall much lower than 40 per cent – and I think it will come in higher.  This would mean that in any In/Out referendum the Prime Minister would go one way and many members of his party the other – perhaps a majority.

A question that follows is whether, in such circumstances, members of a Conservative or Conservative-led Cabinet who wished to campaign for a No vote would really be required to resign from it in order to do so.

At present, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and Philip Hammond would vote to leave.  Sajid Javed hasn’t gone quite so far but, like Boris Johnson, has said that Britain has nothing to fear from being outside the EU.

The result from non-Party members in our survey was: Stay 25 per cent, leave 50 per cent – thus showing once again that all readers of this site are, to use the familiar shorthand, to the right of Party member readers of this site.

Just over 800 of these responded to the poll as a whole.  The results are tested against a control panel that was supplied by YouGov.