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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, January 22, 2018

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In contrast to 2016 poll, now 51% Britons want to stay in EU

51 percent of Britons would now keep EU membership

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LONDON, U.K. - In what has come as a near reversal of last year's Brexit referendum result, now a poll has found that more than half of Britons now want to stay in EU.

The BMG poll of 1,400 people, that was published in the The Independent, found that 51 percent of Britons would now keep European Union membership while 41 percent want to leave the bloc.

The poll was published came as Britain moves into a second phase of negotiations on exiting the EU, which is set to focus on trade.

The report on the poll noted that the lead for "remain" over "leave" was the biggest in any poll so far since the vote in June 2016.

However, the head of polling at BMG was quoted as saying that the reason for the change was a shift in opinion among those who did not vote in last year's referendum.

Meanwhile, around nine in 10 "leave" and "remain" voters remained unchanged in their views. 

In the Brexit referendum last year, 52 percent of Britons voted to leave the EU and 48 percent voted to remain.

BMG Research head of polling Michael Turner said the shift in favour of Remain had predominantly come from people who did not vote in the referendum, rather than Leavers changing their minds.

He said, “The last time Leave polled ahead of Remain was in February 2017 and since then there has been a slow shift in top-line public opinion in favour of remaining in the EU. However, readers should note that digging deeper into the data reveals that this shift has come predominantly from those who did not actually vote in the 2016 referendum, with around nine in 10 Leave and Remain voters still unchanged in their view.”

Turner said, “Our polling suggests that about a year ago, those who did not vote in the referendum were broadly split but today’s poll shows that they are now overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU, by a margin of more than four to one.”

Commenting on the findings, Mike Smithson, an election analyst and a former Liberal Democrat politician, said on Twitter it was "the biggest lead for Remain since (the EU referendum)."

Earlier this week, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May secured an agreement with the EU to move Brexit talks on to trade and a transition pact, but some European leaders warned that negotiations, which have been arduous so far, could now become tougher.

The BMG survey was carried out from December 5 to 8.

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