David Cameron

A survey has revealed that for the first time since David Cameron became Prime Minister, more people in Britain want to stay in the EU than want to leave it. So why the surge of support?

And what does this mean for Cameron's big speech on Europe this week?



Speech

The government has been talking about a big speech on Europe for weeks, and now there are reports that Cameron is finally due to give it tomorrow. He is expected to suggest to the EU that Britain could leave if there is not real change in Brussels. The Independent has said Cameron will threaten that the UK could 'drift towards the exit'.

He will also promise that the Conservatives will commit to negotiating a new deal for Britain in the EU and put it to voters. There is increasingly talk that he could also announce a referendum on whether we want to stay in the EU or leave it entirely. The Conservatives have hinted at it - although the Liberal Democrats have been coming out staunchly against it.

Survey

It comes just as news breaks of the latest in a long-running series of YouGov polls on whether we want to stay in Europe or not. The latest figures reveal that 40% would like to stay, versus just 34% who want to leave the EU.

This contrasts with a peak in November last year when 51% said that given a chance they would vote to leave, and is the lowest level since the survey started back in September 2010.

Among younger people the results are even more striking, with 66% of those aged 18-34 saying they would vote yes to staying in the EU - with only 19% saying they would vote for an exit. This may well be because 40 years into the agreement, they have known nothing else, and feel that membership of the EU has done more good than harm in that time.

More clues come from the fact that 47% of those over the age of 60 think that "Britain could use its own historic international links to punch above its weight in the world", while 40% of young adults agreed that "Britain may become isolated in a world of big power blocs such as the US, the EU and China".

Why?

YouGov President, Peter Kellner , said: "As always with sharp movements in public attitudes, we shall not know for some time whether we are seeing a blip or a trend. Britain and the EU has been the top domestic political news story for the past fortnight. Maybe, when it recedes from the headlines, views about the EU will revert to their normal 'peacetime' default position in which the centre of gravity lies somewhere between scepticism and hostility."

"On the other hand, if a referendum is held at some point in the next few years, then Europe will become a headline issue once again; and our latest results confirm the pattern of the past four decades – that when Europe lurks at the backs of peoples' minds, we would rather keep our distance; but when the talk turns to a decision to withdraw, we start to contemplate the prospects of life outside the EU and fear that this might not be so attractive after all."

But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.