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Brexit takes the lead in our EU referendum poll

PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 May 2016 | UPDATED: 08:25 16 May 2016

A member of protocol arranges the British flag prior to the arrival of British Prime Minister David Cameron at the European Parliament in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

A member of protocol arranges the British flag prior to the arrival of British Prime Minister David Cameron at the European Parliament in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Archant

East Anglia is increasingly resolved to vote to cut Britain’s ties with Brussels, with the “leave” campaign stretching its local lead to nine points, our new poll shows.

How we conducted our poll

Reporters from our network of offices headed out on to the streets to speak to people in most of the main towns in Norfolk and Suffolk and also Wisbech in Cambridgeshire and Colchester and Clacton in Essex. We recorded voting intentions for 1,090 people during the course of last week, mainly at lunchtime.

All were of an age eligible to vote. Of those we spoke to, 580 were women and 510 were men. Our reporters spoke to 612 people who said they were employed, 93 were unemployed, 329 were retired and 54 were students. We also asked for the first line of people’s postcodes and of those we spoke to, 602 had what is deemed to be an urban postcode and 441 had rural postcodes. There were 54 people from out of the area and the rest would not provide a postcode.

The geography of last week’s survey was broadly similar to the one of 1,280 we conducted in February. Last time a small group of 20 under 18s was included. That was not the case this time. We also recorded people who would not vote separately to “don’t knows”.

The Eastern Daily Press and East Anglian Daily Times’ latest snapshot survey shows 39pc in favour of a Brexit, compared to 30pc who want to stay in the European Union. Just over a fifth (21pc) are yet to decide, while one in 10 do not intend to vote.

The local picture contrasts starkly with the situation in the country at large, where a national YouGov poll last week put remain on 42pc, and leave on 40pc.

It is also a significant change since we conducted a similar exercise in February, which put leave (38pc) four points ahead of remain (34pc). Then, 28pc said they were undecided –although there were slight differences in survey methods.

Our latest poll involved 1,090 people in Norfolk, Suffolk, north Essex and the Fens. In total, 39pc said they were going to vote to leave, with 30pc poised to vote to remain. The results also show that support for a Brexit is far stronger among the region’s older voters than younger ones.

Dr Chris Hanretty, a reader in politics at the University of East Anglia said: “What really stands out for me is the big gap between those people born after the last referendum on this issue in 1975, who are generally more favourable to the EU, and everyone else who is older and more likely to want to leave.”

Campaigners on both side of the issue have reacted to the findings. UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said: “These figures polled by the EDP and EADT are encouraging – but there is still an awful amount of work to do between now and June 23.”

Conservative Euro MP for the East David Campbell-Bannerman – part of the Vote Leave campaign – said the results confirmed what they were finding: that the leave was increasing, as “don’t knows” came their way.

“There are many who want to leave but want to hear the plans for a post-Brexit Britain first. Once they do, they tend to come our way. I find the same at the whole range of meetings I am doing across East Anglia and the UK. It is all very encouraging, but there is no room for complacency. The battle is still tight and all to play for.”

Former health minister and Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb, who is campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union, said: “I am concerned about the outcome of the poll.”

He warned “leaving is leaving”, and pointed to the “overwhelming wealth of organisations and evidence that suggests we will be worse off economically”. “It can’t all be a conspiracy to put down the UK. These are our friends and allies who believe it is in our interests to stay. If the economy is damaged it makes it more difficult to afford pensions, spend on the NHS, pay for support for elderly people and education.”

Elizabeth Truss, environment secretary and South West Norfolk MP, who is pro-remain, said: “It is clear many people are still deciding. Over the coming weeks I will be making the case across East Anglia that being part of the European single market is very important for trade and jobs.”

James McGrory, chief campaign spokesman for Britain Strong in Europe, said it just went to show how many people had yet to make up their mind in the vital decision.

“We’ve got to continue getting our message across to people in East Anglia and across the country that Britain is strong, safer and better off in Europe.”

Paymaster general and West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock 
added: “This week the campaign to remain in the EU will kick off across East Anglia. We are stronger, safer and better off in a reformed EU – with every house at risk of losing £4,300 per year from Brexit.”

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