Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party is being forced to adjust its political sails to the success of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which is campaigning for Britain to end its relationship with the European Union.
Opinion polls in the lead-up to next month’s by-elections indicate UKIP, with its pledge to tame immigration and exit the EU, winning the support of some 25 percent of voters.
In the ComRes survey, for example, UKIP came out ahead of the Conservatives among residents of Rochester, southeast of London, with some 40 percent of people who supported Cameron in 2010 saying they would now vote for UKIP.
The Euroskeptic party, under the leadership of Nigel Farage, surprised political observers in early October when Tory-defector Douglas Carswell won UKIP its first seat in parliament.
In response to the shakeup in British political sentiments, Jean-Claude Juncker, the incoming president of the European Commission, said he would not compromise in an “irresponsible way” on the question of “freedom of movement” on migrant workers from other EU member states.
“As far as [that] is concerned… I do think this is a basic principle of the EU since the very beginning and I am not prepared to change this because if we are destroying the freedom of movement other freedoms will fall in a later cause,” Juncker told a press conference on Wednesday at the European parliament in Strasbourg.
Meanwhile, another poll has shown that UK citizens may not be quite ready to abandon their relationship with the EU.
According to the Ipsos Mori poll, organized by the London Evening Standard, a hefty 56 percent of individuals polled said they would support UK membership, while 36 percent would opt to leave.
The results indicate Cameron’s efforts to address the question of immigration and EU membership, to be resolved by possible referendum, is working. Whether this will be enough to protect the Conservatives from the UKIP threat remains to be seen.
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