The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Opinion Poll: There is an alternative to EU Membership

EU referendum Opinion Poll

Robert Oulds
29th March 2016

58% said they would prefer Britain being a part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) rather than the EU, 42%

A majority of voters would prefer the UK to be a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as opposed to the EU, according to a new survey published today by the Bruges Group.

Removing don’t knows, of those expressing a preference in the survey, a clear 58% said that Britain would be better off as a member of the trade group EFTA, as opposed to 42% who thought that Britain should remain a member of the EU.


EFTA differs from the EU in that it would not have jurisdiction over the UK’s agriculture, fisheries, home affairs or justice policies. It takes Britain out of the Europe Union whilst still giving UK businesses full access to the EU’s Single Market. EFTA membership would also allow the UK to negotiate free trade agreements with countries outside of the EU.
In addition, Britain would become again a sovereign nation with more power over its domestic affairs. This is the positive alternative to EU control.


Also, taking out the don't knows:

  • Scotland, EFTA 52%, EU 47%
  • Wales, EFTA 54%, EU 46%
  • London, EFTA 55%, EU 45%
  • 18-34, EFTA, 50%, EU 50%


Robert Oulds, Director of the Bruges Group, said:

“There is a fully worked out exit plan that clearly sets out what Britain will be like once we vote to leave the EU. We have shown there is a viable alternative to EU membership and what is more this will win us the referendum.

“The option of re-joining EFTA is very popular with the British public.”

- ends -


- notes for editors -

The opinion poll was carried out by Opinium for the Bruges Group on 11th March 2016, with 2,001 interviewees. The question asked was:

“The European Economic Area (EEA) is the single market that allows for free movement of goods, services, people and capital between all participating European countries. There are two organisations which allow countries to access this EEA single market - the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Members of the EFTA adopt some of the regulations that the EU passes in order to be able to access the EEA single market and contribute to the EU’s budget but are not bound by EU rules on agriculture, fisheries, home affairs or justice policies.

EFTA members are also able to negotiate trade agreements with outside countries whereas the EU does this for its member states. In return, EFTA members have much more limited influence over how EU rules are made.


If the UK left the European Union, it could become a member of the EFTA instead.

Supporters of this move say that the UK would have to adopt fewer European regulations and pay less into the EU budget than it does now while still being able to help shape the rules.

Opponents say that the UK would still have to abide by EU rules to be part of the EEA single market but would have no say in making those rules


With this in mind, which would you prefer the UK to be a member of?”

EEA & EU (European Economic Area and European Union) (513 respondents out of 2,001)

EEA & EFTA (European Economic Area and European Free Trade Association) (710 respondents out of 2,001)