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Majority of Britons favour to quit Europe

Brussels, BELGIUM:  A European Flag and the Union Jack hang in front of the Justus Lipsius, the European Union's headquarters building in Brussels 15 June 2005, on the eve of a EU Summit. EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso called today for a relative cut in EU agricultural spending, as a possible compromise between Britain and France to unblock a budget deal. AFP PHOTO GERARD CERLES  (Photo credit should read GERARD CERLES/AFP/Getty Images)
Brussels, BELGIUM: A European Flag and the Union Jack hang in front of the Justus Lipsius, the European Union's headquarters building in Brussels 15 June 2005, on the eve of a EU Summit. EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso called today for a relative cut in EU agricultural spending, as a possible compromise between Britain and France to unblock a budget deal. AFP PHOTO GERARD CERLES (Photo credit should read GERARD CERLES/AFP/Getty Images)

London: A new poll on Sunday shows for the first time a majority of Britons back the country quitting the European Union.

The poll, published in the popular Mail On Sunday newspaper, reveals that if a referendum was held now to decide whether to remain a member of the EU, 51 percent of British people would vote “No”.

It was the first time the numbers saying Britain should quit has exceeded 50 percent, with the current migrant crisis cited as the reason for the increase in opponents to EU membership.

The result, described by the newspaper as a “shock”, comes just 24 hours before the British Parliament reopens after it’s summer break, with Prime Minister David Cameron expected to face a barrage of questions on immigration during a full-length debate on the planned British referendum on EU membership.

Paul Nuttall, deputy leader of the anti-EU party told Xinhua today: “The result of this poll does not surprise me. We have been saying for some time that immigration will be high on the agenda in Britain during the referendum campaign. It will be the major issue. We expect the numbers wanting to leave to go even higher.”

Until now polls over recent years had given comfortable leads to the pro-European camp, comforting Cameron who promised in the recent general election campaign to deliver a straight in-out referendum. The high expectation has always been that whether the referendum takes place next year or in 2017, the vote would be to stay in.

Before Sunday, the most recent poll gave the “stay” lobby 54 percent of the vote, against the 46 percent who wanted Britain to part company with the EU.

—IANS