Richard North, 20/06/2015  

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Ipsos MORI's latest Political Monitor has crept out with such lack of fanfare that it's taken a day or so after twitter reports to confirm its provenance. And, on the face of it, the findings are serious bad news. Support for staying in the European Union, the headline tells us, is "at a 24 year high", with 61 percent choosing to stay in, while only 27 percent want to make the break.

It gets even worse when the proposed referendum question is put. This is: "should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?" The response to that delivers a gives us a "yes" vote of 66 percent, against a mere 22 percent prepared to admit to "no".

Take away the "don't knows" and the "don't cares", and assume the responders are not indulging in their new-found hobby of misleading pollsters, and we have a potential disaster in the making: a clear 75 percent in favour of staying in, with a pitiful 25 percent brave enough to consider leaving.

At a 3:1 ratio against us, that's actually far worse than the 1975 result, which delivered 67 percent in favour of the status quo, as opposed to 33 percent against – a ratio of 2:1. On the face of it, we're facing wipeout – an irrecoverable position.

If one drills down into the figures though (to use that awful phrase), we get a completely different picture. When asked about preferences for Britain's future role in "Europe" (see chart below), 14 percent would like closer political and economic integration and 31 percent would like it to remain broadly as it is at present. On the other hand, 33 percent would like to return to the common market idea, without the political baggage, while only 13 percent wand to leave.

Comparing these two blocks, we have 45 percent favouring the status quo or going for further integration. These are the potential "yes" vote. On the other side, though, we actually have a tiny majority – but a majority nonetheless – potentially in the "no" camp. 

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The crucial point here – one that should have us all focusing on the issue – is that there is a strong caucus in favour of reverting to Single Market participation, far more than those who want to leave the EU. If we can persuade these people that "no" gives them this objective, then we are very much in the game.

Less good news, but nevertheless not altogether bad, is the sentiment of renegotiation. Asked how confident they are about David Cameron getting "a good deal for Britain", 38 percent are "confident", up from 26 percent in November. Against that, 57 percent are "not confident", down from 69 percent.

The bad news is that the number of people who think Mr Cameron can bring home a deal is increasing – despite all the indications that his position gets weaker by the day. But we can take confidence in the finding that a very substantial majority believe that the Prime Minister will come home empty-handed.

Building on both sets of results, if we can convince people that Single Market membership is on offer, without the political baggage, and undermine confidence in the renegotiation, then we have a "double whammy" in our favour.

There is a further marginal element here is that Mr Cameron's net satisfaction ratings have climbed to plus 7, the first time it has been positive since December 2010. Farage, though, scores minus 18, suggesting that, in a head-to-head, the cause championed by the Ukip leader might come out worse. Interestingly, Farage retains his cult status amongst his followers, with 83 percent of his voters satisfied with him, against only 12 percent not.

Add that to the mix and we have further support for the idea that we should keep Farage away from the "no" campaign, while we concentrate on telling the electorate that continued participation in the Single Market is as going proposition, while Mr Cameron is unlikely to gain any serious "reforms".

Alongside Farage, though, we have to keep silent the band of "free market" zealots, and the rabid "deregulators" who would have us ditch the Single Market and strike out on our own. Those too have the capacity to lose us the referendum.

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