Most Dutch expect UK exit to trigger domino effect

Some 81% of Dutch respondents to survey believe UK exit could begin unravelling of EU

Copies of Dutch tabloid newspaper Algemeen Dagblad with the headline “Don’t Leave Me This Way” in a rack outside a newsagents in Utrecht. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Copies of Dutch tabloid newspaper Algemeen Dagblad with the headline “Don’t Leave Me This Way” in a rack outside a newsagents in Utrecht. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

 

An extraordinary eight out of 10 Dutch voters expect a British exit from the EU – if that is the result of tomorrow’s referendum – to trigger a domino effect among other dissatisfied states, according to a new survey.

The poll by the television current affairs programme EenVandaag shows that 81 per cent of respondents believe the departure of the UK would be the beginning of the unravelling of the EU, with other Eurosceptic nations encouraged to follow suit and go it alone.

As in Britain, immigration in the Netherlands, especially from Iraq and Syria, is a hot political issue. It has sparked a series of attacks on asylum centres which forced King Willem-Alexander to appeal for calm at the end of last year. In one case riot police fired live rounds over a crowd.

The result is a significant boost for Geert Wilders’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party, which wants the Netherlands to close its doors to all new arrivals and to leave the EU.

Negative perception

The latest poll shows that even those who say they are sceptical about a domino effect are convinced the departure of the UK would have a detrimental impact on the future of the union, with 69 per cent saying they would have “a negative perception” of its prospects as a result.

However, the majority of those surveyed were in favour of Britain remaining in the EU, mainly because of trade links, which would become more complicated if it were to leave. Some 50 per cent said staying would be better economically for the UK, for the Netherlands and for the EU.

Yet 37 per cent said they favoured a British withdrawal – not because of the possible benefits for Britain in terms of greater sovereignty or economic independence but because it would show other countries that exit was possible and would make it easier for those who followed.

The question of whether a Brexit referendum should be followed by a “Nexit” referendum in the Netherlands has been finely balanced for months between those in favour and those against – this poll shows 54 per cent in favour of an in/out vote.

Asked how they would vote in an in/out referendum, the result was equally finely balanced with 48 per cent saying they would opt to leave and 45 per cent saying they would vote to remain.

Interestingly, when it comes to the views of individual political party members, that divide is most clearly reflected among members of prime minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal Party: 47 per cent said they favoured staying in the EU, with 45 per cent in favour of going it alone.

Centre-left parties

The most enthusiastic pro-Europeans were among the centre-left parties, D66 and GreenLeft, with 85 per cent and 82 per cent respectively in favour of remaining.

Not surprisingly, those most wholeheartedly in favour of a Nexit are members of Mr Wilders’s Freedom Party, who were 94 per cent in favour of leaving in this poll.

The right-wing Freedom Party members were joined in an unusual alliance by the Socialists, with 58 per cent in favour of leaving, and by 50Plus, the party that aims to represent older voters, 63 per cent of whom want to turn their backs on the EU.