New polls suggest sentiment is gently shifting against Britain staying in the EU, ahead of prime minister David Cameron's promise of an 'in/out' referendum on EU membership by 2017. David Pollard reports.
A new political beast is born at the UKIP party conference. Its name says it all: Leave.EU. A lobby alliance of the eurosceptic UKIP itself plus three other anti-EU groups. UKIP nipped fiercely at the heels of the ruling Conservative Party in elections last May - gaining one in eight votes. And something else, says leader Nigel Farage. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NIGEL FARAGE, LEADER, UNITED KINGDOM INDEPENDENCE PARTY, SAYING: ''One really amazingly brilliant thing did come out of the general election and that is that we are going to have an in/out referendum on our membership of the European Union.'' Leave.EU's could be a timely arrival. Most polls show Britons want to stay 'in'. But for the first time this month, one showed a narrow majority want 'out'. And this week, another poll shows over 40 percent of small to medium-sized UK businesses believe the EU is hindering them - twice the number of those who believe it's not. They could deluded, says CCLA chief investment officer, James Bevan. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, CCLA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: ''There's a clear assumption in those who favour Brexit that Britain will be able to enjoy all the benefits of EU membership without having to write the cheque and comply with some of the rules we find irksome and irritating. I think that is hideously misplaced optimism.'' It's thought Europe's refugee crisis could be behind this apparent swing to the euro sceptics. Prime minister David Cameron was in Brussels this week. He's argued the case for curbing immigration from eastern Europe and entitlement to British welfare benefits. If he doesn't get it, promising to call for an 'out' vote in the referendum. A result that appears to have edged closer to the possible.