Recently, YouGov asked the British public which groups benefit or lose out most from the European Union. Specifically, they asked respondents to select up to 3 groups from a list of 12 which they believed benefit most from the EU, and 3 groups which they believed lose out most from the EU. I calculated the balance of opinion on each group as the percentage of respondents who identified it as benefiting from the EU minus the percentage who identified it as losing out from the EU.
For each group, I then obtained an estimate of the percentage of group members who want the UK to remain in the EU, as well as the percentage who want the UK to leave the EU. The estimates for big business were obtained by averaging across the percentages reported by the CBI for the ADS, the BCC, the CIA, the CECA, the CBI, the FDF, the SMMT and TechUK. The estimates for the finance industry were obtained by averaging across the percentages reported for the BBA, Deloitte and Goldman Sachs. The estimates for small business were obtained by averaging across the percentages reported for the FSB and the percentages reported in a recent YouGov poll. The estimates for farmers were obtained from a recent poll by Farmers Weekly. The estimates for politicians were obtained from the list of MPs compiled by Euro Guido. Estimates for the well-off, students, the unemployed, the employed, the poor, and pensioners were obtained from the 2015 wave of the British Election Study (BES) panel. (Because the overall sample in the BES was skewed toward Remain (relative to now, 47–34), I subtracted 2 percentage points from each Remain percentage, and added 8 percentage points to each Leave percentage.) I could not find estimates for trade unions.
I calculated the balance of opinion on whether the UK should leave the EU within each group as the the Remain percentage minus the Leave percentage. The chart below plots this balance of opinion against the balance of opinion on whether each group benefits from the EU.
There is a remarkably strong association between the two variables (r = .93, p < 0.001). Groups that the public believes benefit more from the EU tend to be more pro-Remain. This is perhaps not surprising, however. It could simply be that members of the public evaluate how much each group benefits from the EU by reviewing instances they can recall of each group arguing for or against the EU. In other words, they assume that groups (e.g., big business) who tend to write letters to newspapers or appear on television arguing in favour of the EU must benefit more from the EU.