London: Nearly half of all voters want Britain to leave the European Union, according to a new ICM poll for The Sunday Telegraph.

Asked the exact question Conservatives want to put the public in the 2017 referendum — “Do you think that the UK should remain a member of the EU” — 46 per cent opted to come out, a higher figure than in other recent surveys. Just 30 per cent say they want to remain.

In a further boost for the eurosceptic cause, 44 per cent want an “in/out” referendum immediately, although 29 per cent are prepared to wait until 2017, David Cameron’s preferred option.

David Cameron (31 per cent) is the party leader most trusted to negotiate with the EU on Britain’s behalf. In second place is Nigel Farage, marginally ahead of David Miliband, although both men are on 18 per cent when numbers are rounded up. Nick Clegg is languishing on just four per cent.

The headline figure using ICM’s “Wisdom Index” method — which asks voters to predict the result of the next general election rather than which party they support — puts Labour just three points ahead of the Tories, the party’s narrowest lead since the index was launched last year. Labour fell four points from last month to 32 per cent, with the Conservatives down one on 29 per cent and the Liberal Democrats also down one on 16 per cent. Voters believe UKIP will win 15 per cent of the vote in the 2015 general election — a high figure which underlines the party’s recent good results in parliamentary by-elections and local council ballots.

The ICM Research interviewed an online sample of 2,017 adults aged 18+ on 15-16th May 2013. Interviews were weighted to the profile of all adults.