London, Oct. 14 (ANI): Calls for British troops to leave Afghanistan have risen sharply even as Prime Minister Gordon Brown prepares to send hundreds more to southern Helmand province.
More than a third of voters (36 per cent) believe that troops should be withdrawn immediately, according to the latest Populus poll for The Times - up from 29 per cent in mid-September.
Women have driven the growing unease at the armed presence. Four out of ten want Britain to quit Afghanistan, up from three out of ten over the past month.
Opposition among men has risen from 29 to 32 per cent. Support for withdrawal is highest among Labour voters.
Nine British troops were killed in the month up to the poll. Fifty-five have died in the past four months.
The poll also shows strong opposition to General Sir Richard Dannatt's appointment as an adviser to the Conservatives and a possible defence minister in the Lords should David Cameron win the next election.
Nearly half the public (48 per cent) believes he was wrong to have become involved in party politics within six weeks of retiring as head of the Army, with 42 per cent saying he was right. Tory voters (62 per cent) are the only group backing him.
However, there is a narrow split, 47 to 42 per cent, in favour of David Cameron's decision to appoint General Dannatt.
More than half the public (54 per cent) think General Dannatt was right to speak publicly about confidential advice he gave to Brown while he was head of the Army, with 41 per cent saying he was wrong.
The findings come as the Prime Minister prepares to announce an increase in troop numbers in Afghanistan from 9,000 to 9,500. He will make a statement in the Commons today in which he will announce that he has agreed in principle to send another 500 soldiers to Helmand. Before doing so, he will read out the names of the 37 soldiers killed during the MPs' summer break. (ANI)