The public priorities for UK's exit agreement with EU

Brexit Barometer data shows a clear majority of the public want the UK to be part of a customs union with the EU.
13 November 2018
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Luke Taylor

Head of Opinion Polling, Public Division, UK

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A clear majority of the public (55%, +7 vs October 2018) want the UK to be part of a customs union with the EU so there are no checks on goods at UK/EU borders, including with Ireland. As British Prime Minister Theresa May calls an emergency cabinet meeting this afternoon to seek Ministerial approval for her final Brexit deal with Brussels, Kantar Public’s Brexit Barometer illuminates the public’s priorities for the UK’s exit agreement.

According to November’s Brexit Barometer, the British public’s other (sometimes contradictory) priorities for the UK’s exit agreement are:

  • Almost three-quarters of the public want the UK to continue collaborating with the EU on science, research and technology initiatives (74%, +1 vs October 2018) and on security and policing (73%, -1 vs October 2018)
  • 64% of the public want British companies to have tariff-free access to the EU markets (+6 vs July 2018 and +1 vs October 2018) while 54% want European companies to have the same tariff-free access to UK markets, including services (+2 vs October 2018)
  • 6 in 10 Britons (60%) want the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to remain ‘soft’ without any passport control (-3 vs October 2018, -9 vs August 2018). A quarter (26%) said they ‘don’t know’ (+3 vs October 2018)
  • 6 in 10 Britons (60%) want the UK to draw up its own rules and regulations, even if they clash with EU rules and regulations (+2 vs October 2018) and for there to be no further contributions to the EU budget (60%, +6 vs October 2018)
  • More than half (56%) of the public want unrestricted rights for UK citizens to live in the EU (+2 vs October 2018). 25% answered ‘don’t know’ (nc vs October 2018). 46% of Britons want to deny the same unrestricted right for EU citizens to live in the UK (+1 vs October 2018). 25% said they ‘don’t know’ (+2 vs October 2018)

Overall the Kantar Public Brexit Barometer remains at -14 (nc from October 2018). 39% (nc vs October) of the British public believe that Brexit will have negative effects with no positive effects compared to 25% (nc vs October) who believe it will have positive effects with no negative effects.

How would the people vote if a new referendum was held?

Remain continues its lead, with 39% (+1 vs October) of Britons saying they would vote to Remain if a new Referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU was held tomorrow, and 34% would vote Leave (-1).

When asked if the UK should consider rejoining the EU if the general economic situation turned out to be a lot worse after Brexit, 33% (-2 vs October 2018) said no, 30% (+1 vs October 2018) said yes. This compared to 35% ‘No’ and 21% ‘Yes’ in November 2017.

Voting intentions

Since October the Conservative party’s lead has shrunk slightly, with the parties almost neck and neck in November’s voting intentions. Scores for each party among likely voters are: Conservatives 40% (-1), Labour 39% (+3), Lib Dems 8% (-2), SNP 4 % (nc), Green 3% (-1), UKIP 3% (nc%), PC 1% (nc), Other 2% (nc).

Public opinion on the government’s management of the economy is split. More than one in three Britons believe that the UK government’s management of the UK economy is ‘poor’ (35%, nc), while one in four (25%, +2) rate the government as doing a good job. Perceptions of how the government is managing Brexit is more clear-cut, with 6 in 10 Britons (59%, +1) rating the government’s performance as poor.

Domestic public priorities: crime

In other signs of shifting public priorities, reducing crime has moved from third priority to being level with affordable housing as second priority in terms of possible measures to improve public life in the UK, behind healthcare, with 36% of Britons saying it is one of their top 3 priorities (+5 vs October 2018) a level last seen in June 2018.

Methodological information

The survey data and further details on the methodological approach can be found here.

1,147 interviews were conducted online among adults living in Great Britain between 8th and 12th November 2018. Interviews were conducted using the Kantar TNS Research Express Online Omnibus, which uses the Lightspeed access panel as its sample source.

The data was weighted to match population totals for age, gender, working status, 2017 General Election voting patterns, 2016 EU referendum voting patterns, education, region, and likelihood to vote in the next General Election. Any use of this research must cite Kantar Public as the source.

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