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UK Insights

60% of UK believes the government is doing a poor job of negotiating Brexit

Luke Taylor

Head of Social and Political Attitudes

Politics 13.07.2018 / 11:00


New Brexit Barometer from Kantar Public reveals broad dissatisfaction with government performance in Brexit negotiations.

Kantar Public today announced the launch of a new monthly survey to track the UK’s attitudes toward Brexit in the final year of the UK’s membership of the European Union. Extended findings1 from the introductory release of the Kantar Public Brexit Barometer include:

40% of the British public say they would vote Remain if a referendum was held today, compared to 32% saying they would Leave. The increase in support for Remain may be ‘soft support’; predominantly coming from people that did not vote in the actual referendum. 30% of Referendum non-voters now support Remain compared with 7% now supporting Leave.

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An increase in the proportion who think the government are handling the negotiations poorly – now at 60%, up from 55% in November 2017. There is broad agreement across Leave voters/Remain voters and those that did not vote in the referendum.

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Twice as many people believe the economy will be damaged in the near term as those who anticipate economic benefits. 32% believe the economy will be weaker this time next year, while 16% (approximately 1 in 6) have confidence the economy will be stronger this time next year. Half of the public (52%) think the economy will be doing much the same as it is now.

An uptick on concern around personal financial security, with 1 in 4 (26%) believing their job is less safe than one year ago (compared with 21% in February). 1 in 3 (35%) also consistently report finding it harder to meet monthly household budgets vs one year ago.

A significant percentage of people believe leaving the EU will hit them personally in the pocket, making the daily things they buy more expensive. 47% (down from 53% in February).

Kantar’s Brexit Confidence Index2 which measures the public’s expectations for life after Brexit across a range of areas, stands at -15 improved from -22 in February 2018, implying that despite the unhappiness with negotiations and concerns about personal finance, there is a slightly lesser sense of foreboding about outcomes more broadly.

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Brexit isn't high up people's priority list: When asked to rank the relative importance of 11 major policy areas, ‘Renegotiating EU membership’ has consistently (since September 2013) been rated as the least important issue with the UK public, reinforcing the narrative that Brexit was a policy borne of political expediency within the Conservative party rather than any meaningful public demand.

Only 4% of the UK public rated ‘Renegotiating EU membership’ as their most important priority, down from an all-time peak of just 14% in July 2017.

Investing more in healthcare has ranked as the most important public policy priority consistently since September 2014.

Affordable housing remained as the second most important policy priority for the UK public in July just ahead of reducing crime.

Public interest in ‘Stricter border controls’ has decreased substantially since April 2016 and is now rated as the third least important public policy priority – only slightly ahead of ‘reducing the national debt’. This masks however the polarising nature of this debate, being a high policy priority for Leavers (40% rate it as one of their top three issues) and a very low priority for Remainers (55% rate it as one of their bottom three issues).

A number of clear, if sometimes contradictory, negotiating priorities emerge for the UK public. Priorities by greatest preference ranking are: 

Brexit Negotiation Priorities

Must have/ Prefer to have

Must not/ Prefer not to have

Continued collaboration on security and policing.



Continued collaboration on science, research and technology initiatives.





NI/Rep Ire border to remain ‘soft’ without any passport control.



UK-based regulations – even if they clash with EU regulations.



No further contribution to EU budgets.



British companies have tariff-free access for goods and services to EU markets.





EU companies have tariff-free access for goods and services to UK market.





Unrestricted right of UK citizens to live in EU.



A customs union with the EU so there are no checks on goods at borders (incl NI/Rep Ire border).





No unrestricted rights for EU citizens to live in UK.



Question text: The following issues are some of the things that have been discussed regarding Britain's future relationship with the EU. How important, if at all, is it to you personally that each of the following are part of the UK's EU exit agreement?

Base: All adults in GB aged 18+ (1,086) – responses of “Don’t know” omitted from the table.

Survey fieldwork was undertaken between 5-9th July, with most interviews conducted before the latest round of cabinet resignations, but after the news broke that Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign is expected to be found guilty of breaking spending limit laws. Vote Leave is accused of coordinating £600,000 of spending – primarily on social media – in the final weeks of the Brexit referendum. Kantar’s Trust in News research found that more than 50% of adults trusted social media sites less because of the ‘fake news’ phenomenon during recent election cycles.

Kantar Public was the most accurate research and consultancy firm to forecast the outcome of the Brexit referendum – with a final poll accurately forecasting the outcome. This was followed by the success of its General Election 2017 final poll forecast of 43% Conservative and 38% Labour.

Source : Kantar Public

Editor's Notes

Methodological information

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

1,086 interviews were conducted online among adults living in Great Britain between 5th and 9th July 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.


1:Future releases of the Kantar Public Brexit Barometer will focus in on specific issues. This introductory release shares a broad set of data points to illustrate the comprehensive nature of the survey.

2: Kantar’s Brexit Confidence Index measures the public’s expectations for life after Brexit across a range of areas: the NHS, job and career opportunities, the mix of people in the UK, the quality of education and the cost of living. 39% of the population believe Brexit will have negative impacts or no positive impact on these issues (down 5 points since February). 25% believe it will have a mixed impact (up 7 points), while 24% believe Brexit have some positive impacts and no negative impacts (up 2 points) 9% believe Brexit will have no impact.

Please contact us if you require further information.

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