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UK Insights

Brexit Barometer: 'Remain' not increasing its lead

Luke Taylor

Head of Social and Political Attitudes

Politics 19.10.2018 / 13:00


Research from Kantar Public UK shows the latest perceptions around Brexit from the UK voting public.

Ahead of a People’s Vote march on Parliament this weekend where 100,000 are set to protest, our research finds that the ‘Remain’ camp is not increasing its lead, with fewer Britons saying this month that they would vote to Remain in a new referendum of the UK’s membership of the EU (38%, -4, changes vs Sept 2018).

Furthermore, in what may be the first signs of a public fatigue with the negotiating process, 1 in 5 Britons (19%, +5) now say that they would not vote in a new referendum. Those who say they would vote ‘Leave’ remains steady at 35% since August 2018. 

The Barometer also found: 

  • Perceptions that the government is managing Brexit negotiations poorly persist (58%) and are now augmented by perceptions of poor economic management, with 35% of the public rating the government’s economic management as ‘poor’.
  • Despite its pivotal position in the negotiation impasse, the hard/soft border with Ireland has not grown in importance for the public - ‘soft’ border between NI and ROI is listed as a “must have” or “prefer to have” by 63% of the public, relatively unchanged since June 2018.

As British Ministers shuttle between London and Brussels, overall the Kantar Public Brexit Barometer stands at -14. 39% of the British public believe that Brexit will have negative effects with no positive effects, compared to 25% who believe it will have positive effects with no negative effects. This is the ‘least negative’ score since tracking began almost one year ago and a growing minority are expressing a positivity on the effects Brexit will have on prices, the NHS, schooling and career opportunities.

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Last minute negotiations priorities

The British and EU’s negotiating moves toward a ‘single market status quo’ transition phase are now representative of the rather consistent priorities of the British population.

  • 48% of Britons want a customs union with the EU so there are no checks on goods at UK/EU borders.
  • More than half of Britain (52%) wants European companies to have tariff-free access to the UK and almost two-thirds want British companies to have the same rights to EU markets.
  • Almost two thirds (63%) want to ensure there is no passport control between N Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
  • Somewhat confusingly, strategic cooperation on policing and R&D initiatives remain high on the British priority lists at 74% and 73% respectively – but this is in sharp contrast to the 54% of Britons who believe Britain shouldn’t make any further contributions to the EU to pay for these collaborations.

Fail to prepare...? 

Despite 6 in 10 people (58%) believing the government is handling the Brexit negotiations badly, there are no clear indications yet that the public are taking matters into their own hands and personally preparing for a disorderly exit from the EU in less than six months. A small minority, typically ~5%, are reporting Brexit as having an impact on their behavior including already stockpiling food and medicine, delaying buying or selling a home, looking for a new job. However almost one in ten (9%) have indicated they are already reducing spending on leisure activities and eating out because of Brexit uncertainty. A further 17% have indicated they are likely to reduce spending – meaning that more than 1 in 4 Britons will start spending less as Brexit approaches, implying a further amplification of the economic impact already measured.   

Voting intentions

The Conservative party maintain their +5 lead in October’s voting intentions. Scores for each party remain largely unchanged. [Among likely voters: Conservatives 41% (+1), Labour 36% (+1), Lib Dems 10% (nc), SNP 4 % (nc), Green 4% (nc), UKIP 3% (-2%), PC 1% (+1), Other 2% (+1).]


Source : Kantar Public

Editor's Notes

Methodological information

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

1,128 interviews were conducted online among adults living in Great Britain between 11th and 15th October 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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