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View of Brexit deal worsens among both Leave and Remain voters, survey finds

16 December 2021

The public’s view of the UK-EU trade deal has deteriorated since the agreement came into force in January 2021, according to a new survey report by whatukthinks.org and the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).

After living with the UK-EU trade deal for several months, both Leave and Remain voters have become more likely than they were in January to say the UK has got a bad deal with the EU.

Most Remain voters believe Britain has got a bad deal, while Leave voters are ‘lukewarm’ about what has been achieved, the report by Sir John Curtice concludes.

The results, from August 2021, are the latest from a series of rolling surveys conducted since September 2016 with over 2,000 members of the British public via NatCen’s mixed mode random probability panel.

Overall, in August one in eight people (12%) said Britain has got a good deal, a decline from one in five (21%) who took this view in January.

Two thirds (66%) of Remain voters now say Britain has a bad deal, compared with around half (53%) in January 2021.

Among Leave voters, the balance of opinion has tilted away from approval of the deal since it came into force at the beginning of the year.

In January, Leave voters were more likely to say Britain had got a good deal (35%) than a bad deal (22%). That picture has since reversed, with 36% of Leave voters now saying Britain has a bad deal and significantly fewer (22%) saying it has a good deal.

Irrespective of how they voted in the referendum, the perception that Britain has obtained a bad deal is held both by those who want a relatively close relationship with the EU and those who want a distant one.

71% of those who want a ‘very close’ relationship with the EU and 43% of those who want a ‘fairly close’ relationship with the EU now think Britain has got a bad deal, an increase in both cases of 14 points since January.

Meanwhile, among those who want a ‘distant’ relationship with the EU, 51% now think Britain has a bad deal, up from 46% in January.

The report suggests that these negative evaluations of the Brexit deal mean that, rather than accepting that Brexit has now been done, the country continues to be divided over the issue.

Sir John Curtice, Senior Fellow at the National Centre for Social Research and Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, said: “The Brexit deal is being criticised from two directions – those opposed to the policy in principle and those who dislike the way it has been implemented in practice. People on the Remain side of the debate are relatively united in their dislike of an outcome whose principal objective is one that they oppose in the first place. Meanwhile, some on the Leave side feel that the UK is still tied too closely to the EU’s orbit, while others would have preferred a softer Brexit. And it’s those with strong views on Brexit – the partisans on both sides – who are proving most difficult for the government to satisfy. As a result, the nation is still divided over the outcome of the Brexit process.”

ENDS

For more information please contact:

Oliver Paynel, Communications Manager, National Centre for Social Research

Email: oliver.paynel@natcen.ac.uk
Direct: 0207 549 9550
Mobile: 07734 960 071

or Katie Crabb, Head of Marketing and Communications, National Centre for Social Research

Direct: katie.crabb@natcen.ac.uk
Mobile: 0207 549 8504

Notes to editors

1. The National Centre for Social Research, Britain’s largest independent social research organisation, aims to promote a better-informed society through high quality social research (www.natcen.ac.uk).

2. What UK Thinks: EU provides impartial, up-to-date information on public attitudes to the European Union in the wake of the majority decision that the UK should leave the EU (www.whatukthinks.org/eu/).

3. The evidence in this report comes from a series of surveys conducted since 2016 with a representative sample of adults in Britain through NatCen’s mixed mode random probability panel.

4. The first survey was undertaken in September 2016, while the most recent was conducted in August 2021.

5. The most recent wave of interviewing took place between 29 July and 29 August 2021. A total of 2,225 people were interviewed between those dates. Data are weighted by the known population profile.

6. The research reported here was funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council as part of its ‘The UK in a Changing Europe’ initiative (https://ukandeu.ac.uk/).

7. Responsibility for the views expressed in this research lies with the author.