Brexit Barometer reveals widespread concerns over negotiations

Nearly two thirds of the UK say that the government is handling the Brexit negotiations poorly.
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Luke Taylor

Head of Opinion Polling, Public Division, UK

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Almost two thirds (64%, up 9 percentage points from November 2017) of the general UK population say that the government is handling the Brexit negotiations poorly finds the September Brexit Barometer from Kantar. Indeed, Remain and Leave voters agree on one thing: 70% of Remain voters think that the government is handling the negotiations poorly, as do 63% of Leave voters.

Despite these widespread concerns, the Conservative lead over Labour has extended to 5% points in September's voting intentions.

The Barometer also found:

  • 55% of Conservative voters think the government is handling negotiations poorly, compared to 35% who think they are handling them well. In November 2017, 46% of Conservative voters thought the government were handling things poorly, vs 42% who thought well.
  • 43% of the British public believe Brexit will have mainly negative impacts on the UK, compared to 25% who think it will have positive effects and no negative effects.

Overall, the Kantar Brexit Barometer stands at minus 20, consistent in its low 'minus 20s' range since November 2017.

Perception of the Government's negotiation capability is unlikely to improve in the final weeks of the Brexit negotiating period. Indeed, neither the official 'Chequers' position or the Conservative 'opposition'European Research Group position are aligned to the public's desires - desires which consistently prioritise retaining as many of the EU membership features as possible.

  • A customs union with the EU covering goods and services is an increasing preference for the British population. Now at 54%, compared to 51% in June 2018. The desire to see a customs union excluded from the negotiations has fallen to less than 1 in 4 (24%) for the first time;
  • Tariff-free access to the EU markets of goods and services is a priority for almost two-thirds (64%) of the British public, while a smaller majority (54%) believe EU companies should have tariff-free access to UK markets;
  • 58% think it is important that UK citizens have unrestricted rights to live in the EU. 46% of the population believe we should not extend this same right to EU citizens in the UK;
  • Continued collaboration on major initiatives such as R&D and policing are an overwhelming priority for more than three-quarters (76%) of Britons. This is unlikely to be achieved as 60% believe the UK should make no further contribution to the EU budget (which funds these collaborations).

The preference for EU benefits is further reflected in voting intentions if a new referendum was held today. 42% of the general population say they would vote Remain (+2% points from August) and 35% Leave (no change from August). However, this does not account for likely turnout patterns. Support for Remain is strong among younger people and previous non-voters - groups that traditionally do not vote at high rates in elections.

Beyond Brexit, perceptions of the economy remain split between those that voted Remain and those that voted Leave:

  • 54% of Remain voters think the economy will be doing worse in a year's time, compared to 19% of Leave voters
  • 29% of Leave voters think the economy will be doing better in a year's time, with only 9% of those who voted Remain thinking it will
  • 40% of the general population think the government's handling of the economy has been poor, unchanged from August and the highest since June 2013 (44%). 23% of the general population think the government's handling of the economy has been good

General Election voting intentions show the Conversatives on 40% (no change) and Labout on 35% (-4% pts). All other parties remain largely unchanged compared to the position in August. However, the Liberal Democrats now show double digits, increasing 1% point to 10%.


Methodological information

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

1,119 interviews were conducted online among adults living in Great Britain between 6th and 10th September 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 as the source

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