Research into opinions of British expats on Brexit

Almost four in ten expats say that the EU is handling the Brexit negotiations poorly.
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Luke Taylor

Head of Opinion Polling, Public Division, UK

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Kantar research (17th September – 1st October 2019) into the opinions of British expats living in Europe has found that they are much more critical of the UK government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations than the British public. 65% of the public believe they are handling the negotiations poorly, compared to 86% of expats.

The study, which researched opinions of Brexit of expats in the Republic of Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and Sweden also found:

  • Almost four in ten expats say that the EU is handling the Brexit negotiations poorly (38%)
  • 70% of Britons living in the EU as expats say that Remaining in the EU/ Revoking article 50 is their most favourable scenario, compared to 32% of British public who say the same[1]
  • Almost one in five (17%) of British people living in the EU say that their most favourable scenario is to Leave the EU with no deal, compared to 24% of British public
  • British expats in Europe (72%) are more likely than the British public (53%) for any final deal or agreement reached by the British government to be put to a public vote
  • Expats (65%) are more likely that the British public to think that the UK should consider re-joining the EU if the general economic situation in the UK turned out to be a lot worse after Brexit (30%)
  • 86% of expats feel that the British government is handling the Brexit negotiations ‘poorly’, compared to 65% of British public who think the same
  • 39% of expats feel is it likely that the UK will leave the EU by the 31st October 2019, compared to 30% of the British public
  • Majority of expats think that a ‘no deal’ is likely, with 51% saying so

Expat priorities for UK’s exit from the European Union

According to Kantar’s research, the priorities of the British expats in Europe for the UK’s exit agreement are:

  • 94% say they want the UK to continue collaborating with the EU on science, research and technology initiatives and 95% want the UK and EU to continue collaborating on security and policing
  • 90% say that it is important to them that there is a soft border between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland
  • 83% want British companies to have tariff-free access to the EU markets while 81% want European companies to have the same tariff-free access to UK markets, including services
  • 40% say they want the UK to make no further contributions to the EU budget
  • 35% say that want the UK to draw up its own rules and regulations, even if they clash with EU rules and regulations, compared to 53% who say they would not want this

Expat opinion on the effects of Brexit and the negotiations

  • 70% of expats think that if the UK left the EU with no deal on 31st October, this would have a negative impact of them personally by the end of this year and the same proportion feel the same negative impact lasting until the end of next year
  • When asked to think about five years’ from now, 73% of expats believe that the decision of the UK to leave the EU will have a negative impact on the UK. [36% of the British public think the same]

Methodological information

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

A total of 2,008 British expats aged 18+ were interviewed across six countries - Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, Italy and Portugal. We estimate that the expats living in these six countries make up 62% of all British expats living in the EU.

To conduct this research, we have used an experimental form of river sampling. Adverts with a link to our online survey were posted on Facebook and Instagram. These ads were targeted at ‘likely expats’, individuals who met the three conditions:

  • Aged 18+
  • Living in Spain / Italy / Belgium / Portugal / Ireland / Sweden
  • Who have the language settings for their Facebook / Instagram account set to “English (UK)”

Interviews were conducted online between 17th September and 1st October 2019.

The data was weighted to match expat population totals for age, gender and country of residence. Given the sampling approach used, the sample is unlikely to be perfectly representative of the population (even once the weighting has been applied).

Any use of this research must cite Kantar as the source.

[1] Kantar’s research into the British public is taken from the Kantar Brexit Barometer for September 2019, which interviewed 1,144 adults living in Great Britain between 5th and 9th of September.

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