With Theresa May meeting leaders of the other 27-member states to discuss the ongoing Brexit negotiations at last week’s European Council Meeting, the Independent commissioned BMG to conduct some polling examining how the British public are feeling about the negotiations and their views on the prospect of a “no deal” scenario.
As a starting point, the poll asked the representative sample of 1506 GB adults “In your view, how well or badly do you feel the negotiations are going?” Over three in four Britons (76%) stated that the negotiations to be going either “quite badly” (39%) or very badly (37%). Only 1% described the negotiations as going “very well”, with 11% stating the talks were progressing “quite well”. 12% were unsure.
While Leave and Remain voters are often divided on EU-related questions, they are united in the belief that negotiations are not going well. 72% of those that reported voting to leave the EU in 2016 said the negotiations are going either “quite badly” or “very badly”, with 85% of remain voters saying the same.
Who does the public think is to blame?
However, on the question of who is to blame for the negotiations going badly, Leave voters were more likely to blame EU negotiators and Remain voters more likely to blame the Government. Taken as a whole, more Britons blame the UK side (30%) than the EU side (23%), with a plurality (41%) stating that “both sides are equally to blame”. The percentage blaming the EU rises to 42% among Leave voters, with the number blaming the UK Government increasing to 44% for Remain voters.
With the negotiations apparently at an impasse over the size “Divorce Bill”, the poll also reveals that close to half of Britons believe a deal between the two sides is now unlikely. 46% stated that a deal was either “very unlikely” (16%) or “fairly unlikely” (30%). Around a third (32%) stated that a deal was “fairly likely” and just 5% said that it was “extremely likely” that both sides would come to an agreement.
No to “no deal”?
However, only around one in ten (11%) describe the “no deal” outcome as a “good thing for Britain”. Close to half described no deal being reached as a “bad thing for Britain” (45%), with 22% saying no deal would make no difference.
Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of Remain voters (80%) surveyed said that no deal would be bad for Britain. By contrast, Leave voters were more optimistic about the scenario, with close to half (45%) stating that a “no deal” would have any impact and a further 20% stating that “no deal” would be a good thing for the UK.
Respondents were also asked “Thinking about how the negotiations have progressed until now, if a deal is reached between the EU and the UK, which side do you think would come out on the better side of the deal?” Close to half (48%) of those surveyed stated that the EU will get the better side any future deal with the UK, with around one in five (21%) believing that the UK will come out on top in the Brexit talks. 31% were unsure.
Overall, the polling suggests the public are feeling fairly pessimistic about the talks. The vast majority would describe the negotiations as going badly and believe that “no-deal” – a scenario that a plurality describes as a “bad thing for Britain” – is now either fairly likely or very likely. And even if an agreement is reached, more Britons believe it is the EU will be on the better side of the deal.
However, it is important to stress that one’s referendum vote has a big influence on assessments of the negotiations and the prospect of “no deal”, with Leave voters less likely to be concerned by a no deal scenario and more likely to blame the EU for talks going badly. Equally, despite public pessimism, as our recent polling illustrates, the public remains split on the question of Britain’s EU membership, with little movement since the Referendum last June and little evidence of “buyer’s remorse” among Leave supporters.
An article based on these polling results, released by the Independent, can be found here.
Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results can be found here.
For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.
0121 333 6006
Andrew Tromans – Graduate Research Executive
Robert Struthers – Senior Research Executive