Britons split on whether the EU and UK will have a close future relationship

New polling by Ipsos reveals that while 48% think it is likely the EU and UK will have a close relationship post-Brexit, 40% think this is unlikely.

The author(s)
  • Kelly Beaver MBE Chief Executive, UK and Ireland
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight
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  • While 48 per cent think it is likely the two sides will collaborate closely in the future, four-in-ten think it is unlikely
  • But a large majority in Britain and nine EU publics say it is important that there is close co-operation between the two sides in future
  • Perceptions of whether interests are aligned are mixed: while a third of the British public think the EU and Britain have the same interests, a fifth say they are at odds
  • This view is reversed among nine EU Member States, with a fifth saying the EU and UK have the same interests, while three-in-ten see their interests being opposed

New polling from Ipsos and the EU:UK forum shows the British public are split on the likelihood of close collaboration between the EU and UK in future. Almost half (48%) think it is likely the two sides will have a close relationship post-Brexit, but four-in-ten say this is unlikely. This is sharply different to the picture among the public in nine EU Member states, where six in ten (61%) say a close relationship is likely and just over a fifth (22%) say it is not.

However, both sides are agreed on the importance of a close partnership: 84% of Britons see this as important, as do 67% across the EU countries sampled, ranging from 76% in the Netherlands to 60% in Germany.

The survey also shows that the public in the EU and UK see limited alignment of interests between the two sides. 

From the British perspective a third think that the EU shares the same interests as the UK (32%), matching the proportion who think this about the United States (33%) and ahead of other countries such as India (17%) and Turkey (12%). However, a fifth describe EU and UK interests as being “at odds”, more than the 15% who say the same about the US. Four in ten see EU and UK interests as being partly aligned and partly opposed.

Across the nine European Union member states sampled, just over a fifth (21%) see the UK sharing the same interests as the EU, while three-in-ten say their interests are opposed and a third see partial alignment. This is a very similar view to the one taken by European citizens on the interests of the United States: just over a third see both US and UK interests as being partly aligned and partly at odds with the EU.

However there is a greater level of similarity on the extent to which EU and UK interests are aligned with other countries:

  • Both the UK and EU have a similar view of Russia and China, with at most one-in-ten citizens seeing agreement between their interests. 
  • Both are similarly unlikely to say Turkey’s interests are the same as their own, although Britons are less likely to describe their interests as being at odds with Turkey (36% vs 46% for the EU 9-country average). 
  • Britons are also slightly more likely than citizens in the 9 EU countries to say they have the same interests as India (17% vs 10%) and much less likely to see their interests as being at odds (26% versus 40%)

Mike Clemence, a researcher at Ipsos, said:

While Britons and people across nine EU countries are agreed that it will be important for the EU and UK to have a close future relationship, a substantial minority of Britons think this is unlikely to occur.
We also see relatively low agreement that the EU and the UK share the same interests with more Europeans saying the UK’s interests are at odds with the EU’s, than saying their interests are aligned.
However both sides are agreed that it is important that the co-operate closely in future – particularly Britons – and they share a similar outlook on the interests of competitors such as Russia and China

Paul Adamson, Chairman of Forum Europe, said:

Alongside growing British dissatisfaction with Brexit - especially amongst the younger population - there is an overwhelming desire for the UK to maintain a close relationship with the EU. 
This is a view shared by large majorities in the nine European countries polled. And Britons see the EU being as aligned with UK interests as the United States.

Technical Note

  • These are the results of a 10-country survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform between Friday 21st April and Friday 5th May 2023. For this survey, Ipsos interviewed a total of 7,517 adults aged 16-74.
  • The sample consists of approximately 1,000 individuals each in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain, and 500 individuals each in Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. All samples can be considered representative of the general adult population under the age of 75.
  • The data is weighted so that the composition of each country’s sample best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data.
The author(s)
  • Kelly Beaver MBE Chief Executive, UK and Ireland
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight

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