Issues Index August 2018: Public concern about the EU and Brexit remains at historically high levels

This month’s Issues Index shows public concern about Britain and Europe remaining at the same record level measured in July.

The author(s)
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight
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  • Fifty-seven per cent of the British public see Brexit as a big issue for the country, close to the record highest score of 58% last month
  • The NHS remains Britons’ second biggest worry but concern has fallen to the lowest level recorded this year (40%)
  • Just eight per cent see unemployment as a big issue for Britain, the lowest score since August 2008
  • Lack of faith in politics/politicians/government generally has become a top ten issue for the country for the first time since this code was introduced in July 2016 (at 12%)

This month’s Issues Index shows public concern about Britain and Europe remaining at the same record level measured in July. Fifty-seven per cent see European issues as one of the biggest concerns and 44% name it as the single biggest worry, compared with 58% and 45% last month.

Concern about the NHS has fallen by six percentage points since last month to the lowest level of worry recorded this year. However, it is still mentioned by 40% of the British public (including 9% who consider it the biggest single issue), making it the second-biggest issue by a considerable margin. The next-biggest issue is immigration, a concern for 20%.

The proportion who see unemployment as a big issue for Britain has fallen by one percentage point since last month to eight per cent. While this fall does not represent a significant decrease in concern, it is the lowest recorded score for this issue since August 2008 and just three percentage points above the lowest ever level of concern (5% in August 2006).

Lack of faith in politics, politicians and government – a new code first used in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum – makes its debut in the top ten issues for Britain this month. Twelve per cent cite concerns on this front, making it the ninth-biggest concern. In the first Issues Index since the summer heatwave, worry about pollution/the environment is tenth, on 11%. Concern about this topic has risen slightly over the past few years; the average Issues Index score in 2012 was three per cent.
Issues Index August 2018 - top ten

Although the overall level of concern about Brexit nationally is unchanged from last month, the balance of concern within subgroups shows greater polarisation. For instance, this month 79% of Conservative and 54% of Labour supporters see Brexit as one of the country’s big issues, compared with figures of 73% and 60% last month. This means the gap between party supporters has doubled from 13 to 25 percentage points.

A similar pattern can be observed by social grade – 76% of ABs and 32% of DEs are concerned this month against 74% and 42% in July – meaning that the gap has risen from 32 to 44 points. 

Issues Index - concern about Brexit August 2018

Technical note 

Ipsos's Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,020 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The answers are spontaneous responses, and participants are not prompted with any answers. 
Ipsos's Capibus vehicle was used for this survey. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in-home between 3 and 14 August 2018 at 169 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.


The author(s)
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight