Long term trend shows decreasing concern over economy, unemployment, rise of Brexit

Two thirds of Britons name Brexit as one of the most important issues facing the UK, while just 12% are as concerned about the economy.

Brexit and the NHS are the most important issues to Britons ahead of the general election.

Interest in both issues has risen since 2015, overtaking immigration and the economy as the most important issues facing Britain in the eyes of the public.


Concern about Brexit and the European Union has increased dramatically since 2015. The previous peak of concern about the EU was in April 1997, when 43% said it was one of the key issues facing Britain. This then dropped during the 2000’s, and increased again from 2016.

In October 2019, 63% saw Brexit and the EU as one of the most important issues facing Britain. This is a 2,000% increase compared to October 2009 (3%).

Concern about the NHS has also risen since 2015. In October 2019, 36% mentioned healthcare and the NHS as one of the most important issues in Britain. This has doubled since October 2009 (16%).


Brexit and the NHS are among several rising topics according to public concerns.

Concern about crime and the environment have both increased since 2017. Crime rose by 60% between October 2017 and October 2019. Meanwhile concern about the environment reached 21% in October 2019, its highest point in 30 years.

Concern about housing and poverty/inequality began to rise steadily in 2012, and have maintained relatively steady levels since 2015.

On the other side, the percentage of people citing defence, the economy, immigration, or unemployment as one of the top issues facing Britain, has fallen.

In October 2019, public worry about the economy declined to its lowest level since 2007. Just 12% mentioned it as one of the most important issues facing Britain. Concern about unemployment fell to 9%, its lowest level since 2008.

For more information on these trends, see our latest issues index.

More insights about Public Sector