8 in 10 say British society is divided, but most would rather be a citizen here than anywhere else in the world

Little change immediately after Euros final

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
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A new survey by Ipsos MORI shows widespread agreement when it comes to division in Britain. Eighty per cent of Britons say British society is at least fairly divided these days, including 26% who say it is very divided. Only 16% disagree. 

Those who voted for Labour in the 2019 General Election are significantly more likely to believe there are divisions in the country nowadays, 90% agree this is the case, compared with 77% of Conservative voters. 

Thanks to surveys completed both before and after the UEFA Euro final, it appears that the reaction of England’s loss did not have an immediate impact on these perceptions of division. Two days before the football final 82% saw divisions in British society, the same as two days afterwards (although there was a small fall in those thinking society is very divided from 31% to 26%).

Pride in being British: Before + after the Euros finalTaking a longer-term view, this is a slight deterioration from the situation in April last year at the start of the pandemic when 75% felt British society was divided, but has not yet quite returned the levels we measured pre-pandemic (86% felt British society was divided in 2019).  

Despite awareness of divisions in British society, a majority agree they would prefer to be a citizen of Britain than any country on earth. Over half (53%) are happy with their British citizenship while only 1 in 5 (18%) would prefer to be a citizen of another country. 

Older people are significantly more likely to be happy with their British citizenship. Almost two-thirds (64%) of those aged 55-75 agree there is not place they would rather be a citizen while only 4 in 10 (43%) of under 45s feel the same.  Conservative and Leave voters (78% and 72%) are also much more likely to agree than Labour and Remain voters (43% and 41%).

How divided is British society? Long term trendAgain, there has been little change in people’s perspectives of British citizenship as a result of the Euros final. Before the match, 54% agreed they would rather be a British citizen than anywhere else, no different to the post-match finding.  Again, this is also very similar to the 56% who agreed in April 2020, albeit slightly lower than the 60% recorded five years ago.  

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at  Ipsos MORI, said:

Concerns about division in British society co-existing with national pride in our country are both long-standing characteristics of public opinion. There has been much positivity about the England team during the Euros, but some of these deeply-held values can take a long time to change (even the full impact of the pandemic is yet to play out), while differences by age and political support are still clear to see.

Technical note:

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed two representative online samples of 1,025 British adults aged 16-75 on 9 July 2021 and 1,015 on 13 July 2021. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs

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