Britons' predictions for 2017: Brexit, economic concerns, and a Royal engagement?

A clear majority (79%) of Britons think that the government will begin the process for leaving the European Union in 2017, with the same proportion thinking it likely that another European country will decide to hold a vote on leaving the European Union.

A clear majority (79%) of Britons think that the government will begin the process for leaving the European Union in 2017, with the same proportion thinking it likely that another European country will decide to hold a vote on leaving the European Union, according to Ipsos MORI’s Annual Predictions Poll. 

Politics

  • Four in five (79%) think it is likely that the government will trigger Article 50, the formal process for leaving the European Union, including 48% who say it is very likely. And the British public clearly think that the political movement that saw the successful Brexit vote has spread beyond these shores and into other European countries. Close to four in five (79%) also believe that it is likely that another European county will decide to hold a vote on leaving the European Union. This is particularly true of Conservative supporters, with 86% thinking this likely (compared with 70% of Labour supporters).
  • Just over half believe a General Election is unlikely in 2017; four in ten (40%) see such a scenario as likely, with 56% seeing it as unlikely. Conservative voters are less likely to foresee this – just 29% think it likely (compared with 53% of Labour voters).

The economy

  • Britons are more pessimistic when looking at economic indicators next year. Over two in five (45%) think unemployment will rise in 2017, up from 36% when asked about 2016. Britons are also concerned about the rate of inflation with two in three (66%) thinking that it will increase in 2017, compared with 52% when asked in 2015.
  • Perhaps linked to this, over half (51%) think that the general economic condition will get worse over the next 12 months; this is up from 35% when asked about 2016 last December. Britons are also split on the future of the Pound. Half think it is unlikely that it will become of equal value to the Euro, but just over two in five think that it is likely (43%), including 58% of Labour supporters (compared with 38% of Conservative supporters).
  • Having said that, Britons see little change for their own standard of living in 2017. The majority think that it will stay the same (54%), with one in four thinking that it will rise (26%). Optimists have been steadily increasing since this was first asked in December 2012, when 18% thought their standard of living would rise in the next year.
  • Over half (54%) think that the mortgage interest rates will rise in 2017 (down from 60% in 2015). Just four percent think they will fall and one in three think they will stay about the same (35%). 
  • Just under half (46%) think that the number of immigrants coming in to the country will rise in 2017. This is significantly lower than the expectation for 2016 (70% thought it would rise) with just over one in eight now thinking it will fall (16% compared with 5% previously). 

Society and entertainment

  • Britain is a bit less worried about national security going into 2017 than it was going into 2016, with just over half (53%) feeling that it is likely that a major terrorist attack will be carried out in the UK, down from three in four (74%) thinking it likely to happen in 2016 (when the aftermath of the Paris attacks was still fresh in people’s minds).
  • Despite his popularity on Strictly Come Dancing, a return to Parliamentary politics as a Labour MP for Ed Balls is not foreseen by the majority of the British population. Half (50%) think this is unlikely (including 50% of Labour supporters and 58% of Conservative supporters) while 38% think it is likely.
  • Britain has mixed feelings about the likelihood of a black actor being announced to play James Bond in 2017, a similar proportion say that it is likely (48%) as say it is unlikely (43%). This does not however extend to the likelihood that the next James Bond will be announced as a female actor. Just one in eight (14%) think this is likely with 79% thinking that it is unlikely.
  • Confidence in our football teams is also low, with just one in five thinking that it is likely that an English football team will win the UEFA Champions League. One in eight (14%) in the Midlands think that this is very likely, compared with 8% overall.
  • Over half of Britons (52%) think it is likely that Prince Harry will get engaged in the new year (30% say it is unlikely). This is up from last year, when 35% thought he would get engaged in 2016, and represents the highest level we have recorded since first asked in 2012.
  • Just one in twenty (5%) think it is likely that Aliens will visit the Earth in 2017, while 91% think it is unlikely. This compares to the one in eight (14%) who though it was likely that we would find life on Mars in 2015.

Commenting on the findings, Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said:

Brexit dominated 2016, and the public’s predictions also suggest they think it will play a major role in 2017, both at home and abroad.  The economy and immigration were two key factors in that vote, and while worries about unemployment, inflation and the value of the pound over the euro are on the up (although most think their own standard of living will be unaffected), fewer people think immigration will rise than this time last year. Meanwhile, Britons are pessimistic about English teams’ chances in the Champions League, are looking forward to a possible Royal engagement, think a black James Bond is more likely than a female one, and don’t expect Ed Balls to waltz back into Parliament anytime soon.  Having said all that, one of the lessons of 2016 is that making predictions can be a mug’s game – last year the public got just over half right, which isn’t bad going, but suggests 2017 could still hold surprises in store.

Technical note Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,003 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Statements were split sampled with each statement being asked of c500 respondents. Interviews were conducted by telephone 9th-12th December 2016.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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