Issues Index July 2018: Public concern about the EU and Brexit rises to historic levels

The July 2018 Issues Index reveals that public concern about Britain and Europe has hit previously unrecorded levels.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Public Affairs
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  • Fifty-eight per cent of the British public see Brexit as a big issue for the country, a twelve-percentage point rise from June and the highest score recorded since 1974
  • Concern about the NHS remains in second place (46%)
  • Close to half (45%) see Brexit as the single biggest issue facing Britain
  • Concern about the economy records its lowest score since December 2007 (16%), and worry about unemployment has dropped into single figures (9%)

The July 2018 Ipsos MORI Issues Index reveals that public concern about Britain and Europe has hit previously unrecorded levels. After a month that has seen the Government win a series of close-fought Parliamentary votes on Britain’s future relationship with the EU despite high profile Cabinet resignations, close to six in ten of the public now see Brexit as a major issue for the country. (Fieldwork for this wave was conducted from 6 - 16 July).

This is the highest level of concern recorded about European-related matters since the Issues Index began in September 1974 – a period that includes the original referendum to enter the then-European Communities in June 1975. The previous highest score was in February of this year (52%).

Additionally, almost half of the public see Brexit as the single biggest issue facing the country (45%). This is the first time an issue has scored this highly since February 2012, when the same proportion saw the economy as the single biggest issue for the country.

The NHS also remains a major issue for the public – just under half consider the health service a big concern (46%), similar to the level of concern recorded in June when the NHS was the biggest issue facing Britain (44%).

Elsewhere, concern about unemployment has fallen to its lowest level since the earliest days of the economic crash of 2008. Just nine per cent of the public see unemployment as a big issue; this is the smallest proportion since August 2008 and means that unemployment ranks thirteenth in Britons’ order of priority.
Issues Index July 2018 - top ten

Concern about Britain’s exit from the European Union is higher still among some demographic groups. Among the most concerned groups, close to three quarters see Brexit as a big issue – this includes Conservative supporters (73%), those in social grades AB (74%) and residents of southern England (72%). Those aged 55 and over are also significantly more concerned – two thirds of people in the age group see Brexit as a big issue for the country (66%).

Groups where concern is lower than the national average include those in social grades DE (42%), those aged 25-34 (49%), and women (55%) – however for all three of these groups Brexit is still the biggest issue.
Issues Index - concern about Brexit July 2018

Technical note

Ipsos MORI's Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,027 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The answers are spontaneous responses, and participants are not prompted with any answers. 
Ipsos MORI's Capibus vehicle was used for this survey. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in-home between 6 and 16 July 2018 at 163 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.
 

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Public Affairs