Public divided on prioritising access to the Single Market or controlling immigration

With up to five months to go before the start of formal negotiations on Brexit, Ipsos MORI's new Political Monitor shows a public divided in their priorities for Britain's future relationship with Europe after it leaves.

Public divided on prioritising access to the Single Market or controlling immigration

With up to five months to go before the start of formal negotiations on Brexit, Ipsos MORI’s new Political Monitor shows a public divided in their priorities for Britain’s future relationship with Europe after it leaves. Forty-five percent think Britain should prioritise access to the European Single Market while 39% say it should prioritise controlling immigration.

 

Public opinion is largely split along the lines of how specific groups tended to vote in the referendum on EU membership. The Single Market is the priority for professionals and skilled workers with more than half (54%) of ABC1s and two in three (67%) graduates preferring Britain to put this option first. This compares with those in social classes C2DE preferring to prioritise immigration control (51%), as do those without a qualification (53%).

There is also a clear age difference. Fifty-seven percent of 18-34 year olds favour access to the Single Market (24% favour immigration control) compared with 32% of those aged 55+ (50% of whom favour immigration control).

Those in London and Scotland are more likely to favour access to the Single Market (55% and 61% respectively) over controlling immigration, while England overall is completely split (42% prioritise single market access, 41% immigration control). The figures for the rest of England show similar divisions:

  • North England – 42% single market access, 38% immigration
  • Midlands and Wales – 42% single market, 46% immigration
  • South (excluding London) – 39% single market, 41% immigration

Other differences between groups include:

  • Men say they are more likely to favour access to the Single Market than immigration control (by 50% to 35%), while women are more split (39% single market, 43% immigration control).
  • Those who own their home outright would rather prioritise immigration control (47%) over access the single market (37%), compared with those who have a mortgage or rent who would prefer to prioritise access to the Single Market over controlling immigration (57% vs 33%). Renters are split at 41% prioritising single market access and 37% immigration control.
  • Conservative supporters are largely split on the issue with 38% in favour of prioritising access to the Single Market and 45% wanting to prioritise immigration control. Labour supporters are more in favour of prioritising access to the Single Market over controlling immigration (by 58% to 28%).

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

“Four months on from the referendum and the public are still split over single market access vs immigration control, with little sign of those on either the remain or leave sides changing their minds. This is only going to make Theresa May's task to get a negotiation that satisfies everyone even harder.”

Technical note: Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,016 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 14th – 17th October 2016. Data are weighted to the profile of the population.

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