Tolerance across the values divide?

As Britain leaves the European Union a new poll by Ipsos MORI reveals more believe the decision to leave the EU has had a more negative impact on the country than positive.

The author(s)

  • Kelly Beaver Managing Director, Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Glenn Gottfried Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
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  • Remain and Leave voters split on tradition vs change
  • Half say it doesn’t matter if someone holds the opposite view to them on Brexit, but Britons more likely to lack respect for people who disagree with them on climate change

Perceptions of Brexit

Ipsos MORI surveyed 1,142 British adults online aged 18+ between 28th-29th January where nearly half (46%) say leaving the EU has had a negative impact on Britain compared with a third (33%) who say it would have a positive impact. 
Opinions are more divided across political parties and age groups. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Conservative voters say leaving the EU has had a positive impact, compared with just 16% of Labour voters. Older Britons (those aged 55+) are the most likely to see leaving the EU as having a positive impact – 45% say it has been positive, compared with a quarter (26%) of 18-54 year olds.  As would be expected, 2016 Remain and Leave voters also have opposing views, with Remainers more pessimistic than Leavers are optimistic (77% negative vs 62% positive respectively). 

Impact of leaving the European Union

Britain's place in the world

  • More think Britain should focus on domestic matters now that it has left the EU than those who think it should seek to retain its global influence (47% vs. 17%) – this includes the plurality of Leavers (53%) and Remainers (41%).
  • More say they value the positive things that make Britain different to other nations (44%) than those who value the positive things it has in common with other nations (23%).  This is especially so for Leavers (by 67% to 10%), while Remainers are more split (24% to 36%).  
  • Britons are more split when it comes to traditions. Slightly more say Britain will be stronger in the future if it’s open to changes and influences from other countries and cultures (39%) compared with those who think it will be stronger if it sticks to its traditions and way of life (34%).
  • Two in five (39%) say that changes to British society as a result of influences from other countries and cultures makes Britain a better place to live compared with a third (32%) who say these changes threaten the British way of life (32%). 
  • In both cases, Remainers are more likely to prioritise being open to changes from other countries and cultures, while Leavers are more likely to value Britain’s traditions.  

Britain's place in the world

Tolerance towards opposing views

  • When it comes to tolerating people with opposing views on a range of eight different issues, Britons are more likely to say that it does not matter to them if someone holds an opposite view, than finding it hard to respect someone with an opposite view, on several issues. 
  • Climate change is the most likely issue to split opinion. Two in five (39%) say it does not matter if someone holds an opposite view to them on climate change compared with 38% who say they can’t respect someone who does. 
  • A third (33%) also say they can’t respect someone who holds the opposite opinion to  them about same sex marriage (47% say it doesn’t matter), followed by 28% when it comes to immigration (45% say it doesn’t matter), 27% about the death penalty (47% say it doesn’t matter), 26% about Brexit (51% say it doesn’t matter), 22% about Britain preserving its traditions vs. being open to changes from other cultures (52% say it doesn’t matter), 21% when it comes to the Conservatives or Labour being the best party to govern (48% say it doesn’t matter) and just 13% on whether God exists or not (61% say it doesn’t matter). 

Tolerance

  • There are some clear differences between Remainers and Leavers, with most Leavers saying it wouldn’t matter if someone held an opposite view to them on all the given topics, On balance, in most cases Remainers also said it does not matter to them if someone holds the opposite view on an issue (with the exceptions of climate change and same-sex marriage).  However Remain voters were more likely than Leave votes to admit they would think less of someone who didn’t agree with them on climate change, same-sex marriage, immigration and Brexit.  There was less difference between Remainers and Leavers when it came to tolerating alternative views on whether God exists and attitudes to tradition vs change.  

Commenting on the findings, Ipsos MORI Managing Director of Public Affairs, Kelly Beaver said:

At the point of Britain leaving the EU, the divisions related to differences in cultural values remain very clear to see.  Our recent survey data shows there is a long way to go to heal the divisions made visible by Brexit, especially on attitudes towards tradition and change.  This does not mean divisions can’t be healed – in line with previous research, it is usually only a minority who say they find it hard to respect others who disagree with them on an issue, although it is notable that it tends to be higher among Remain than Leave voters on a range of topics, including climate change and Brexit. But, after 3 years of uncertainty, Brexit is now starting on the road to ‘being done’ and it will be important for government to lead the way in demonstrating the importance of a tolerant and inclusive society in future for the UK.

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,142 British adults aged 18+. Interviews were conducted online: 28th – 29th January, 2020.  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)

  • Kelly Beaver Managing Director, Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Glenn Gottfried Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs

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