- YouGov / Times poll finds a majority of voters now favour maintaining free trade over cutting immigration.
- Post-election polls find a majority in favour of a ‘soft Brexit’ inside the Single Market and Customs Union.
- Most voters want a second referendum on the final Brexit deal.
- Findings come as the British government begin Brexit negotiations.
LONDON — A majority of British people want the UK to prioritise maintaining free trade with Europe over cutting immigration, in the latest sign that the public are turning against a “hard Brexit.”
On the anniversary of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, a new YouGov poll for the Times finds that more people now favour maintaining current trading relations with Europe over removing the rights of EU citizens to live and work in the UK.
58% of people expressing a view said they believed it was “more important to ensure Britain can trade freely with the EU without tariff barriers than it is to control EU immigration” compared to 42% who said the opposite.
YouGov / Times Poll:
It is more important for Britain to have control over EU
immigration into Britain than to keep free trade: 58%.
It is more important to ensure Britain can trade freely with
the EU without tariff barriers than it is to control EU
The poll also found that more voters now believe Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU. 45% said the UK was wrong to leave compared to 44% who said it was right.
A separate Survation poll conducted last week found that a majority of voters now favour a so-called “soft Brexit” inside the Single Market and Customs Union.
55% said they were in favour of a “soft Brexit,” compared to just 35% who favoured a “hard Brexit.”
Survation / GMB poll:
- A “hard” Brexit, involving leaving the EU single market and customs union: 35%
- A “soft” Brexit, not involving leaving the EU single market and customs union: 55%
Survation also found more voters now favour holding a second referendum on Brexit at the end of the two year negotiation period.
Survation found that 48% of British people are in favour of a referendum on the final Brexit deal as opposed to 43% who are opposed.
Analysis: Free trade vs cutting immigration
Britain’s currently conducts its free trade with the EU through the European Single Market.
Under our current membership, Britain is allowed tariff and barrier-free trade with other European countries in exchange for allowing EU citizens the right to live and work in the UK.
Other EU leaders have already made it clear that Britain will only be allowed to maintain its full free trade benefits if it allows the continuation of free movement — something the current prime minister, Theresa May, has ruled out.
Opposition to free movement was one of the biggest factors driving the Leave vote in the UK. However, previous polls have repeatedly found that people’s desire to reduce immigration is dependent on it not hurting the economy or their own personal finances.
Today’s poll suggests that as the prospect of leaving the EU draws closer, British people are beginning to question the costs of the government’s current “hard Brexit” course.