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Two-thirds of Britons think government has ‘failed’ in Brexit talks

UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen from the European Commission - Credit: PA

Two-thirds of Britons think the government has failed in negotiations with the EU, while 57% would blame the UK government if the Brexit transition period ended without a deal in place, according to a new opinion poll.

The polling, conducted by YouGov, finds that the public thinks that leaving the transition period without a deal in place would have wide-ranging negative consequences, particularly for the UK’s economy and international reputation.

With fears that the Brexit transition period could come to an end without a deal being in place being reignited this month, those surveyed were asked whether they thought ‘the UK government has generally succeeded or failed at getting what they want from the negotiations with the European Union?

Two-thirds of Brits (65%) said they thought the UK government had ‘generally failed’, registering their dissatisfaction with an approach to negotiations that has yielded few breakthroughs but plenty of confrontation. Just one in seven respondents said negotiations had ‘generally succeeded’.

Almost half of Conservative (44%) and Leave (47%) voters said the government had failed in negotiations. This view was also carried by every age group and every UK region, rising to three-quarters of voters in London (74%) and Scotland (76%).  

Respondents were also asked who would be to blame for a failure to reach a trade deal with the EU. Of those who expressed an opinion, 57% said Britain leaving the transition period without a deal in place ‘would be the fault of the UK government’. 

Young people (18-24 year olds) were the most likely age group to blame Boris Johnson’s government (83%), while London (70%) and Scotland (71%) were the regions with the highest proportion of respondents who would blame the UK government for a no-deal Brexit. 

Brits overwhelmingly believe that a no-deal Brexit would harm the UK economy according to the poll, with just 15% of respondents said they thought a no-deal Brexit would have a good impact on the economy.

While half of the public (50%) think that a no-deal Brexit would negatively affect the UK’s international reputation, just 17% think it would have a good impact. 29% of respondents believed the impact would be ‘very bad’.

Voters also overwhelmingly recognise that a no-deal Brexit would hurt the ability of UK companies to trade in the EU, with fewer than one in ten (8%) suggesting it would have a positive impact and 56% saying it would have a detrimental effect. 50% or more of every age group and UK region said they thought a no-deal Brexit would negatively impact the ability to trade in the EU.

With talks moving to Brussels on Thursday and the new November deadline for an agreement fast approaching, Best for Britain – who commissioned the polling – said the poll’s findings show voters “have had enough of the posturing” and “would not forgive Boris Johnson” for failing to deliver a deal.

“This poll shows that the British public understands the damage that would be inflicted by leaving the transition period without an agreement and would not forgive Boris Johnson for failing to deliver on his election promise of an ‘oven-ready’ trade deal,” explained Naomi Smith.

“Voters have had enough of the posturing and just want the prime minister to get these negotiations moving in the right direction. That includes Conservative and Leave voters, and it’s a sentiment replicated across every region in the UK.

“With time running out and the economy already on its knees, the public wants a deal signed as soon as possible.”