Only half of the people in the UK believe that the UK will collaborate closely with the EU in the near future, even though the vast majority of people see it as an important thing to do. It’s a clear sign of the massive gap between the ambitions of this government and the common sense of the British public.
The findings, from an Ipsos survey of British and nine EU member states’ citizens, make for depressing reading, especially for the UK.
84% of Britons see a close partnership with the EU as important, as do 67% of people in the EU respondents, but only 48% of Brits think it will actually happen. The UK has a population that knows overwhelmingly what is necessary and what the government should be doing, but 36% of them think that their leaders will not do the right thing.
Remarkably there is much more confidence on the continent that the UK will do the sensible thing – 61% of those asked thought the UK and the EU were likely to have a close relationship and only 22% said it would not happen.
One can only assume that the 22% understand the UK’s political system better than the 61%. That assumption is backed up by other results from this survey. While a third of Britons think that the EU shares the same interests as the UK, only a fifth of EU citizens feel the same way and a third think that those interests are opposed.
Given the decades of whinging, trouble making and foot dragging when the UK was in the EU and the subsequent mess of Brexit, this is perhaps not that surprising. Being a pain in the backside and then flouncing out of a club because it is apparently not in your interests to remain is hardly likely to persuade many people that you have much in common.
Perhaps we should be pleasantly surprised that 21% still think the UK and the EU still have the same interests.
Finally, there is some good news for Ukraine – the vast majority of Brits and EU citizens share the same view of Russia, a tenth, at most, think their interests coincide with Moscow’s. It seems the vast majority of Europeans, British and continental, want nothing to do with Russia, if they can help it.
But this survey is really about Brexit and as Paul Adamson, Chairman of Forum Europe, says of these findings “Alongside growing British dissatisfaction with Brexit – especially amongst the younger population – there is an overwhelming desire for the UK to maintain a close relationship with the EU. This is a view shared by large majorities in the nine European countries polled.”
So, there is at least popular support for a closer relationship between the EU and the UK on both sides of the Channel.
All we need now is a government willing and capable of doing something about it.