Public pessimistic about Brexit future, says major new study

PUBLISHED: 00:01 18 October 2018

The People's Vote march - coming to London this Saturday

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The public expects Britain to crash out of the EU without a deal and a rising proportion now expects living standards to drop, according to a major new study.

The survey, by the Policy Institute at King’s College London, in partnership with Ipsos MORI and the UK in a Changing Europe, reveals what the public think will happen in the Brexit talks and the impact of leaving the EU on key issues over the following five years.

It shows 44% expect the UK to leave the EU in March 2019 without a deal in place, 29% expect us to leave with a deal and 7% think we will not leave the EU in March.

Labour Remain supporters are particularly likely to think we’re heading for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, with more than half - 54% - viewing it the most likely outcome. Conversely, Tory Leave supporters are most confident we’ll leave with a deal (53%).

The survey also shows only 14% of the public expect Brexit to increase their own standard of living in the next five years, with 31% expecting their standard of living to decrease. This is an increase in the proportion of the public expecting their standard of living to decrease, from 25% in June 2016.

Most now expect Britain to crash out of the EU with no deal

41% of Labour supporters and 58% of Lib Dem supporters expect their living standards to decrease.

39% of the public expect the UK economic growth rate to decrease as a result of Brexit, which is a balance of very different views between Leave and Remain supporters: 64% of Remain supporters expect Brexit to decrease growth rates, compared with only 17% of Leave supporters.

And people are split on the impact of Brexit on the quality of NHS services, with 34% expecting it to decrease. The proportion of the public with this expectation has doubled since 2016, when only 17% thought Brexit would lead to a decline in the quality of NHS services.

The numbers expecting a drop in living standards are growing

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute, said: “There is little general optimism about the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and the ongoing impact of leaving the EU, particularly on living standards and economic growth.

“But as with other aspects of our relationship with Europe, our predictions reveal the huge divisions in the country – different groups see the future very differently, with Conservative and Leave supporters more optimistic that Brexit will have little economic impact on the UK, while reducing EU immigration.

“There are, however, some signs of growing unease among the public since we last asked these questions just before the EU Referendum. There has been an increase in the proportion of people expecting their own living standards to decline, and a doubling of the proportion expecting the quality of services from the NHS to decline, now a third of the public.”

Professor Anand Menon, Director of UK in a Changing Europe, said: “As the Brexit endgame approaches, knowing what the public wants and expects from the process is as important as ever.

"These findings indicate that the British people are coming to grasp some of the trade-offs involved in leaving the European Union.

"What will be fascinating in the weeks to come will be whether this carries over into attitudes on whether Brexit itself remains an attractive proposition.”

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 2,206 adults aged 18-75 across the United Kingdom. Interviews were conducted online between September 28 and October 3, 2018.

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