Large majority of Britons dissatisfied with Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal

Strong support for closer EU relationship as Labour pledges to leave deal in place

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Wednesday 17 February 2021 16:01 GMT
Boris Johnson signs his trade deal
Boris Johnson signs his trade deal (Getty Images)

A large majority of Britons are dissatisfied with Boris Johnson's Brexit deal and want it overhauled, a new study has found.

The report by think-tank the British Foreign Policy Group found just 24 per cent of the population believes the Brexit deal is the best framework for future relations with the EU.

The study, based on polling by Opinium, found that 27 per cent want the UK to pursue a much closer relationship with the bloc, eventually rejoining it.

A further 22 per cent want a closer relationship but to remain outside – a relationship resembling Norway or Switzerland's – bringing total support for closer integration to 49 per cent.

Only 12 per cent of the public want a more distant relationship with the EU, effectively a no-deal or something like it.

The findings suggest the main political parties are out-of-step with public opinion on the issue.

The government has repeatedly defended its own deal, while Labour leader Keir Starmer has also promised not to reopen or renegotiate it if he is elected in 2024.

Sir Keir earlier this year dropped a leadership election promise to commit the UK to free movement with the bloc, hoping to put the thorny issue of Europe to bed.

But in political party terms, the SNP voters Labour needs to win back in Scotland are the most supportive of a closer relationship with the EU, including the possibility of joining - with 60 per cent holding this strongly europhile position. 52 per cent of Labour and Lib Dems also agree with the most pro-EU option.

In total, 30 per cent of Conservative want a closer deal of some kind, either outside or inside the EU - while 41 per cent favour maintaining the current status quo secured by Boris Johnson's deal.

"Overall, a clear majority of Labour-Remain voters, a majority of Conservative-Remain voters and a plurality of Labour-Leave voters favour greater alignment with the European Union," the report says.

"The big supporters of the Brexit deal are clearly Conservative-Leave voters, and a fifth-to-a-quarter of Conservative-Remain and Labour-Leave voters can also live with the circumstances of the deal.

"A fifth of Conservative-Leave voters would prefer to move even further away from the EU – ie. ‘a no-deal Brexit’ – although this is an outlier position in the population as a whole.

"The relatively high degree of uncertainty on this question from Conservative-Remain voters and Labour-Leave voters, both of whom must be experiencing a kind of crisis of confidence, suggests a degree of volatility of this issue moving forward."

Mr Johnson’s deal puts the UK outside the single market and customs union, and has caused significant disruption to trade with the bloc since it entered into force in earnest at the start of this year.

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