Brexit: People want to scrap EU freedom of movement but continue free trade with Europe, says new UK survey

Results of the survey are a clear reflection of the 'pick-and-mix attitude' of the electorate, the writer of the report says

Tuesday 21 March 2017 17:14 GMT
British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and President of the European Council Donald Tusk
British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and President of the European Council Donald Tusk (Getty)

British people want to end freedom of movement but want to keep the benefits of the single market after Brexit, according to a new survey - despite the fact Theresa May has admitted this is not going to happen.

The poll of more than 2,000 adults by NatCen Social Research shows that on the whole, voters would like to keep the benefits of EU membership, but also want to curb immigration.

Overall, 68 per cent of participants want to abolish freedom of movement, but at the same time 88 per cent are keen to maintain free trade with the EU.

Other results show that 82 per cent of Leave voters want EU migrants to be treated in the same way as non-EU migrants and 58 per cent of Remain voters agree.

In addition to this, 51 per cent of Remain voters do not believe EU migrants should claim any welfare benefits, a notion that 77 per cent of Leave voters agree with.

The EU has been adamant that to access the single market Britain would have to accept freedom of movement.

The European Parliament's point man for the Brexit negotiations, Guy Verhofstadt, said the United Kingdom would not be allowed to “cherry pick” the benefits of the EU.

“I think it creates an illusion that you can go out of the single market and the customs union and you can cherry pick and still have a number of advantages.

“I think this will not happen. We shall never accept a situation in which it is better to be outside the single market than be a member of the European union,” Mr Verhofstadt said.

Theresa May had previously said that Britain would pull out of the single market when it leaves the EU.

Ms May pointed to the EU's demand that all members comply with ‘four freedoms’ – including, crucially, freedom of movement of EU citizens.

“What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market. It would, to all intents and purposes, mean not leaving the EU at all,” she said.

Professor John Curtice, who wrote the report, said the results of the survey are a clear reflection of the “pick-and-mix attitude” of the electorate.

“Many Remain voters would like to see an end to the less popular parts of Britain’s current membership of the EU, while many Leave voters would like to retain the seemingly more desirable parts, such as free trade, cheap mobile phone calls, and clean beaches,” he told the Press and Journal.

“This is perhaps typical of the pick-and-mix attitude to the EU that has characterised much of Britain’s relationship with the institution during its 44 years of membership so far."

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