Brexit: UK public wants to remain in EU, new poll finds weeks before withdrawal date

Remain backed by highly symbolic 52-48 margin

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Saturday 11 January 2020 19:41 GMT
Brexit a step closer as Withdrawal Bill clears House of Commons

Boris Johnson is set to take the UK out of the European Union at a time when a majority of voters want to stay, according to a new poll.

The BMG survey for The Independent found that with less than three weeks to go before Brexit Day on 31 January, voters are split by the highly symbolic margin of 52-48 per cent in favour of Remain – the reverse of the result of the 2016 referendum.

Participants also expected Brexit to be bad for the economy, the NHS, the unity of the UK and Britain’s place in the world over the next two years. Almost three in 10 (29 per cent) expected to be personally worse off as a result of EU withdrawal, while just 15 per cent expected their finances to be improved.

And more than four out of 10 want the chance to vote on rejoining the EU within the next decade – 18 per cent saying a second referendum should be held within a year, 15 per cent in one to five years and 9 per cent in six to 10 years. Ten per cent said no new referendum should be held for 11 years or more, and 28 per cent said there should never be another one, while 20 per cent did not know.

There was little sign of enthusiasm for leaving the EU at the end of 2020 without a trade deal, with just 11 per cent backing this option, against 39 per cent favouring a deal on future trade relations and 27 per cent continued membership of the single market.

The prime minister is attempting to forge a Canada-style free trade agreement with Brussels within this very tight timescale, but has vowed to leave without a deal rather than extend his deadline.

Mr Johnson’s 80-seat majority in the 12 December election has been taken as a mandate to make good on his campaign promise to “get Brexit done”.

But the vagaries of the UK’s first-past-the-post electoral system mean that, by a margin of more than 1 million, more British voters backed parties calling for a second EU referendum than supported those arguing for withdrawal without a confirmatory vote.

The BMG survey is the latest in a series of mainstream polls stretching back more than two years which have found a consistent majority for Remain.

Asked what they expected the impact of Brexit to be over the coming one to two years, some 52 per cent said it would weaken the Union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, against just 13 per cent who said it would be strengthened.

Some 45 said they expected the UK economy to be harmed, against 29 per cent who predicted improvement. And 39 per cent said the UK’s standing in the world would decline, compared to 28 per cent who said it would rise.

Some 29 per cent predicted a harmful effect on their personal financial situation, while 15 per cent expected it to improve. And 38 per cent said Brexit would be bad for the NHS over the next couple of years, against 25 per cent who expect it to be beneficial.

- BMG questioned 1,508 British adults between 8 and 10 January.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in