Brexit: British public trusts EU more than UK parliament, poll finds

Confidence in Brussels has shot up in latest sign of Brexit regret

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Thursday 30 March 2023 08:44 BST
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Brexit damage to economy same 'magnitude' as Covid, says OBR chairman

The British public has more confidence in the EU than the UK parliament, a new survey has found in a remarkable turnaround of a trend lasting decades.

Confidence in the Westminster parliament has plummeted 10 points to just 22 per cent since the Brexit referendum.

Although the popularity of the EU has lagged behind parliament among Britons since the early 1980s, confidence in Brussels has shot up seven points to 39 per cent since Brexit.

The findings came from analysis of more than 20 countries by the Policy Institute at King’s College London (KCL) as part of the World Values Survey – one of the largest social surveys in the world.

In further evidence of Brexit regret, only 24 per cent of people said they were “happy” with Britain’s exit from bloc. Some 49 per cent said they unhappy about it.

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the KCL Policy Institute said: “Confidence in parliament has halved since 1990; we’re among the least likely of more than 20 countries in the study to have confidence in the government.”

He added: “Our confidence in the EU has also bounced back post-Brexit, and now we’re much more likely to have confidence in it than our own parliament and government.”

Senior Tory MP David Davis told The Guardian that the change stemmed from the “whiny, unpleasant, bitchy row” over Brexit in parliament in recent years. The ex-Brexit secretary said the tabloids had stopped “kicking Brussels all the time”.

It follows comments by the chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), Richard Hughes, who said the impact of Brexit on the UK economy is on the same “magnitude” as the Covid pandemic and energy price crisis.

Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) will be 4 per cent smaller than if the country had stayed in the EU, the head of the government’s fiscal watchdog confirmed.

KCL said the most recent results show a clear split in views, with the pre-war generation (34 per cent) and so-called baby boomers (28 per cent) more likely to have confidence in parliament, and younger millennials (17 per cent) and Gen X (19 per cent) less likely to.

Several polls have found regret about Brexit’s damaging economic impact

In the latest World Values Survey, the UK ranks below countries including Iran and China when it comes to public confidence in the police.

Britain ranks among the bottom half of countries for confidence in the police. Just two thirds (67 per cent) of the British public who were polled said they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in policing, down from 87 per cent in 1981.

The latest UK data was collected in 2022, coming before a damning review which found Britain’s biggest police force, the Metropolitan Police, is institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic was published.

“The UK has long prided itself on the strength of its institutions – but the British public are not as convinced as they once were, and we are now more negative than many other countries,” said Prof Duffy.

“Some institutions fare better, with our courts system relatively highly rated, and the civil service coming out much better than our political institutions,” he added.

“These trends matter. The pandemic showed how much we rely on public co-operation in times of crises, with confidence crucial to that, and the review of the Met police concluded ‘public consent is broken’. We need to work hard and quickly to shore up public confidence.”

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