Majority of people in Britain think the country is 'on the wrong track', global survey finds

Pessimism hits its highest level since records began in 2011

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Friday 21 June 2019 11:30 BST
Majority of people in Britain think the country is 'on the wrong track', global survey finds

Almost four out of five Britons (79 per cent) believe the country is “on the wrong track” according to a new global survey.

Levels of pessimism about the country’s future were at their highest since the monthly study was launched in 2011, with positive sentiment plunging by 14 percentage points since January 2018.

Just 21 per cent of those questioned for the Ipsos Mori “What Worries the World?” study said that Great Britain was heading in the right direction”, down from 35 per cent at the start of last year.

And the pollster’s research director Keiran Pedley said that the current political instability and uncertainty over Brexit were likely to be “significant contributing factors” to the negative mood.

Britain was the third-gloomiest out of 28 countries surveyed – behind France and South Africa – with levels of optimism at exactly half the global average of 42 per cent.

Britons were more anxious than any other nationality about the rise of extremism, with 22 per cent naming it among their three top worries.

And concern about climate change hit its highest ever level – up eight points from the previous month.


With a quarter (25 per cent) of those questioned naming it as one of their top three worries, Britain ranked fourth in terms of anxiety about global warming, behind Canada, China and Germany.

The issues named most frequently among Britons’ top-three worries were crime and violence (35 per cent), healthcare (35 per cent), poverty and social inequality (30 per cent), climate change (25 per cent) and terrorism (24 per cent).

A majority (58 per cent) of those questioned across all 28 countries felt their homeland was on the wrong track, against 42 per cent who thought it was heading in the right direction – a two-point upwards tick in global optimism.

Mr Pedley said: “Levels of pessimism about Britain’s national direction continue to be extremely high when compared to other countries. In fact, since the series started in May 2011, levels of pessimism have never been higher in Britain than they are now in mid-2019.

“The current political turmoil and Brexit impasse are likely to be significant contributing factors to the negative mood but our data shows that other factors are at play too.

“Issues around crime, healthcare and poverty continue to worry Britons but it is also noticeable that concern about climate change is at record levels. This particular trend is supported by other Ipsos Mori research and perhaps reflects the increased focus on environmental issues in the media in past months.

“If this trend continues, we should expect issues related to climate change to play a significant role in a future British general election, whenever it comes.”

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