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28th May 2023

More than half of voters want Britain to have closer ties with EU, poll reveals

Charlie Herbert

UK voters want closer relationship with EU

Opinion has shifted in even the most Leave-supporting constituencies of the UK

A new poll has found that most British voters would like closer ties with the European Union.

The survey of more than 10,000 voters by Focaldata, for the campaign group Best for Britain, found that 53 percent of people wanted the UK to ‘seek a closer relationship’ with the EU.

Just 14 percent said the country should seek a more distant relationship with the EU, the Observer reports.

Meanwhile, three times as many adults (63%) believe Brexit has created more problems than it has solved, compared with just 21% who believe it has solved more than it has created.

The findings are the latest sign that public opinion around Brexit has shifted dramatically in recent years, especially since the UK left the single market and customs union on December 31, 2020.

Even voters in constituencies that recorded the highest votes to leave the EU in 2016 clearly believe the best route forward is to have a closer relationship with Brussels.

For example, in Boston and Skegness, Lincolnshire, 74.9 percent of the population voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

But 40 percent of those asked said they now favoured closer ties with Europe, compared to just 19 percent who wanted a more distant relationship.

The key message of Brexit had been that it would allow Britain to ‘take back control,’ with a large emphasis in particular on how it would allow the government to have more control of our borders.

But official figures released last week showed that net migration to the UK had reached a record high of 606,000 in 2022, up from 488,000 in 2021.

More than half of all voters polled for Best for Britain said the UK should be issuing more visas to allow foreign workers to come to the country.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of studies are concluding that Brexit has had a damaging impact on the economy.

Recent data from the London School of Economics found that British households have paid an estimated £7bn since Brexit to cover the cost of new trade barriers on food imports from the EU.

Naomi Smith, chief executive of Best for Britain, said: “In just a few short years, public opinion in Britain has moved on from being pro-Brexit, to believing Johnson’s deal has done more harm than good, to now supporting a closer relationship with the EU.

“Our first-of-its-kind poll, and MRP analysis using new constituency boundaries, shows that with deepening ties being the most popular option in every constituency in Britain, there are votes to be won for any political party prepared to make this case to the electorate.”

Peter Norris, co-convener of the UK Trade and Business Commission and chair of the Virgin Group, added: “From higher inflation to fruit rotting in fields, we can see the economic impact of both labour shortages and divergence from our largest trading partner, the EU. And from this polling, it is clear that the majority of voters knows that Brexit is a key factor.”

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