UK Public burdened by Brexit angst

03 May 2019 | Research & Business Knowledge

UK public burdened by Brexit angst needing reconciliation. The latest GfK Brexit data commissioned by JGFR shows the UK public terribly conflicted by Brexit angst.

As Brexit Day approached and the government lost control of the Brexit process, fewer people expected EU withdrawal to take place on 29th March despite the Prime Minister never wavering in her certainty.  Only 36% in March expected to leave the EU on Brexit day compared to 52% in November.

A notable finding of the mood of the public is a sense of political fairness, highlighting the steadfastness of the Prime Minister.  This is reflected in a large majority of the public who agree that the will of the people at the 2016 Referendum has to be respected (54% in support v 27% against).

However such a sentiment rests uneasily with other perceived effects from Brexit.

  • 64% of the population believe the nation’s health and wellbeing is being weakened by worry and uncertainty over Brexit
  • A majority (56%) of people wish Brexit had never happened
  • Only just over a quarter of adults believe they /their family will be better off outside of the EU
  • More adults (44%) believe that the UK’s position of influence in the world is stronger in the European Union compared with 34% of people who disagree
  • Although more people (39%) do not believe leaving the EU would lead to a break-up of the UK, a sizeable minority (34%) believe the opposite

The vexed question of a second referendum in part reflects the dilemma many people have in going against the democratic view of 17.4 million leave voters.  The population is fairly evenly split (43% for, 39% against) on whether a Peoples Vote / new referendum should determine the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Among respondents 78% polled say they voted in the 2016 EU Referendum (72.2% actual turnout).  Despite reservations as to whether there should be another referendum, 76% of respondents indicate they would vote.  At the last Referendum a minority regret not voting (around 10% of the electorate, some 3-4 million voters, the great majority under 45 and working) and who intend to make up for not voting in 2016.

With the impact of Brexit far greater on the young, more of the public (46%) believes that in a new referendum 16-17 year olds should receive the vote, compared to 39% who are against such an extension of the vote.

As Easter approaches and the choruses of Hallelujah ring out and Easter messages seek to bring people together, so politicians will need to reach out to their constituents and be forced to be honest about what the priorities facing the UK really are, and whether the crowding out by Brexit of other issues that matter a lot, especially to young people (climate change, education, mental health) should continue now that no deal has been voted out.

A fuller report on the findings of the research will be published in early May. For more details contact John Gilbert ( , 07740 027968 @JohnGilbertJGFR