The outcome of the referendum of June 2016 on the UK’s membership in the EU is the first successful attempt by a member state to leave the EU. Brexit represents probably the most serious challenge that the European integration process has experienced so far. But how do British and other European citizens evaluate Brexit?
Conducted in the spring of 2017, the PEW Research Center’s Global Attitudes Survey asked European citizens to provide their judgement of the EU leaving-process initiated by the outcome of the Brexit referendum. One year after the referendum, public opinion across European countries states that Brexit will be detrimental for both the EU and the UK. On average, 70% of respondents in the ten countries surveyed thought that Brexit will be a bad thing for the EU. This was especially true of Sweden (86%), the Netherlands (80%), Spain (78%) and Germany (74%). Notably, 36% of French respondents and 26% of Italian respondents thought, conversely, that Brexit will be a good thing for the EU.
On average, more than 50% of participants in the ten countries surveyed thought that Brexit will be a bad thing for the UK. This portion reached a peak of 80% in Germany, 73% in the Netherlands and 70% in Spain. On the contrary, 46% of Greek, 36% of Italian and 30% of Hungarian respondents believed that it will be positive for the UK to leave the EU. For their part, British citizens agreed that the UK’s exit will be bad for the European project (71%), but were divided on what it means for the UK. 44% believed it will be good for the UK to leave the EU, while 48% worried about the negative consequences of such an action.
A poll conducted by YouGov in September 2017 shows that Britons who think their country was wrong to vote to leave the EU do not necessarily think the referendum result should be reversed. 40% of citizens surveyed wanted to continue with Brexit on the current negotiating terms, while 12% of wanted Britain to seek a “softer” Brexit – meaning a “go ahead” majority of 52%. Just 18% wanted a second referendum, and a further 14% wanted Brexit abandoned completely – a total of 32% supporting an “attempt to reverse” Brexit. This result couples with what the REScEU Mass Survey already detected in autumn 2016. Some Remain voters, though still thinking that leaving the EU is the wrong decision, believe that the result of the referendum should be respected.
Photo Credits CC Nick Kenrick