Press Releases

There can be no 48% strategy for Brexit”

Newly published polling shows surprisingly few differences between Remain and Leave voters on key issues

A new poll reveals a striking lack of consensus among the 48% who voted for Britain to remain in the European Union.

The polling, conducted on behalf of the New Economics Foundation by GQR, highlights stark differences of opinion between Remain voters, particularly on immigration and free movement of EU citizens.

Elsewhere, it reveals striking similarities among many Remain voters with attitudes associated with those who voted for Brexit. Both sides are more concerned about the future of the UK’s public services than its relationship with the European Union.

Marc Stears, Chief Executive of the Foundation, said:

This polling displays the enormous challenge confronting all of us looking to establish a progressive approach to immigration as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. We know now, for the first time, that even among those who voted to Remain, there are significant reservations about the EU’s approach to migration.”

Nonetheless there are opportunities here. Right across the UK, regardless of how people voted in June, people are united in their top priorities for government — economic prosperity, a strong NHS, and a world-leading education system. Any of us looking to heal the deep divisions in our society and reach out to those who feel let down and abandoned by successive governments must start with those issues.”

The task now is for all political parties and social movements to come together and build consensus around a new economy: an economy that meets the urgent concerns of communities up and down the country, while also guaranteeing Britain’s international reputation as an open, inclusive nation.”


Key findings

  1. Immigration was a significant concern for two-thirds of Remain voters
    The economy was an important issue for 95% of Remain voters, with public services close behind at 86%. But 65% also cited immigration as a factor when weighing up their decision.
  1. Remain voters have inconsistent views on immigration, indicating deep unease
    62% of Remain voters support free movement as part of any new relationship between the UK and EU, but 56% also support increased border controls and a cap on European migrants.
  1. There is nonetheless strong support for integration
    A majority of Remain voters (58%) reject the idea of multiculturalism in the form of parallel lives, instead believing migrants should integrate into British culture — even among those less concerned about immigration as an issue.
  1. A third of Remain voters think cutting immigration will help public services
    Though a majority — 45% — believe cutting immigration is bad for public services.
  1. Only one in five Remain voters list the EU as a top priority for government, majority list NHS, economic growth and education
  1. Half of Remain voters would ideally reverse the referendum result; two fifths want the vote respected 
Notes to editors
  1. The New Economics Foundation is the UK’s only people-powered think tank. The Foundation works to build a new economy where people really take control. newe​co​nom​ics​.org
  1. The poll was conducted online between 19 and 22 September by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner on behalf of the New Economics Foundation. The sample consisted of 1504 Remain voters. Data was weighted to be representative of Remain voters in terms of region, age, gender, class and past vote.

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