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Britain Barometer May 2023

25 May 2023

Three quarters of Britons think it is important we have a closer trading relationship with the EU.

The Britain Barometer is our regular polling of public opinion in Britain.  We cover a range of topics including political views and voting intentions, the economy, government policies and emerging issues important to the British public.

25 May 2023, London – Kantar Public’s latest barometer reveals that:

  • Three quarters of Britons (73%) think that it is very important/important that Britain has a closer trading relationship with the EU. 14% think that is Not at all important/not important. 13% are not sure.

  • If a new referendum were held today, 37% of Britons would vote to join the EU (-1 vs February 20231), while 29% of Britons would vote to stay out of the EU (nc). 19% would not vote (+2).

  • When asked whether Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the EU; 41% of Britons think Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU (-6). While 35% said Britain was right (+3). 24% do not know (+3).

  • Half of Britons (52%) think the country is heading in the wrong direction (-7 vs February 2023). 16% think the country is headed in the right direction (+4).

Kantar Public’s research took place between the 18 May and 22 May 2023.

 

More detailed analysis on themes

1. UK – EU trade and relations
  • Over half (56%) of Britons rate the government’s handling of trade and relations with the EU very/fairly poorly. A quarter (24%) rate it very/fairly well. 20% are not sure.

  • Under a third (29%) think Rishi Sunak would be better than Keir Starmer to negotiate trade deals with other countries (+3 vs February 2023). While 18% said Keir Starmer would be better than Rishi Sunak (nc). Over a quarter (27%) said neither would be best placed (-2) and a similar number (25%) said they did not know who would be better (-2).

  • Over half (57%) of Britons rate the government’s handling of Brexit very/fairly poorly (-6). A quarter (25%) rate it very/fairly well (+3). 18% are not sure (+3).

  • A third of Britons (34%) said neither Rishi Sunak nor Keir Starmer would be best to manage Brexit (-5 vs February 2023). A quarter (24%) said Rishi Sunak would be better than Keir Starmer (+3), while 17% said Keir Starmer would be better than Rishi Sunak (nc). A quarter of Britons (25%) did not know who would be better (+2).
 
2. The cost of living 

Britons remain pessimistic about the economy. However, they are slightly less pessimistic than they were at the start of the year:

  • 58% of Britons think the economy is doing worse than it was a year ago (-8 vs February 2023). 32% think it is doing much the same (+6), but only 10% think it is doing better (+2).

  • 51% of Britons think that the British economy will be doing much the same as it is now in a years’ time (+7 vs February 2023). 31% think it will be doing worse (-8). 18% think that it will be doing better than it is now (+1).

  • Over half of Britons (54%) would rate the government’s handling of economy over the last year as very/quite poor (-4 vs February 2023). Only 14% would rate it as very/quite good (+1). 32% think it is neither good nor poor (+3).

  • A third of Britons (32%) think neither Keir Starmer nor Rishi Sunak would be best placed to improve the economy (-1). A quarter (26%) think Rishi Sunak would be better than Keir Starmer (-2), while 20% think Keir Starmer would be better than Rishi Sunak (-1). 22% said they did not know (+2).

  • Six in ten Britons (59%) said they are finding it harder to meet their monthly household budget compared to a year ago (-2 vs February 2023). A third (32%) are finding it about the same (nc). 9% are finding it easier than it was 12 months ago (+2).

  • 80% of Britons (-1 vs February 2023) think the government is handling cost of living very/fairly poorly. 15% (+1) think the government has handled the crisis very/fairly well. 5% are not sure (nc).

  • A third of Britons (33%) think neither Keir Starmer nor Rishi Sunak would be best placed to reduce the cost of living for households (-1). A quarter (24%) think Keir Starmer would be better than Rishi Sunak (-1), while 22% think Rishi Sunak would be better than Keir Starmer (+2). 20% said they did not know (-1). 

 
3. Policy priorities
When asked about the three most important priorities for the UK government if it is to improve public life in the UK, Britons cite the following:
  • Reducing the cost of living for households (52%, +6 vs February 2023)
  • Investing more in NHS capacity (38%, -5)
  • Growing the UK’s economy (28%, +2)
  • Affordable housing (21%, -1)
  • Stricter border controls to reduce immigration (20%, -1)

 
4. Immigration
  • A fifth of Britons (20%) ranked ‘stricter border controls to reduce immigration’ as one of their top three priorities for the UK government to tackle (-1). This is ranked below cost of living, investing in NHS capacity, growing the economy and affordable housing.

    • Four in ten Conservative 2019 voters (40%) ranked Stricter border controls to reduce immigration in their top three priorities for the UK government to tackle (+1). Among Conservative voters this is ranked equally with investing in NHS capacity (also 40%) and only behind reducing the cost of living for households (45% selected this as a top priority).

  • 70% of Britons think the government is handling immigration very/fairly poorly (-2%). 20% of Britons would say that the government is handling immigration very/fairly well (+2). 10% are not sure (nc).

    • 82% of 2019 Conservative voters think the government is handling immigration very/fairly poorly (+4).
 
5. Voting Intentions 
  • Labour 42% (-3 vs February 2023)
  • Conservatives 29% (+1)
  • Liberal Democrats 11% (+2)
  • Green 5% (-2)
  • Reform UK 5% (nc)
  • SNP 4% (-1)
  • UKIP 1% (nc)

 

Methodological information

The survey data and further details on the methodological approach of the Britain Barometer will be published below on the morning of Thursday 25 May.

A total of 1,143 interviews were conducted online among adults living in Great Britain between the 18 and 22 May 2023. All interviews were conducted online using the Kantar Research Express. The Kantar Profiles online access panel was the main sample source.

The data was weighted to match population totals for age, gender, 2019 General Election voting patterns, 2016 EU referendum voting patterns, education, region, and likelihood to vote in the next General Election. Any use of this research must cite Kantar Public as the source.

 

More Britain Barometers

This Britain Barometer was issued under our former global brand name: Kantar Public.  

Luke Taylor
Head of Opinion Polling United Kingdom

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