A majority of the British public support the UK leaving the European Union (EU) Single Market, the first poll since the prime minister’s landmark Brexit speech has revealed.
“What I am proposing today cannot mean membership of the Single Market”, Mrs. May insisted in the speech on Tuesday, citing membership as incompatible with the British people’s desire to limit EU migration.
Now, a Sky News poll indicates a majority (51 per cent) of Brits agree with her aim to pull the UK out of the Single Market, with 39 per cent opposed.
Some 4 per cent said the UK should do “neither” and 6 per cent said they did not know if we should stay in the Single Market.
The poll was said to be a “nationally representative” sample of 1,068 Sky customers who were contacted by text message on 17 January.
A separate poll, conducted by Ipsos MORI and released a few hours later, asked a slightly more specific question – If retaining “access” to (but not necessarily remaining inside) the EU’s trading bloc is more important than controlling borders, and what should be the number one issue.
Whilst slightly more people wished to prioritise the Single Market before controlling borders, the gap had narrowed significantly since October, indicating that public opinion was moving towards a “hard-Brexit” detached from the market.
Those prioritising borders moved from 39 per cent to 42 per cent between October last year and this month, and those favouring the Single Market fell from 45 to 44 per cent.
Gloom about Britain’s economic prospects also eased in the past month, the poll found. Some 47 per cent think things will get worse in the year ahead, down from 51 per cent, while 27 per cent think things will get better, up from 24 per cent.
However, Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, told the Evening Standard the figures represented a divided nation.
“Theresa May has called for the country to come together after Brexit, but the divisions on Single Market access v immigration control show no signs of going away,” he said.