Survey: Britons’ Faith in European Union Falls Amid Brexit Delay

Anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray protests outside the House of Commons on the day of Britain's newly elected prime minister Boris Johnson's debut in Parliament, in central London on July 25, 2019. - Britain's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday called the current Brexit deal negotiated with the EU "unacceptable" …
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British voters are less likely to trust the European Union than their counterparts on the continent and have experienced their sharpest increase in Euroscepticism since before the 2016 Brexit Referendum according to the EU’s own figures.

According to a major twice-annual Eurobarometer study of social and political sentiment across Europe conducted by the European Commission, 56 per cent of Britons “tend not to trust” the European Union, against just 29 per cent who do. The not-trusting figure for Spring 2019 rose three points since Autumn 2018, a period that encompassed the most fraught period of Brexit negotiations under former British Prime Minister Theresa May, and the cancellation of the March Brexit day that never happened.

While trust in Brussels across all surveyed nations rose two points over the study period, it was still bad news for Eurocrats as EU voters were still more likely to not trust the bloc than to trust it, 46 to 44 per cent.

Trust in the European Union for Britons has fluctuated in recent years, as fallout from the 2016 Brexit referendum shocked an establishment that had failed to anticipate the willingness of the British people to not do as they were told by the government, and both fears of leaving for some and anger at the EU’s truculence for others hardened opinions. In the last Eurobarometer survey before the referendum, trust in the EU was low, even lower than in 2019, but is now falling again at the fastest rate since the referendum took place.

The decline in trust for the European Union may be linked to a growing perception in the United Kingdom that Brussels has been deliberately obstructive to Brexit, and has been acting in bad faith. Boris Johnson himself has made such accusations, inviting the Union to renegotiate the bad deal made with Theresa May to the satisfaction of all parties involved, but has so far been rebuffed.

If British politicians hope the rejection of the European Union by their voters means they enjoy their confidence, however, they would be sorely disappointed. Not only are Britons more likely than the European average to not trust Brussels, but they are more likely than average to not trust their own government or parliament.

In a year which saw Prime Minister Theresa May promise to deliver Brexit on time over 100 times in Parliament and then ultimately go back on that word, British levels of trust in their own government has fallen 13 per cent. In all, 73 per cent of Brits distrusted their government in the last weeks of the Theresa May government when the survey was undertaken, and 71 per cent distrusted Parliament.

There will be questions over the veracity of the figures, however. The Eurobarometer report claims Hungarian citizens are highly trusting of the European Union, more so than the continental average. Yet Hungarian voters clearly rejected the direction of travel of the European Union just last year by returning the populist-right Viktor Orbán by a historic super-majority in the national election.

In 2016, a referendum in Hungary saw 95 per cent of voters reject the European Union’s policies on immigration. Brussels rejected Hungary even holding the referendum at all, claiming it was contrary to the EU treaties.

While Orbán does not openly advocate Hungary leaving the European Union, especially given the nation receives significantly more money from the bloc than it pays in, he has been combative with the bloc and is perhaps the strongest opponent of many of Europe’s flagship projects. Relations between the European Union and the recently re-elected Hungarian government have hit such a low ebb over the matter of immigration that Brussels is moving to punish the independently minded country with fines.

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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