Sunday

17th Feb 2019

One in 10 Brits think UK has upper hand in Brexit talks

  • British PM Theresa May (c) with Germany's Angela Merkel (l) and France's Emmanuel Macron (r). (Photo: Consilium)

Britons have no illusion about who has the upper hand in negotiations, while French and Norwegian people are more supportive of Brexit than they are, according to a new poll in seven EU countries.

The latest Eurotrack survey said only 10 percent of Brits felt that their country "has the upper hand in the Brexit negotiations," compared to 19 percent of Germans and 27 percent of French.

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On the opposite side, 67 percent of Brits said it was the EU that has the upper hand. That is more than Germans (50 percent) or French (36 percent).

The Eurotrack survey is a regular report conducted by the UK's YouGov polling firm in seven countries - UK, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.


According to the poll, 37 percent of French respondents would "prefer that Britain stays in the EU", compared to 39 percent of British respondents, 55 percent of Germans, 62 percent of Danes, 59 percent of Swedes and 54 percent of Finns.

In Norway, a non-EU country, 37 percent also would prefer the UK to stay in the EU.

A majority of respondents in all seven countries said that the UK should leave the EU "only after Brexit negotiations are complete" rather than "immediately".

In the UK, 48 percent said they preferred Brexit and 30 percent that they would prefer that it happened "immediately".

The survey was conducted between 13 and 19 December, at the time of the last EU summit, on 14-15 December, when EU-27 leaders agreed that talks had made "sufficient progress" and could enter their second phase - about the future EU-UK relationship.

On 8 December, after weeks of EU pressure and amid domestic tensions, UK prime minister Theresa May clinched a deal with European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker about the three main Brexit issues - citizens' rights, the financial settlement, and a commitment to avoid a "hard border" in Ireland.

The YouGov poll showed that Britons, like their government, are looking mainly at the trade benefits they hope to get from Brexit.

Top priorities

When asked what should be the government's "top priority for the Brexit negotiations with the EU", Brits put first "allowing British companies to trade with the EU without tariffs or restrictions" (38 percent), and "allowing Britain to make its own trade deals with countries outside the EU" (37 percent).

Control of EU immigration (34 percent) and co-operation with the EU on security and counter-terrorism (32 percent) came just behind. Preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland was a priority for only 16 percent of respondents.

In the EU, the priorities were quite different.

"Ensuring that the UK pays what it owes upon leaving" was the top priority in Germany (41 percent) and France (38 percent), while security co-operation was the main concern in Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

In the meantime, a majority of Europeans reject the idea, laid out by German Social-Democrat leader Martin Schulz, of a 'United States of Europe' in which members states that rejected a new federal constitution would have to leave.

Schulz's vision was supported by 30 percent of Germans, 28 percent of French people, and only by 12-13 percent of respondents in the Nordic countries.

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