The EU has stronger public backing for its strategy than the UK does
EU citizens back their leaders’ polling strategy and believe the union should defend its core principles in the Brexit negotiations, according to new Chatham House polling.
Asked about the negotiating strategy, 65 per cent of those surveyed (from nine EU countries) said that the EU ‘should try to maintain a good relationship with the UK’ but ‘should not make any compromise on core principles’. A further 17 per cent said that ‘the EU should not compromise at all with the UK even if it damages the relationship.’
In total, then, 82 per cent are disinclined to compromise if it means undermining core EU principles.
The authors suggest that this finding offers to key messages to British negotiators. Firstly, that they should be encouraged by European support for a reasonable and balanced deal, but second, that pushing too hard or expecting fundamental concessions is unrealistic.
They also suggest that the findings point to the ‘asymmetry of the Article 50 talks.’
“Britain enters with a public that remains sharply divided. EU leaders seem to have the instinctive backing of their voters. This all adds to the sense that the UK’s position, as the demandeur in the negotiations, is weaker.”
Polling of the British public shows that Theresa May faces a near-impossible task in the negotiations. Voters support the components of both a hard and soft Brexit, and expect the government to come away with a deal that imposes controls on immigration but also allows Britain to trade freely with Europe.
Conservative voters are most likely of all to demand two mutually-exclusive outcomes, despite the repeated warnings of EU politicians that they can’t be achieved.
As Adam Barnett wrote for Left Foot Forward yesterday, Theresa May’s Brexit uplift is currently shared by a significant section of the public — but the inevitable disappointment won’t be pretty.
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