Brexit poll: 63% think immigration control is "important" or "essential"

A new Ipsos-MORI poll has tried to get to grips with what the public’s priority is when it comes to Brexit.

The Ipsos-MORI poll asked respondents a range of questions about their views on a variety of political issues, with a key focus on Brexit.

On the question of whether the government is doing a good job or a bad job at handling the country’s exit, 58% said they thought they were doing a bad job compared to the 31% saying they thought they were doing a good job. Furthermore, a total of 55% said Theresa May is doing a bad job when it comes to handling Brexit compared to the 31% that said they think she is doing a good job.

In December 2016, the figures were almost reversed for the prime minister, with 51% having said they think she is doing a good job and 35% having said she was doing a bad job.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at an eventBritain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at an event

A further question asked respondents the following:

“In the negotiations over Britain’s future relationship with the European Union, how important, if at all, do you think it is for the British government to achieve each of the following, or do you think the government should not try to achieve this?”

For each of the subjects given, respondents were able to say the importance was one of the following: essential, very important, fairly important, not very important or not at all important. They could also say if they thought the government should not try to achieve said aim, and could give a ‘don’t know’ response.


The answer given the most importance was: “for Britain to have full control over its immigration policy”. A striking total of 63% of respondents said it was essential or very important for the government to achieve this. In March, the figure stood at 61%.

As for the aim of trying to keep Britain in the single-market, 45% of respondents said that this was essential or very important, however, this rises to 69% if those who said they felt keeping single-market membership was "fairly important" are included.

In terms of a transition deal after the UK leaves the EU, which has been recently talked about by Liam Fox, just 15% said they saw this as essential. A further 24% said they saw this as very important. Regarding contributing to the EU budget after Brexit, 46% said it was essential or very important that the UK does not make any such payments.


The poll suggests a clear demand for control over immigration once the UK exits the union. It also indicates a divide over single-market membership, but the 69% of respondents saying that this is essential, very important, or fairly important, points to a significant desire for keeping the UK in the single-market.

There is also limited demand for a transition deal and paying EU contributions.

Gideon Skinner, of Ipsos-MORI, said that:

"The public is no nearer to coming to a unanimous position over what it wants from the Brexit negotiations (with big differences by age and education level), although there has been a move towards the single market – but there’s not much confidence in either of the main party leaders to get a good deal for Britain."

Taken all together it looks like the UK wants immigration control, but also membership of the single-market, which includes the free movement of people.

Add in the weak desire for EU contributions and a transitional deal, it looks like a case of “let's have our cake and eat it.”

The full results of the Ipsos-MORI poll can be accessed here. 1,071 GB adults were polled between 14th and 18th July. The poll was released on 24th July.