A sizeable majority of the British public believes that the UK’s departure from the European Union should be followed by “a transition period”, according to an Opinium/Observer poll.
While almost half (49%) of those asked still believe that there should not be a second referendum once the terms of departure are clear, enthusiasm for Brexit appears to have dipped slightly, while trust in the Conservatives to lead negotiations has dropped from 39% in June to 33% in August.
If another referendum were to be held on whether the UK should leave the EU, it would result in a win of 47% to 44% for the remain side, the poll suggests.
The findings are published after the chancellor, Philip Hammond, and the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, widely seen as representing opposing sides within the government on Brexit, made it clear in a joint article last week that the UK would need a transition period to help businesses adjust after Britain leaves the EU.
However, government sources now privately admit that the UK may not start negotiating its future trade relationship with the EU until the end of the year. While the British government accepts that a transitional deal will be necessary after Brexit, it wants to know what the final UK-EU trade relationship will be before that transitional phase begins.
The survey finds that UK adults are almost evenly divided over whether ending free movement or staying in the single market should be the government’s negotiation priority – 37% to 38% respectively.
However, earlier on in the year voters were more likely to believe ending free movement should be the priority.
The results, based on the findings of 2,006 online interviews between 15 and 18 August, suggests that Brexit remains the biggest issue facing the country, after the NHS.
In terms of support for the main political parties, Labour holds a lead of three percentage points on 43%, with the Conservatives on 40% and the Liberal Democrats on 6%.
This article was written by Ben Quinn, for theguardian.com on Saturday 19th August 2017 19.20 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010