Half of voters want the UK to stop paying money to the EU the moment we leave. That’s according to polling from the very first research into the public’s attitudes towards a Brexit transition period that we ran with YouGov this week.
Continuing to pay into EU funds during a transition period ‘would not be acceptable’ to 48% of voters, and only 31% of people think payments would be ‘acceptable’.
Our polling also shows that voters think a transition should last no more than two years, setting a 2021 deadline for final Brexit – something which I’m sure strikes fear into civil servants across Whitehall.
Our findings come the same week the UK government publishes its Brexit white paper and its legislation on triggering Article 50 passed its first vote in the commons with flying colours.
The government’s plan and approach is become gradually clearer. And the public expectations more defined.
However, this doesn’t mean the path to Brexit will be smooth – as both become clearer, of course the difficulty will be getting the two to match up.
In her Lancaster House speech, the Prime Minister said interim arrangements would be required between the conclusion of Article 50 negotiations in 2019 and final implementation of Brexit.
Will this mean still paying money to the EU? We’re no clearer to knowing, and it certainly hasn’t been ruled out. In order to secure a deal and prevent a ‘cliff edge’, it could be that the UK will have to contribute to the EU budget in the interim. Our polling suggests this is not a price the public is willing to pay.
Interestingly, Leave voters, more than Remainers, believe that if there is a transition period it should be short. 55% of them say a transition period should last no more than one year, and a further 19% say it should last no more than two years. Only 8% of Leave voters say a transition period should last longer than two years.
The public wants Brexit delivered, in full, as soon as possible.
As more becomes clearer – so do the difficulties.