New Brexit Reports on two big issues: the divorce bill and free movement

The so called “divorce bill” or “exit bill” has featured prominently in the Brexit news recently. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has stated that we must first agree on how to calculate the final settlement amount before progress can be made in the negotiations, and has described the talks over the bill as a sticking point and at a deadlock.

We wondered, therefore, how much are members of the public willing to pay for the divorce bill? What groups in society are willing to pay more? Using fresh data from our Brexit project, we tried to find out.

We found that people with preferences for a close relationship with Europe – people who are more favourable towards immigration, who would like to keep a soft border in Ireland, and to continue scientific collaborations – are willing to pay more. Those preferring some distance – who disapprove of the powers of the European Court of Justice and favour limited immigration – would prefer to pay less. These factors appear to matter more than socio-demographic factors such as age, income, and region.

Another sticking point is the issue of free movement. Immigration is seen as one of the most pressing issues facing the country, and a substantial majority of Britons would like to see immigration reduced. It was also one of the two most frequently cited reasons for voting Leave in the EU referendum; the other being ‘sovereignty’.

Polls and surveys conducted since the referendum indicate that most Britons want a deal where Britain regains control over EU immigration. In addition, a sizable majority of the public believes continued freedom of movement would not respect the result of the referendum.

However, analysis of our new Brexit data, a new online survey of ~5,300 people suggests that Britons may actually be more willing to negotiate about ending freedom of movement than about ending ECJ jurisdiction, ending contributions to the EU budget, or ensuring UK citizens’ rights.

Figure 1. Percentage of respondents who consider each demand a red line, separately for the full sample, for Remain supporters and for Leave supporters.



You can download the briefing notes here

CSI Brexit 1: The Divorce Bill 

CSI Brexit 2: Free Movement