Brexit Diaries - Week 6: What would a good deal look like and what are the chances of one?

PRWeek has partnered with insight and strategy consultancy BritainThinks in a unique project to take the temperature of both leave and remain voters in the run-up to triggering Article 50.

Leavers and remainers appear resigned to a poor deal for Britain, writes Deborah Mattinson
Leavers and remainers appear resigned to a poor deal for Britain, writes Deborah Mattinson

As Parliament has voted to trigger Article 50, and kick-start negotiations, our 100 diarists around the UK have been asked about what a successful deal would look like.

As in previous weeks, we see an unsurprisingly stark contrast between leavers and remainers, with immigration top of the wish-list for people who voted leave – "much stricter rules about immigration" is most often mentioned as a measure of success for the UK’s deal or, as one leaver put it, "stop all EU migrants (and other migrants) claiming benefits and heathcare unless they have worked here for at least five years".

This is often linked to the ‘taking back control’ theme: "Return to complete autonomy of our government, law-making and judicial system," say our diarists.

Many leavers also talk about building better relationships beyond the EU: "A good Brexit will mainly be about our relationships with non-EU countries…bureaucracy has stopped us trading with others as we wished."

By contrast, remainers are focussed on maintaining the status quo as much as possible, especially freedom of movement.

"A good deal would mean hassle-free visas for travel – as the economy benefits from this", said one, or "we can still travel freely and work around Europe".

Although some remainers qualify this – "scope to live in Europe and for Europeans to live here providing the individual has the means to live and pay for healthcare" – a few specify remaining in the single market: "I don’t want Brexit to happen so will struggle to look favourably on any deal, but I do think we’ll be better off staying in the single market and the customs union."

Leavers and remainers appear a little more united on what a ‘bad deal’ might look like, with both groups expressing anxiety about potential negative economic consequences.

Additionally, leavers are concerned that the changes to immigration controls would not be sufficient: "what if even more people come over here to take up beds in our hospitals without paying into our system, blocking the elderly and needy of this country from the treatment they deserve?"

Remainers tend to focus on the risk of high-trade tariffs and travel restrictions – there is also some concern about the reputation of Britain abroad: "Travel limited, phone bills raised again when used abroad and we Brits not welcome in other countries".

Leavers and remainers alike are somewhat pessimistic about how likely a good deal is.

Leavers give the likelihood of getting a good deal an average score of 5/10, while remainers score nearly 4/10.

Both groups base this belief on perceived poor relationships with other EU member states.

Remainers believe that other Europeans resent Britain’s ‘leave’ vote – "They have funded a lot of projects in the UK. And leaving is not paying them back at all but throwing it back in their face" – while leavers suspect that the resentment is because other countries also want to leave: "Within the EU there are many people with similar reservations about how the EU operates, with all the waste and centralisation."

Either way, leavers and remainers appear resigned to a poor deal for Britain.

Deborah Mattinson is a partner at BritainThinks

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