World Economy

Britons Happy to Sacrifice Trade for Fewer Foreigners

Britons Happy to Sacrifice Trade for Fewer ForeignersBritons Happy to Sacrifice Trade for Fewer Foreigners

Britons are more concerned with controlling immigration than maintaining access to the single market, according to a survey published Tuesday, adding further evidence that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy is in line with the prevailing mood of the country.

As Britain prepares to exit the European Union, over half of adults polled cite an influx of foreigners as more worrisome than losing EU trade benefits, said the poll conducted by Survation Ltd for ITV plc as reported by Bloomberg. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they approve May’s handling of the divorce, with only a quarter saying that they disapproved.

The findings provide cover for May’s apparent plan to prioritize migration controls over access to the single market in Brexit negotiations. While the City of London is dismayed at the prospect of losing its financial services privileges, the rest of the country worries that growing numbers of workers from overseas are snatching jobs and pushing down wages.

Migration levels have frequently been touted as one of the key reasons behind the June 23 referendum result and the government has pledged to get numbers below 100,000. With an eye to consolidating her grip on power with an election down the line, May seems far more preoccupied with implementing the wish of the voting majority than protecting the interests of the banking world.

The plunging pound, which has lost 18% of its value since the Brexit vote, doesn’t seem to have dented the desire of the British people to leave the European Union, the survey also found. Should another referendum take place now, 47% of respondents would vote “Leave”, compared with 46% who would vote “Remain.” Still a tight race then, with 7% undecided.

Not all surveys of public opinion are favoring May’s read of what Britons want. A poll released last week, for example, found that the balance tipped in favor of single market access rather than immigration limits. Either way, both polls show a nation divided.

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