Cover: What sort of Brexit do the British people want?

What sort of Brexit do the British people want?

A longitudinal study examining the "trade-offs" people would be willing to make in reaching a Brexit deal — technical addendum

Published Oct 10, 2018

by Hui Lu, Charlene Rohr, Alexandra Pollitt, David Howarth, Jonathan Grant

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Research Questions

  1. How do the British public value different aspects of the UK's relationship with the EU that may form part of the Brexit negotiations?
  2. Have their priorities changed in the last year?
  3. What does this mean for the sort of relationship that the British public want with the EU post-Brexit?

In July 2017 we undertook a 'proof-of-concept' study using stated preference discrete choice experiments (SPDCEs) to quantify how the British public value key dimensions of a future relationship with the EU. This follow-on study undertakes the same experiments with many of the same respondents one year later to explore whether and how people's preferences have changed. This report provides details of the technical aspects of the work, including the survey methodology, the design of the experiments and the model analysis. A companion report summarises the key policy findings. In terms of methodology, we again find that people were able to undertake the choice experiments, even though they were complex. We find little change in people's preferences in the last two years, although we see some evidence of movement towards a closer relationship to the EU. Again, we find that those dimensions directly influencing the economy — such as free trade deals with countries outside the EU and access to the EU Single Market — are valued most highly, and that preferences vary significantly by education level. Using the model results we find that Britons place a negative value on a 'no deal' option of about £14 per household per week of EU expenditure relative to remaining in the EU (noting that the absolute values derived from the study should be used to provide order-of-magnitude estimates). Having a 'Norway-like' relationship is valued positively at about £11 per household per week of EU expenditure relative to remaining in the EU.

Key Findings

Policy findings

  • The British public still want a deal, which is based on a close relationship with the EU with the most preferred option resembling membership of the EEA (a 'Norway-like' relationship).
  • Over the last year we see a 'softening' of the type of relationship that Britons want with the EU as well as an increase in the number of people who want to Remain in the EU.
  • Education level is important in explaining the continued polarisation of views on the way forward for Brexit.
  • The value British people place on the proposals set out in the government's White Paper ('Chequers') is difficult to quantify due to its vagueness on key issues of concern.
  • Should there be another referendum, the options offered in a vote will significantly influence the outcome.

Methodological findings

  • People have been able to undertake the choice experiments, even though they were complex.
  • We do not observe significant differences in the value that people place on different attributes describing the UK's relationship with the EU between 2017 and 2018, except for the need for a work permit for non-UK nationals to work in the UK (and UK nationals to work in the EU), which was valued slightly less positively in 2018.
  • The British public are relatively insensitive to the level of UK contribution tested in the choice experiments.
  • The results provide quantitative estimates of the value that people place on the different attributes describing Britain's relationship with the EU.

Research conducted by

This project is a RAND Venture. Funding was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations. The research was conducted by RAND Europe in cooperation with he Policy Institute at King's College London and Professor David Howarth and researchers at the University of Cambridge.

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