- Oli Scarff / Getty
- The British public are increasingly pessimistic about the future, according to an exclusive new poll for Business Insider.
- Around half of the country believes the UK is “heading in the wrong direction,” with just a third saying the opposite.
- Half of all women say they are financially worse off than they were before the start of the Brexit process.
- The squeeze on living standards and pessimism about Brexit blamed for the slump.
LONDON – The British people increasingly believe the country is heading in the wrong direction as the country moves towards Brexit, according to an exclusive new tracker poll for Business Insider.
The D-CYFOR poll, commissioned by Britain Elects, found that 50% of the public now believe “the UK is going in the wrong direction.” This was up from just 43% in November.
By contrast, just 30% believe Britain is now going in the right direction in its mission to leave the European Union, down from 35% in November. Here is the question in full:
“Would you say things in the UK are heading in the right direction or are they going in the wrong direction?” (changes vs November 2017)
(50%) (+7) The UK is going in the wrong direction
(30%) (-5) The UK is going in the right direction
(21%) (-1) Don’t know
Women are the most pessimistic, with 53% saying the country is on the wrong course, compared to 47% of men. Just 37% men and 23% of women think the country is going in the right direction.
Britain feeling the pinch
The poll also found that almost half the public now feel worse off than they did before the start of the Brexit process.
Some 44% say they are financially worse off than this time last year, compared to just 22% who say they are better off. Women are the most likely to say they feel worse off, with almost half saying their finances are in worse shape.
Are you worse off financially than you were a year ago?
(44%) I am worse off financially than I was a year ago
(35%) I have experienced no financial change in the last year
(21%) I am better off financially than I was a year ago
Are you worse off financially than you were a year ago? (Male/Female)
(39%)M (49%)F I am worse off financially than I was a year ago
(39%)M (32%)F I have experienced no financial change in the last year
(22%)M (19%)F I am better off financially than I was a year ago
Rising inflation and stagnating wages are causing many British people to feel out of pocket, according to one leading economist.
“These findings reflect the fact that Britain experienced a renewed pay squeeze in 2017 as the rising cost of living outstripped earnings growth. It’s this pay packet pain that is likely to be driving wider pessimism about the economy,” Resolution Foundation Chief Economist Matt Whittaker told Business Insider.
“The good news is that the squeeze is set to ease in 2018. The bad news is that we’re still likely to fall short of a decent pay recovery.”
- REUTERS/Neil Hall
However, others blame pessimism over Brexit. Former Liberal Democrat leader and member of the Best for Britain campaign group, Tim Farron, told BI that the slump was down to the government’s failure on the issue.
“The government failure to deal with leaving the European Union whilst running the country is resulting in hard working ordinary people feeling poorer than they were this time last year,” Farron said.
“The government failure to deal with leaving the European Union whilst running the country is resulting in hard working ordinary people feeling poorer than they were this time last year,
“During the Second World War, the government were able to get through substantial education reforms, and put in place the plans for the NHS and the welfare state. Today’s government only appears to be able to do one thing at a time, and the one thing it’s doing – it’s doing badly.”
Ben Walker, co-founder of Britain Elects, said the findings suggested the government should be doing worse in the polls than they currently are.
“With much of the public feeling poorer and only 30% saying Britain is going in the right direction, it’s a wonder how the Conservatives are not suffering more than they already are in the voting intentions, what with being only one point behind,” he said.
He added that the findings suggested there could be a shift in future against Brexit.
“This economic and national pessimism may in the future bode ill for Brexit prospects, or even not at all. Current financial uncertainty could prompt voters to either turn against the Brexit leap or to ponder ‘what will change?’ when Britain actually does leave.”
The poll was carried out online by D-CYFOR between the 19th-20th January among a representative sample of 1015 UK adults. D-CYFOR is a member of the British Polling Council.