90% of voters want Britain to stay in the European single market after Brexit
Virtually everyone in Britain wants the UK to remain members of the EU single market even after Brexit, according to a major poll.
The survey, by NatCen Social Research, found that an incredible 90% of voters believe the Prime Minister should make that a key demand in her negotiations with EU leaders, regardless of how they voted in the referendum.
However, the poll also found that 70% of people believe Britain should be able to limit the number of EU citizens coming to the UK, with 74% saying they should have to apply to enter this country in the same way non-Europeans do.
Brussels chiefs have warned that the UK will lose tariff-free access to the single market unless it continues to sign up to the principle of free movement across the EU.
The findings show how difficult it will be for the Prime Minister to come back with a deal which is acceptable to most voters.
Nearly 1,400 voters across the UK took part in the poll, which also found that 62% of voters say EU citizens should no longer get free healthcare in the UK, while 65% of voters think British firms should continue to comply with EU regulations on the design and safety of goods.
Some 63% of voters think UK banks should still be able to do business freely in the EU, but 71% back customs checks on people and goods coming to Britain from Europe.
Professor John Curtice, who led the research, said: "Irrespective of how they voted, voters in Britain do not feel that the UK’s exit from the EU should necessarily be a choice between a ‘hard’ or a ‘soft’ withdrawal. Rather, many back options on both menus. Consequently, the kind of deal that is most likely to prove electorally popular is one that maintains free trade but permits at least some limits on EU migration.
"That, of course, is the deal that many in the EU insist will not be possible. In those circumstances, the UK government will be faced with a tough choice. But given that most Leave voters – and, indeed, a majority of Conservative voters – prioritise limits on immigration over keeping free trade, perhaps we should not be surprised if that would be the choice that, if necessary, it will be inclined to make."
A spokeswoman for Mrs May said: "The Prime Minister has set out what some of our objectives will be going into these negotiations - making sure that we can control our immigration policy while also giving firms maximum freedom to trade within the European market."