Brexit: Almost half of the population braced for economic pain immediately after Britain leaves EU

Nearly half of Britons are braced for economic pain in the months after Brexit, a new poll reveals, a year after Theresa May fired the starting gun on negotiations.

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The exclusive BMG survey for The Independent suggests that only a quarter of people believe the UK will be more prosperous in the short term after it leaves the European Union, while 49 per cent thought people would be worse off.

However, in the longer term, voters are more optimistic about their prosperity, with 43 per cent believing the UK will be better off outside of the EU, compared to 36 per cent who fear people will be left poorer after Brexit.

Leaked Whitehall analysis recently revealed that the UK would be worse off under every possible scenario after Brexit, with some regions seeing their economies shrink by up to 16 per cent.

Analysis of official forecasts, seen by The Independent, said the British economy could suffer a £252bn hit if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal.

However Chancellor Philip Hammond declared he was feeling “Tigger-ish” during his spring budget statement this month, as economic forecasts showed improvements in growth and borrowing.

The poll comes a year after Article 50 was invoked, starting the two-year countdown for Britain’s exit from the European Union.

But with only 12 months to go until exit day in March 2019, the survey also found the majority of people are still in the dark about Britain’s future outside the bloc.

More than seven out of 10 people (72 per cent) said their understanding of life after Brexit was unclear, while only 28 per cent said they were clear or very clear on what ministers want to achieve.

More than 1,800 people were surveyed between 13 and 16 March – days after the Prime Minister delivered her landmark Mansion House speech, which was intended to offer clarity on the Government’s Brexit strategy.

Asked if the UK should stay in the EU, 53 per cent backed Remain and 47 per cent backed Leave.

It comes after European leaders signed off plans for a transition period, agreed by Brexit Secretary David Davis and Michel Barnier, which clears the way for vital talks on Britain’s future relationship with Brussels for the first time.

Mr Barnier, the EU’s Brexit chief negotiator, said the deal marked a “decisive” moment in “this difficult and extraordinary negotiation” but warned that future talks “must respect the principles and identity of the EU and the single market”.

The Irish border remains a thorny issue, as the EU has effectively told the UK to come up with an alternative to a hard border before the next summit in June, or be forced to bring in a “backstop” solution that would keep Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs union.

Ministers are hoping that trade talks could unlock a solution, as part of plans for trade between Britain and the rest of the EU to be as frictionless as possible.

BMG interviewed a representative sample of 1,815 adults living in Great Britain between 13 and 16 March. Data are weighted. BMG are members of the British polling council and abide by their rules.

The Independent