Voter confidence in UK handling of Brexit ebbs away: ORB poll

A Union Jack flag flutters next to European Union flags ahead of a visit of Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels
A Union Jack flag flutters next to European Union flags ahead of a visit of Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

November 7, 2017

LONDON (Reuters) – A record majority of Britons disapprove of Prime Minister Theresa May’s handling of Brexit talks and they are increasingly skeptical that leaving the EU will make the country better off, an opinion poll showed on Tuesday.

ORB International said 66 percent of people disapproved of the government’s conduct of the negotiations, up from 64 percent last month.

The poll also showed only 27 percent were confident that May will get the right deal, compared with 47 percent who were not confident.

Trust in May’s handling of Brexit has evaporated since she gambled away her parliamentary majority in an election in June.

With only 17 months left until Britain is due to exit the European Union, the lack of clear progress in the negotiations has raised fears of an abrupt departure with no transition that businesses say they need.

For the first time, more Britons disagreed that Brexit will help the economy than agreed, ORB said.

“There is no sign that the prime minister is beginning to turn things around when it comes to Brexit,” ORB said in a statement. “Overall these poll findings provide little encouragement for a prime minister facing multiple battles.”

As well as trying to breath life into Brexit talks, May is dealing with a growing sexual harassment scandal in Britain’s parliament. Without an overall majority, May cannot afford to lose parliamentary seats.

Businesses have expressed alarm at the progress of Brexit talks. On Monday, the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply said nearly two-thirds of European businesses planned to cut back orders from British suppliers.

Last month finance minister Philip Hammond said a transition deal needed to be struck by early 2018. [nL8N1N95CL]

ORB surveyed 2,044 people in an online poll between Nov. 3 and Nov. 5.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by William Schomberg)