Only 24% of Britons think country should be outside EU, report finds

A woman enjoys the weather as the London Eye is seen in the background in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Only a quarter of Britons believe the country should be outside the European Union, according to a report published on Wednesday, the lowest proportion since the 2016 vote to leave the bloc.

Britain will hold a national election on July 4, its first since the country formally left the EU in 2020. Despite Europe having long been a divisive topic in British politics, the issue of Brexit has barely featured so far in the election campaign.

The British Social Attitudes survey, carried out by the National Centre for Social Research, found 24% said Britain should be outside the EU, compared to 36% in 2019 and 41% in 2016.

It also found the impact of Brexit on issues such as the economy and immigration was regarded more negatively now than in 2019, when the last election was held. The change was particularly marked among those who voted 'Leave' in 2016.

Around 40% of Leave voters feel that the economy is worse off as a result of Brexit, compared to 18% who felt that would be the case in 2019. Nearly two-thirds now believe immigration is higher as a result of leaving the EU, compared with just 5% who previously expected that would be the case.

"In short, it appears that for many of those who voted to leave the EU, Brexit has not turned out as they anticipated," the report, co-authored by polling expert John Curtice, said.

The survey of 5,578 people, carried out between Sept. 12 and Oct. 31 last year, also found public trust and confidence in government had fallen to record lows, with 45% 'almost never' trusting British governments to put the needs of the nation above the interests of their own political party.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Christina Fincher)