But the French and Germans aren’t so convinced…
As the government prepares to negotiate with Brussels, the attitude of the remaining EU nations to the UK’s demands will be vital to the success or failure of negotiations.
Theresa May’s shopping list is ambitious, and much hinges on whether our soon-to-be former European partners believe Britain is an important enough country and trading partner to indulge in the government’s requests.
New data from YouGov’s Eurotrack survey suggests that many Britons certainly believe this country is important enough. One third (33%) of Britons think that the EU needs the UK more than the UK needs it. With a further 28% of Brits saying that the EU and UK need each other equally, this means that more than six in ten people think that the EU needs the UK at least as much as the UK needs the EU.
This is important because it shows that a majority of Britons expect that the UK will negotiate the terms of Brexit with the EU as (at least) an equal partner, rather than from a position of weakness.
By comparison, just 17% of Brits think that the UK needs the EU more than the EU needs the UK. A further 8% think that neither the EU nor the UK need one another, whilst 14% don’t know.
Whilst Britons may feel optimistic about the government’s Brexit negotiation position, they might have cause to be concerned about the attitudes of people in EU member states towards the UK.
Members of the public in the EU’s two most important countries – Germany and France – are far less convinced of the strength of Britain’s negotiating position. In Germany 37% think that the UK needs the EU more, a level four times higher than the 9% of Germans who think the EU needs the UK more.
Likewise, in France, 25% of people think the EU has the stronger negotiating position, compared to just 12% who think the opposite is the case.
With about a quarter of people in both countries thinking that the EU and UK need each other equally, the results show that the French and German publics are much more likely to think that the UK at best has an equal negotiating position to the EU.
French and German people are also more likely to say that the EU and UK don’t need one another at all (21% and 14% respectively).
Elsewhere in Europe, Scandinavians have a higher opinion of the UK’s level of influence than the French and Germans. Nevertheless, they are still more likely to think that the UK needs the EU more than the EU needs the UK – with the exception of Norway (which is not a member of the European Union).