No more than half correctly identified any of the aspects we put to them
Recent YouGov polling has shown significantly different levels of support for Single Market membership depending on whether the question mentions freedom of movement.
In a November poll, a majority of Britons (57%) said they supported Single Market membership “if it meant that EU citizens would have the right to live and work in the UK and UK citizens would have the right to live and work elsewhere in the EU”. By contrast, in a poll this month only 42% said they supported membership when asked in isolation, with a corresponding increase in “don’t know” responses from 21% to 36% (the number opposed remained the same).
With a return to Single Market membership seen by some as a solution to the UK’s economic woes that does not overturn the 2016 EU referendum result, this could therefore be the next political battleground on how closely Britain should be connected to the EU.
This raises the question: what do Britons think Single Market membership entails?
To find out, we put seven true or false questions about Single Market membership to the public to see which they can correctly identify.
For each question, between 39% and 48% answered “don’t know”.
The public are most likely to correctly state that Single Market membership would involve paying an annual contribution to the EU’s budget (49%) and that it would not require the UK to replace the pound with the euro (50%).
Approximately four in ten (39-41%) correctly identified that Single Market membership would allow: British businesses to establish themselves and operate freely in the EU (and vice versa for EU companies); there would no longer be import duties on goods imported to the UK from the EU (and vice versa); and that EU citizens would have the right to live and work in the UK (and vice versa).
The public are least likely to correctly state that Single Market membership would mean that Britain would fall under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (34%), and that it would not give Britain voting rights on EU laws (35%). This latter point is the one on which the public are most likely to be actively mistaken – 23% believe that Single Market membership would give the UK voting rights on EU legislation.
How do expectations of Single Market membership differ between supporters and opponents?
Those who support Britain’s membership of the Single Market are more likely to be aware that this would allow British and EU companies to operate freely in one another’s territories, and that there would not be customs duties on goods travelling between the two realms. While six in ten (61-63%) of those who back membership are aware of these facts, this falls to 40% among those who are opposed. Indeed, opponents of Single Market membership are more likely to think these statements are actively untrue (20-24%) than supporters (10-11%).
Single Market supporters are also more likely to be aware that it would allow EU and UK citizens to live and work in one another’s territories (by 53% to 40% among Single Market opponents).
For their part, opponents of Single Market membership are slightly more likely to be aware that this would bring the UK under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, by 50% to 44%.
When it comes to erroneous beliefs, supporters of joining the Single Market are more likely to incorrectly think that this would give the UK voting rights on EU laws (at 32% compared to 21% of opponents), while those opposed to Single Market membership are more likely to wrongly believe that this would require the UK to adopt the euro currency (22% versus 9% of supporters).
Both sides are about equally likely (62-65%) to know that Single Market membership requires an annual contribution to the EU’s budget.