Catch up on a selection of articles you may have missed from October and November 2020. Brexit articles this month include results from the British Social Attitudes survey, and how Australia is impacted by the Brexit negotiations.
British Social Attitudes
NatCen, a social research group, has published the latest chapters in its British Social Attitudes survey. These focus on the political consequences of Brexit and post-Brexit public policy. The survey, run annually since 1983, asks around 3000 people in Britain “what it’s like to live in Britain and what they think about how Britain is run”.
Looking at Brexit’s legacy, Natcen’s research found “some evidence” to suggest the parliamentary stalemate seen in 2019 has undermined voter confidence and trust in the government. 79% of respondents said that Britain’s governance system needed “a lot of improvement”, an increase from the previous survey. However, in other areas, such as whether MPs “lose touch with people pretty quickly”, attitudes have remained consistent through the years.
Turning to the UK’s future after Brexit, the survey found that the Government’s plans to end freedom of movement are roughly in line with the majority opinion in the UK. However, differences of opinion exist within this position. The researchers argue that whilst the Government’s focus is on the skills and income of potential migrants, public opinion favours giving priority to care workers over bankers. Additionally, 55% thought there should be no or only a small minimum income requirement.
The research also identified an appetite for a continuation of some EU laws, specifically those regarding compensation for flight delays, restrictions on roaming charges abroad and bans on imports of chlorinated chicken.
Australia and Brexit
Dr Ben Wellings considers Australia’s relationship with the UK and the EU in the context of Brexit negotiations and the Covid-19 pandemic. He looks first at how each is represented in Australian media and then how this influences trading policy.
The article states that the UK has benefited from increased media coverage of Brexit and coronavirus in Australia. This is due, in part, to the fact that reporting about the EU in Australia is through an “anglophone lens”; for example, European correspondents for ABC Australia, a prominent broadcaster, are based in London. In addition, Dr Wellings states that Australia is “dominated” by right-wing UK press, such as the Daily Mail and the Spectator. The author argues that the EU is seen as “the sum of its member states” and is usually given airtime during turbulent times of crisis, though this has started to improve. In contrast, recent events in the UK have been reported with “morbid fascination” to an audience who is much more familiar with the UK’s style and structure of politics.
Moving to trade policy, the author compares the speed at which Australia is negotiating trade deals with each territory. Whilst the Australia–EU free trade agreement (FTA) is “at the pace that we might expect” (negotiations began in June 2018), he claims that discussions between Australia and the UK are “positively skimming along”. This is helped by frequent visits to the country by UK ministers.
Ultimately, Dr Wellings believes that Australia has “much to gain” from the post-Brexit, Covid-normal arena, as he argues that the UK, the EU and Australia “need each other more than in the past”.
Read the full article: UK in a Changing Europe, ‘Australia, the EU, and the UK: In light of Brexit and Covid-19’, 29 September 2020