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Stevens Machi Solicitors

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Attitudes Towards Freedom of Movement

People in Britain may hold more favourable attitudes towards freedom of movement than is sometimes believed, according to the findings of a new poll.

The poll, by think-tank Demos and ComRes, asked respondents to choose between three reciprocal options for Britain’s immigration relationship with the European Union:

  • Restrictions on free movement in the form of a points-based system or similar.
  • Free movement to continue, but with restrictions on the ability of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in EU countries, to claim benefits for the first four years after arrival, and on the free movement of citizens with criminal records.
  • Free movement to continue with no changes to the current system.


According to the results, only 20% would back continuing the current arrangements of freedom of movement. But respondents were divided between continuing the principle of freedom of movement, while restricting access to welfare for four years and access for those with criminal records (41%), and those who wanted to restrict free access by default and introduce a new ‘Australian-style’ points-based system or similar (39%).

This means that 61% of Britons would prefer to maintain some freedom of movement as the default position, with or without reform, compared to the 39% who would like to scrap freedom of movement in favour of a points-based system or similar.

“This polling shows how complex the Prime Minister’s task of managing the Brexit negotiations will be – within Europe, but also at home,” commented Demos’ Chief Executive Claudia Wood. “Britons are very much divided on the best pathway forward. What’s surprising, is that when made to choose in a reciprocal context between three immigration scenarios likely to be on the table after Article 50 is triggered, a majority support maintaining some form of freedom of movement within the EU.”

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