Majority of Britons support rejoining the EU single market – poll

LONDON (Reuters) – A majority of Britons support rejoining the European Union’s single market even though that would mean the restoration of the free movement of workers from the bloc, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

Curbing immigration was a key reason Britons voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

Polls in recent months have shown that a majority of people now think Brexit was now a mistake, and Wednesday’s poll comes less than a week after data showed that annual net migration to the United Kingdom hit a record high last year – more than double the figure recorded in the year before the Brexit vote.

The YouGov polling showed that 57% of Britons would now support joining the single market even if that meant the resumption of the free movement of people, a policy which led to millions of families and workers moving to Britain during the country’s membership.

One in five people opposed it.

Support for joining the single market, which also guarantees the free movement of goods and services, was divided along political lines.

For those respondents who voted to leave the EU and who would back the opposition Labour Party in an election tomorrow, 53% support single market membership, with 31% opposed.

For those who voted for Brexit and intend to vote for the governing Conservatives, only 29% would support a return to the single market, with 54% opposed.

Labour, which is on course to win the next election according to opinion polls, has promised to improve the country’s trading relationship with the bloc, but leader Keir Starmer has said he does not want a return to the single market.

In general, the poll shows that 72% of Britons want the country to have closer ties with the European Union, including a majority of both Remain and Leave voters.

YouGov said the poll had a sample size of 2,138 people.

(Reporting by Farouq Suleiman; Editing by Kate Holton and Nick Macfie)