More than half of UK engineers want a second Brexit referendum, survey shows

Just over half of The Engineer’s audience would like to see a second Brexit referendum according to the results of a new survey.

Carried out between November and December 2017, the survey asked The Engineer’s audience for its views on Brexit, its appetite for a second referendum and its priorities in the Brexit negotiations.

Receiving 1,494 responses, the survey reveals an audience which, whilst generally in favour of remaining in the EU, is also highly polarised with few areas of common ground between engineering remainers and engineering leavers.

The survey also commissioned the views of a representative sample of 1,141 members of the public, enabling us to contrast engineers’ priorities and concerns with those of the general public.

Some 66 per cent of engineering respondents voted remain in the 2016 referendum, with a slightly reduced 64 per cent saying they would vote the same way in a second referendum.

Interestingly, this paints a similar picture to the results of an online poll carried out by The Engineer back in December in which 69 per cent of 1,467 respondents said they would vote remain in second referendum. The key difference with the latest survey was an eight per cent shift in voters from leave to remain.

Despite a majority of respondents to our survey favouring continued EU membership, 50 per cent believe that government has a duty to implement Brexit, whilst 52 per cent would like to see a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

Respondents commented on a wide variety of priority issues in the ongoing Brexit negotiations, ranking these issues on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being not very important and 5 being considered very important.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, across the entire sample group free trade with the EU (4.19) and trade deals with non-EU countries were seen as the top priorities.  In contrast, the primacy of the court and control of borders – the two issues which dominated the public debate and which ranked most highly among public respondents to our survey – were viewed as less important.

The results also indicate a majority appetite for a soft Brexit, with 52 per cent of respondents wanting to see a two-year transition period, and 61 per cent wanting to see UK stay in the single market.

Despite this however, there is little common ground between engineering remainers and engineering leavers, and whilst those who voted remain regard free trade with the EU as a number one priority, this is relatively low down the list for leavers ( 3.48 ) whose main priority is trade deals with non-EU countries (4.71).

The results suggest these two groups are only likely to become more polarised, with engineering leavers adopting a harder stance than leavers in the general population. For instance, 86 per cent of respondents in the leave camp believe that the EU is being inflexible in negotiations (compared to 74 per cent in the public sample) and there is also less support within this group than in the wider public for a transition period or for remaining in the single market.

This survey was carried out as part of a broader survey looking at all of the markets served by Centaur Media, owner of The Engineer. Click here for a more detailed breakdown of the findings.