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The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has damaged its reputation among EU members, according to early findings from a British Council survey.
More than a third of EU citizens believe that the UK is less attractive as a country following the EU Referendum vote.
When asked about the impact of Brexit on plans to study in the UK, 30 per cent of EU respondents said they were less likely to do so, five per cent said they were more likely,
However, figures from the larger G20 group of nations about the UK’s attractiveness found that 35 per cent were positive, while 17 per cent were negative. In Commonwealth countries 16 per cent said they were more likely to think of studying in the UK and 15 per cent were less likely. In the rest of the G20, 17 per cent said more likely and 14 per cent less likely.
The survey of nearly 40,000 people aged between 18 and 34 years old was carried out for the British Council by Ipsos MORI in two waves either side of the EU referendum.
As well as questioning people online about the UK’s attractiveness as a country, the survey asked about whether the vote had affected perceptions of the trustworthiness of British people and the UK government.
A third of EU nations said Brexit had a negative impact on feelings of trust towards UK people, while 16 per cent said the effect was positive. In Commonwealth nations 31 per cent saw the vote as having a positive impact on their trust in people from the UK compared to 18 per cent negative. The figures for the rest of the G20 were 32 per cent positive and 15 per cent negative.
When asked specifically about Brexit, 41 per cent of EU nations said that it had decreased their trust in the UK government, against 16 per cent positive. In Commonwealth countries, 29 per cent said it had had a positive impact compared to 21 per cent negative. The figures for the rest of the G20 were 31 per cent positive towards the government and 20 per cent negative.
The British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, is calling for an ‘Open Brexit’ in which the UK seeks to maintain and step up its connections with other European nations and beyond through continued ease of movement for students, academics and creative professionals and increased cultural, educational and scientific partnership, and research.
Sir Ciarán Devane, chief executive of the Council, said: “As the UK comes to reposition itself on the world stage, our reputation matters more than ever. We need to address the more negative opinions young people in Europe now have whilst making the most of the positive opinions elsewhere. Leaving the EU in a way that maintains relationships with the societies of Europe – and that strengthens these partnerships around the world - will be essential.”
The full report will be published in early 2017.
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