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Britons' Ratings of EU, Germany at Highs Before Transition

Britons' Ratings of EU, Germany at Highs Before Transition

by Kristjan Archer

Story Highlights

  • Britons' approval of EU and German leadership at or near record highs
  • Boris Johnson's low approval rating rivals that of Theresa May's final measure

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While the journey for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union has taken nearly four years, Gallup finds that in the final months of the Brexit transition period, Britons' approval of the leadership of the EU is at an all-time high of 49%.

Line graph. Trend line showing Britons' approval ratings of the job performance of the European Union since 2008.

The current level of EU leadership approval is up 12 percentage points from the 37% of Britons who approved shortly before they voted to leave the bloc in 2016. EU approval has trended upward over the past four years -- and in 2020, on the eve of British departure, is at its highest level in the U.K. in more than a decade.

Earlier this month, when British and European negotiators were at an impasse on possible EU concessions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told EU members that a Brexit trade deal with Britain is "in the interest of all." Germany's leadership has resonated with Britons; a large majority (67%) approve of the country's leadership, tying the previous high of 66% in 2015.

Line graph. Trend line showing Britons' approval rating of the job performance of theh leadership of Germany since 2006.

Since 2012, a majority of Britons have approved of Germany's leadership, and they have consistently found more favor with Germany's leadership than their own. When asked to rate the job performance of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 38% of Britons surveyed in August and September 2020 approved. This is similar to the final rating for Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May: 36% of Britons approved of her job performance shortly before she resigned.

While approval levels for Johnson and May are relatively similar, their policy toward Brexit has diverged significantly. By one percentage point, approval for May in 2019 was the lowest approval rating Britons have given to an individual leader since Gallup began polling on this question. The past three prime ministers -- David Cameron, May and Johnson -- have all seen their disapproval ratings up near 60%.

Line chart. Trend line showing Britons' approval ratings of the past three prime ministers, David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Bottom Line

While the coronavirus pandemic begins to flare up once more in Europe, the agreement on a robust trade deal between the U.K. and the EU before the transition deadline is crucial for both economies as restrictions on businesses and movement are reinstated. Brexit has been a long time coming, and it is unlikely that either party expected the separation to be happening under such unprecedented circumstances.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

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