Embracing the world: changing attitudes to trade

Document type
Discussion paper
Montagu, Ian
Date of publication
1 February 2018
Social Policy, Older Adults
Social welfare
Material type

Download (763KB )

The nature of the UK’s post-Brexit trade agreements with both the European Union and the rest of the world are likely to have a considerable impact on public life.

Through an analysis of data from the award-winning and innovative NatCen Panel together with historic British Social Attitudes data, this paper presents an overview of public attitudes towards trade and asks whether these may have changed over time.

Key findings:

  • Almost two thirds of people (63%) believe that 'free trade leads to better products becoming available in Britain', up from 57% in 2003.
  • Just over half (53%) feel that 'large international companies are doing more and more damage to local business in Britain', down from 62% in 2003.
  • Explicit protectionism has also declined since 2003, with only 36% of people agreeing that 'Britain should limit the import of foreign goods to protect its economy'.

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