Brexit: What Italians think of the UK

“The partnership must remain strong after Brexit.”

An opinion survey in the run-up to Brexit confirms the affinity between Italians and the United Kingdom and highlights what over eight out of ten Italians wish for the future: it is important to continue working together for research and innovation, trade and investment, climate and energy.

Carried out by the prestigious opinion and market research company SWG, the survey was the second commissioned by the British Embassy in Rome one year on. The results from a representative sample of Italians provide an encouraging picture for London about the way they continue to see the UK, even in this delicate phase of its history, barely a few weeks before it is scheduled to leave the European Union.

The first spontaneous associations of Italians with the UK remain the monarchy and London, with Brexit up 4 per cent compared to last year, while multiculturalism, nationalism and modernity are confirmed as the main characteristics that define the country, according to the respondents.

As for what the Italians appreciate in the United Kingdom, music (81 per cent of respondents) takes first place, followed by history (80), culture (79), landscapes (76), business opportunities (75) and innovation (75 per cent).

Compared to last year, a larger number of Italians (57 per cent, compared to 47 in 2018) think that Britons have made a wrong choice, motivated more “by the belly" (66) than “by the "head" (24 per cent).

In general – and regardless of their views on the 2016 referendum – most Italians continue to believe the Brexit vote has not affected their willingness to go to the UK for tourism (72 per cent), study (72) or work/business (68 per cent).

Above all, the Italians want the intimate relationship between Italy and the UK to continue after Brexit. While two out of three Italians want to maintain a close relationship between the two countries, the percentage of those who consider it important to continue the Anglo-Italian collaboration has increased significantly in some specific areas.

Among them, it is considered strategic to maintain strong bilateral collaboration in fields such as scientific research and innovation (82 per cent), trade and investment (81), art and culture (78) and climate change, sustainable development and energy (77 per cent).

Focus on youth: the affinity of 18-24 year olds with the UK is confirmed as is the country to which they feel closer than adults.

Commenting on the data presented today by Rado Fonda, Research Director of SWG, British Ambassador to Italy Jill Morris said: “It is certainly grounds for great pride that, among Italians who are living across the Channel at this time – a growing number compared to last year – as many as 86 per cent – speak positively about their current experience in the UK. Beyond any positive signal, I want to underline the hope that Italians have expressed for the future, that our bilateral collaboration continues to be strong.”