Press Release

Maintaining access to single market is twice as important as ending freedom of movement

In negotiating the UK’s future relationship with the EU, 59 per cent of Londoners think Government should prioritise staying in the single market, compared to 29 per cent who would prioritise ending freedom of movement in order to reduce EU migration, a new survey has found.

The survey, carried out by ComRes on behalf of think tank Centre for London, is the first poll of Londoners’ expectations post-Brexit which provides a sense of how people are feeling about London’s future, and what they think the Government’s priorities should be.

Strikingly, just one in three Londoners (34 per cent) think that central Government has London’s best interests at heart, and nearly three in five (57 per cent) think London should be given more powers and control over its finances to ensure the city’s continuing success after Brexit. Yet despite this, there is little appetite for the city to try to make its own unique arrangements with the EU: 58 per cent of Londoners think that London’s immigration system should remain consistent with the rest of the UK.

The findings suggest that Londoners feel confident about the long-term future of the city – 58 per cent think London will still be one of the top global capitals in 10 years’ time. Yet the short term remains uncertain; half (52 per cent) say that Brexit will have a negative impact on London’s economic growth until 2020 – a figure that rises to 68 per cent amongst young Londoners aged 18-24.

Londoners are also concerned about the impact Brexit could have on cost of living; three quarters (76 per cent) think that the price of day-to-day products such as food and clothing will increase, while two in five (42 per cent) think that it will have a negative impact on their personal finances. Moreover Londoners aren’t expecting rising living costs to be addressed through increases in earnings. Only 17 per cent of Londoners think that leaving the EU will result in wages going up and one in four (26 per cent) expect them to go down.

The survey also indicates that Londoners feel unsure about their relationships – both with fellow Londoners, and the rest of the UK – in the wake of Brexit:

  • 41 per cent of Londoners feel distant from the rest of the UK in the wake of Brexit
  • Over one in three (37 per cent) feel that negative perceptions of London from the rest of the UK are holding the capital back.
  • Half (51 per cent) of Londoners think that the EU referendum has had a negative impact on social cohesion in London.

Ben Rogers, Director at Centre for London said:

“This survey shows a strong preference, among Londoners, in favour of maintaining open borders if that is the price for preserving access to the EU Single Market.

“It also suggests that Londoners support the demands made by successive Mayors, for more self-government for the capital.

“Londoners, especially young Londoners, are worried about the effects that Brexit will have on the London economy and on their own standard of living and want London government to have more power to address the capital’s challenges.”


Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation said:

“As the world’s leading financial services hub it is important the we keep access to the Single Market. This is a big issue for the capital and so it is positive to see that Londoners value this so highly.

“With the majority of the financial and professional services jobs outside of London, it’s also in the UK’s best interests to preserve these trading relations too.

“We will continue to work closely with Government and City firms to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved.”


The survey was released to coincide with Centre for London’s annual event, The London Conference, which takes place on Wednesday 16 November.

This year the conference is discussing London’s place in the world post-EU Referendum vote. Speakers include: Alicia Glen, New York’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development speaking about lessons for London from New York; David Miliband, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee speaking about how global cities should respond to the refugee crisis; and Benjamin Barber, Founder of Global Parliament of Mayors on the way cities do, and can, cities help to address the global crises we face.