Two out of every three Brits would support holding a referendum about rejoining the European Union, a new poll has found.

The survey also found that 54 per cent in the UK now say Brexit was the wrong decision, up from 46 per cent last year.

Commissioned by UK news outlet The Independent and carried out by polling company Savanta, the survey found that 65 per cent of people in the UK would like to have another referendum about the EU.

Around one in every five, or 22 per cent, say they would like that referendum to be held immediately. A further 24 per cent said they would like one to be held within the next five years.

The percentage of people who said they are opposed to having a second referendum dropped to 24 per cent, from 32 per cent a year ago.

The findings suggest Brexit regret grew significantly among Brits during 2022.

A total of 56 per cent said they believed Britain’s economy had suffered as a result of leaving the EU, up from 44 per cent last year.

Half of all respondents said they believed Britain’s global influence has suffered following Brexit. One year ago, 39 per cent said so.

And 50 per cent believe Brexit has made Britain’s border control worse. That was also up, from 43 per cent.

Brexit blues hit UK business sector

Citizens’ apparent regrets about Brexit appear to chime with business sentiment across the UK.

According to the British Chambers of Commerce, 56 per cent of UK businesses are still facing difficulties adapting to new trading rules.

"Businesses feel they are banging their heads against a brick wall as nothing has been done to help them," said BCC director general Shevaun Haviland.

"The longer the current problems go unchecked, the more EU traders go elsewhere, and the more damage is done."

"It's cost, cost, cost with no benefit," noted Adrian Hanrahan, chief executive of a small chemicals company, Robinson Brothers, based in central England and for which the EU remains a key market.

The problem is not the customs duties, largely eliminated by the post-Brexit free trade agreement between London and Brussels, but rather a mountain of new regulatory paperwork.

"We've added probably 25 per cent extra now on our administration costs just to cope with the changing paperwork... of getting stuff in from the EU and out of the EU," Hanrahan said.

The company employs 265 people, producing chemicals used by various sectors featuring food, electronics, pharmaceutical and other firms.

Robinson Brothers exports around 70 per cent of its products, of which more than half go to the EU. 

'Nothing to help them' 

Disquiet has been further stoked by a nationwide recession sparked by sky-high inflation.

While the government repeatedly blames this on Russia's invasion of Ukraine fuelling energy prices, analysts claim Brexit has also pushed up costs.

"There's good causal evidence that the depreciation of sterling immediately following (the 2016 vote for) Brexit led to higher inflation, specifically for goods we import a lot of," London School of Economics researcher Nikhil Datta told AFP.

He added that new trade deals, such as the one struck with Australia, "have been tiny".

According to King's College London economist Jonathan Portes, "there is a reasonable degree of consensus that Brexit has reduced UK trade by perhaps 10 to 15 per cent compared to a no-Brexit scenario".

The government's own economic forecasting body, the OBR, estimates that Brexit will reduce the country's long-term output by around four per cent.

Bank of England monetary policy committee member Swati Dhingra told MPs last month that Brexit was to blame for "a much bigger slowdown in trade in the UK compared to the rest of the world". 

EU workers

Complicating matters has been the loss of EU workers in sectors such as health, hospitality and agriculture, even if some of those returning home have been replaced by staff from non-EU countries.

Witnessing the fallout, some high-profile bosses who voted for Brexit are calling on the government to relax the new and tighter immigration rules.

"In respect to immigration, it's definitely not the Brexit I wanted," Simon Wolfson, head of clothing giant Next, told the BBC last month.

Tim Martin, boss of pubs group J D Wetherspoon, is of a similar opinion.

For Hanrahan, Brexit fallout has led questioning whether his company can survive.

"If this continues, then we have no other option but to shrink our offering to remain in business.

"We've had two or three very large German customers tell us that they're no longer going to come to us because it's too complex for them to work with anybody in the UK."

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