British voters more confident May will get a good Brexit deal: ORB poll

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May chats with youth activists during a visit to the Young Minds mental health charity in London

LONDON (Reuters) – British voters are becoming more confident that Prime Minister Theresa May will secure the right deal on Brexit in talks with 27 other members of the European Union, according to an ORB poll published on Friday.

Negotiators from both sides are preparing to begin formal Brexit talks after Britain’s June 8 snap national election, nearly a year since Britons voted by 52-48 percent in a referendum to leave the club it joined in 1973.

“British voters seem increasingly confident that May is going to pull off the right deal despite the might of the EU,” said Johnny Heald, managing director of ORB International.

When asked if they were confident that May would get the right Brexit deal, 44 percent of British voters said she would, up from 41 percent a month ago, and 34 percent said she would not, down from one percentage point from a month ago, according to ORB.

The poll showed 55 percent of British voters approved of the way the British government was conducting preliminary talks with the EU, while 45 percent said they disapproved. Those figures were unchanged from a similar poll a month ago.

ORB asked 2,000 adults on May 5-7.

A separate poll of 9,000 voters in nine EU countries by RED C showed that 78 percent want the primary objective of the Brexit negotiations to be ensuring the future of the EU while just 22 percent wanted the talks to focus on building a new special economic relationship with Britain.

In Ireland, 70 percent of respondents said it was extremely important not to allow Brexit to undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended years of sectarian violence between Catholic Irish nationalists and Protestant unionists in Northern Ireland.

In the month since May submitted formal divorce papers, Brexit has been overshadowed by a public display of brinkmanship as Britain and the rest of the European Union set out their stalls for the tortuous exit negotiations.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden)