Britons Are More Confident Than Europeans Over Pandemic Recovery

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Britons are significantly more confident than people in France, Germany and Sweden about the prospects of a strong economic recovery after the pandemic, according to a poll that also highlights rising domestic approval of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s response to the crisis.

The latest six-nation survey by Kekst CNC found 53% of British people expect a stronger economy in three months’ time, compared with 51% in the U.S., 30% in Sweden, 24% in Germany, 19% in France and 10% in Japan.

The study of pandemic perceptions also shows how the U.K. inoculation program has lifted Johnson’s standing among respondents, in marked contrast to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. That’s despite Johnson overseeing the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe.

Britons Are More Confident Than Europeans Over Pandemic Recovery

“The vaccine rollout is key. It has been a critical factor behind the increase in confidence in the U.K. government and in how consumers view the future of the economy,” said James Johnson, a Kekst CNC senior adviser. “This is completely different to that seen in Europe, where dissatisfaction with the vaccine programs have led to plunging ratings for political leaders -- and the lowest-ever ratings for Merkel and Macron.”

Johnson’s net approval rating for his handling of the pandemic is still at minus 4%, but it’s up from a low of minus 24% in December. Merkel’s rating has fallen to minus 1% from a high of 48% in June. Macron’s rating has dropped to minus 24%, the lowest since Kekst CNC began polling the issue last year. A negative number means more people think the politician is doing badly than doing well.

Vaccine Boost

Germany was widely seen to have managed the pandemic better than Britain last year, with a markedly lower death toll in a country with a greater population. But a third wave of infections, coupled with a vaccine rollout that lags the U.K.’s, has dented Merkel’s popularity in recent months. Those factors have also weighed on Macron’s standing.

The U.K. has administered enough vaccine doses to cover about 40% of the population, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. That compares with 41% in the U.S., 22% in Germany, 21% in France, 19% in Sweden and 2% in Japan.

In the survey, about eight in 10 Britons said the pace of the vaccine rollout is “about right,” compared to just one in 5 Germans, fewer than a quarter of French respondents, and just 10% of Japanese.

The pollsters interviewed 1,000 people in each of the six countries. The margin of error is 3.3 percentage points. They also found:

  • Approval of the U.K. government’s pandemic handling turned positive for the first time in eight surveys, at 2%. In Germany it’s negative for the first time, at minus 12%
  • Some 90% of Britons said they had had or will accept a vaccination, the most in any country
  • Britons favored vaccine passports for some jobs, with 63% comfortable with their use by doctors and nurses, 55% supporting use by airline workers and 53% for teachers
  • Two-thirds of Britons said that Covid restrictions are at about the right level at present
  • 13% of Britons want to continue only working from home, 29% would choose to work entirely in their workplaces, and 49% prefer a mix

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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