Exeter Academics provide evidence to UK Parliament on Attitudes Towards NATO

Perceptions on NATO and Defence Policy: Public Opinion in the UK, France, Germany and the United States and Security Elite Views in the UK

Written evidence submitted to UK Parliament by Dr Catarina Thomson, Professor Jason Reifler and Professor Thomas Scotto

Thomson, Reifler and Scotto's evidence explores both public opinion and elite views, and uses data from two separate research programmes (both funded by the Economic Social and Research Council). For the first set of data Dr Thomson fielded a survey with a sample of UK security elites (533 members of the Royal United Services Institute –RUSI– and their extended network and 64 members of the Defence Academy) between December 2016 and April 2017. A companion survey was fielded in April of 2017 (prior to the announcement of the 2017 General Election) with a representative sample of 2,000 UK adults.

For the second set of data, Professors Scotto and Reifler commissioned a series of representative surveys of the UK population on matters of foreign policy from 2011-2015 (2,000/wave). Parallel surveys were fielded in the United States and a limited number of surveys were conducted in France and Germany.

Key Findings:

  • There is very strong support for NATO among the UK public, and even more so among UK security elites.
  • Both the UK public and UK security elites have favourable feelings towards international organisations (NATO, the United Nations, and the European Union).
  • However, positive views are higher for security elites, particularly regarding NATO.
  • A majority of the UK public and security elites favour the UK participating in European defence integration, particularly if such efforts occur under the direction of NATO.
  • Both the UK public and UK security elites support multilateralism and unilateralism and reject isolationism (elites do so significantly more than members of the public).
  • On some (but not all) foreign policy and security issues, there are significant divisions between those who support Brexit and those who do not.
  • Attitudes of the UK public towards NATO are remarkably similar to those in France, Germany, and the United States.
  • Foreign policy attitudes of the UK public are similar to those in France and Germany, although they are more supportive of taking unilateral action.

For further details of their evidence click here.

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