TUESDAY marks the third anniversary of the UK officially leaving the European Union – and a new poll has found that the plurality of Brits think it’s going worse than expected.

Some 45% of respondents to an Ipsos survey said Brexit was not going as well as they’d expected, while just 9% of people said leaving the EU was working out better than they had thought. A further 39% said Brexit was going exactly as they'd anticipated ...

READ MORE: Tories break pledge to 'at least match' EU funds for devolved nations post-Brexit

With the far-reaching impacts having profoundly affected education, health, business, and just about every other area of life in the UK, the public’s attitudes are perhaps unsurprising.

The National has pulled together some graphics and data laying bare the negative impacts of Brexit…


Exports from the UK have stalled behind the rest of the world in the wake of the Brexit vote. Data from the Food and Drink Federation shows that food and drink exports were worth some £14.2 billion to the UK economy in 2019, the year before post-Brexit trading arrangements came into effect.

The introduction of the Leave red tape has seen the value plummet to below 2016 levels, reversing a previous upward trend. 

Furthermore, exports to the rest of the world have fluctuated without gaining ground, meaning the loss of revenue from the EU has not been compensated.

Experts at UK in a Changing Europe have further highlighted the damage done by Brexit on UK exports. The projects trade tracker noted in January that UK import/export volumes had "stagnated".

"In 2021, the UK experienced only a 2.5% annual growth in trade, placing it last in the G20. This trend is consistent with the UK’s trade value underperformance compared to other advanced economies," they said.

Trade Volume Moving Average

Data from HM Revenue and Customs has also shown that every single Scottish council area has seen the value of its exports drop post-Brexit.

The below map shows how the impact of Brexit has caused the value of Scottish exports to the EU from every part of the country to fall, comparing 2019 levels to 2021.

The scale moves from maroon for the least impacted areas, through white to black for the hardest hit.

Inward investment

Official figures from the Department for International Trade show that Brexit reversed a previously positive trend in the amount of inward investment being attracted to come to the UK from abroad. 

From 2012 to 2016, the number of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects in the UK steadily rose year-on-year. However in the wake of the Brexit vote, the number has stagnated and declined.


In January 2023, the Higher Education Statistics Agency published the first annual data set since new Brexit rules came into effect. It shows that, with home fees and student finance no longer available to EU students who are not already living in Britain, enrollment to Scottish and UK universities has dropped by half.

And while enrollment of non-EU students has gone up, the increase is not enough to compensate for the loss of EU students.


After the Brexit vote, the number of people from the EU/EEA joining the UK's permanent nursing register for the first time fell off a cliff.

Data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council shows there were 9389 new registrations of EU/EEA nurses and midwives in the year ending March 2016. In the year ending March 2018, this was just 805. Numbers have not come close to recovering since.

Furthermore, the number of EU/EEA nurses leaving the register also shot up in the wake of the Brexit vote, and has yet to return to levels seen before the referendum.

And the total number of EU/EEA nurses on the register has steadily fallen since Brexit, reversing the previous trend. 

Data, compiled by the Nuffield Trust, further shows that Brexit's impact has led to increased medicine shortages in the UK, compounding the pressures on the NHS budget.

There has been a clear uptick in the number of UK Government-approved price concessions for ­imported medicine – a key indicator of shortages – since 2016. The levels seen before the referendum have not been seen again since. 

The National:

The pound

The value of the sterling impacts on huge sections of UK industry, and it has seen a marked fall since the Brexit vote.

Experts at the Economic Observatory noted: "The effect of Brexit was particularly evident immediately after the referendum result, as sterling experienced its largest fall within a single day in 30 years."

The National: