LONDON: The United Kingdom may be a divided nation – and not just in relation to Brexit – but a new report finds that Britons are generally more optimistic than five years ago.

With The Future of Britain – Five Years On, media agency OMD UK updated its original 2013 study, with an online survey of 2,000 adults, qualitative interviews, vox pops and social listening.

“The Britain we know today is almost unrecognisable from the one that we saw emerging from the shadows of the recession in 2013,” it said.

One of the most surprising trends, given all that has happened in the world since the heady days of the London 2012 Olympics, is how people feel about the future: 20% of Brits said they were optimistic about Britain’s future, compared to just 11% five years ago.

And, on a scale of 0-10, 42% rated themselves as happy (scoring 8-10) while just 9% said they were unhappy (scoring 0-3).

“One explanation may be that the nation has simply resigned itself to the uncertainty that comes with Brexit and other world events, a term we coin as ‘Contented Resilience’,” the study said.

It also noted that happy people tend to have different attitudes and spending patterns, being more open to brands and advertising and less inclined to hunt for bargains.

But an unexpected level of optimism cannot hide the divisions that split the nation, led by Brexit, with OMD’s survey showing 47% would vote remain today, while 42% would leave the EU.

Its research showed Remainers to be more worried than Leavers about larger societal issues beyond the UK’s relationship with Europe, including the economy, racism, world poverty, the environment and gender. Conversely, those who voted Leave are more likely than Remainers to worry about their immediate surroundings and issues like local crime.

There’s also a huge difference in outlook of these groups, OMD added: “nearly a third of Leavers say they are optimistic about the future, versus 1 in 10 Remainers”.

And when it conducted an attitudinal segmentation, it found that while many people fitted the expected profile of Leavers (‘Conservative Traditionalists’) and Remainers (‘Liberal Traditionalists’) there were smaller groups with other concerns.

‘The Disengaged’ for example have little interest in current affairs and were least likely to have voted but they still constitute “a significant chunk of the population”.

Sourced from OMD; additional content by WARC staff