On July 1st, the UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, & Home Secretary, Priti Patel, announced that a 'path to full British citizenship' would be opened to Hong Kong British National (Overseas) passport holders, which could affect over three million people, according to the Evening Standard.

Following the announcement by the Chinese Government that it will impose a national security law on Hong Kong, the UK has confirmed that new arrangements will be put in place for British Nationals (Overseas).

The UK Government made a commitment to change the rules for BN(O)s should China implement the new national security law first proposed in early June.

This new bespoke immigration route will allow BN(O)s to come to the UK without the current 6 month limit, granting them five years limited leave to remain, with the ability to live and work in the UK.

After these five years, they will be able to apply for settled status and, after a further 12 months with that status, apply for citizenship.

The new bespoke route for BN(O)s will be implemented in the coming months, with exact date and further details to be announced in due course. In the meantime, we will ensure British National (Overseas) citizens who wish to come to the UK will be able to do so, subject to standard immigration checks.

This follows an article published on June 3rd by Boris Johnson in the South China Morning Post which warned of this decision:

If China imposes its national security law, the British government will change our immigration rules and allow any holder of these passports from Hong Kong to come to the UK for a renewable period of 12 months and be given further immigration rights, including the right to work, which could place them on a route to citizenship.

Immigration was a big issue in the debate surrounding the Brexit referendum in 2016, as well as the subsequent two General Elections. I'm interested in what the view of Brexit supporters is on this decision. I would have expected Brexit supporters to not support this measure, however, anecdotally, I've been surprised at the support for this proposal among those I know personally.

Have any polls been conducted surveying the support for this proposal or decision that splits out responses by 2016 Brexit referendum vote? I'm aware that there are unlikely to be polls on the actual decision this soon after the announcement, but seeing as the issue has been talked about for about a month, I hope that some research has taken place.

3 Answers 3


A YouGov poll just published today shows significant support across the political spectrum:

Poll results

The full results show that the level of support among Leavers (62%) is nearly as high as that among Stayers (70%).

If that seems surprising it may be relevant that a study published last year found the following:

Those who subscribe strongly to the Leave identity, measured by their aversion to the EU and antipathy towards immigration, are also more likely to hold negative perceptions of Chinese global leadership and be more suspicious of China as a military threat.

  • 6
    Is the 1990 data about an identical policy? Or about an opposite direction policy? 2020 policy is about letting Hong Kongers come to the UK, was the 1990 question the same?
    – Jontia
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 7:27
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    Seeing China as a military threat doesn't explain their attitude towards immigration from HK. My guess would be they are less bothered by people from former colonies. The bad old days of Empire are revered and there is a built in assumption of superiority, where as with the EU it's the opposite.
    – user
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 8:03
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    @user Perhaps your assumptions are untrue or, in fact, it's impossible and reductive to state someone is a Leaver or a Remainer and therefore must be in favour/against everything that that is said (by whom?) to entail.
    – awjlogan
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 8:32
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    @Jontia - I would surmise that the question was posed then as it was around the time that Hong Kong was returned from the UK to China and the public opinion of the time was against giving full British citizenship to the people of Hong Kong, so it is effectively the same policy and the same question. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 9:39
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    @user - I read your post carefully the first time, thank you, and it's quite clear - you assert that "racism was a major motivator for voting leave" and therefore "anything to do with immigration has to be understood through that lens". It doesn't follow that opposing some forms of immigration is racist, which is what you are ascribing to Leavers as a block. (Putting aside all over Leave "considerations", such as they were...)
    – awjlogan
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 14:19

In addition to Brian Z's answer, I found an older and less detailed poll, again run by YouGov, conducted on May 29th:

enter image description here

This shows a rather large difference between the levels of support shown by Remainers & Leavers, but also a substantial amount of 'Don't know' responses compared to the survey in Brian's answer, suggesting opinions have changed somewhat over the last month as more information has become available, and perhaps, the situation in China & Hong Kong has developed.


The Brexit Party is currently (12 July 2020) polling its members to ask about this

  1. With regard to the 3,000,000 citizens of Hong Kong (British National (Overseas) passport holders and dependants thereof), who have been offered rights to come to the UK, do you believe that:

a.They should be given total rights to come and live and settle here

b.The current arrangements should apply, but citizens of Hong Kong should be given preference/fast-tracked

c. The existing arrangements should apply, with the same rights as commonwealth citizens

d. Unsure

I don't know when the results will be in but I'll try to find out.

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