2023 UK public opinion survey on nuclear weapons: article and data

In January 2023 British Pugwash and polling company Savanta conducted a survey of UK public opinion concerning nuclear weapons issues. The poll aimed to understand the views of the British public in this area and assess potential support for policies that advance nuclear arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

The poll asked UK adults seven questions across a range of topical themes relating to nuclear weapons. These topics include: the Russia-Ukraine war; the UK’s ongoing replacement of its nuclear weapon system; the possibility that US nuclear weapons will again be stationed in the UK; the significant uplift to the UK’s nuclear warhead stockpile cap; and the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

The polling results show that there are several notable differences between the British public’s views and the policies of the UK Government concerning nuclear weapons. Whilst 40% of UK adults support the UK possessing nuclear weapons, there is significant public support for policies which would control, limit, and even eliminate the UK’s nuclear weapons—including amongst supporters of nuclear possession.

These findings suggest a strong case for adjusting UK policies better to represent public views on nuclear weapon issues. In particular, UK public support for: a no first use policy; reductions in the cost of replacing the UK’s nuclear weapon capability; and engaging with the TPNW—in addition to opposition to the US again basing nuclear weapons in the UK—should be better reflected in nuclear arms control and disarmament policies.