No Bregrets

Almost as soon as the referendum votes were counted people were asking for polling on whether people regretted their decision. There is still a certain audience who seem downright desperate to find polling showing that people do not, after all, want to leave the European Union (and, I suppose, a (slightly larger) audience who want to see polls showing they don’t!). I guess this is the curse of a referendum decision that takes a couple of years to actually implement.

The most straightforward way of measuring Bregret is to ask the referendum question again – how would people vote if the referendum question was asked again now. Several polls have done that:

YouGov/Eurotrack (20th-25th Oct) Remain 44%, Leave 43%
BMG (19th-24th Oct) Remain 45%, Leave 43%
YouGov/Eurotrack (21st-22nd July) Remain 43%, Leave 44%
YouGov/Eurotrack (3rd-4th July) Remain 45%, Leave 45%

All of these suggest a very small movement towards Remain, and given Leave’s lead was only four points that’s enough to flip the result in a couple of cases. However, I’d be a little cautious in reading too much into the results. All of these polls are just straight “how would you vote questions” with no attempt to account for differential turnout, when at the referendum Leave voters were more liable to turnout. If you look at the actual tables for these you’ll find there is very little movement between remain and leave, the shift is down to people who didn’t vote in the referendum claiming that in a referendum tomorrow they would vote in favour of Remain. That’s possible of course (perhaps people who assumed a Remain victory in June and didn’t bother to vote, now realising their vote really would count)… but I’m rather sceptical about people saying they’d vote in an EU referendum who didn’t bother to vote in the one we just had.

The approach alternative is to ask if people think it was the right decision and if they might change their vote.

Just after the referendum there was an poll by Ipsos MORI for Newsnight, which showed 43% of people thought Brexit was the right decision, 44% thought it was the wrong decision. Asked if they would change their mind in a new referendum, 1% of Remain voters said they would definitely or probably change their mind, 5% of Leave voters said they would definitely or probably change their mind. If those people all switched to the other side it would have just edged into a Remain lead.

In contrast YouGov have regularly asked if people think the decision to leave was right or wrong, and have tended to find slightly more people saying it was the right decision. The pattern of opinion is pretty consistent – movement between Remain and Leave is small and tends to cancel out, people who didn’t vote at all tend to split in favour of it being the wrong decision:

YouGov/Times (11th-12th Oct) – Right to Leave 45%, Wrong to Leave 44%
YouGov/Times (13th-14th Sep) – Right to Leave 46%, Wrong to Leave 43%
YouGov/Times (30th-31st Aug) – Right to Leave 47%, Wrong to Leave 44%
YouGov/Times (22nd-23rd Aug) – Right to Leave 45%, Wrong to Leave 43%
YouGov/Times (8th-9th Aug) – Right to Leave 45%, Wrong to Leave 44%
YouGov/Times (1st-2nd Aug) – Right to Leave 46%, Wrong to Leave 42%

Finally the British Election Study asked a question on whether people regretted how they voted or not. Only 1% of people who voted Remain said they regretted their vote, but 6% of people who voted Leave said they regretted their vote. Now, saying you’ve some regrets doesn’t necessarily mean that you wouldn’t, on balance, end up doing the same. For what it’s worth though, if those people who had regrets hadn’t voted the result would still have been leave; if those people had voted the opposite way it would’ve been Remain.

Looking across the board at all this polling, there is a suggestion that public opinion may have moved very slightly towards Remain, and with only a four point lead that’s enough to change the lead in some polls. However, in most cases that apparent movement isn’t people changing their minds, but is down to the opinions of those people who didn’t actually vote last time. That means if there was another referendum right now, if turnout was similar to June the result would probably be similar too.

My expectation is that, given time, we probably will see “Bregret”, simply because Brexit is going to be tested against reality while Remain isn’t. The road ahead has a lot of obstacles and some Leavers’ hopes and expections will be dashed (Remainers’ hopes and expectations of what would have happened if we’d stayed won’t, of course, face the same collision with reality). The lead at the referendum was only 4%, so it really won’t take that many people having second thoughts to flip opinion over. To those who really want to see evidence of Bregret in the polls – have a bit of patience. It will probably come in time, but the data really isn’t there to support it now.


814 Responses to “No Bregrets”

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  1. @R Huckle said
    According to this A.50 can be revoked if necessary.

    @BZ said
    The Brit who drafted A50 certainly thought it was, but given that both sides in the High Court case contended that it is not, an ECJ ruling would seem to be required.
    The High Court were perfectly entitled to ask the ECJ for a ruling on that single point, but presumably did not because neither side thought it relevant. Perhaps the UK Supreme Court will find an excuse to do so.
    If it is reversible then HMG were clearly wasting the court’s time with their assertion to the contrary, since the problem of using the royal prerogative to trigger A50 would not give rise to the crown repealing law made by Parliament.
    Clearly an act satisfactory to Parliament would need to drawn up well within the two years ready to repeal those rights along with an alternative [much simpler] bill to authorise the withdrawal of A50.
    It does throw a question of the Attorney General’s competence into the works.

    ————

    That’s the question I am wrestling with. I can only think HMG adopted this position for political reasons.

  2. Well done Andy Murray. Superb!!

    A proud Scot and a great Briton.

  3. @ Somerjohn

    “as a committed Europhile I have reached the point where I believe the interests of the EU will be best served by the exit of the UK from the EU”

    Yes, but surely it still makes a difference what kind of Brexit it is. In a lot of areas what is good for us is good for Europe. At the moment the danger is that everybody gets the worst of all worlds.

  4. and I should have added much of what is good for Europe is good for us.

  5. The Daily Mail has now turned its attention to attacking and undermining members of the Supreme Court.

    Truss’ statement today had all the hallmarks of being the minimum she felt she could get away while appearing to uphold her oath of office as Lord Chancellor. She will now come under more pressure to act clearly and decisively to stop this campaign against the judiciary.

  6. Charles: Yes, I agree. But I think as a country we are just too confused, conflicted and antagonistic to be a useful member of the EU. If all we can do is foul things up, it’s better that we leave.

  7. The judges deserve to be under pressure.

    They have made a political decision and have made their bed and will have to lie in it.

    They should never have heard this case. It has nothing to do with them.

  8. Hireton

    “The Daily Mail has now turned its attention to attacking and undermining members of the Supreme Court. ”

    And there are comments from folk such as UKIP councillor Brian Silvester who tweets “We need to know where the three Judges who wrongly tried to stop #Brexit live,so we can peacefully protest outside their homes.”

    Helpfully he provides his address in his profile – probably in the hope that people will demonstrate outside his house, and allow him to scream that he is being victimised.

  9. Oldnat

    Not too hard to find him online. Took me about 2 minutes.

  10. Alan

    2 minutes? He lives that close to you? :-)

  11. You’d need tomake sure you were protesting at the right one of Mr Silvester’s many houses….

    https://politicalscrapbook.net/2013/06/latest-ukip-recruit-brian-silvester-is-convicted-slum-landlord/

  12. Oldnat

    I meant find out how he was kicked out of the Tories for running a deathtrap of a set of bedsits.

    Nowhere near me. Just did some digging into his background. Sounds like a lovely chap, just a bit reckless when it comes to fire safety.

  13. James E

    There’s a good chance that their Lordships have multiple residences too.

    The return of the flying pickets! :-)

  14. Alan

    Ah, I misunderstood (I didn’t really :-) )

    No wonder he thinks that the law shouldn’t apply to him or his ilk.

  15. Thanks Anthony.

    Reminds me of Ol’ Blue Eyes.

    Bregrets, I’ve had a few
    But then again, too few to mention
    I did what I had to do
    And saw it through without exemption

  16. @ RAF

    Of course wanting to use Royal Prerogative is political.

    This is how i think Theresa May and her advisors saw things going.

    They would use RP to trigger A.50 to stop Parliament interfering in the Brexit process and this would be popular with leave supporters who don’t trust politicians, most who are against Brexit. The Tories therefore gain votes of leave supporters and supportive media coverage.

    They also don’t have delays caused by Parliamentary processes which would delay A.50 and they don’t have to go through Parliament to agree the Brexit deal.

    Without a bill of Parliament restricting what government can do, there would be nothing to stop Theresa May just letting a hard Brexit happen. With an A.50 bill of Parliament, it is possible to make it a condition that A.50 must be revoked if no deal is agreed with the EU, therefore stopping an automatic hard Brexit, as the A.50 time period had expired.

    Theresa May seems to be making political calculations and the current court cases are being defended, as a Parliamentary Brexit process will limit some of the possible political gains that would be made. There is no real possibility of any private negotiations with the EU, as information would be leaked with so many people involved. The only reason for Parliament to be avoided, is that Theresa May wants to limit involvement of politicians, who would make the process much more difficult. But this forgets that everytime there is a leak about negotiations, questions will be asked.

    At some point, if the government continues to be less than open about the Brexit process, i could see the public changing their minds about Brexit. What people don’t like is uncertainty and politicians trying to put politics ahead of what is in the interest of the whole country. You can’t have a Brexit timetable that suits one parties election prospects.

  17. R HUCKLE

    @”What people don’t like is uncertainty and politicians trying to put politics ahead of what is in the interest of the whole ”

    I agree wholeheartedly with that.

    They may yet pay a very heavy price for it too & they will only have themselves to blame.

  18. CANDY
    “The average voter is aware that we’re still paying money to the EU, and still experiencing free movement of people, and this won’t stop till we’ve left.’
    Will “the free movement of people” stop when we’ve left, its relevant characteristics being that free movement is defined by the needs of industry in the UK and the needs of employment both in less developed parts of the EU and in those of the rest of the world, not by regulation or limits imposed or the absence of regulation by the State?

  19. R Huckle

    Technically she can force a hard Brexit by sitting on her hands for 2 years, whatever instructions are given by parliament.

  20. There is a difference between free movement of people and free movement of labour.

  21. @ Allan, that is not true as the EU would not allow that within A.50 rules, which state that governments must follow the law/rules set by their national Parliament. If the A.50 bill of Parliament stated no hard Brexit or Parliament must vote before Brexit can happen, then that is what the EU would insist upon.

  22. R HUCKLE
    They can send Theresa/Boris/Davis/Fox out to bat, but it should be Parliament that decides on whether their performance is acceptable and in the interests of the country

    I’m not a fan of the game to which you seem to refer, which OLDNAT once accurately described as a version of Hurling with very small goals, but you’re spot on there.

  23. CHARLES @ Somerjohn

    On balance, I agree with Charles, but Somerjohn has a good case for his/her view on the Groucho Marx principle of not wanting to be a member of any club that would accept the UK.

  24. R Huckle

    ” A.50 rules, which state that governments must follow the law/rules set by their national Parliament”

    Not exactly.

    Article 50 simply says that the decision to table Article 50 must be in accord with the “constitutional requirements” of the relevant state.

    Incidentally, the Lisbon Treaty doesn’t state that it is up to the tabling state (ie its government) to decide that its “constitutional requirements” have been satisfied.

    Should someone claim (when Article 50 is eventually tabled) that the UK has not met its own requirements, then there is no other body than the ECJ that could definitively rule on that matter.

  25. R Huckle

    I’m not sure what would happen then in the event of a two year stalemate. Do we continue in limbo until parliament is allowed a vote to accept or reject the non-negotiation?

  26. Like most people, I’ve assumed “the 2 year period” after the tabling of Art 50 to be the situation.

    However, it need not be. At the two extremes –

    Scenario 1

    UK Gov : We’re tabling Article 50. Can we chat about the Single Market and Customs Union thingies?

    EU : No. Here’s the bill for what you owe us and we suggest next Sunday as the date on which you leave the EU. Feel free to join the queue for any future arrangements you want with us.

    UK Gov : OK.

    Scenario 2

    UK Gov : We’re tabling Article 50. Can we chat about the Single Market and Customs Union thingies?

    EU : Happy to do that, but we’re a bit busy at the moment. Let’s schedule dinner and a chat for 2030.

    UK : Great! We’ll see you at half-past eight!

    EU : No. 2030.

    UK : Oh. OK then.

  27. @Jasper22

    The judges deserve to be under pressure.

    They have made a political decision and have made their bed and will have to lie in it.

    They should never have heard this case. It has nothing to do with them.

    They did not make a political decision.

    They were asked to clarify some aspects of constitutional law brought to them by a group of complainants. They answered the legal question posed to them. They did not initiate the legal case, they performed their role in answering the question posed to them.

    An independent judiciary is key to how we as a nation work, and way certain aspects of the media have been inciting malcontent against is very bad, and a dangerous precedent.

    I’d rather legal issues were dealt with by a qualified and independent judge, not the rich media moguls with an axe to grind.

  28. CMJ

    I’m also not sure how “refuse to hear the case” could be arranged. Shout “La La La we can’t hear you”?

    In that situation the case would still be going on without any decision, I suppose they could keep that up indefinitely but not sure how it would help speed the Brexit process up.

  29. JASPER22
    They[the Supreme Court?] should never have heard this case. It has nothing to do with them.

    The point in law is simply that HMG hope, for reasons unknown, that the royal prerogative can be restored to the state that it was before 1600, which is contrary to all English and UK legal precedents since 1610.

    If HMG succeed in convincing the UK Supreme Court that that is reasonable then as well as HMG ruling by decree and saving the bother of parliament, at least there’ll be a silver lining…..

    That change in the polity of the UK should be adequate evidence to any international court that the Treaty of Union has been breached irrevocably and that a simple majority of the Scottish MPs would be all that’s needed for Scotland to regain its independence.

  30. ‘UKIP councillor Brian Silvester who tweets “We need to know where the three Judges who wrongly tried to stop #Brexit live,so we can peacefully protest outside their homes.”’
    @oldnat November 5th, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Didn’t one Judge say they were gay? Does that mean floods?

  31. “Reminds me of Ol’ Blue Eyes.

    Bregrets, I’ve had a few
    But then again, too few to mention
    I did what I had to do
    And saw it through without exemption”
    @Colin November 5th, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Didn’t he end up doing it ‘Norway’?

    Ah, must mean EEA then.

  32. Al Urqa

    LOL Took me a couple of minutes to work that out. :-)

  33. All this hostility towards the judges is dangerous nonsense. It’s a threat to the rule of law and this is a real and substantial threat. Mob rule cannot be allowed to take the place of impartial legal decisions.
    The Police need to be involved here and ensure that the judges are adequately protected.

  34. COLIN

    “Thanks Anthony
    Reminds me of Ol’ Blue Eyes.
    Bregrets, I’ve had a few
    But then again, too few to mention
    I did what I had to do
    And saw it through without exemption”

    Very good.

    How about Hotel California by the Eagles (last verse) It seems to sum up where we quite well.

    “Last thing I remember, I was
    Running for the door
    I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
    ‘Relax’ said the night man
    ‘We are programmed to receive
    You can check out any time you like
    But you can never leave!”

  35. “I had to find the passage back”
    @Robert Newark November 5th, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Aw, not that UKIP councillor again. Leave him alone.

    [Hmm. Maybe too far? I’ll shut up.]

  36. Looking at these polls I ask myself how on earth can the government possibly claim that ‘the people’ want brexit, given how closely even public opinion is. A referendum is simply a snapshot of public opinion at any given moment in time, nothing more. In June the leavers had 52% support, but now it seems that support may have fallen slightly and a dead heat could be the result if a referendum were to held now.

    What is clear is that there is absolutely no consensus of opinion on leaving the EU within the public at large, and the government is following a hard line pro-brexit policy because it feels that this is the vote winning path. I would not agree. If there is no consensus then the obvious path should be to maintain the status-quo, or at least seek a modest change, not enact a complete revolution change in policy on the issue under debate.

    I genuinely believe that only a ‘soft’ brexit will be acceptable to parliament and indeed to most people. This means staying within both the EEA and the EU customs union. Freedom of movement is controversial but it is a price that must be paid, if necessary. This is the message that the government should be giving out, not all this hard line rhetoric on immigration control etc. It seems that May is getting ready to appear tough in order to put the blame on the EU if she is forced into a corner and has to agree to free movement. Then the ‘dogs of war’ of the British tabloid press will be unleashed against the EU bureaucrats and leaders and the UK government will escape lightly. It’s all about keeping up appearances.

    I can’t believe that the discussion May had with Ghosn did not consist of admitting that she was aiming for a ‘soft’ brexit despite appearing hard line. Would Ghosn have issued a jobs guarantee otherwise? I am sure he would not. Business leaders in the automotive sector are among the most cautious of people and coming out with a sweeping statement of job security must have been only because solid guarantees were offered by the government. I do not believe that these guarantees were simply assurances of financial support – it must have been more than that.

  37. Nissan deal

    The European Commission has asked the United Kingdom for details about what assurances it gave Nissan that prompted the company to announce further U.K. investments despite fears Brexit could hamper its exports to Europe, a Commission spokesperson confirmed today.

    Officials would like to check whether the controversial guarantees breach EU rules preventing governments from subsidizing favored companies or sectors, in a move that runs the risk of enflaming tensions ahead of negotiations over the U.K.’s exit from the EU.

    http://www.politico.eu/article/commission-inquires-about-uks-offer-to-nissan/

    We may find out the details, after all.

    May and her advisers are giving the strong impression that they have no clue as to the responses that flow inevitably from their choices.

  38. TANCRED
    It’s all about keeping up appearances.

    Neatly put. That does seem to sum up May’s position pretty well, albeit that her shoe fetish reminds me more of Rose than Hyacinth.

    I can’t help wondering how her own & general Con poll ratings will fare post the Supreme Court decision or, better still, HMG’s appeal to the ECJ?

    Perhaps Jasper, Candy & Co will enlighten us on their thoughts re Con unity and the polling impact it will have. Polling of, say, 25% Con, 25% UKIP, 30% Lab, 20% LD & 5% SNP might make figuring ways around the FTPA somewhat academic.

    Should she find a way of doing so, of course, May will also be somewhat feart of copying Arthur Balfour’s 1906 performance, especially as Corbyn will be sitting in Downing St after the 2nd vote of no confidence.

  39. Oldnat

    You forgot our key negotiating strategy.

    “It’s a secret!”

  40. OLDNAT
    http://www.politico.eu/article/commission-inquires-about-uks-offer-to-nissan/
    We may find out the details, after all.

    Many thanks for that post and the link. On the bright side for May, it could provide her with a golden opportunity to get rid of one of the Chevening 3.

  41. Alan

    :-)

    But May also forgot that it isn’t just the UK that spies on it’s friends and allies. Everyone does it – and the only people who don’t know the secrets are the voters.

  42. @OLDNAT

    “May and her advisers are giving the strong impression that they have no clue as to the responses that flow inevitably from their choices.”

    That is definitely true. They are a bunch of clowns.

  43. Is it me, or does it look like the Lord Chancellor has found the dressing up box again?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37883576
    Brexit ruling: Lord Chancellor backs judiciary amid row

    Why has the word ‘ridiculous’ entered my head and seems to want to squat there? We are surrounded by political minnows. The country is split down the middle, and the Referendum has crystallised this. ALL politicians have to walk on eggshells and inevitably whatever Brexit brings it will please no one.

    However the one thing I think will emerge is Brexit means Suez. I can’t see how we can stand alone in this new highly-interconnected world. So that’s my new slogan:

    Brexit means Suez.

  44. It appears that the EU have made their enquiry based on press reporting, which pretty much sums it up.

    It’s hard to see how the EU has any jurisdiction over what happens post-Brexit, unless we remain in the Single Market.

    @Barbazenzero,

    You appear to be not so much counting your chickens before they’ve hatched, as counting your eggs before your hen has been impregnated!

    The Tories have a pretty substantial double-digit lead at the moment, remember. Let’s save speculation about what they might do if they were trailing Labour by 5% for another day.

  45. @Al Urqa,

    Errm, those are the Lord Chancellor’s robes and Liz Truss is the Lord Chancellor.

    I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something vaguely sexist in your comment. Many, many Lord Chancellors have worn similar get ups before, most of them with a wig on top. But of course they were all men and it’s OK for men to wear silly robes. It’s traditional and all that.

    This older image from the same event has her flanked by similarly garbed men – both male judges. Are they playing with dressing up too?

    Fair enough if you don’t think traditional clothes have any place in the modern legal system, but to conclude that Truss is a “minnow” on this basis is simply confirmation bias.

    For what it’s worth, I assume that most contributors think that all Tories are wrong about all things all the time, unless they are Ken Clarke, and even he is wrong unless he’s attacking other Tories or campaigning against Brexit.

    You don’t need to keep repeating it. It’s dull.

  46. Oops I meant this image http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36857331

    Third picture down.

  47. @Tancred

    As Anthony says – patience.

    There WILL be a clear remain majority in the polls – the pain is only just starting with the devaluation of sterling only now starting to be seen in price rises with more to follow after Christmas once all those currency hedges expire.

    That means less disposable income, followed by an inevitable recession, and you only have to look at what happened to the ‘Brown bounce’ to see what is about to happen to the ‘Theresa bounce’ – I suspect things will look very different a year from now.

    Corbyn seems to have finally woken up with a clear policy to oppose leaving the single market, and it is going to be a huge delight seeing him as PM once this all plays out.

  48. “Errm, those are the Lord Chancellor’s robes and Liz Truss is the Lord Chancellor.
    I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something vaguely sexist in your comment.”
    @Neil A November 6th, 2016 at 12:59 am

    Yes, I know the clothes go with the job. Sorry, I obviously didn’t get my feelings across.

    Let me put it this way. Is this the same person?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_wkO4hk07o

  49. NEIL A
    The Tories have a pretty substantial double-digit lead at the moment, remember. Let’s save speculation about what they might do if they were trailing Labour by 5% for another day.

    Yes, I was just copying a leaf of the Con playbook. If, as seems likely given the High Court ruling, May has no choice but to get embroiled in creating an act to allow her to trigger A50, do you disagree that UKIP will be having a field day, whilst Lab will have no reason to split further than they are already?

    Given the split of stayers vs quitters in the Con MP ranks, don’t you think another night of the long knives is likely PDQ in the Con ranks?

    BTW, I meant 20% for UKIP – not sure why I typed 25%. Usually I can manage to count to 100.

    A serendipitous moment to call it a night, I think. TTFN

  50. Neil A

    To be fair, in terms of legal expertise, she is a minnow.

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