Some Bregrets?

The tables for last night’s YouGov/Times poll are now up here.

The result that has got the most attention is the question on if people think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the EU. 43% said right, 45% said wrong. YouGov ask that question most weeks and almost invariably it shows people either think Britain made the right decision, or are evenly split. As a result, a lot of people have got rather excited about today’s figure, when they really shouldn’t.

As regular readers will know, all polls have a margin of error. I try not to fixate upon the specifics because the margin you always seen quoted (plus or minus 3% for a 1000 sample) is based on a pure random sample with no accounting for weighting or design effects. However, it is a good rough guide – polls are not precise, there is some degree of random variation from poll to poll.

So far this year YouGov have asked the right or wrong to Leave question fifteen times. On average the result has been Right 45%, Wrong 43%, a two point lead for “right”. As with all polls, it varies from week to week, so sometimes it has spat out a lead of four points, sometimes it has been neck-and-neck, and how it’s produced one finding with wrong ahead.

Looking at the figure over time I can’t really be confident in any trend. The gap is smaller than in January, but it’s not as if there’s a steady decline there, it looks more like noise:

  • Jan the average was Right 46%, Wrong 42%
  • February the average was Right 45%, Wrong 44%
  • March the average was Right 44%, Wrong 43%
  • April the average was Right 45%, Wrong 43%

My expectation is, as I’ve said before, the people will probably more towards “Bregret” to some degree, simply because Brexit will require some compromises and some people’s high hopes will be disappointed. However, there’s scant sign of it yet and people’s opinions are often much harder to shift than you’d think.

As ever, YouGov will ask the same question next week, and the week after than and so on. If that too shows people think it’s wrong to leave (and other polls start showing the same thing too) then we can start taking about a cross-over in opinion. As things stand, I really wouldn’t get too excited/worried yet.

138 Responses to “Some Bregrets?”

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  1. You’re certainly keeping busy AW.

  2. What this poll and the previous ones do show is that there is no lessening of the support for those who thought the Brexit decision was wrong (or right for that matter) and we are still a deeply divided country over this issue.

  3. Anthony,

    What, if anything is the trend for DK’s and are people making up their minds one way our another.

    I suspect Leave voters might have been more motivated to come out particularly as Remain was seen as odds on to win.

    With 72% turnout there was still 1 in 5 who stayed at home.

    I doubt there will be a BrexRef2 but the opinions of the non voters the first time could make a difference.


  4. Posted this on the last thread but as relevant to Brexit re-posted here

    @ Alec
    Once she has her commanding majority, she will be well placed to get a majority in the HoC from her softer Brexit MPs, and face down the right wing

    That will depend on what they actually put in the manifesto. If she commits to hard Brexit in the manifesto I cant see her making such a big U-turn – the political fallout for the Tory party would be great (assuming if by that time Labour have an electable leader). Given the current climate – and the tone from the utlra-brexit right-wing press – I would be surprised if there wasn’t a hard brexit commitment in the manifesto.

    To my mind a more plausible scenario is a sped up hard brexit, coupled to a reduction in workers rights to reduce cost to industry and make the country more competitive etc

  5. In the interests of fairness I think it should be noted that May is also benefitting significantly from the ineffectualness of another, Nuttall. It seems clear that his strategy of going after ‘labour voters’ in the north etc is fundamentally flawed as they seem willing to switch directly to the Tories. Meantime his blue support are merrily trouping back to the Tories. Surely keeping may honest and emphasising her tendency to u-turn and the fact she originally was in the remain camp would be a better campaigning strategy.

  6. t time we had a new thread……………………….

    Alec “Not too sure that may has lashed herself to the mast of HMS Hard Brexit.
    I believe she called this election not because of the threat from Labour/Lib Dem remainers (what threat?) but to give her a freer hand against the threat from UKIP and the Tory headbangers.
    Once she has her commanding majority, she will be well placed to get a majority in the HoC from her softer Brexit MPs, and face down the right wing.
    That is my reading of this election, which may well be incorrect, but it should be noted that the election was called after a period of briefing in softer tones about Brexit.”

    Exactly how I read it. Far too many talk/write about May being desperate for a “hard” brexit as though they are privy to the inner workings of her brain.

    Time will tell but like you I feel that [with the support of Hammond and actually to some extent Davis] she is looking for a pragmatic outcome to it all. That would clearly have been much harder with the current small majority and her right wing wanting the opposite.

  7. Good afternoon all from a mild central London.

    The country was split before during and after Brexit but it does appear some of the gloss has come off Brexit.

    I’m more interested in the YG tables. I’ve never really looked at the “May change my vote” table before.

    It makes excellent reading for the SNP (sub-sample) in that only 1% of those who say they will vote SNP may change their vote, however, for the Tories (UK) 35% of those who said they will vote Tory may change their vote and for Labour, it’s 29%.

    This must surely be worrying for the Tories and especially in Scotland that 35% of Tory voters may change their votes. It could indicate the Tory surge in Scotland is just a temporary phonominum.

  8. If the post 2015 election adjustments had not been made , it is likely that this Yougov poll would have shown a Tory lead of circa 12% – a big margin but not quite out of sight as it were. Some commentators have suggested that the pollsters may have overcompensated following their 2015 debacle and as a consequence are flattering the Tories a bit. Time will tell – but worth bearing in mind.

  9. This really shows how difficult it is for our political parties to take a Brexit position that will win support.

    We are still split on whether this is a good idea or not and won’t find out the reality for several more years.

  10. two things I noticed in the latest YouGov poll:

    1) 36% of Tories, 29% of Lab, and 19% of LD “may change my vote”. There is still plenty to play for in this election, and it is interesting that the Tory vote is in fact the softest (perhaps reflecting the fact that many people only just changed to them.)

    2) London cross-break of Tory 36 (35), Lab 36 (44), LD 16 (8), UKIP 6 (8) Green 5 (5) (brackets are 2015 GE) backs up the April London poll where the Tories were almost unchanged, Lab -6% and LD +7%

    As in the referendum, London is another country where a different election is playing out… (one where the Tories will gain Labour seats by default, and the Lib Dems could gain from both the others..)

  11. Britain Elects? @britainelects 26m26 minutes ago
    On who would make the best Prime Minister:

    Theresa May: 48% (-6)
    Jeremy Corbyn: 18% (+3)

    Don’t know: 33% (+2)

    (via YouGov / 25 – 26 Apr)

    TM is still way ahead of JC but again (I know it’s just one poll) but the Tories do appear to be taking a bit of a hit.

    Can I just give a Hat-tip to Britain Elects? I wasn’t aware the website was run by two students who are ages with my wee sister. Both are a credit to themselves and to polling and as for their website, it is extremely professional and well run.

    Their website is entirely voluntary and I shall be making a donation to their website.

  12. @Crofty

    If history tells us anything it must be that large parliamentary majorities can often lead to disastrous forign policy decision making.

    1930’s – appeasement contributing to wwii
    2000’s – support for Bush and the invasion of Iraq

    Any view that May will make the ‘correct’ or pragmatic decision in relation to Brexit is essence an article of faith or to a certain extent wishful thinking. Given her previous positions and ability to say one thing and do the exact opposite you can make a plausible case for her to doing anything from hard brexit to having a second referendum.

    On the issue of weighting for this particular poll you can see there could be a distortion over-estimating Lab due to the sample size and weighting for men 25-50 (historically a notoriously difficult demographic to capture in polling). In general only time will tell if the methodology changes have led to an overestimation of Tory VI.

  13. redrich

    Yes that’s entirely possible. I wasn’t commenting on the outcome, simply agreeing with Alec that it seems probable that it is flexibility that May is looking for via a larger majority, and that it is her own backbenchers that she probably saw as the main impediment to that.

  14. Two thoughts:

    1. What is the purpose of the ‘Religion’ question; and what possible use is the division between ‘Christian’ (define!) and ‘None’?

    2. The ‘Which bunch is best suited to deal with this or that problem….’ section is still failing to distinguish between responsibilities belonging to the devolved administrations (including Westminster on England only matters), such as the NHS, Law and Order and Education. To ask Scots, for example, which party is best suited to dealing with matters which are devolved involves asking a separate set of questions where the SNP is not included in the ‘other’ category but in the category of those in, and likely to be in, government. Until there is a fundamental re-organising of Yougov’s methods this whole set of questions will remain meaningless.

    I believe the percentages of those willing to change vote are of the 500 or so respondants who said they would be.This would mean that with 45 percent intending to vote conservative but only 35 percent willing to change their vote, the conservative vote (45:35) is more solid than labour (29:29) and much more solid than the libdems (12:19). At 5:3 the SNP vote is indeed the most solid.

  16. @REDRICH

    I’d agree with you on that – very large majorities can have serious negatives due to such weak oppositions. Mind you with old Corby, May’s current tiny majority feels like a moutain. I also don’t buy this belief that there will be a soft-Brexit as May has again re-iterated the immigration cap (under 100,000) which was a source of embarrassment for her. So the single market is out.

    I do believe there will be a pragmatic Brexit though. Aspects of the customs union for certain sectors in a transitional period certainly makes sense.

  17. People used to complain the parties are all the same.Hard to say that now but they still complain.

    I also don’t buy this belief that there will be a soft-Brexit as May has again re-iterated the immigration cap (under 100,000) which was a source of embarrassment for her. So the single market is out.

    Bearing in mind May categorically ruled out a snap election 6 times in the last few months, I would not assume anything about what she may do in the future.
    As to the 100,000 cap cannot see her getting near that whether we are in or out of the single market.

    A big majority may indeed embolden her but which way that takes her I have no idea.

  19. @Crofty

    In principle she has called an election to gain more power which by definition will give her more room for manoeuvre across all areas. it seems she will achieve this.

    My own view is that timing of this is that its the optimum time to strike at the other parties – she has to play the Corbyn card now otherwise there is a risk he goes sooner rather than later. Nuttall is no Farage and Fallon has struggled to establish himself in the public’s eye.

  20. ANDREW111
    Of the 1500 or so sampled, ca. 33% (500) thought they may change their vote. Of them 35% were conservatives so ca. 175 conservatives may change, which is ca. 25% of their vote. This is a lower percentage than for labour and a much lower one than for the libdems. SNP/Plaid would have an even lower percentage than the conservatives and the greens the highest of all. So the SNP/Plaid vote is the most solid followed (but not by much) by the conservative vote, then labour and Ukip in a tie, then the libdems and then the greens.

  21. JohnB – “What is the purpose of the ‘Religion’ question; and what possible use is the division between ‘Christian’ (define!) and ‘None’?”

    I was wondering that too.

    Perhaps they’re trying to find out whether the hassling of Tim Farron for his faith was having any effect.

    I’m agnostic but was a bit disturbed at the way they were going after him. It’s fine to quiz people on their policies because it affects everyone if they get elected. But their private beliefs only affect how they conduct their private lives and it’s nobody’s business but theirs. Would Sadiq Khan have been questioned in the same way? (And he probably believes the same things Farron does, and also agrees with Farron that private belief shouldn’t affect public policy).

  22. Candy – you guess correctly. The crossbreak was in case it threw up anything interesting on the questions about Tim Farron.

    David Colby – you don’t have to reverse engineer it, the question that the swing voter break is based on is in the tables, on page 3:

    68% of Tory voters said they would definitely vote that way
    22% of Tory voters said they would probably vote Tory and it was unlikely they would change,
    8% said it was possible they’d vote Tory but they might change their mind.

  23. A little concern is that this poll might be just skewed by a slightly remainy sample which hence explains at least some of the movement away from the Tories as a Labour supporter I hope not but that is my concern.

    As for speculation about why, I think that is down to the threat of losing there majority caused by the potential prosecutions of MPs

  24. If these polls (all taken together) show anything, it’s that people’s minds have not changed since June, and the relative consistency suggests that there has been a hardening of opinion on both sides.

    My view is that this will significantly change once we’re mid-way through the negotiation process and again once it’s concluded, though it would be a political opinion to imply the direction of travel. There’s certainly potential for a broader consensus around either option once the facts of Brexit are clear. At the moment, very few trust anything that does not correspond with the way they voted on 23 June 2016.

  25. I think having some room to manoeuvre is welcomed by any Government.

    Certainly with the U.K. Press and the most pro Brexit treating each and every statement from the EU as it was tantamount to a declaration of war, it would be hard to have any sensible and meaningful negotiations if that tendency couldn’t be kept at arms length.


  26. of course a large majority would remove the ability to say ” aah but my parliament would never agree”

  27. @John B, Candy, AW

    I wondered if the religion question had a bearing on the question on full-face coverings too — there certainly seems to be a correlation*. Interesting to see a very muted “loyalty effect” among LDs on the question about Farron, though n=~140 so it could be noise.

    (On looking up Farron’s actual record on same-sex marriage, I was surprised to find that he hasn’t dodged his party line, and has voted in favour at every opportunity).

    *not necessarily causation of course, as any fule do kno.

  28. AW
    By ‘rather excited” I take it you mean they think this poll resultt reflects the emerging recognition that Brexit is, on the present evidence, a bad policy, and that this may be because the promise of reducing net immigration from the EU is unrealisable and and that it is harmful to the economy. Secondly they think that the figures you quote over the last four Yougov polls on the subject look like a trend.
    I don’t mean, of course, that they are right; just that this may be one of those unlikely poll results which result from an opionion on policy.

  29. if corbyn manages a 29-30 he could stay until the party conference

  30. @peter

    Certainly with the U.K. Press and the most pro Brexit treating each and every statement from the EU as it was tantamount to a declaration of war, it would be hard to have any sensible and meaningful negotiations if that tendency couldn’t be kept at arms length

    A longer term question is how much manoeuvre will they tolerate before there are headings of ‘betrayal’ etc

  31. surely it is the question which leads to the Brexit answer? It seems unlikely that many have changed their mind since last June, and the question asks about “Right or Wrong” to leave. The important part is how many accept that the decision has been made and are only looking forward to see how it is implemented. There was number of 68% I think saying just this recently, if that number had reduced significantly then it would be important and could affect the GE results.

  32. Alisdair – “(On looking up Farron’s actual record on same-sex marriage, I was surprised to find that he hasn’t dodged his party line, and has voted in favour at every opportunity).”

    Yes – the hassling of poor old Farron was very unfair. This is supposed to be a free country, you should be able to worship the Cookie Monster and be left alone as long as you arn’t trying to impose your beliefs on others.

  33. @ Sea Change

    ‘I do believe there will be a pragmatic Brexit though. Aspects of the customs union for certain sectors in a transitional period certainly makes sense’

    One thing that is for sure is that regardless of whether you see May as lucky, opportunistic, principled or the best thing since sliced bread she is proving herself to be one of the more adept politicians of her time. However, one should also bare in mind that normally the combinations of skills, decisions, alliances and positions that provide a politician with their success often contain the seeds of their eventual downfall. Brexit may or may not be that for May, but all political careers end in failure;-).

  34. @GrahamBC

    That thought had also occurred to me. It is a conundrum for pollsters I’d have thought. What are you measuring, and what do you weight by? If Brexit views are becoming a key determinant of party VI, should we weight by Brexit views? But how can you measure Brexit views in the same poll if you’re weighting by it? Do Brexit views fit into neat relationships with other political opinions? Or is it possible to get a sample which is properly weighted in all other respects (newspapers, past vote, gender, age) but simply contains too many or too few Brexiteers or Remainers?

    [” But how can you measure Brexit views in the same poll if you’re weighting by it? ” – Easy! You ask all your panel how they voted in the referendum and then squirrel it away, you weight by that. In other words, you weight by Brexit views *in June 2016*, you measure Brexit views *now* – AW]

  35. The elephant in the room is weighting by ethnicity. Inner-city areas in England anyway are mostly Labour seats, and are where most immigrants and their descendants live, so it is likely to be a significant factor in VI, perhaps more so than say gender or (English) region. I suppose the pollsters are terrified of being called racists for even asking the question.

  36. @ Alec – soft Brexit?

    @ some Bregrets?

    If this sort of thing happens more widely it may make a difference.

    You can see where this is going. Queue flood of companies leaving the UK to chase grant money and cheaper wages in the Eurozone. Remember all those companies Invest NI pumped millions into? But then they vanished when the grants ran out?

    There is another factor in all this. Many factories in the UK are already highly staffed by migrant labour. It does not take a business genius to think hold on if 30% of our workforce is Polish why don’t we just move the entire factory to Poland and cut our production costs and have a ready supply of cheap labour? Maybe a future reduction in migrant labour into the UK will give factories no choice but to move to the Eurozone.

    This is already happening. I know one company in Belfast based in a so-called economic blackspot that has a large Eastern European workforce because they could not get local workers. This company has recently opened a factory in Poland. Now in their case, the primary reason for the Polish factory was to be closer to markets but with improved transport links across Europe how long before they decide to move all production?

  37. Pete B – Nothing wrong with that – we always weight London polls by ethnicity. It doesn’t currently make much difference to GB polls (we checked last week), so it’s not something we do there.

    Interestingly in France the polling regulation means you’re not actually allowed to ask ethnicity, which is silly, but there goes.

  38. This week’s (beginning 24th April) YouGov/Times polls of voting intention and feelings about Brexit were I assume based on questions to one and the same sample of the UK electorate. Both sets of results would appear possibly to be (slight) outliers to previous YouGov/Times polls and to similar recent polls by other organisations. This suggests that random variation might have operated to see the sample overly inclusive of Labour Remainers. Of course its sampling might have been spot on and there might be a trend afoot but a lot more data will be needed to be sure of that. It is sound advice to wait and see.

  39. More Bregrets – this time from Ireland.

    Will Ireland really seek to keep the UK in the EU?

    While I believe it may seem impossibly optimistic today, I believe conditions can be envisaged in which, eventually, the UK voters might either decide, either not to leave the EU at all, or to decide, after it has left, to rejoin. Ireland should try to keep that possibility alive.

    “The terms for Brexit, as set out so far by Mrs May, will do incalculable damage to this island, politically, emotionally and economically.

    “We cannot simply wait for this to happen. While seeking to mitigate the effects of Mrs May chosen hard Brexit, we must also do everything we can to ensure either that, at the end of the day, there is no Brexit.”

  40. Some more polling on Bregrets

    Recent Scotcen polling suggests, unsurprisingly, that Scottish Remainers want continued access to the single market but so too do 92% of Leave voters in Scotland. In other words even those who voted Out in Scotland wanted to stay In. This makes for difficult terrain for those seeking to defend the Prime Minister’s current public manoeuvring on Brexit. At the moment Scottish Conservatives appear to be banking on the fact that voters will prioritise their indyref preferences over their Brexit preferences.

  41. Reasons for election
    i have not been in favour of this election call and think that the Tory majority will increase but not by much. This victory may damage her. I have given some thought as to why TM was willing to ditch what i thought was a promise which matched my assessment of her character. i start from the proposition that it must have been compelling and is unlikely to be one factor alone and sufficient to disregard the boundary gain.I disregard that she convened a focus group of sheep in Snowdonia and asked them to say “baa” if they agreed with her.

    a. Clearly if the polls had been moving against her she would not have done this..Therefore the increasing poll lead underlined the decision.
    b.On the positive side she seems to have been sensitive to the jibe that she had no personal mandate;
    c.She must have decided that she was unlikely to have reached 2020 without having to call an election probably some time around 2019 b before Brexit was secured.In particular she must have been concerned about the following:

    1. she may have had concerns that her majority might have evaporated due to the potential prosecutions.
    2. Corbyn might not have been in place;
    3. A third left of centre alliance might have formed which might have
    organised. We see an inkling of what might have developed in this election.Blair,Osborne,Cameron?. She may know more than us.
    4. Brexit in 2019 will upset both sides;
    5 The Repeal bill will be a bruising experience without a bigger majority beholden to no side in particular;
    6. `The 1.5m ex-pat voters are not yet able to vote. In 2019 with Brexit not secure they could represent big trouble to the Tories. After Brexit the problem goes away.
    7. An opportunity to disrupt the SNP independence agenda.

    when i write all of these i can see why she went and why it may be the smart move and yet…….

  42. I am sure we will get a rogue poll.In 1987 they say Thatcher had a wobble one weekend when the lead was stated as 4%.She still went on to over 100 majority .Maybe it will help May if there was another one .

    Guilty as charged, but in my defense I was challenging the ‘may change’ numbers on page one, which were being completely misread. It seemed logical to deconstruct those numbers.

  44. @Redritch: “Certainly with the U.K. Press and the most pro Brexit treating each and every statement from the EU as it was tantamount to a declaration of war, it would be hard to have any sensible and meaningful negotiations if that tendency couldn’t be kept at arms length

    A longer term question is how much manoeuvre will they tolerate before there are headings of ‘betrayal’ etc”

    The Guardian does a good line in reporting the latest redlines from Brussels. The current score:

    – £50bn at least to be promised.
    – We promise to help them with defence and security, even if they decide to wage a full on trade war.
    – EU citizens in UK – some reports include any who have ever lived here in this – don’t just get to stay and work freely, but can leave for decades, come back, can’t be kicked out if they commit crime, get better rights to bring a spouse into the country then actual citizens.
    – ECJ to have jurisdiction in UK (does any treaty give a foreign country’s court that power??)
    – EU Parliament says they will veto only deal if we dare talk trade to anyone else – and wants us to maintain the common fisheries policy. (The Guardian gave us those, which is the EU’s paper of choice for leaking latest red lines.)

    After agreeing all that, they will then think about a short transitional deal… For which they will present another deal.

    The EU’s whole position is based on the idea that they are ready, willing and able to walk away from the negotiating table – and in almost every announcement they give another precondition.

    If we give them £60bn, how quickly would they find a pretext amongst their demands not to do a trade deal?

    If they are not threatening war, they seem to be demanding surrender.

  45. @SAM

    There is an awful lot of nonsense talked about the single market. As far as am aware almost any country in the world has access to the single market – otherwise they could not trade with the EU at all. There may of course be tariffs involved, but not always and you must comply with EU rules. Membership of the single market is a different thing entirely and is only available to members and quasi members of the EU because it involves signing up to the rest of the free movement rules.

    It is perfectly possible to have a high degree of access and even tariff free access, but not be members.

  46. I think what people need to realise is that we aren’t going to mess about for two years negotiating. e will make maybe one or two attempts, get rebuffed by the EU over key issues and walk away. I seriously believe that we will be out of the EU before the next EU elections and it ill be a hard BREXIT.

    I think that os what May wants her majority for – so she can say ‘well at least we tried but they are intransigent so further attempts at talks will serve no purpose’.

  47. AW
    Thanks for that reply. It’s reassuring that the analysis is being done, even if not published. I must say it’s surprising to me that it doesn’t make much difference, as there seemed to me to be a correlation between inner-city Labour seats and the ethnicity of the population there. It just shows again that anecdotal evidence isn’t worth much.

    [BME voters are more likely to vote Labour, but that’s not the point on something like this. Remember, polls are already sampled and weighted by past vote, so it’s more a question of whether BME voters are more likely than white voters to have stuck with Labour, left Labour, moved to Labour since 2015. The answer is they are marginally more loyal… but the difference appears to be small. Take into account the relatively small proportion of BME voters, and the degree to which they fall out at roughly the right percentage anyway, and you get to a point where you could do it… but it wouldn’t make any difference to your results – AW]

  48. @ S Thomas

    I agree with most of that – re points 2 and 3 I’d say it was more likely the analysis would be that all the main opposition parties in England are at a low point – in two years time she could be facing a Labour Party with a new Leader, the possible return of Farage if Brexit deal looks weak, and possibly a new LD leader (if Farron didn’t make progress). It was also a chance to deal the SNP ablow now rather than let them snipe from the sidelines throughout Brexit

  49. @RMJ1

    As peeps have been at pains to point out, tariffs may be a relatively minor concern compared with the regulatory burden of being outside the single market, which can be considerable.

    The way peeps like Japan and the US seem to deal with such restrictions is by doing things like actually building the factories within the EU, relocating jobs in the process.

  50. Sam

    Polish factories.Running factories in Poland is always going to be cheaper than running a factory in the UK using Polish labour because of the loaded labour rates (currently anyway).So whether we are in the EU or not factories based purely on labour cost will move there until costs equalise. Meanwhile though, rather than invest in skills and training or automation to improve productivity employers simply take the cheap labour option. Changing this mindset in the longer term would potentially also mean wages going up together with productivity. It’s not all one sided.

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