Yesterday I got a few questions about a new BMG poll in the Independent that had voting intentions in a hypothetical EU referendum tomorrow at 52% remain, 48% leave. The Indy wrote this up with a pretty hyperbolic “Majority want to stay!!!”. The full results – along with a fair more reasonable and caveated write-up by BMG themselves – are here.

So, what is the bigger picture in terms of attitudes to Brexit, and is there any sign of people changing their minds?

I should start by pointing out that how people would vote in a hypothetical referendum tomorrow is not necessarily the same question as what people think should happen now (perhaps surprisingly!). If you ask people what should happen now, a clear majority say Britain should leave the EU. If you ask people how they’d vote in a referendum now, they are split down the middle between Remain and Leave. The difference appears to be because there is a chunk of people who personally favour remain, but think the government has a duty to leave following the referendum. Neither of these is necessarily a “better” measure of public opinion, opinion is best understood by looking at both: that is, the public are split equally on what they’d prefer, but some remainers think that the referendum means Brexit should go ahead anyway.

If we do look specifically at how people would vote in a referendum tomorrow, there is comparatively little change since 2016. Most Remain voters would still vote Remain, most Leave voters would still vote Leave. People who did not vote at all in 2016 tend to split in favour of Remain, meaning that the overall figure tends to be around a 50-50 split. Polls, of course, typically have a margin of error of around 2 or 3 points. This means if the actual position is a 50-50 split, then normal sample variation will inevitably spit out some results that are 52-48, or 48-52, or whatever. This is the unavoidable result of normal statistical variance, however, it does mean that now and again there will be a poll showing Remain with a small lead, which pro-Remain sorts will get wrongly overexcited about.

In terms of a trend, my impression is that there is some small degree of movement against Brexit… but it is very small. It is hard to discern a trend from questions asking the referendum question because they are infrequent, different companies use different methods and there may be different “house effects”. BMG have probably asked it more regularly than any other company, and looking at just their figures (in the link above) there is a slight trend towards Remain.

YouGov regularly ask a question about whether Britain was right or wrong to vote to Leave the EU (below), which also shows a very tight race, but a slight trend towards Remain. Last year it tended to show slightly more people thought it was the right decision than the wrong decision, now it tends to hover around neck-and-neck.

In summary, there hasn’t been any vast sea-change in attitudes towards Brexit. Most people who voted Remain would do so again, most people who voted Leave would do so again. There is some movement back and forth, but it mostly cancels itself out. If you look at the two most frequently repeated questions, the BMG question on referendum VI and the YouGov question on whether the decision was right or wrong, then there does appear to be movement towards Remain… but it is as yet pretty small and pretty slow. In short, there are some “bregrets”, but not enough to really get excited about. If there is going to be a big change, I still wouldn’t expect to see it until the leaving deal (and the consequences of it) become a bit clearer.


428 Responses to “Bregrets, there are a few… but then again, too few to mention”

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  1. Catmanjeff, I am concerned about large global corporations acting as if they are above the law.

    This may be a small example but it bothers me.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollerball_(1975_film)

  2. @MarkW

    Anyway, new technology and systems always challenges regulations.

    Innovation always changes the way the game is played. It’s up to regulators to adapt to those changing ground rules.

  3. The customers buying horse meat lasagne were happy until they found out they were eating horse meat!

  4. Catmanjeff, I agree, but that is not what is happening. Uber are seeking to avoid existing regulatory frameworks that apply to their competitors.

    That isn’t innovation.

  5. @TREVOR WARNE

    We tend to work the longest hours and have lowest productivity in the OECD and very much worse than many in the EU. I do not see the fact that we seem to only create low value add jobs as a success of any kind it is just a diversion and means we wll not solve the issue that you need to solve or provide the training that needs to be provided or indeed use the investment in pizza delivery jobs in one which add more value it is a waste of talent and a waste of investment

  6. The customers of all that toxic debt were happy enough at the time. But it wasn’t so happinating for them and most of the rest of us who took a hit for it down the line…

  7. @Catman

    Have you given up on the green thing then? Because the customers of those diesels were happy at the time…

  8. @Catman

    “Their model is revolutionary in terms of the use of technology and the engagement of employees and customers.”

    ——-

    Yes, zero hour contracts were possibly revolutionary too at some point…

  9. @ PTRP – I agree having graduates, either indigenous or E.Europe deliver pizza or books is bad. Charging higher fees didn’t seem to deter people taking very poor value-add degree courses – broken market needs fixing. Return on Investment (ROI) should be compulsory education. Agree on need to sort out training. UK creates both value add and low-value add jobs. A low-value add job is better than dole but agree we clearly have a social problem and hope HMG address it as we move to a post-Brexit future.

  10. Most commentary seems to agree German election bit ugly for centre and coalition talks are going to take quite a while. Jamaica my preferred outcome. It was never going to be a big deal for Brexit, EU or UK as Merkel was a dead cert but shame it wasn’t just Merkel+FDP as that would have been both better and quicker (IMO)

    Thanks to all for discussions today, enjoy the rest of your weekends.

  11. Labour and Brexit

    labour remainer MP Heidi Alexander on the fact that Labour will have no debate on Brexit

    “we will be a laughing stock”

    Not much to disagree with there save the words “will be”.

  12. TREVOR WARNE @ BZ

    What you suggest re stockpiling is likely to increase debt which will have consequences but might help households to stock up prior to the necessary food rationing.

    If we walk away from what the EU see as obligations, whether we’re in the right or not, re-activating our WTO “personal” membership may be quite a messy process, not to mention the lack of trust we’ll generate in existing members.

    Until we have re-created all the necessary customs borders we will have no ability to import from WTO members.

    On the bright side, the Cons will probably be out of power for a few decades and the youth vote will ensure that we’re back in the EU and probably the €uro zone ASAP.

  13. BZ

    i think the lack of oxygen in the jura Mountains must be getting to you.

    Your latest prediction that the world will let us starve is rather extreme project fear.

    and i can see the young voters of the UK voting to join the drumbeat of conscription in the Euro army putting down those darn socialists in Greece.

    I

  14. PRINCESS RACHEL
    The customers buying horse meat lasagne were happy until they found out they were eating horse meat!

    The Swiss quite rightly like dobbin steaks, which are less fatty than beef and command premium prices. In addition, every Swiss supermarket sells air-dried horse meat, usually in thin small rectangular format, which also commands a premium over the beef* equivalent.

    * = Biltong in South Africa, Jerky in USA & Bündnerfleisch in Switzerland

  15. @S THOMAS

    I personally believe that no matter what is discussed they will just be talking hot air. The reality is that Labour will not be in power when we leave the EU and indeed if many of us whom have been discussing this are right the two option which I think most people would agree is either we are not leaving or we will leave without a deal.

    In either case the problem is not going to be FTA but what we do with our economy. how we handle austeirty and the budgetry issues, what we do on investment how do we turn our balance of trade around. As I have said many times FTA do not change our economy it is what we do at home and how we prepare for leaving that matters and to be honest it is an area where Labour has a plan and the Tories surprisingly do not.

    What I expect to happen is that the Tories will talk brexit since that is the only policy they have and Labour will talk everything else since they ddol not have a policy on brexit and what is more they need to have one since it makes no difference.

    To quote leavers ‘we won and suck it up’ it is up to leavers to decide what the solution is since in truth they are the current government

  16. ST HOMAS

    Don’t fret.

    Highest point in the Jura is the Dôle [1677m] and my flat is at just over 1200m so no altitude sickness.

    Thanks for your concern, though.

  17. German result
    Looks like the Socialists are doing the patriotic thing by going into opposition so as to stop AFD being the official opposition. Good for them.

  18. @TREVOR WARNE

    In all fairness much of the degrees provide detailed skills of the area they cover the problem has always been that there is not enough commercial or industrial interest in training which is why we leave it up to the individual to try and basically seed the skills market.

    basically we have deiced on a supply system but not a demand system (incidentally the opposite of what we do with housing)

    Again to my mind the problems we have are that we are storing up a debt crisis because this is the way our economy works now. We are letting individual take all the risk with respect to income and debt and assets are protected.

    Yet the most important thing is brexit. it is why we are going to fail

  19. Just catching up with UK news I was wondering how Mr Corbyns devoted youth vote which I assume is overwhelming pro remain is going to square the circle of Corbyns need to leave the EU so he can implement his social change policies such as nationalising private industries such as steel or rail things the EU would be opposed to.
    It seems at least from my side of the pond that Corbyn has achieved the very thing he wanted from the start which is the complete suppression of any debate concerning brexit less his new found youth vote (which seems mainly a student vote) cotton on to the reality that the UK has to leave the EU in its entirety so he can press forward with his brand of socialism.

  20. “Just catching up with UK news I was wondering how Mr Corbyns devoted youth vote which I assume is overwhelming pro remain is going to square the circle of Corbyns need to leave the EU so he can implement his social change policies such as nationalising private industries such as steel or rail things the EU would be opposed to.”

    ——–

    As has oft been said if you read others posts, they don’t necessarily want to nationalise it all. Maybe something like rail needs an integrated network, but for things like steel, energy etc. you can do ok by leaving the private sector and just introducing a state player into the market to keep them honest and cover for their screw ups.

    And if you’re a young person, given a choice what are you going to pick? Politics advocating staying in the EU, vs. Policies advocating affordable housing, action on tuition fees, action on jobs as opposed to the zero hour thing etc.

  21. catmanjeff @TOH

    “England are looking pretty hot at the moment.”

    Whether you are referring to the weather (or some minor part of English culture, as opposed to that major one) shouldn’t that be “is” not “are”?

    The alternative (that there are multiple Englands) is too horrific to contemplate – even in the quantum multiverse. :-)

  22. A fair number of Brexit supporters here seem to believe that leaving the EU will give us the incentive we need to address long term problems that have dogged us for decades; low productivity, the decline of manufacturing, lower than desired exports, too many low skilled jobs, graduates not utilising their skills, rebalancing the higher education system.

    The logic seems to be that much like the war we are either at our best with our backs to the wall or that the threat of collapse will make us bite the bullet.

    However another way to look at it, that seems at least as likely, is that is all just wishful thinking, a bit like Dumbo.

    We believe we can fly if only we have faith and cling onto the Blue Brexit Feather when we are pushed off the roof!

    It could be either I suppose……But Dumbo was a cartoon!

    Peter.

  23. OLDNAT

    That sounds a bit like an anti English rant, do you really hate England that much?

    Catman and I were talking cricket. England beat the West Indies today and have beaten them 14 times out of the last 15 one day games they have played against them.

    BZ

    Agree, horse meat is an excellent alternative. As a small child I ate it quite often in the period 1944-47. I’ve also had biltong in South Africa.

  24. Snippets from Germany :-

    AfD stronger than SPD in East Germany-22.8%
    Nearly one half (49%) of ALL German voters said right-wing AfD “understood better than the others that people no longer feel safe.”-which Merkel concedes -” it was clear security mattered as much to people as prosperity.”

    CSU-Greens a “toxic couple”-very difficult basis for coalition.

    FDP do not like Macron’s EU Fiscal Governance/Treasury ideas.

    A new election in Germany?

  25. @ BZ

    “Highest point in the Jura is the Dôle [1677m]”

    I’ll have to mark you down for lack of precision there. Dôle is only the highest point in the Swiss Jura. Crêt de la Neige beats it at 1720m, though it lacks the distinctive dome. Lovely view from both of course, as I’ve appreciated a few times.

  26. RJW

    “German result
    Looks like the Socialists are doing the patriotic thing by going into opposition so as to stop AFD being the official opposition. Good for them.”

    Well seeing as the German socialists only got 9% of the vote they don’t have many options

  27. S THOMAS

    @”labour remainer MP Heidi Alexander on the fact that Labour will have no debate on Brexit”

    ITV reports as follows :-

    “Delegates will debate Brexit on the conference floor on Monday, but there will be no vote.

    Local parties and trade unions chose Grenfell Tower, rail services, growth and investment, public sector pay, workers’ rights, the NHS, housing and social care as the eight topics for full debate and votes, with Brexit motions failing to win the necessary backing.

    The Corbyn-supporting Momentum group had urged its members not to support a conference motion on Brexit.”

    So the answer to Turk’s question :-“I was wondering how Mr Corbyns devoted youth vote which I assume is overwhelming pro remain is going to square the circle of Corbyns need to leave the EU so he can implement his social change policies such as nationalising private industries such as steel or rail things the EU would be opposed to.” is-they won’t know anything about it-untill Corbyn is in power of course.

  28. Alec

    “My personal take on this is that you are by your own admission the type of person that reads two or three books per week, but by default doesn’t do detail. Skimmers will pick up the headline messages but often lack the time to dig through the obvious and spot the detail. This may be why you set great store on what DD says in a TV interview but haven’t read the white paper or the follow up position paper, which show the TV interview to be a completely false representation of the government’s position.”

    You are now totally misrepresenting me. I have said I read 2-3 books a week and I do. With light reading like thrillers I speed read unless the language is very good. I enjoy well written books, as I also enjoy less well written books with good plots. When reading nonfiction I “do” all the detail since I am usually deeply interested in the subject matter. If you want to know what I am reading at the moment, check back I recommended the book to Trevor Warne a couple of days ago. I do detail when it matters, like when investing, or doing microscopic analysis of biological samples as a County Recorder. Where I do admit to speed reading is much that is posted here. I do so because it is just slanted opinion by Remainers who I do not agree with.

    As it happens I have read the Governments White paper in full. I think you totally misunderstand the Governments approach and positioning during the negotiations so far, hence my comment “watch and learn”. No doubt once the negotiations come to an end, whenever that is, we will be able to discuss who was more correct in their interpretation of events. I look forward to it.

  29. @ Turk

    “which is the complete suppression of any debate concerning brexit less his new found youth vote (which seems mainly a student vote)”

    You pose an interesting question, it could well be one of Labour’s biggest headaches in the next few years. But just to pick up on one point, I think it is short-sighted to think this is ‘mainly a student vote’. Sure, Labour did a good job motivating the students in the recent GE, but that was only a small part of it.

    Look at any of the age breakdowns of current VI in any of the recent polls, and it’s not just the 18-24 group that is heavily leaning to Labour. And even 18-24 covers more than just the 3-4 student years – most people are in their first job (or not, as the case may be) by 22.

    For example the most recent YouGov here:

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/qdxyfur365/TheTimes_170913_VI_W.pdf

    gives 18-24 breaking as 63:24 for Labour and 25-49 breaking an almost as impressive 52:29.

    Clearly polling is better than anecdotal evidence, but it does tie in with many conversations I’ve had with people early in their working career. They appear to be even more tribally Labour than the older tribal Labour generations.

  30. R Huckle,
    ” TM cannot allow the cult of Boris to grow in the Tory party.”

    Hmm. Not sure about that. I see May as chosen to be PM as the compromise candidate. Remaining in place as the compromise candidate. As the ringmaster of a three ring circus. In a sense, it is not up to her whether the Boris cult grows. She is only there because it has not become dominant, but her job is front man while the show rolls on around her.

    The conservatives need Boris to maintain their credibility as a Leave party. The tension between the wings of the party is necessary, and must be seen publicly to reassure leavers now, whether or not the party eventually decides to leave the EU.

    Similarly, I cant help thinking the ‘noises off’ from labour remainers is necessary to the labour party, to remind its remain voters that it is still thinking about them. Labour cannot win the next election (could not have done as well as it did in the last) without the support of conviction remainers. It has to end up satisfying this group.

    The conservatives fate depends on the success or failure of Brexit. They do not seem to believe it will be a success. So they are preparing for inevitable alienation of their leave vote. It has no way to satisfy them, because they can only be satisfied by a successful Brexit.

  31. If I can be controversial and post something about the article at the head of the thread, I find it odd that a group of voters that seem to exist in anecdotal experience for me (I’d guess at least one in five Leave voters, though probably not on here as it’s a phenomenon I’d expect mainly in the leas committed politically) doesn’t show in those polls.

    I think it’s clear that the Remain/ Leave split when a question is asked on the issue in principle is still about 50:50). The “regret” question feels best for me on this point, as it doesn’t presume a hypothetical future event, it asks about a real present, and it doesn’t show much shift since the vote (I’d agree there’s the hint of a L to R drift, but still pretty much margin of error stuff).

    It’s also clear that a prompted question of the “what should happen given the Leave vote” type exposes the so-called Re-Leavers as at least 2 in 5 of the the Leave cohort.

    What strikes me as odd is that if the hypothetical further referendum VI question is asked, this appears to have no effect. Hypothetical VI also splits 50:50.

    Yet I’d expect a proportion of the Re-Leavers to change their vote, because anecdotally that’s what quite a few that I encounter seem to say. Hard to say how many, and to what effect on overall VI in the event that a re-run vote were to be engineered, but no effect at all strikes me as at odds with the views of some that do seem to be out there.

    I can’t see how this might reconcile. How can about 2 in 10 of the electorate be apparently saying: “we should leave now, so I’d vote for remain if I could tomorrow.”?

  32. Re-Leavers as at least 2 in 5 of the Remain cohort of course.

  33. Colin

    Fascinating result in Germany. Merkel back but not in a way she wanted if the exit poll is to be believed. It looks like the worst result for the alliance between the CDU/CSU) Alliance under Mrs Merkel’s leadership. The SDP have fallen to their lowest level since WW2.The split between old East and West Germany is now even clearer. Anti Immigration, anti Islam, and the Euro seem to be reasons for the relative success of AfD.

  34. And a little difficulty for Macron too :-

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/france-macrons-party-faces-blow-senate-elections-50054150

    Perhaps May will send him & Macron her thoughts & sympathy :-)

  35. @Peter Cairns – “A fair number of Brexit supporters here seem to believe that leaving the EU will give us the incentive we need to address long term problems that have dogged us for decades; low productivity, the decline of manufacturing, lower than desired exports, too many low skilled jobs, graduates not utilising their skills, rebalancing the higher education system.”

    Indeed. I recall many said joining the EU would solve many of these issues, once upon a time.

    @TOH – glad to hear you have actually read the white paper. The critical issues, however, were contained in the subsequent negotiating position paper, which it sounds very like you haven’t read. This was the one that completely contradicts the white paper and DD’s interview this morning. Theresa Mays Florence speech also confirmed a role for the ECJ in directing UK law after Brexit.

    We don’t have to wait until the negotiations end to understand who is right and wrong on these things. You have always insisted the ECJ will have no bearing on UK law after Brexit, and that this is what May has stated, and we now know this to be wrong.

    You have also often stated that May will not offer any payment until trade deal talks are underway, and she has now offered substantial payments before the EU have agreed to talk about trade.

    On both counts, you have misread what the government is doing, yet you seem strangely reticent to admit that things aren’t quite going the way you told us they would go. I find that somewhat strange, when the facts are there in front of you in plain sight – even to the extent that friends have helpfully reproduced some of your previous statements on these matters, now contradicted by events.

  36. Barbazenzero: [re No Deal] … Looking on the bright side, I suppose it will provide a massive army of unemployed to build the new Irish border and customs parks for all the ports to comply with WTO rules if we’re not blackballed from rejoining.

    Are other EU governments preparing customs infrastructure and recruiting and training to deal with UK goods???

    I am beginning to wonder whether they are preparing to let us flop out and discover that they have done nothing. This may be something that they are thinking the UK must pay for as part of any trade deal – and also something they are not going to discuss or prepare for or spend any money on until the future relationship is passed for negotiation.

  37. TOH

    It is-nothing seems to be stable these days.

  38. PRINCESS RACHEL
    The customers buying horse meat lasagne were happy until they found out they were eating horse meat!
    September”
    The reason why trading standards and labelling and related standards go back several centuries is that it is the basis of fair trade, but also of customer protection – if the type of meat is kassured, nor may be its freedom from contamination. It’s a protection which prior to about 1994 belonged to local government in the UK, and was also the basis of animal welfare and local breed preservation. There may be bigger issues of sovereignty, but that was one which has been held very highly as an aspect of local control and democracy, not only, of course, in the UK.

  39. Carfew
    For Corbyn to claim that anything he has to offer is new is to disregard history ,what however he has achieved is to for the moment at least convince the youth vote who have no knowledge of the disastrous Labour governments of the 60’s and 70’s of which Corbyn was a part and to who’s policies he harks back to ,6that his current brand of socialism is something new.
    As far as brexit is concerned as I understand it Corbyn has committed the Labour Party to oppose the Tories at every step over brexit, however if there is a final vote on the terms of leaving brexit he knows that a clean break is better than remaining in the EU trading block it will be interesting to see how Corbyn and co deal with that particular dilemma without upsetting he’s new found followers.

  40. THE OTHER HOWARD @ BZ

    Glad we agree on something.

  41. The Cambridge formerly known as Rachel
    Whoops should’ve been SPD going into opposition to block AfD, still admirable of them IMO.

  42. TRIGGUY @ BZ

    I’ll have to mark you down for lack of precision there. Dôle is only the highest point in the Swiss Jura.

    A fair cop, guv. For the uninitiated, I should also have mentioned that it isn’t even in Canton Jura.

  43. @Turk

    “For Corbyn to claim that anything he has to offer is new is to disregard history ,what however he has achieved is to for the moment at least convince the youth vote who have no knowledge of the disastrous Labour governments of the 60’s and 70’s of which Corbyn was a part and to who’s policies he harks back to ,6that his current brand of socialism is something new.”

    ———

    Well it’s possible they might have a different interpretation of the Sixties and Seventies, one less coloured by political memes or activistas etc.!!

  44. PETERW

    How can about 2 in 10 of the electorate be apparently saying: “we should leave now, so I’d vote for remain if I could tomorrow.”?

    Perhaps they think the quitters won’t give up until they have achieved their objective and think that a dose of cold reality might be the only way to make them see sense.

  45. OLD NAT
    “Shouldn’t that be “is” not “are”?”

    So, if you were writing about the Scotland rugby team, you would write “Scotland is kicking the s-dd-ng ball away as usual.”

  46. MONOCHROME OCTOBER

    Are other EU governments preparing customs infrastructure and recruiting and training to deal with UK goods???

    Great question. I’d have thought that they genuinely have no more idea than any of us posting here of whatever is that HMG would accept. In which case there is no point thinking about their own infrastructure before the UK leaves.

    I am beginning to wonder whether they are preparing to let us flop out and discover that they have done nothing.

    That sounds about right. There’s certainly nothing I’ve seen suggesting that any thought has been given to the issue from either side except on the Irish border.

  47. TOH
    to @Colin “I fully support your comments about many Remainers here. One wonders if some are British nationals.”

    You are absolutely right – despite being ex-Wolf Cubs, ex-Grammar School, ex-Royal Engineers, ex-civil servant, and the cherisihing of my Charlton Athletic pillow-case, I have to admit that Great great great great Uncle Cnud and Great great Great Great Great Grandma Fatima (ex-court of Tippoo, the Tiger of Mysore) have a lot to answer for, including a totally un-British tendancy to break into instantaneous jive routine at the sound of music att my kid’s parties, and an intolerance of pompous old geysers.

  48. ” old geysers.”

    :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

    Old Faithful ?

  49. People getting a bit cross with Momentum’s stitch up on Brexit vote at the Lab Conference.

    Their e-mail called it a ” “potentially time-consuming cul-de-sac”.”

    Democracy I suppose ??

  50. @Carfrew

    Yes, zero hour contracts were possibly revolutionary too at some point…

    I did not specifically endorse zero hour contracts. However, National Governments create the legal framework to operate in a country. The UK has deemed zero contracts to be legal (not what I would want), so Uber have the right to employ people using them. If the Government doesn’t like them, it should change the law.

    You can’t fairly penalise companies for working within UK law.

    Have you given up on the green thing then? Because the customers of those diesels were happy at the time…

    Again, the framework around diesels came from a National Government created position, and people bought the cars made available to them (and following Government advice too). Personally, I’d love to see the back of all petrol and diesel cars, technology permitting.

    So both boil down to companies and consumers operating in the legal framework they are permitted to. The root cause of the issues above therefore is the legal context actions take place in, not the actions themselves.

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