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. Bigfatron

    Thanks – and for the possible link.

  2. BZ,

    The wider not deeper policy was Thatcher/Major initially and inherited by Blair as they saw itt as a way of reducing the Franco/German.

    By 1997 some former WP countries already had accession status so to deny the others a similar path would have been unfair.

  3. On Cars, Cyclists and Pedestrians.

    I have a mate who lives in Glasgow who drives to work and cycles a fair bit at the weekends.

    One day he was in his Mini (car not skirt) at the lights when one of his neighbours drew up beside him in his 5 series BMW. My mate smiled and his neighbour turned looked straight ahead and revved up…when the lights changed his neighbour put his foot down and raced ahead.. All 30 yards to the next lights.

    A few weeks later he was out on his bike in his tea shirt and jeans, stopped at the lights and who should stop beside him…his neighbour in a top of the range bike clad head to foot in day-glow Lycra.

    He smiled across and…. His neighbour turned looked straight ahead and stood on the pedals. And , you guessed it when the lights changed his pedalled like fury to get to the next set of lights first…

    It’s not about Car v Bike or pavement v road…..it’s about People v Clowns!

    Peter.

  4. JIM JAM

    Interesting post.

    Agree with the contrast you describe between JC & JM-Santa Claus & Edward Scissor Hands.

    Agree with your last para. Have Momentum created a Cult Worship which they cannot replicate ?

  5. Remains to be seen Colin but whilst I would like to think it was the manifesto contract with the Tories that attracted the support I wonder how much would ebb away with a different leader.

    I think very few are predominantly JC rather than Labour supporters but it only needs a few % not to transfer to a new leader led LP to make a difference to a GE result.

  6. LONDON LEAVER

    I’m pretty keen on “common decency and fairness ” thanks.

    How one defines them in a political sense, and then how one delivers them is always a matter of debate. Fairness in a modern open economy involves comparisons & value judgements across the whole of society. These are the stuff of political difference-not universally defined states. And they can change too.

    So I reject the equation you imply that JM espouses ” “common decency and fairness ” & if I don’t accept his policy proposals I don’t.

    I will say though that Cons must wake up to the vacuum they have left for JM to occupy-in some instances on unfairnesses which they started addressing themselves & let slide.

    I have always thought that for the vast majority of uncommitted voters “fairness” is a big driver of VI. Politicians who ignore the worst examples do so at their own cost.

  7. @ JIMJAM – thank you for the inside scoop. It is McDonnell’s views and policies that concern me the most as well – I’ve often considered him to have more baggage than Corbyn and Corbyn is hardly baggage free.

    RACHEL has mentioned new leader before and certainly that would clear some of the baggage issues.

    Do you think McDonnell+co will do a clean hand over though? My guess is no GE until Spring 2019 at the earliest so interested to see how you view the timeline.

  8. JIM JAM

    Yep-and the new Con Leader feeds into it all as well.

    …..unles thats Boris-in which case I guarantee you will be a happy man when the GE result appears.

  9. @Colin – “Cold, determined, steeped in hatred….”

    Hatred? Gosh Colin, you really are pushing the boat out here.

    I may have missed it, but did you describe the very many comments over the years about democratically elected trade unionists from Conservative ministers as ‘steeped in hatred’?

    Hmmm. Thought not.

    A bit over the top, perhaps?

    @AC – on cyclists and car doors, would tend to agree. Occupying the road space tends to be good protection by cyclists. I did hear somewhere though that in Holland, drivers are taught to open the car door with the ‘wrong’ hand (in the UK, the left hand). This simple act serves to turn the head and torso round and increases the chance of seeing an approaching cyclist/car coming from behind.

    Not sure if any Dutch residents can confirm this?

    On terminating PFI contracts:

    I have long wondered what the Ts&Cs are on these contracts, as I would be pretty sure that many of the service suppliers fail to meet their obligations. I’ve heard numerous stories about schools that can’t get the heating thermostats or timers changed as this requires a visit from the PFI company.

    I would imagine if someone looked hard enough at the contracts they could find sufficient evidence of service failures to enable the contracts to be legally terminated.

  10. Trevor,

    Not an inside Scoop but the observations of a long standing LP member who can read between lines.

    2 scenarios re next Labour leadership election imo

    GE 2019, Corbyn win so stays leader until 2022/3.

    GE 2019, GE loss or no 2019 GE Corbyn stands down in late 2019 or summer 2020 latest.

  11. Survation asked about timing of May departure, new CON leader (from current names) and “fresh face”. Tables 14-16 on attached:
    http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Mail-On-Sunday-September-23rd-Data-Tables-1.pdf

    Off to do the school run but generally looks like May should go before next election, BoJo best of a currently bad bunch (but lot of none of the above + DKs) then, in T16, almost 70% (ignoring DK) want a fresh face to lead CON (although that is with high DKs). Obviously some partisan splits – LAB quite like BoJo but I think we can guess why!

  12. Jim Jam: The real issue in the Labour Party is the next leader which will probably be decided within Momentum if I am honest.

    And the issue with Momentum is where they stand on Brexit. Does anyone know? Are the leaders closet brexiteers like Corbyn, with the followers being largely remain? Could this come unstitched? How might this play out?

  13. Momentum won’t decide the next leader because the decision on which left candidate gets put forward will be in the hands of MPs, there isn’t really a viable left candidate that I can see but a soft left Corbyn loyalist will probably be put forward by left leaning MP’s. By soft left Corbyn loyalist I mean people who didn’t agree with Corbyn but didn’t join in the coup.

    The need for a female leader has become acute and well recognized among the membership. My best guess would be that either Angela Rayner or Emily Thornberry will get the left nomination. The moderates will probably only field one candidate, probably a woman but can’t imagine who at the moment, Cooper most likely. Under the new rules realistically the left can only field one candidate but the ‘moderates’ could, but won’t field as many as 6. Of course a 5% threshold would enable the left to field at least two candidates and allowing CLP’s to nominate would open the field even more.

  14. colin

    “I will say though that Cons must wake up to the vacuum they have left for JM to occupy-in some instances on unfairnesses which they started addressing themselves & let slide.”

    I find it inexplicable that T May banged on so much about tackling inequality when she first became leader and – unless I blinked and missed something – has done sod-all about the matter since

  15. Good afternoon to all at UK Polling.

    Conference is going splendidly with some wonderful debates and fringe meetings.

    Jeremy has certainly united the movement and we all look forward to spreading the message even wider once we depart the seaside.

    Truly, good time lie ahead, both for the movement and the country.

  16. Momentum doesn’t really have any power, the leaders can make suggestions and give their views but no one is obligated to follow that advice. That many of us do follow their advice is because we trust them but trust is easily lost as progress and labour first have found to their cost.

    However both progress and labour first still have power within the labour party through their control of party bureaucracy which they can and have used to thwart the wishes of the membership

  17. JIM JAM @ BZ

    Agreed on both counts. Re Thatcher/Major/Blair, it was essentially a continuation of the “Butskellism” of the 60s on European issues.

    Personally I think the EU as it stands is a great benefit to all its members, but I do find individuals blaming Con or Lab for specific issues a bit tiresome. Lab missed the first opportunity to join the club and Con missed the second. Had either of them had more vision we’d have had an even firmer seat and more influence at the top table.

    Sadly for me, that would probably have been a much more curmudgeonly EU than the one which currently exists, but the “not invented here” which sums up the less xenophobic part of the quit campaign wouldn’t have got very far.

  18. @ALEC on PFI contracts

    I was engaged (as a supplier) on a PFI IT contract back in the early noughties. This was for a modest £30M over 15 years but the lawyers bill on our side for negotiating it was >£1M. There were also large subcontracts and of course the client side so I suspect the lawyers took 10% of the total before it even started.
    That one ran quite smoothly and I never needed to revisit the contract until I moved on.
    In my current role I am involved (client side) in a 25 year PFI. I arrived post contract and asked for a copy of the contract but was told that was too difficult. I persisted and was eventually provided a copy of one of the schedules. This ran to 400 pages, many of which were so small in print that I can’t read them even with a strong magnifying glass. All the people involved in the negotiation have moved on (both sides) and nobody really knows what the contract says other than at the highest level. We all muddle along and the contract sort of delivers, but I’m quite sure the contractor is getting away with murder, though I doubt they know whether they are or are not.
    Having said that, many non-PFI outsourcing contracts are little or no better.

  19. “Conference is going splendidly with some wonderful debates and fringe meetings. Jeremy has certainly united the movement and we all look forward to spreading the message even wider once we depart the seaside.
    Truly, good time lie ahead, both for the movement and the country.”

    That was a Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of the Labour Party…..

    Peter.

  20. @ Rudyard 4.42

    Are you being ironic or sincere?

  21. @Turk
    I saw your post about cycling addressed to Allan Christie, but the lack of punctuation meant I was unable to make sense of it.

    However your opening line is ridiculous:

    “When I lived in the UK the main danger to us pedestrians was the bike community who considered it there right to ride on the pavement”.

    A friend’s teenage son bears the scars from when, as a toddler, he was knocked down by a car which drove onto the pavement.

    We don’t say “thank God he wasn’t knocked down by a push bike”.

    I’ve read that motorists in the USA are even more anti-cycling than their British counterparts. So no surprise there.

  22. MO – fair point, re leaders I don’t know, re members I think you are correct.

    To repeat though re Corbyn, he is an outcomes guy not an ideological statist. Where he seeks state interventions, which is more often that the UK mainstream of course, is to achieve specific ends because as he would see it the market is failing in those case.

    He has argued that EU rules restrict some market interventions he would advocate hence his prior opposition to membership but believes that SM access is vital to our Economy as it is know. Hence the cake and it position of access short of membership which means UK Governments can intervene in markets more than EU rules allow.

    McDonnell is the real Statist, anti-EU guy in the leadership but I think is in a minority as the younger momentum types see it about identity and not being isolationists as much as Economics.

    In short I am confident that the McDonnell tendency will lose influence over time. But not complacent by any means.

  23. Rachel – agree re Raynor or Thorberry both are cultivating formerly anti-Corbyn (not coupe leaders) MPs already but they will have to be acceptable to momentum members that is my point.

  24. Interesting piece fom Iain Watson at the Labour conference.
    “Seen the full NEC statement on Brexit – as reported no specific option to stay in the single market”
    Following on from Corbyn on Marr are we about to see yet another U Turn from Labour?

    Perhaps Rudyard would care to comment?

  25. PAUL

    I tend to agree-she has let her own agenda be hijacked.

    But post the last GE she has lost her way on domestic stuff. Brexit & her narrow grip on her party & government is all consuming.

    Cons really have to raise their eyes beyond Brussels if they can-but its difficult at present to see them doing so.

  26. @ MarkW

    “Nationalisation, we owned them all collectively after generations of investment. Selling our utilities, often to state sponsored owners in other Countries, was a con trick.

    Just take them back.”

    I think the phrase you were looking for was: “We should take back control”. Now where have I heard that before.

  27. ALEC

    @”A bit over the top, perhaps?”

    I don’t think so-the vitriol drips from every syllable .

    Do a bit of research on him-watch a few YouTube clips.

    I hope Jim Jam is right-but frankly I wouldn’t be surprised to see the JM faction put the knife in old grandad JC if he started to backtrack on Statist Nirvana & the destruction of Corporate Tory Britain.

  28. @Jim Jam

    Thoughtful, concise, succinct.

    Take a bow. :-)

  29. @Colin

    PAUL

    I tend to agree-she has let her own agenda be hijacked.

    But post the last GE she has lost her way on domestic stuff. Brexit & her narrow grip on her party & government is all consuming.

    Cons really have to raise their eyes beyond Brussels if they can-but its difficult at present to see them doing so.

    I heard this criticism of Angela Merkel today too. Focusing on the ‘big’ things can lead to domestic bread and butter issues slipping.

  30. @TOH

    Middlesex are making an interesting game :-)

    (5-3)

  31. Jim jam

    I see a lot of momentum people saying that Brexit is a distraction, which of course is my view as well. I think most momentum people can’t see a path to power through a definite Brexit position and they want to have labour in power to change things. Talking about Brexit has few upsides for labour and lots of potential downsides.

    There’s also the problem that hard line ‘moderates’ want to use the Brexit issue to destabilise Corbyn’s leadership which is pushing Corbyn supporters to a more Brexit friendly position. It’s not really possible to have a proper Brexit debate within labour when so many MPs are using the issue in an opportunistic way. There are a few labour MP’S that have deeply held convictions about Brexit but most of the awkward squad is exactly that, just being awkward. So many labour MPs would rather have a Tory govt than lose their corporate gravy train!

  32. @Colin

    You are suffering from ‘Reds Under the Bed’ syndrome.
    It was endemic in America during the 1950s.

    But maybe JC is the Manchurian candidate?

  33. Jim jam

    Either would be acceptable to me, but I do carry a torch for Angela Rayner, a platonic torch

  34. “Hardline moderates”

    Isn’t that an oxymoron?

  35. Howard – Labour have not made any U-Turns just policy developments.

    Kites may well have been flown at various times but the policy, deliberately ambiguous at times and as per Francis always a tad (or more) a softer Brexit than Cons.

    The ‘no commitment to the SM’ will be beyond the Transition period and it a restatement of current policy. Some, Watson I recall, has said we may adopt that position at that time which while pushing and signalling a personal preference is not moving policy but an example of keeping options open.

    Putting Jobs and the Economy first may get as tiresome and as ineffective as ‘Strong and Stable’ in the long run but

  36. Rachel.

    Agree and the hard core remainers I can forgive whilst disagreeing but some are using as a proxy which is annoying to say the least.

  37. JJ
    “Putting Jobs and the Economy first may get as tiresome and as ineffective as ‘Strong and Stable’ in the long run”
    Possibly, but at least it would appear to stand for (if not necessarily mean) something.
    I’ve ploughed through most of today’s posts, some of which seem a bit hyperbolic IMO

  38. COLIN

    Your post @ 4:17

    Jolly good, and fair play to you; now we can have a debate about the whys and wherefores in a civilised manner.

    FWIW, I think there is a huge generational divide about what is, or might be, considered fair and equitable, and I think many of us can readily see this play out in our own families and with our friends and acquaintances.

    One thing I simply cannot understand is that recent government policy has continually promoted austerity as a necessity, so that “our children” will not have to clean up the mess. Unless the hatcheries of Huxley’s Brave New World have become a reality, lots of peoples’ children are already suffering rather badly.

  39. McDonnell

    This is fantastic. Labour taking us back to Jezza Nirvana. .I loved the 70’s. My dad had a maxi car built by british leyland. Ours was built on a Friday afternoon by a friend of Red Robbo so i was always driving it into a garage for repairs. I would console myself by helping him make wine in the bath with a kit bought from Boots. To think we can return to those days with labour. They have my vote.

  40. @CMJ

    More importantly, Yorkshire are now safe. 4 bowling points v Essex and only 1 batting point for Somerset.

  41. *3 bowling points

  42. Princess Rachel: I see a lot of momentum people saying that Brexit is a distraction, which of course is my view as well. I think most momentum people can’t see a path to power through a definite Brexit position and they want to have labour in power to change things. Talking about Brexit has few upsides for labour and lots of potential downsides.
    That from a remain perspective is tactics before strategy. AFAICS, letting Brexit happen has few upsides for Labour and lots of downsides. The idea that the EU stands in the way of any realistic Leftist program is IMO something of a fable. As I see it, the post Brexit economy stands in the way of such a Labour program rather more, unless we really are going down the road of austerity based all power to the soviets collectivisation.

    If I were still in the LP, I would be arguing for a stronger line against Brexit in order to prevent that kind of perception of a radical post brexit program. [I am now SNP, because I believe that Corbyn has betrayed my German wife and myself]

    There’s also the problem that hard line ‘moderates’ want to use the Brexit issue to destabilise Corbyn’s leadership which is pushing Corbyn supporters to a more Brexit friendly position. It’s not really possible to have a proper Brexit debate within labour when so many MPs are using the issue in an opportunistic way. There are a few labour MP’S that have deeply held convictions about Brexit but most of the awkward squad is exactly that, just being awkward. So many labour MPs would rather have a Tory govt than lose their corporate gravy train!

    Glad you didn’t use the word ‘Blairite’ to describe the ‘moderates’, but there is too much made of the Corbyn personality in a schismatic way. The idea that ‘moderates’ are using Brexit to destabilise Corbyn which is forcing Corbyn supporters to be more Brexit friendly strikes me as a likely cover story from email briefings, just to provide more cover for Corbyn.

    Frankly, the biggest reason that brexit has potential to destabilise Labour is that Corbyn has not been honest about his own position in all the time he has been leader. I am of the opinion that Corbyn was entirely happy for “kick the system, but I don’t really mean leave” leave votes in the referendum. Indeed his position is now greatly enhanced because of it. What a price for the country to pay for that morsel of advantage.

    I would have been far happier [and still part of the LP] if we were looking to a Corbyn win in a 2020 election after a remain referendum result, with a much calmer atmosphere and the country not divided over whether the brexit we get is the brexit which was voted for when trying to put through a radical program.

  43. @Robin

    Indeed.

    I’m a happier Tyke this evening!

  44. @VALERIE
    “Hardline moderates”
    Isn’t that an oxymoron?

    ———–

    Perhaps but on the plus side it has a low word count!!

  45. @Alec

    ”A bit over the top, perhaps?”

    ——–

    Perhaps, but we prolly need that Alex Jones/Fox News angle for balance and stuff.

  46. @Colin – “I will say though that Cons must wake up to the vacuum they have left for JM to occupy-in some instances on unfairnesses which they started addressing themselves & let slide.”

    I do recall cautioning you not to get too excited when, shortly after her election to leader, she promised to tackle inequality.

    My recollection was that I raised the fact that every Tory PM since Thatcher has promised to tackle social and economic issues, only to head off in the opposite direction once they have their feet under the table.

    I’m amazed that people continually fall for the guff, if I’m being honest.

    @Valerie – re your response to @Turk on cycling and pedestrians.

    In my brief research on the numbers of deaths caused by cyclists, I came across figures of 2.8 pedestrian deaths per year caused by cyclists, while an average 420 pedestrians were killed a year by motor vehicles (average 2010 – 2013 inclusive). This is more than the total number of motorcyclists dying each year, and almost exactly half the number of car occupants killed in car crashes.

    To be honest, statistically speaking @Turk is talking rubbish. There is a near zero risk of an individual pedestrian being killed by a cyclist in any given year, at 0.17% of all road deaths, while pedestrians constitute 25% of all road fatalities.

    Statistically at least, it would be more accurate to claim that motorists biggest risks are those dam pedestrians throwing themselves at fast moving cars.

  47. Valerie

    You are misquoting me, I didn’t write “hardline moderates”, what I wrote was “hard line ‘moderates’ ” the quote marks are important

  48. A noteworthy intervention in the Brexit talks this evening from Barnier. At the rpess conference he has again made it clear that the transition deal asked for by the UK would be within the terms of EU structures, in a direct contradiction to davis’ claim over the weekend that under the transition we would be out of ECJ jurisdiction by 2019.

    I really don’t see the remotest chance of the EU budging on this one, and it is notably that May hasn’t said the transition would mean no ECJ involvement.

  49. Interesting snippet from the German election: the AfD drew a quarter of their vote from non-voters. There’s a lesson there for all parties in the sense of engaging with the disillusioned.

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