One year to go

You will unavoidably have noticed that today marks one year until Brexit day, when the article 50 timetable runs out and the British government has signalled its intention to leave the European Union. I’ve written a long piece over on the YouGov website here about where public opinion stands on Brexit which I’d encourage you to read, but here is a brief take on where we are.

Firstly, there has still been no big shift in opinion since the referendum. Since last year there has been a gradual drift, but nothing substantial. However, given the original vote was so close, that still means that you tend to find marginally more people saying Brexit is a bad thing than a good thing. YouGov ask a regular question asking if Brexit was the right or wrong decision – until the middle of last year it was typically showing an even split, in recent months it’s typically showing slightly more people think it was the wrong decision than the right one.

While it’s right to say people have moved against Brexit, it’s not right to say that most people want it stopped. If you ask people what the government should do now, the majority still want Brexit to go ahead in some way. The reason for this apparent paradox is that there is a minority of Remain voters who say the government should go ahead with Brexit – presumably because it is seen as democratic duty given the result of the referendum. One should be careful when interpreting individual polling results for this reason – you’ll sometimes find pro-Brexit sources representing polls showing a majority want to go ahead with Brexit as indicating majority support for Brexit, or anti-Brexit sources representing polls showing people disapprove of Brexit as opposing it going ahead. Neither appears to be true – looking at polling evidence in the whole the position appears to be that the public want Brexit to continue, despite starting to think it’s a bad idea.

Secondly, as ever it’s worth remembering that most people are really not that fussed about the details of Brexit. I could apply this caveat to almost any political issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth repeating. One reason that the ins and outs of the Brexit negotiations don’t make an impact on views is that people aren’t paying that much attention. 55% of people say they find news about Brexit boring (36% interesting). 47% of people say they are following Brexit very or fairly closely (itself probably an exaggeration) – 48% say they aren’t following it closely or at all.

Thirdly, support for a second referendum. Different polling companies produce very different results for this question, some (including the YouGov poll today) show more support than opposition for a second referendum, others show more people now support one. It seems to depend how the question is asked – wording along the lines of “asking the public” tends to provoke more support.

If a referendum was to happen, it would most likely be because of a government defeat in the Commons on the Brexit legislation or deal. The new YouGov poll asked whether people thought it was legitimate or not for the MPs to vote against Brexit. On the deal, the balance of opinion was that it was legitimate for MPs to block it – 42% thought it legitimate, 34% thought it was not. However, if it came to actually blocking Brexit itself the position swaps over – only 33% would see it as legitimate, 45% would not (as you might expect, it is mostly Remainers who see blocking Brexit as legitimate, most Leavers do not).

Finally the poll included some questions about whether the campaigns cheated in the referendum and the impact it had. Once again, people largely viewed it through the prism of their existing support for Remain or Leave.

  • 66% of Remain voters thought that the campaigns had cheated (39% Leave only, 3% Remain only and 24% both), and 45% of Remainers thought that if the campaigns had followed the rules Remain would have won.
  • 47% of Leave voters thought that the campaigns had cheated (14% Remain only, 4% Leave only and 29% both), but only 7% of Leavers thought that if the campaigns had followed the rules Remain would have won (16% thought Leave would have won more convincing had the rules been followed).

The full article on the YouGov website is here and the full tables are here.


218 Responses to “One year to go”

1 3 4 5
  1. Charles

    I should have added that the most important thing for me is that we leave the EU with an ability and make all our own laws and not be bound by the ECJ. We can then do what we like with any treaty as it will be the UK government who decides what we do in future.

  2. NICKP

    “Polls are almost irrelevant now.”

    Sorry I disagree, I suspect that they are a much better guide than social media. They give a moment in time snapshot of peopled voting intentions which is interesting for those interested in politics.

  3. Charles

    Sorry typo

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,with an ability to make our own laws………….

  4. the other howard

    The problem is that any treaty the UK sign is still a restriction on our sovereignty.

    So the real question is – is the treaty we are tearing up likely to be better or worse than the new treaty we will negotiate somewhere with someone?

    Put like that, the only reason to leave the EU would be if the existing treaty was so unfavourable and bad for us that practically any new treaty would be better. As we are seeing in the negotiations, that seems unlikely.

  5. NICKP

    @”Polls are almost irrelevant now.”

    AW will be pleased :-)

  6. Nick P

    I stick by what I posted, we disagree.

  7. @TOH – “Not a notion, but fact, I have seen the figure in print at least twice recently. I cannot remember where and I cannot be bothered to spend time finding the references. You either believe me or you don’t, it matters not to me.”

    I’m afraid that;s not really how facts work. Without proper corroboration and a verifiable source, what you are actually talking about is a belief.

    As I tried to demonstrate last night, there are sources, and sources, and many different ways to define the figure you are talking about. Your view needs to be not exactly dismissed, but certainly not given any credence unless it can be verified as coming from a trusted source.

  8. The other Howard,
    “I should have added that the most important thing for me is that we leave the EU with an ability and make all our own laws and not be bound by the ECJ.”

    So hows that going to happen? We do want a deal with the EU, don’t we?

    “We can then do what we like with any treaty as it will be the UK government who decides what we do in future.”

    Unfortunately not. What the negotiations with the EU demonstrate is that whoever it deals with, the Uk will not decide the outcome. It is always necessary to compromise and do what the other party wants. That is why Brexit is fundamentally such a farce, because Leave can never get the freedom they claim to want, short of ceasing to trade with the rest of world totally. What you seek is unachievable.

  9. @ Danny

    You mention “Hard Remain” – what is that? Joining the Euro, Schengen and the EU Army? I doubt you’d get 20% electorate support on that…

    I find your theories an interesting take on the reality of the situation. Cameron was forced by at least 25 years of stealth integration and sweeping Europe under the carpet to deal with the problem. The result was conclusive.

    A small remain majority would have been the worst of all results, leaving the wound open and the country far more divided. At least now we move to a compromise position where we nurture a trading relationship much as we are now.

    The desperate behaviour of the Blair, Umuna, Mandelson and Clegg reminds me the EU does not want democratic consent. They want technocratic leadership by a political elite who know what’s best.

  10. “the result was conclusive”

    hoo hoo hoo – sorry, my poor aching sides.

  11. @ Mile Pierce

    “Way too early to be writing off Labour’s chances at the next General Election which may not be until June 2022 So what if they are behind in the polls over the coming months. An awful lot of water will flow under many bridges over the next four years.”

    Absolutely – as we saw last year, 4 weeks is enough time for a seismic change in polling never mind 4 years!

    But as someone interested in polling I am commenting on the latest poll as to both what might happen if a theoretical election were to be held soon but also in the longer term based on the current opposition position at this point in the electoral cycle versus similar points in past parliaments. Both are a cause for concern for Labour.

  12. @ Danny

    “That is why Brexit is fundamentally such a farce, because Leave can never get the freedom they claim to want, short of ceasing to trade with the rest of world totally. What you seek is unachievable.””

    Brexit is not a farce, it’s reality. Even TOH accepts that there has to be compromise, which there’s been quite a lot of actually. I think fundamentalist remainers panicking at their dwindling remain timeline still can’t accept their countrywide defeat in the referendum and now just resort to mud slinging.

    Even the dubious wealthy patrons can’t help the Blairirte Stealth Federalists now. The anti democrats showed their hand too early via the Miller action.

    International law is international law. The UK is a champion of that and will continue to be so after Brexit. I’ve posted before that many EU laws and directives are interpretations of UN conventions that are essentially a process of continuous improvement of wordlwide standards relating to human rights, the environment and rtackling fraudsters.

    “Splendid isolation” is ceertainly not an option after March next year.

  13. jonesinbangor,
    “The result was conclusive. ”
    You must have read all the info on this website: it isnt conclusive, that is the whole problem. If it was we would be done and dusted by now. Instead what we have is a propaganda campaign still trying to convince people either way.

    “Even TOH accepts that there has to be compromise, ”

    Then you concede my point. The Uk cannot attain absolute control, compromise is always necessasry, and that is all that the EU amounts to.

    ” I’ve posted before that many EU laws and directives are interpretations of UN conventions that are essentially a process of continuous improvement of wordlwide standards relating to human rights, the environment and rtackling fraudsters. ”

    Isnt that another way to say the Uk has to do what it is told by yet another international organisation?

    “You mention “Hard Remain” – what is that? Joining the Euro, Schengen and the EU Army? I doubt you’d get 20% electorate support on that”

    The chances of the Uk joining all these have probably gone up because of the brexit vote. Because I think leave are wrong that the Uk will accept Brexit. the tories are working towards full remain, but most likely will achieve a minimum of a very soft brexit. And then the campaign will begin for full membership because of the control it gives us over the EU, which otherwise we will not have.

  14. JONESINBANGOR

    It is certainly odd that HMG haven’t attempted to invoke EEA article 127 yet, but somehow I suspect that many leavers won’t be happy to have to work within EU rules but no longer have any sway over them. Presumably that’s why Farage changed his mind about how wonderful Norway’s situation is after the referendum.

    New thread, BTW

  15. Danny

    If we’re outside, looking in the window and following EU regs then I don’t see much advantage for the EU in welcoming us back in, giving us back our veto and watching us moaning all the time.

    On another subject, if Sugar can’t see that there are no “jokes” which contain the word “Hitler in them then he’s even more insensitive than I always imagined that he was.

  16. @ DANNY
    “You must have read all the info on this website: it isnt conclusive, that is the whole problem. If it was we would be done and dusted by now. Instead what we have is a propaganda campaign still trying to convince people either way.”

    I don’t agree. The only inconclusive bits were Scotland, NI and London. London in particular doesn’t have a leg to stand on – it crows and bathes in the success of its role as capital of the UK, it must accept the consequences of the UK decision.

    “Then you concede my point. The Uk cannot attain absolute control, compromise is always necessasry, and that is all that the EU amounts to.”

    The EU was given the opportunity to compromise by Cameron. They kept him up all night whilst they sneaked off to snooze, and essentially laughed in his face. Technocrats don’t do compromise. Fortunately, international law and monetary reality stopped their spite and malice game when we said we were leaving!

    “Isnt that another way to say the Uk has to do what it is told by yet another international organisation?”

    Yes.

    “The chances of the Uk joining all these have probably gone up because of the brexit vote. Because I think leave are wrong that the Uk will accept Brexit. the tories are working towards full remain, but most likely will achieve a minimum of a very soft brexit. And then the campaign will begin for full membership because of the control it gives us over the EU, which otherwise we will not have.”

    Maybe you were talking about Soubry when you said Tories working for full remain? The Tories are clearly not working on full remain. And good luck with that campaign, Tony Blair will make a good figurehead and I’m sure Clegg’s got time on his hands too.

  17. jonesinbangor: I find your theories an interesting take on the reality of the situation. Cameron was forced by at least 25 years of stealth integration and sweeping Europe under the carpet to deal with the problem. The result was conclusive.

    A small remain majority would have been the worst of all results, leaving the wound open and the country far more divided.

    A small remain result would have been a bad result for exactly the reasons you state. As indeed a small leave result would have been. sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    As it is with the ‘conclusive’ 52:48 we are left with an open wound and a divided country. So, from where I am standing, your ‘conclusive’ leave result looks precisely as bad to me as a small remain result would to you.

    Really, it is dishonest to claim the result as ‘conclusive’, when you would not accept the same result the other way around as ‘conclusive’

  18. I think the only element of the result that was near being inconclusive was at the constituent nation and overall % level.

    Everything else, regional results and constituency level was absolutely conclusive.

    More than mere statistical information, such facts have undoubtedly steeled the minds of politicians who wish to dispute the legitimacy of the result.

1 3 4 5