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. And unless there is a dramatic change of opinion, there will be no second ref. THe disruption it would cause would be crippling, and these are the same percentages the on the night polling gave us.

  2. Brexit the movie link. You will enjoy, whatever your personal view on Brexit.

  3. What current polling does strongly suggest is that given such a close result in an advisory referendum, HMG should have taken much more time to develop and cost the options in the Cabinet Office’s Alternatives to membership: possible models for the United Kingdom outside the European Union from March 2016.

    At the very least, the Westminster parliament could have debated, fleshed out and ranked the options, possibly followed by a public consultation, before A50 was triggered.

    We are where we are, but there is no reason other than perceived party advantage why that couldn’t happen before the end of 2017, although I doubt that the current HMG has the courage to do so.

  4. CBX

    I’m not so sure.

    The idea that Referenda are held as a direct response to public opinion isn’t really supported by recent history. In reality they are held when poiiticians believe they will advance their cause, and that was indisputably the case with both the EU Referenda in 1975 and 2016.

    If we are heading for disaster, a third EU referendum as an alternative to a very painful EU exit could be the way out ( or rather the way back) except this time Project Fear will be able to point to the bottom of the cliff ahead of us.

    As other posters occasionally remind us, there is a large Parliamentary majority of pro-remainers, who disagree with a bare majority of public opinion on this issue, as on others (eg capital punishment). Parliament has sovereignty. You can bridge the Parliament- public divide with a General Election on a straight “vote Labour for remain, Conservative for Brexit “agenda. On balance this seems a likely scenario, possibly under successors to Jeremy and Teresa with firmer In/Out views. It will be bad news for all the smaller Parties as both the large ones will successfully seek the ” loan” of every single voter concerned about EU membership. All in IMHO to respect TOR and others …

  5. @ RJW (from previous thread) – well you’ve certainly been out to lunch for a long time.

    The Bristol seats didn’t strike me as good risk/reward. I remember Rachel having had a bunch of good tips and think she had Bristol down.
    The YouGov model hack identified “youth” seats as the stand out opportunities in terms of risk/reward.

    I identified 18 “youth” seats (a few more if you include London but Remain was a bigger factor there). About 10 had attractive odds (some very attractive). LAB gained 16 of the 18 “youth seats”.

    Southampton Itchen was one of the fish that got away (blaming the kippers more than the students as they went disproportionally to CON and even the Green tactical vote wasn’t enough to overturn that swing)

    I remember the 2nd one now, Hendon.

    Hendon has high youth vote (police college and hence fairly safe anti-May bet) but failed to note the other demographic that ended up trumping the youth vote.

    If new LAB leader for next GE, then Hendon might turn red, especially if May still CON leader.

    Bookies run what looks like UNS models so might be some good oppos next time. I doubt many LAB targets will have good odds (as the UNS approach will push the odds right down) but we’ll have to wait and see. Might be some new non-UNS filter that works. Tough to guess this far in advance, but like Corbyn I’m on permanent GE stand-by mode.

    Enjoy your evening, chat again soon.

  6. TrevorW
    I’m a legend in my own lunchtime, as I’m sure are you.

    Yes it will be interesting to pick a few good ‘uns next time.

    Labour to win all 4 Bris seats was 8-1 IIRC , seemed a likely punt.
    I might try seat number spread betting next time. The 92 election was the only other time I won reasonable money, and that was predicting the LD total seats.
    I try not to bet against my party of choice. So I ain’t ever going to be a professional.

  7. Love the thread title

  8. Out and into the world.

    Vivat Regina.

  9. This man, a Reverend, takes the view that the UK never supported Brexit and never will. If anyone is interested I think there is a bit of whataboutery going on. Here is the link.

  10. sam
    you seem to have your eye on the ball about ROI.Does not the new EU common taxation policy spell the end of ROI tax Haven independence. And will it not be goodbye Dublin but hello london for American high techers especially if we secure a trade deal with the US.

    As the Americans said in Vietnam : if you grab them ba**s their hearts and minds will surely follow”
    I would be surprised to see the ROI in the EU in 10 years time.I say that knowing that Hireton counr will produce some snobby retort

  11. socialism in action

    At last we see socialism in its most blatant form right in the heart of Labour london. Uber to be banned on spurious grounds because unite and jezza dont like them. Never mind that 40,000 drivers are ruined, never mind that half a million londoners object, the low cost , market orientated Uber must be destroyed in order that unionised Labour can provide an inadaquate service at higher prices. A taste of things to come. if i was the tories i would pile into this. Wait until they have the trains as well.

    Can Boris stand again for London mayor?

  12. I thought uber lost their licence for not cooperating with the regulator?

    Missed the bit where Jez had any say in the matter.

  13. S Thomas,

    I visit ROI often (am there in just over a week).

    One of the main stories in Dublin is banks who HQ all (or the European part of their) operations in the UK are buying up land with a view to switching from London as they want an English speaking work-force readily available.

    JP Morgan have bought a building able to house 1000 employees and Barclays have announced their intention to transfer activity to Dublin with Job going there of course.

    The complaint is that this has sparked a property boom.

    Toronto gained at Montreal’s expense over 2 decades or so and London will lose out over time.

    Maybe this is good in the long run as part of a re-balancing of the economy but in short-medium term this is one of those negative Brexit consequences that is considered worth suffering by many in order to take sovereignty back.

  14. St T
    Calm down a little, the likely outcome to this is that Über will bend a bit and do what the other private hire operators do and play within the rules.
    As for 40, 000 drivers going into poverty, pull the other one, the net driven economy works to balance things out quite quickly, Über have been caning things and they know it. (Don’t you just love that Teutonic umlaut!)

  15. NICKP

    You should have realised by now that regulators, like High Court judges, are all in the pay of a group of shadowy Stalinist “citizens of the world” with strong Remainiac tendencies.

  16. Andrew111

    Well said. Fully agree.

  17. @Andrew 111


  18. Andrew 111

    Many Trotskyites would deny that power lies with the Stalinists (at least in the very long term).

  19. Oh fun!

    “Anas Sarwar relinquishes all his shares in United Wholesale (Scotland), which does not pay all staff the Living Wage”

    I wonder what “relinquishes” means, Has he sold them and given the £4.8m value to help the food banks? or transferred them to Mrs Sarwar?or what?

    Can’t really see that helping him – but I have little contact with the SLab selectorate anymore, so who knows.

  20. Bubble in Dublin property market? How did that work out for them 10yearsizh ago?

  21. @oldnat

    Relinquishing them apparently means putting them into a trust for his children.

  22. @trevorwarne

    As well as the credit crisis worked for the UK perhaps? And here we are getting back to pre crash levels of personal debt in the UK. Wonder how that will work out for us?

  23. S Thomas

    This is the most appropriate answer I could find for you – I think it accurate.

  24. Hireton

    Thanks. Isn’t that what any self-respecting multi-millionaire would do anyway, in order to keep the wealth in the family and prevent the government getting its hands on it, and spending it for the welfare of others?

    OK. That might be an unlikely course for a Tory UK Government to take ….

  25. “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.”

    According to BMG’s spreadsheet, the question they asked was:

    ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union, or leave the European Union?’

    It most wasn’t couched as “in a hypothetical referendum tomorrow.”

    To me, the most interesting result is from their second question – ‘Which side would you say you are leaning towards most?’
    Remain 24% ???????
    Leave 20% ???????
    Don’t know 41% ???????

  26. Opinium/Observer:

    CON 42 (+1)
    LAB 40 (-1)
    LD 6 (+1)
    UKIP 4 (-1)
    SNP 4 (+1)


  27. @oldnat

    Indeed they would and certainly wouldn’t use their shareholding to try and get union recognition in the company and the living wage paid to its staff.

  28. Well, that’s two polls showing an ENORMOUS lib dem surge…

    Re the main topic, polls on brexit now have a number of years in which to move. The longer it takes to happen the less people will think that we should still be committed to it.

    Especially if it becomes apparent that nobody has a bleedin’ clue as to how it is supposed to work, but quite a lot of clues as to how much it’s going to cost – as opposed to how much we were told we were going to save.

  29. S Thomas

    Northern Ireland should perhaps be of more concern. Posts by Dr Katy Hayward of Queen’s University have been addressing the NI / Ireland border problem and the effect of it on NI. Her most recent posts shows an increasing desperation at the potential problems she sees. Of interest to me is a comment to her latest post. It is below along with the link to the blog post and comment.

    “Katy Hayward’s analysis is spot on.
    Underlying all of these political decisions is the unquestioned paradigm of neo liberal globalisation which is a philosophy that entirely effaces embedded local cultures save to harness them to their economic models, usually as a cobbled afterthought.
    In the case of Northern Ireland, the effaced embedded cultures are those of a deeply criminalised underbelly of economically excluded working class which is only kept in check by the hard sectarian parties wielding both soft, as in Stormont MLAs, and hard power over them, as in the ubiquitous housing estate paramilitary vigilantes that the PSNI leave to police these ‘problem’ areas.
    If the Westminster/DUP model of a hard Brexit is effectively imposed upon a Northern Ireland most of whose citizens voted to remain in the EU, and there is every political indication that this will now occur, there will not be return to the old style violence of the Troubles era, save on the fringes of the borders of the Republic which are heavily policed, but rather a ‘ unforeseen’ frighteningly fast spill over of disintegration of any semblance of civic law and order from these unpoliced wild west gangland areas into areas now deemed safe to live in.
    For those to be affected by this predictable post hard Brexit increase in localised chaotic violence, expect the ruling DUP and the British government to use it to further their prosperous political careers through a combination of victim blaming and tired inappropriate bigoted political finger pointing.
    What a shameful shambles.”

  30. @ Sam

    Thanks for link about RoI. Sounds like it’s on the money to me. If Brexit was about hearts over minds (as it was for many, sovereignty etc being the main motivator) then it follows that RoI staying with EU and not ‘retreating’ to its relationship with UK will also very much be the way of the heart, and likely to win out.

  31. Triguy

    Of all the states that decided that they would be better off making their own decisions, rather than letting the Westminster Parliament take on that onerous responsibility, not one has opted to return to the fold.

    Of course, ex-British colonies can be keen to co-operate with each other – as Australia has shown by facilitating Ireland’s penetration of the Asian market.

  32. Trigguy

    Yes, I agree

  33. @sam

    Re corporate taxation, I wonder if Ireland will think to use its veto in the Council on a matter which requires unanimity (assuming any proposal ever gets to it which it objects to fundamentally)?

  34. So it seems that Johnson has broken the Cabinet truce tonight by issuing a new set of demands following on from May ‘s speech and just before the next round of talks begin.

  35. Looks like May’s speech hasn’t done a great deal to move Brexit forward, nor heal rifts in the Tory party.

    The media almost exclusively focused on the ‘bold and generous’ offer, or whatever it was, which amounted to begging for a two year transition deal, and paying for the privilege. This was always going to be UK’s medium term objective, as it has always been obviuos to all sensible people that a transition period is inevitable, and that we would pay the fee and be fully bound by EU rules during that time.

    The real question was whether May would give any detail on the end deal, and here, there was nothing.

    The EU reaction has been telling, which is basically that nothing has changed and detail of what Britain wants is still required. Internally, Boris is already making demands about not being bound by new regulations during the transition period, as this would be unfair as the UK would have in say in their drafting.

    It remains a complete mess, with no clear idea of how May see the final deal shaping up. She knows there must be a deal, and I suspect she also knows that to get this, she will have to agree to terms many in her party won’t support.

  36. Not sure if this has already been posted:

    Westminster voting intention:

    LAB: 42% (-1)
    CON: 38% (-)
    LDEM: 8% (+1)
    UKIP: 4% (-)

    via Survation

  37. Hireton
    Confirms the LD surge.

  38. @alec

    It looks like the process of Cabinet government has broken down so far as the EU negotiations are concerned with negotiations being conducted through the Daily Telegraph.

  39. Hireton

    That may be marginally better than negotiations being conducted BY the Telegraph.

  40. “That may be marginally better than negotiations being conducted BY the Telegraph.”

    What no Pith helmets!


  41. Trevor Warne,
    “Bubble in Dublin property market? How did that work out for them 10yearsizh ago?”
    All rather depends if the bubble is purely based upon speculation, or on real sustainable demand.

  42. We are told that the young voted heavily in favour of Remain so over time one would expect a drift to Remain for purely demographic reasons even if nobody is changing their minds.

  43. As regards uber, I’m sure the free market will sort things out, other app based taxi services will appear, if they follow regulations they will prosper but if they don’t they will be denied licences. Regulations are there for a reason, some might like anarchy but personally I’m not too keen.

  44. Hireton

    “Asked by Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary which posed a bigger threat to Ireland, Brexit or EU-wide corporation tax rules, Mr Coffey said: “Let’s assume they both happen, in my view the latter would be more serious.”
    However, Mr Coffey said he still rated the common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) risk to Ireland as low given the level of opposition to it across Europe. Brexit was likely to happen, and therefore posed a more immediate risk.”

    “What current polling does strongly suggest is that given such a close result in an advisory referendum, HMG should have taken much more time to develop and cost the options in the Cabinet Office’s Alternatives to membership: possible models for the United Kingdom outside the European Union from March 2016. At the very least, the Westminster parliament could have debated, fleshed out and ranked the options, possibly followed by a public consultation, before A50 was triggered.”
    I would go further and say that – apart from the fact that this was an advisory referendum, and the argument that such referenda, if they are to be decision making,should have a twop-thirds rather than a majority support – the Government and the Prime Minister needed in such a close result and given the evident dvision of interests, sections and regions, should be required to exercise a Chairman’s vote and – on the basis of the consultation which is needed – explain their reasons in terms of the whole nation’s interests.
    The decision taken should plainly be rescinded, probably on the basis of another referendum and an informed consultation.

  46. @ HIRETON/DANNY – If you can make the economic case for RoI joining the Euro I’d love to hear it (or see a link). UK avoided calling the IMF because we had a freely floating exchange rate and full control over fiscal policy.

    I’d agree the UK has only managed to kick the debt bubble can down the road and I suspect we will face that issue again at some point. We have more flexibility to deal with it if/when it occurs but is it a bigger problem than Brexit – Brexit is however more urgent and hence takes precedence.

    I’d add that if Carney stopped playing politics and got on with his day job then we’d have more chance to release some air from the bubble rather than pop it. Carney would make an excellent chancellor of the exchequer, much better than Hammond. I suspect Carney would have done better than Darling during the crisis as well – cutting VAT to tackle a demand side shock!?!? Did he ever read Keynes?
    Back to central banks, the current measurement of inflation as a target is ridiculous – completely ignores asset prices. The smarter Germans are aware of the issue but unable to do much about it.

    As Danny points out only time will tell if the Dublin property market is a bubble or sustainable demand. Its probably not even in the top3 of RoI’s risks, however, if it is a bubble that bursts then they don’t have the tools to deal with it (freely floating exchange rate, full fiscal authority) and I suspect the IMF (or newly formed EMF as it may be by then) will be back paying them a visit.

    They are a democracy, they can chose their future and some lessons have to be learned the hard way, sometimes more than once, before the electorate learn the lesson! I hope the RoI avoid the fate of Greece, if/when it comes to it.

  47. @ JOHN PILGRIM/BZ – did you guys miss all the votes in HoC and HoL that led to triggering A50?

    The one thing the govt failed to do and needs to get one with asap is planning for a no-deal scenario. Whether through incompetence on their part (quite likely), absurd terms from EU (very likely) or perhaps a very clever feint (?) the no-deal scenario is a very realistic outcome (IMO)

    I doubt it is a clever feint as it is far too risky politically. If May had won a 50+ majority with a safe full 5y term, then the current approach to talks would make a lot more sense.

  48. @trevorwarne

    “They are a democracy, they can chose their future and some lessons have to be learned the hard way, sometimes more than once, before the electorate learn the lesson! I hope the RoI avoid the fate of Greece, if/when it comes to it.”

    Ah yes, if only those former colonies would understand the benefits of returning to the Pax Britannica which was so beneficial for them in the past.

  49. Perhaps Pax Britannica is better than Pax Germanica?

    “@ JOHN PILGRIM/BZ – did you guys miss all the votes in HoC and HoL that led to triggering A50?”

    I would just make the point that A.50 requires a country using this article to leave the EU, to comply with its own constituitional requirements. In the Supreme Court case it was deliberately left open what bill the Government could pass to meet constitutional requirements. The Judges did not comment and were not asked to comment on what the A.50 bill needed to include in its wording, as that was for Parliament to decide.

    You will probably have heard or read of doubt being raised about the A.50 bill that was passed and whether it did meet with UK constituional requirements. It is not impossible that the Supreme court will be asked to examine this issue and at the same time the irrevocability of A.50 will also be raised. In regard to the latter, this might end up being referred to the ECJ.

    I am not saying that these matters should be raised with the Supreme Court to frustrate the referendum result being implemented, but i think there is a strong possibility of it happening.

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