New poll shows majority think vote for Brexit was wrong

The “will of the people” on Brexit is changing with more saying Brexit is a mistake.

A new poll by YouGov for The Times shows weakening support for Brexit with 47% saying they now think Britain was wrong to vote for Brexit. Only 42% of those polled believed it to be the right decision. As The Times reports, this is the widest margin since polling began following the referendum.

The chart showing how people’s views have changed over the last year also shows a clear trend with people increasingly believing the vote for Brexit was wrong.

If the “will of the people” at the referendum was for Brexit, the survey shows people may have changed their minds. And as Brexit secretary David Davis might say, people changing their minds is part and parcel of a democracy.

If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.

David Davis, Brexit secretary

The poll also showed 64% (including 54% of Leave voters) thought the government’s handling of Brexit negotiations is going badly. There also seemed to be growing pessimism about Britain’s prospects post-Brexit with 44% of those polled saying Brexit will make Britain poorer. Only 23% said Britain will be better off.

Another poll – this time by Sky Data – suggests a dramatically different picture. The poll asked Sky customers whether they thought “No deal is better than a bad deal” or “Any deal is better than no deal”. A whopping 74% said the former. However, as some commentators including editor Ian Dunt suggests, this might be because voters may not realise what “no deal” means. And they might actually believe that “no deal” means the UK sticks to the status quo.

The data certainly suggests this wasn’t explained to people when asked the question. As political commentator Nina Schick points out, Sky may as well have added an option for cat memes.

The two surveys tell very different stories. Perhaps what they best demonstrate is that Brexit is complicated and that people still don’t really understand what the ramifications are of the outcomes possible. A recent study by Dutch bank Rabobank’s research arm, RaboResearch, found a “no deal” scenario would cause permanent damage and cost 18% of UK GDP by 2030. Did those voting in the Sky Data poll know that? Even if it’s just one study, it’s a pretty bleak picture. And whilst a “no deal” scenario would mean the UK falls back on WTO rules, as the Mirror reports, there is no such fall back for aviation. This could mean UK airlines are no longer able to fly within the EU. The general secretary for the British Airline Passengers Association, Brian Strutton, said: “UK airlines could find they have to stop flying – it’s that serious.” He added: “It is utter madness for anyone to think that a Brexit ‘no deal’ would be anything but a total disaster for our world leading UK aviation sector and beyond.” Were those in the Sky Data poll aware of that?

Some (including us) would argue people voted in the referendum without being well-informed. Not least because it asked a simple question that encompasses many issues. And yet, the government still refuses to publish a series of impact studies it has commissioned on Brexit since the vote despite numerous requests for them to do so. In an editorial, The Times said refusing to publish the impact assessments meant parliament “is flying blind”. With MPs due to debate the EU withdrawal bill in more detail shortly , it seems only right they are able to do so with all the information available. As its editorial concludes: “To keep its findings secret is a betrayal of parliament, taxpayers and democracy.”

Nobel economics prize winner Richard Thaler on Brexit

Image: © lonndubh /
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