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Analysis

People’s Vote is most popular way to solve the Brexit mess

by Luke Lythgoe | 10.08.2018

A huge new nationwide poll shows a People’s Vote is by far the most popular option for extricating ourselves from the Brexit mess.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign and surveying over 10,000 people, showed that 45% support a People’s Vote on the outcome of Brexit talks, with 34% opposing the idea. But if the talks broke down and we were facing a choice between a no-deal Brexit and staying in the EU, then support for a People’s Vote is two to one.

Here are some other interesting trends revealed by what is one of the biggest surveys of public opinion since the referendum.

People are turning against Brexit – especially women, the young and Labour

The divisions between young and old over Brexit persist, with a flip from a Remain to Leave majority around age 45. Interestingly, the youngest and oldest voters seem to have got more extreme in their views since 2016 – with more young people wanting to stay and more over-65s keen to leave. But the mid-ranges have tipped further towards staying in the EU.

The gulf between men and women is widening too, with women now far more supportive of staying in the EU: 56% of women, but only 50% of men, would vote Remain.

Pollster and former YouGov president Peter Kellner has an interesting take on this. “There could be a lesson from history. In the Scottish referendum in 2014 there was a big gender gap, with a small majority of men voting for independence, and a large majority of women voting against independence. We could be seeing the early stages of a similar trend, especially if we end up with a No Brexit vs No Deal referendum, with women more concerned with the dangers of upheaval.”

Demand a vote on the Brexit deal

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That Lib Dem supporters hate Brexit is hardly surprising. But the poll also showed 77% of those intending to vote Labour would back staying in the EU now. That’s food for thought for Jeremy Corbyn and his inner circle. With Labour’s anti-semitism row giving Theresa May’s hapless Tories a four-point lead in the polls, coming out in support of a People’s Vote – even tentatively – could win Corbyn back supporters frustrated with his weak Brexit stance, as Denis MacShane has argued for InFacts.

Changing Leavers’ minds

The survey also had some important findings on the circumstances under which the Leavers of 2016 might consider changing their minds. While 61% insisted they would never switch, that still leaves 39% – or 6.8 million voters – who could be convinced.

Of the things most likely to make Leavers switch, three of the top four are already looking likely to happen under May’s Chequers plan: obeying EU rules after Brexit without a say in deciding them; still paying billions to the EU budget; and the European Court of Justice continuing to wield power in certain areas. Meanwhile people’s local NHS services are already suffering from Brexit – and we haven’t even left yet.

Where we all agree

The prime minister has at least managed to unite the country in one respect – everyone agrees her Chequers pact and the handling of the Brexit negotiations is woeful, and the outcome will be a “bad deal”.

There is also agreement on how Brexit is going more generally. Almost three quarters think it’s a big deal that will fundamentally impact the lives of everyone in the country. The same proportion thinks many Leave campaigners’ promises will be broken – and that includes 60% of Leave voters.

So, let’s recap. While the country is only gradually shifting against Brexit (although shifting it clearly is), the desire for a People’s Vote is now significant. Both main parties could gain by supporting it, with the government widely blamed for the Brexit mess and Labour supporters at odds with their leader’s fence-sitting. Meanwhile there are plenty of Leave voters willing to switch their votes. It’s time Westminster started listening to the rest of country, and passed this Brexit shambles back to the people.

Edited by Quentin Peel

One Response to “People’s Vote is most popular way to solve the Brexit mess”

  • If the polls continue to show similar results to that above, it would be totally unethical for May to claim any kind of mandate from the British people for leaving the EU. The use of “will of the people” in the discussion seems to have reduced, or perhaps that is due to Davis finally giving up any pretence of knowing what is going on.
    The hard-right Tories will fight to leave the EU under any pretext and any cost. The People’s Vote is the best way out…and it might even reunite the population.