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Analysis

Public opinion is shifting towards people’s vote on Brexit

by Luke Lythgoe | 12.04.2018

Since the referendum, the government, Labour party and the majority of the mainstream media – not least the BBC – have fallen in line behind Brexit, painting it as a done deal. Despite all this, public opinion is shifting against quitting the EU. In particular, support is building for a people’s vote on whatever Brexit deal Theresa May clinches.

Between the 2016 referendum and last year’s general election, a small majority of voters said they’d vote to quit the EU if a new referendum was held on EU membership. Since the general election, opinion has shifted – with around 52:48 in favour of remaining. This still isn’t enough to be sure of stopping Brexit, but it’s moving in the right direction.

Support for a people’s vote

Even more striking, the public is warming to the idea of a people’s vote once they know what Brexit means. A recent poll by Open Britain showed that 63% of people supported the public having a vote on the final Brexit deal, once the “don’t knows” were stripped out of the results.

This follows a larger poll in January by ICM for the Guardian in which 58% wanted the people to have a “final decision” on leaving the EU once the outcome of the negotiations was known, compared to 42% who didn’t.

Results like these depend on how you ask the question. Michael Ashcroft showed this by asking a series of slightly different questions on the issue, with results ranging from a 12% majority for a public vote to a 14% majority against.

A general rule is that people don’t like the idea of a “second referendum” or something similar. But the phrase “second referendum”, suggesting a re-run the campaign of 2016, isn’t what pro-Europeans are campaigning for. They want a vote on the Brexit deal.

This is a big deal which will affect us for generations. It will be the people’s first chance to compare the reality of Brexit to the reality of staying in the EU. The referendum compared a fantasy peddled by Boris Johnson with reality.

Taken together, the various polls suggest the public is now slightly in favour of a people’s vote on the Brexit deal. That’s a big shift from polling done shortly after the referendum, when a second referendum (admittedly not a people’s vote on the deal) was opposed by two to one.

Brexit dismay

Of course just securing a vote doesn’t mean people will vote to stop Brexit. They have to know Brexit is a bad idea too. There’s plenty of polling showing things are moving in this direction. A series of polls by YouGov to mark one year until Brexit found people thought Brexit would be bad for a whole range of things.

source: YouGov

The more facts emerge about Brexit, the worse it looks. People have the right to say stop if they think something this big is going badly.

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This article was updated on April 15 to include the Open Britain poll.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

7 Responses to “Public opinion is shifting towards people’s vote on Brexit”

  • “Since the general election, opinion has shifted – with around 52:48 in favour of remaining. ”

    No shift that is exactly what was recorded in the run up to the Referendum.

  • It is amazing that those “take back control” enthusiasts do not seem very keen to be given the opportunity. Perhaps they resist others being given the chance to take back control?
    In any case, if the deal is rejected…and a fair summary of the deal needs to be carefully presented to the public this time…then we have to be sure that the alternative is something acceptable and viable….. not the “cliff-edge” option. I sincerely hope that the “staying -in” option can this time be presented as a positive choice and not the Project Fear hype that distorted the referendum. By the time we get to a vote, there should be more than enough bad news caused by the Brexit deal not reflecting the ambitious claims of DD, Mogg, IDS, Johnson, etc. to be contrasted with positive news from the EU and our performance since the referendum. Moreover, the Home Office, having at last focussed on immigration, will demonstrate that it was never necessary to leave the EU for us to put in immigration controls…thus exposing one fo the greater lies of the Brexit crowd. Any sensible Brit should be furious at being so misled.

  • Is it still not the case that the majority of MP’s if given a free vote would vote to remain in the EU ? What does that tell us about the state of parliamentary democracy in the UK at the moment ?

  • Having a vote on the final deal is a seriously bad idea! Brexiteers only understand two key phrases ‘taking back control’ and ‘we won, get over it’.
    They won’t care or understand any deal that is offered to them, they just want to cut all ties with the EU.
    It’s not easy to accept that you have been lied to, fooled, hoodwinked and conned, let alone having to admit it.

  • Almost all MP’s would support remain they know the facts, problem is they’re acting on the belief that it’s the will of the people, they are terrified to ignore the people’s vote however small the majority.
    A weak government gives the people what they want, a strong government gives the people what they need.

  • In no way has public opinion changed towards another vote on Brexit deal. These surveys are skewed towards the liberal left by pollsters and in no way are representative. The ridiculous idea that voters didn’t (because only the intellectual liberals are smart enough to) understand what they were voting for is constantly churned out. How anyone can support a fundamentally undemocratic , corrupt and elitist union beats me. I can only think that the privileged classes are more concerned about increasing their wealth through the availability of cheap European labour than the living conditions of working class Britains. There is no cliff edge high enough not to jump off to get out the damnable EU

  • I’m amazed that your website thinks that public opinion has changed. It has not.
    Your facts are all wrong. The EU is finished, in 20 years it will be broken up.
    At the moment the EU is struggling financially and it will get more and more expensive to remain a member.
    Further you say you don’t want a hard border. Well at the moment under the EU we don’t have a border at all. What about the number of poor people transferred to the UK as slaves and prostitutes, they number in the thousands, their lives a complete misery.
    We are better off out. Let us remain in control of our country.
    OUT, OUT, OUT……… Brexit forever…….