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Analysis

Wales may be turning against Brexit

by John Osmond | 16.10.2017

In last year’s referendum, Wales voted 53/47 for Brexit. But three-quarters of the population aren’t willing to lose any money to get it, according to a new opinion poll. As Dafydd Wigley told a Wales for Europe rally in Cardiff at the weekend, a  referendum on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU could despatch Brexit to the dustbin of history.

The former leader of Plaid Cymru said that while most Leave voters in last year’s referendum knew what they were against, very few knew what they wanted to take the place of EU membership. Brexiter ministers invariably claimed they were seeking the “best deal for Britain” but never spelt out what that means.

“Inevitably, when matters are left that vague, it means different things to different people,” he said. “What we are facing is the hardest of hard Brexits. We are being allowed to jump without a parachute. We are heading for a disastrous crash-landing.

“It would be utterly wrong – misguided and pig-headed – to take such an irreversible step into the unknown, without the full and final consent of the people of these islands.

“If it is, indeed, the settled view of the voters that we should quit the EU without a deal, then that judgement must be respected and delivered.” However, he did not think they would choose a totally unchartered course to an unpredictable future.

“And at that stage, this whole sorry saga could be put where it belongs – into the dustbin of history and buried in the deepest ocean, never to be seen again. We can then return to the serious matter of building peace, harmony and cooperation in Europe and our industry, farmers, universities and tourist operators – and particularly our young people –  can plan a secure future, free from the present unnerving and unnecessary uncertainties.”

People didn’t vote to be worse off

Meanwhile, a new YouGov poll has revealed that more that 76% of people in Wales are not “willing to lose any money at all” in order to leave the EU.

Even the majority of Leave voters (55%) said they were unwilling to lose any money to leave the EU. 13% said they would be happy for it to cost them £10 a month, 13% said £20 a month and 10% said £50 a month. Only 4% were prepared to lose more than £200 a month.

There was very little difference between men and women, social classes or regions of Wales. But there was a difference between age groups. Those aged 25-49 were most resistant to losing out. More than eight out of 10 (83%) were not willing to lose any money, compared with 64% of those aged 65-plus.

Helen Birtwhistle, Director of Wales For Europe, which commissioned the poll, said: “These results demonstrate that the commitment of Leave voters to Brexit is not deep, and may well be changing as the full economic effects of Brexit become clearer. As the cost of living rises for families in Wales, we are all feeling the pinch.

“At the same time, the confusion over next steps in the Brexit process, combined with a growing realisation of the EU membership benefits Wales stands to lose, mean that people are reassessing their commitment to Brexit.

“These poll figures warn us that many Welsh people who backed Brexit could feel intensely disillusioned in the coming months as the cost mounts.”

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

2 Responses to “Wales may be turning against Brexit”

  • The money issue is really a red herring.

    At this point, whether Brexit happens or not people have already lost money in the short-term.

    And while the polling states that people aren’t prepared to lose out, it doesn’t state they are willing to Remain either.

    Another problem is that if the issue is solely down to money, and it isn’t, then the Bremain case really isn’t any better off than pre-June 23 2016.

    Sadly many prominent Bremainers, with the best of intentions, have only strengthened the mandate for Brexit – the Article 50 vote, the failed / dropped Article 50 case in Dublin, the hypocrisy of criticising the referendum while hoping for a second, etc.

    What the Remain campaign should have been doing is, rather than hoping for a miracle, building a new case for Remain which wasn’t solely about the economics.

    A case which didn’t just talk abstractly about unspecified ‘reforms’ but which detailed winnable, achievable reforms both in the EU and, crucially, the UK too, reforms specifically aimed at neutralising the areas in which Brexit won.

    Until Brexit voters really start feeling the negative economic consequences, and not reading about the loss of a few bankers or factory workers, then the economic argument by itself won’t be enough.

  • With regard to the last comment above from PB (i.e. Brexit voters needing to feeling the negative economic consequences of Brexit), I look forward to seeing what might be contained in the 50 secret government studies commissioned on the impact of Brexit.

    At the start of November 2017, we will see which way the David Davis, the Brexit secretary, responds to the legal action being taken here, to force the release of these studies. Assuming that the action is successful, could some Brexit voters start to worry (“feel”), according to government analysis, that their jobs are really on the line?

    I think that we are all concerned when governments start to hide information from the public! I would claim that the release of these reports is very much a national interest issue, and anyone pro- or anti-EU should be interested in this information.