Remainers beware: people who think Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU do not necessarily think the referendum result should be reversed
In a recent YouGov poll for The Times, there appeared to be good news for those who want Britain to remain in the European Union and bad news for those who favour Brexit.
After 16 months of tracking Bregret (or rather, thus far, the relative lack of it), a record high of 47% said they thought Britain was wrong to vote leave the EU, coupled with a record low of 42% saying we were right to do so.
Each individual poll has a margin of error so it is important not to take one set of results out of context. In our most recent poll the numbers have reverted back slightly, with just a 3% gap between right and wrong to leave. However, when you look at the last few months together the trend does seem to be towards slightly more people thinking Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU.
The average of YouGov’s five most recent polls shows 43% saying we were right to vote to leave and 45% saying we were wrong. By contrast, on average the first five polls of this year saw 46% saying we were right to leave and 42% wrong.
But before anyone gets carried away with the possible implications of this shift, it is important to note that thinking Britain was wrong to vote to leave is not the same as thinking the referendum result should be reversed.
Some Remain voters don’t like the destination, but have strapped in for the ride
In a recent poll we asked Britons which of four different routes they would prefer the Brexit process take. Four in ten (40%) wanted to continue with Brexit on current negotiating terms, whilst 12% wanted Britain to seek a “softer” Brexit – meaning a “go ahead” majority of 52%.
Just 18% wanted a second referendum and a further 14% wanted Brexit abandoned completely, a total of 32% for an “attempt to reverse” Brexit. The remaining 16% said they didn’t know.
The main reason there are so many more people wanting Brexit to proceed rather than halted is because some Remain voters, though still thinking that leaving is the wrong decision, believe that the result of the referendum should be respected. (Previous YouGov research on this group labelled them “Re-leavers”). For example, whilst eight in ten (79%) Leave voters pick one of the “go ahead” options, so do 28% of Remain voters.
This might be changing, though.
Over the past few months, Remain voters’ views have started swinging back towards wanting Britain to stay in the EU. While in June a majority of Remain voters (51%) supported a “go ahead” option, by the end of September this had fallen to 28%. Over the same period the proportion of Remain voters backing an “attempt to reverse” approach rose from 44% to 61%.
As we get further and further away from the referendum itself more people might start to think it is legitimate to try to stop Brexit, and eventually there could be a majority that want to stop Brexit.
But for the moment the public still believe that Brexit means Brexit.