Is Britain giving up on Brexit?
What the latest evidence tells us about how the public mood is shifting
One popular argument after the Brexit referendum was that nobody would change their mind. Remainers would stick with Remain. Leavers would stick with Leave. Both sides would dig in. The country would remain locked in a state of Brexit polarisation.
But the latest data suggests that, actually, things might be starting to change. As I recently pointed out on Twitter, in recent weeks the share of British voters who now think Brexit was “the wrong decision” has been climbing to record highs.
In the latest data, more than half the country, 52%, think Brexit was “the wrong decision” while only slightly more than one third, 36%, think Leaving was “the right decision”. A further 12% say they do not know. If we strip out the undecided then six in ten voters, 59%, say Brexit was the wrong call and 41% say it was the right move.
This marks a sharp change from the past. In the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum the country broke 46-42 in favour of thinking Brexit was the right call. By the 2017 general election the two sides were even. And in the shadow of Brexit, in February 2020, the country had moved 44-43 behind thinking Brexit was wrong.
But since then, the 1-point lead for “wrong” has spiralled into a commanding 16-point lead as Brexit Bregret has become more visible. People who think Brexit was the right decision have now not held a lead for more than sixteen months, since May 2021, and they have not polled above 40% for an entire year.
Nor is this the only piece of evidence to suggest that the mood music around Brexit —which remains the signature issue for the Conservative government— is changing. When voters are asked how they would vote at a hypothetical second referendum on the Brexit question there has also been a decisive and statistically significant shift.
In the ‘poll of polls’, an average of all polls, support for Re-Joining the European Union has now increased to 54%. Meanwhile, more than 60% of all people now say the government is either handling Brexit “poorly” or “badly” —depending on how the question is asked. Put another way, more than six years after the Brexit referendum only about one in four voters currently think the Brexit project is going “well”.
What is driving these shifts?
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Matt Goodwin's Substack to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.