The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union is far from final. Theresa May says Brexit means Brexit, but two years on what that means remains a mystery, and Brexit is falling out of favour with voters up and down the country. As negotiations have rumbled on, the logistics of leaving the world’s largest trading bloc have sown a seed of doubt as to whether leaving the EU would actually leave the UK better off.
The remaining 27 members of the EU are, unsurprisingly, playing hardball over trade deals, while the truth and tactics behind the Leave campaign’s victory are increasingly being questioned. Leaving the EU would leave all areas of our country worse off, and prominent politicians, such as Boris Johnson and David Davis, have abandoned their ministerial positions without any real progress being made on attractive Brexit terms.
Over two years after the 2016 vote it’s time to work out what the country really feels about Brexit. That’s why Best for Britain joined forces with HOPE not hate to produce the first full analysis of changing attitudes towards Brexit at a constituency-by-constituency level in the UK. Using a method called multi-level regression with post-stratification (MRP), the consumer analytics company Focaldata, which was commissioned by HOPE not hate and Best for Britain, estimated the constituency vote if there was another EU referendum.
The analysis shows that over half of constituencies across England, Scotland and Wales would now vote to remain in the EU. Modelling of the 632 seats in England, Scotland and Wales showed that in 2016, 229 were Remain and 403 were Leave seats. Overall, 112 seats have shifted and there are now 341 seats with a majority of Remain supporters, compared to 291 that are majority Leave seats.
The research shows that Labour voters are by far the biggest group to shift, with a net number of over 1.4m Labour voters that voted Leave in the 2016 referendum switching in favour of staying in the EU. The research shows that three out of ten Labour voters that voted leave in the referendum would now vote to stay in the EU, and that trend is set to continue.
The shift of Labour voters towards wanting to stay in the EU is, however, offset by Conservative voters who backed Remain in the EU Referendum. Overall, 69 per cent of Tory supporters would back Brexit in a new poll, compared to 25 per cent who would support staying in the EU. Most Labour voters, Labour constituencies and the majority of the British public want to stay in the EU and reject all forms of Brexit.
Public sentiment has been hugely affected by the lack of progress made so far. The public are becoming clearer about what their favoured options are – and top of the list is staying in the EU. Given the shift in public opinion, if neither the Tories nor Labour can agree between themselves, or with the EU, what Brexit actually means, it is perhaps wise that the public gets a second chance to discuss that for themselves. The insight into Brexit so far – themed by infighting and impasse – and the data Best for Britain has published, suggest that many people have shifted, and want to stay in the EU.
Eloise Todd is chief executive of Best for Britain.