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And a Bit More on Wales and Brexit…

One last set of results from the most recent Welsh Political Barometer poll. These were some additional questions – paid for by Cardiff University, and held back from publication until an event organised by the university at Westminster this morning. These questions probed some other aspects of public attitudes towards Brexit, and its implications for Wales.

As with my previous blog post, what I’ll do here is run through the question wordings and the responses received. In presenting the findings, I’ll give three sets of figures – the results across the overall sample, plus those for respondents who voted Remain and those who voted Leave in the June EU referendum.

The first question we asked concerned the type of post-Brexit deal that the UK should seek with the EU:

 

“Thinking about Britain’s future relationship with the European Union now it has voted to leave, which of the following would you most like to see?”

 

The following options were then presented to survey respondents:

  • Britain should leave the EU completely and have no sort of formal deal with the rest of the EU
  • Britain should try to make only a limited deal with the rest of the EU, restricting any deal only to trade
  • Britain should try to make a wider deal with the rest of the EU, giving Britain full trade access to the rest of the EU, in exchange for allowing EU citizens to live and work in Britain
  • Britain should try to reverse its decision and stay in the EU
  • None of these
  • Don’t know

 

And these were the responses given:

 

Option Overall Remainers Leavers
No deal 15% 4% 29%
Trade only 32% 12% 54%
Wider deal 16% 27% 9%
Stay in EU 23% 48% 1%
None 3% 1% 1%
Don’t Know 10% 8% 7%

 

Two points appear to stand out from these findings. The first is that there is no option that even wins the support of a full third of the overall sample. No consensus has emerged as to what sort of Brexit the UK should be aiming for. The second point is that, as seen in my previous post, there are stark differences between Remain and Leave voters. A substantial majority of Leavers want one of the two ‘hard Brexit’ options; nearly half of all Remainers actually want to try to reverse the referendum result. On this, as on other issues, the two sides are not coming together in their views at all.

The second additional question run on the September Barometer poll was about the implications of Brexit for Wales, compared to the other nations of the UK:

 

Thinking about when Britain leaves the EU and how this will affect Wales compared to the rest of the UK, which of the following comes closest to your view?”

 

With the following options being offered to respondents:

  • Wales will benefit more (or suffer less) than the rest of the UK from when Britain leaves the EU
  • Wales will benefit less (or suffer more) than the rest of the UK from when Britain leaves the EU
  • Wales will benefit (or suffer) about the same amount as the rest of the UK when Britain leaves the EU
  • Don’t Know

 

And this was the pattern of responses:

 

Option Overall Remainers Leavers
Benefit More/Suffer Less 8% 3% 14%
Benefit Less/Suffer More 37% 73% 11%
About the same 34% 12% 57%
Don’t Know 21% 13% 19%

 

Overall, people not very optimistic – only 8% think that Wales will do better out of Brexit than the rest of the UK, and almost five times as many think that it will do worse. But, once again, note the stark differences between Remainers and Leavers: nearly seven times as many Remainers as Leavers think that Wales will do relatively badly out of Brexit! These are huge differences in perceptions and expectations.

As well as the implications for Wales, we also asked respondents about the personal financial implications of Brexit for themselves. Here is what people said about their own expectations:

 

Option Overall Remainers Leavers
Better off 14% 1% 30%
Worse off 32% 59% 11%
No Difference 37% 23% 47%
Don’t Know 18% 17% 12%

 

As with Wales as a whole, the overall balance of opinion is not very optimistic. But the bigger story once again, surely, are the huge differences between those who voted Remain and those who voted Leave. Literally thirty times as many Leavers and Remainers think that they will be better off as a result of Brexit…

Finally, the poll also asked about the competence of governments to handle to Brexit issue:

 

To what extent, if at all, do you trust each of the following in handling the issue of Britain leaving the EU?”

 

We asked this question about both the UK and Welsh governments. The results produced were as follows:

 

UK Government:

Option Overall Remainers Leavers
Trust 30% 24% 42%
Don’t Trust 62% 71% 52%
Don’t Know 8% 5% 5%

 

Welsh Government:

Option Overall Remainers Leavers
Trust 30% 42% 25%
Don’t Trust 57% 48% 65%
Don’t Know 13% 11% 10%

 

In short, there is not a great deal of public confidence in either level of government to deal with the issue. And on this matter the differences between Remainers and Leavers are less stark, although some persist: far more Leave voters are Conservatives, so they unsurprisingly evince greater confidence in the UK government; Remain voters include many Labour and Plaid Cymru supporters who have greater faith in the Welsh government.

In short, the findings here suggest that while the balance of opinion across Wales may continue to be narrowly in favour of Brexit, it is so despite an absence of great expectations as to what consequences may actually follow from the UK leaving the EU. But the bigger picture from these findings, as with the other Brexit-related questions in the Barometer poll, is surely the huge differences in perceptions and views between those who voted on the two sides in the referendum. More than a century-and-a-half ago, Benjamin Disraeli wrote of “Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets.” Somehow I was reminded of that quote when looking through these results…

Comments

  • Jonathon Harrington

    We have trading arrangements with many countries including the USA without having free movement of labour. Whay cannot we have similar arrangements with European countries?

  • J. Jones

    What the UK wants and can expect from any settlement with the EU is irrelevant I think. It is not too melodramatic to consider that we are in a war situation where it is impossible for the EU to do anything other than deny the UK any favourable trade deal or allow the UK to restrict free movement of people. What would be the outcome of any deal that was not punitive? The end of the EU project therefore there will be no such deal.
    The two groups, remainers and leavers, must see this and so the reasoning is on the one side that the EU will collapse and on the other that the UK will collapse. Fear versus belligerence you might say.

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