Brexit has dominated UK politics since the referendum result last June, and there is no sign yet of that changing. Our Welsh Political Barometer polls will therefore be devoting increased attention to the issue for the foreseeable future. For our latest poll, we repeated a series of questions that were added by Cardiff University to the September Barometer poll.
The thing that most consistently stands out from the results of the Brexit-related questions in our new poll, just as it did in September, is the substantial gap on almost all matters between those who voted Remain and those who voted Leave in last June’s referendum. The views and perceptions of the two groups are very different: there is no sign of a public consensus on Brexit emerging.
With that in mind, I will present results from all our questions in three columns: showing the responses of Remain voters, of Leave voters, and that of our overall sample.
First, we asked about the possibility of another referendum: “Would you support or oppose holding a second referendum of Britain’s membership of the European Union to confirm or reverse Britain’s decision to leave the EU?”
So we see here clear majority opposition to the idea of having a second referendum, despite fairly strong support for the idea from those who did vote Remain. But Leave voters and others do not like the idea.
We then asked how people would vote in the event of there being another referendum on the issue:
|Vote to Remain||92%||4%||43%|
|Vote to Leave||3%||89%||44%|
|Wouldn’t Vote/Don’t Know||5%||8%||14%|
Our new poll is the third one in Wales to ask about voting intentions in such a hypothetical second referendum since last June. All three have shown the nation continuing to be very closely divided:
|Poll||% Remain||% Leave||% DK/ WV||% Leave Lead|
We then asked questions about the major priorities that the UK should set for Brexit-related negotiations, and what sort of Brexit the UK should be aiming for. On priorities, we asked the following:
“Now that Britain has voted to leave it will need to negotiate the future relationship it has with the European Union. With this in mind, which of the following comes closest to your view?”
This is what we found:
|The priority should be for Britain to have full control of their borders even if it means it is no longer able to trade freely with the EU||17%||77%||47%|
|The priority should be for Britain to trade freely with the EU even if that means it does not have full control over its borders||53%||8%||26%|
|Neither of these should be the priority||17%||7%||12%|
Across the whole sample, the balance of opinion (on this question wording, at least) is clearly towards Britain prioritising border control over EU trade. But that overall picture once again masks large differences between Remain and Leave voters.
We then asked a question which gave our respondents the chance to select between several different scenarios:
“Thinking about Britain’s relationship with the European Union now it has voted to leave, which of the following would you most like to see?”
|Britain should leave the EU completely and have no sort of formal deal with the rest of the EU||3%||32%||18%|
|Britain should try to make only a limited deal with the rest of the EU, restricting any deal only to trade||11%||46%||27%|
|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||26%||10%||18%|
|Britain should try to reverse its decision and stay in the EU||50%||2%||23%|
|None of these||1%||1%||3%|
So more than three-quarters of Remain voters prefer either a ‘soft’ Brexit or no Brexit at all, while almost four-fifths of Leave voters indicate a preference for a ‘hard’ Brexit. And across the sample as a whole there is no consensus whatsoever: no option wins the support of much more than a quarter of people. Once again, the basic point is reinforced – there is no public consensus about Brexit emerging. Wales – and, one imagines, much of the rest of the UK – continues to be deeply divided about the issue.
There has been much comment in recent weeks about the UK Government apparently having difficulties in setting out a clear Brexit negotiating strategy. Public opinion, in its divided state, is likely to give the government little guidance.
I’ll be back with another blog post soon, setting out the remaining Brexit-related results from our most recent poll.