A snap poll conducted since Theresa May’s Brexit plan was decisively rejected by MPs shows that support for staying in the European Union has surged to its highest level since the last referendum.
The YouGov poll, conducted on Wednesday among more than 1,000 voters, shows that the four-point margin of victory secured by the Leave campaign in 2016 has now been completely overturned and replaced by a 12 point lead for staying in.
If a new referendum was held now, Britain would vote to stay in the EU by 56 to 44 per cent. Exactly the same proportion of voters now support calls for a new public vote – three points higher than the level recorded in the last big YouGov poll over Christmas. Backing for a People’s Vote among Labour supporters is now at 78 per cent.
Remain’s lead over Leave extends even further when either of the two most viable Brexit options are put to voters, suggesting that people are more opposed to leaving the EU when they are faced with the reality of what that would mean.
Staying in the EU would beat the government’s Brexit plan by 65 to 35 per cent. It would also beat leaving without a deal by 59 to 41 per cent. In both cases, those surveyed said by a margin of more than two to one that such a referendum would be different from the one held in 2016 rather than simply a re-run.
Chuka Umunna MP, leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“This snap poll shows more than ever why the Government needs to change course and hand this decision on Brexit back to the people. There is now a clear and expanding majority for staying in the EU and an even bigger one when voters have the chance to look at the real options for leaving. Norway Plus and a Customs Union are not compromise solutions that could command a consensus, but niche positions supported by less than one in ten voters.
“The poll also underlines why the leadership of my party needs to listen to Labour’s own supporters, more than three-quarters of whom are demanding a People’s Vote. To ignore those calls now would be an historic mistake for which Labour would not be forgiven.”
On the day that Theresa May offered talks with rival political parties to try to find a compromise Brexit solution, there was very little backing in the snap poll for two options that have become fashionable among some backbench MPs in recent days: Norway Plus and a permanent custom union.
Voters were asked: “Some MPs propose that Brexit goes ahead, with the UK leaving the EU’s political arrangements, but continues to have a Customs Union and Single Market relationship. In return for British businesses being able to trade freely with the EU, the UK would continue to make annual payments to the EU and maintain freedom of movement of EU citizens. This is sometimes known as ‘Norway Plus’.
Barely a quarter of voters said they thought this was sensible idea and, when contrasted against the option of staying in the EU and leaving with no deal, Norway Plus received just 9 per cent support.
The Customs Union proposal, an idea that has been flirted with by the Labour leadership, voters were asked: “Another idea is that the UK stays in the Customs Union but NOT the Single Market. The UK would continue to follow many EU rules, and not be able to make trade deals with the rest of the world. However, British manufacturers would not have to pay tariffs on goods entering the EU, and Britain could decide how far to keep or amend freedom of movement.”
This proposal fares even worse with just 16 per cent of voters saying it is a good idea, a proportion that falls to 8 per cent when contrasted against the option of staying in the EU and leaving without a deal.
Peter Kellner, one of Britain’s most respected pollsters and the former President of YouGov said:
“On our tracking question – would people vote Remain or Leave? – the Remain lead, 12%, is the highest yet. The proportion saying Remain is up from 48% in 2016 to 56% today; Leave support is down from 52 to 44%. This eight per cent swing is significant. It is higher than in any post-1945 election, except for 1997. No longer can it be said that opinion has not moved significantly since the referendum.
“Note also that 82% of today’s Labour supporters would vote Remain – again, a new record. When we look at specific choices that a public vote might offer, Remain’s lead grows wider.
"If the choice is Remain versus the Government’s deal, Remain leads by almost two to one: 65-35%
"If the choice is Remain versus No Deal, Remain leads by 18 points: 59-41%
“In both cases some people who back Leave in general do not back either specific version of Leave – either because it does not deliver full Brexit (the Government’s deal) or because it risks damaging the economy (No Deal Brexit).
“Now that MPs have rejected the Withdrawal Agreement so decisively, other compromise options have been suggested: “Norway Plus or a Customs Union-only deal. Both receive a clear thumbs-down from voters. In both cases, they are rejected as bad ideas both by Remain and Leave voters.
“And when voters are offered a three-way choice, first on Norway-plus and second on Customs Union-only, Remain wins outright, with both compromises lagging far behind in third place.
- Remain 52%
- No deal Brexit 39%
- Norway-plus 9%
- Remain 54%
- No deal Brexit 38%
- Customs Union 8%
“Again, the poll has a strong message for Jeremy Corbyn: Labour voters back a new public vote by 78-22% The poll suggests that fewer than one in four voters oppose a fresh referendum on the grounds that it would be a rerun of the 2016 vote: just 22% in the case of a Remain versus Government deal referendum, 23% in the case of a Remain versus No Deal referendum.”
Notes to Editors
Full tables are available here.