The North East of England is no longer backing Brexit - YouGov - People's Vote

The North East of England is no longer backing Brexit - YouGov

The North East of England which voted overwhelmingly for Brexit in 2016 by a 16-point margin is now an exact 50/50 even split about whether to leave or stay in the EU, according to new polling by YouGov for the People’s Vote campaign.


Today’s poll comes as the People’s Vote campaign publishes a detailed impact study on how Brexit would affect the North East. This shows the region is expected to lose 10 per cent of GDP over the next decade under a disastrous “no deal” scenario, meaning every man, woman and child in the North East would be £3,000 a year worse off.

Building on the success of the People’s Vote march in London in June, hundreds of people will come together in a rally at the Assembly Rooms in Newcastle on Saturday 25 August - and days of action across the North - to add to the momentum of Britain’s fastest growing movement. 

Publication today of the poll of almost 1,000 adults across the North East shows strong support in the region for a People’s Vote on any final Brexit deal which is now favoured by a margin of 40 to 35 per cent.  But if talks break down, or there is no agreement on a Brexit deal, 54 per cent would back the public being given the final say against just 22 per cent who say MPs should the take the decision.

The disappearance of the Leave campaign’s 16-point margin of victory appears to have been driven by younger voters with those aged under 50 dividing two-to-one for staying in the European Union while voters over 50 are still two-to-one in favour of Brexit.

The findings of today’s poll is being seized upon by Labour MPs in the region backing a People’s Vote who want their party leadership to reflect better the views of members and voters. In the North East, Labour supporters now want to stay in the EU by almost three-to-one – 73 to 27 per cent once “don’t knows” are taken out. A similar proportion of Labour supporters – 57 to 21 per cent want a People’s Vote on Brexit, with a further 23 per cent saying they “don’t know”.

And, despite claims that many of Labour’s supporters backed Brexit because of a desire to control immigration from the EU, the findings today show that the party’s voters would prefer to keep the trade on which so much of the region’s industries depend. If forced to choose between free trade with Europe or controlling immigration, Labour voters back free trade over controlling immigration by a margin of more than four-to-one (63 to 15 per cent). Voters across the region as a whole say it is more important for the UK to trade freely with the EU than to have control over immigration by 47 to 31 per cent.

Other key findings include:

  • A total of 84 per cent of voters in the NE think “the process of leaving the EU so far has been a mess”.
  • Almost three-quarters - 72 per cent - say “it’s likely that many of the promises made by politicians in favour of leaving the EU will be broken”.
  • Only 13 per cent of voters in the region expect the Britain to get a good deal in the Brexit talks with the EU. Even Conservatives in the region are doubtful, with just 27 per cent expecting a good deal.
  • Almost two-thirds of people in the North-East, 64 per cent, think a bad deal would be mainly the fault of the British government.
  • By almost two-to-one, 41-22 per cent, voters in the region expect Brexit to be bad for the economy.

The People’s Vote dossier demonstrating the impact of Brexit on services and businesses across the North East is based on authoritative new research, including a new analysis of the economic impact of Brexit by researchers at the LSE.

It details the true economic impact to the region from Brexit which has already been felt, and the future risks of a chaotic bad deal or no deal for the North, demonstrating in the clearest terms so far that people in the North – from Berwick to Barnard Castle – are deeply affected by a bad Brexit deal.

Jobs, our security, the local economy and the produce which makes people so proud of the North are all under threat from the Brexit being dumped on the region by politicians in Westminster.

Among findings, the research shows that:

  • The North East is expected to lose 10 per cent of GDP over the next decade under a disastrous ‘no deal’ scenario, meaning every man, woman and child in the North East could be £3,000 a year worse off.
  • More than £595 million of EU funding for North East businesses and projects through Regional Development Funds and £494 million in Structural funds are at risk from a botched Brexit.
  • 274,000 tourists to the North East from Europe may choose to go elsewhere each year, while North tourist attractions and businesses will find it harder to employ seasonal staff from abroad. Over 25,300 people in the North East are directly employed in tourism as their main or second jobs, while EU tourists to the North East spent £90 million on regional products and attractions in 2014.
  • The European Arrest Warrant makes the North East a safer place, used to remove 73 foreign criminals from the North East and bring 16 British criminals back to face justice in the UK since 2010.
  • Students at the North’s great universities such as Northumbria, Teesside, Sunderland and Durham will also be affected, due to the UK potentially losing access to the EU’s Erasmus scheme as a result of a chaotic Brexit.  Brexit poses a direct risk to the North East’s access to this vital programme, which could see these unique opportunities to gain experience abroad restricted for future generations.

Peter Kellner, one of Britain’s most respected pollsters and a former president of YouGov, said:

“On the night of the Brexit referendum two years ago, the early results from the North East showed the strength of Leave support, especially in Labour’s northern heartlands. YouGov’s new survey shows that a public vote today would produce a very different result. Instead of the crushing 16-point victory for the Leave campaign two years ago, the two sides are running neck-and-neck, with both on 50 per cent. 

“The swing in the North East is higher than the national average; and there is a clear reason for this. The region is more strongly Labour than any other: the party has 26 of the North East’s 29 MPs. And while the views of the relatively small number of Conservative voters towards Brexit are virtually unchanged, Labour voters have moved from 59 per cent to 68 per cent Remain.

“The shift is particularly pronounced among younger working class voters. Two years ago, by a narrow 52-48 per cent margin, those under 40 voted Leave. Today, the same respondents back Remain by 61-39 per cent: a four-point Leave advantage then has been transformed into a 22-point Remain lead today.

“By 54-22 per cent Labour voters also back a public vote when the Brexit negotiations are complete. The political significance of this is hard to overstate. Labour’s leadership, and many of its MPs, have been cautious about backing UK membership of the EU, or supporting a public vote, for fear of alienating pro-Brexit Labour voters. This survey shows that the reason for fear has significantly diminished – and the greater danger now for Labour could be to alienate the big and growing majority of pro-EU and pro-public-vote majority among Labour supporters, even in the party’s heartlands.”


Phil Wilson, Labour MP for Sedgefield and a leading supporter of People’s Vote, said:

“Brexit is the greatest issue facing the country since the Second World War and it is only right that the British people are given the opportunity to test their original decision to Leave the EU in light of the facts we now know that we didn’t know then. That is why I believe people should have a right to a final vote on the final deal, whatever it is.

“I know the North East voted for Brexit, but attitudes and minds are starting to change. Democracy did not end on June 23rd 2016. And today we can see attitudes are changing. I believe Brexit is a moral issue for politicians. Those who believe Brexit will be a disaster for the UK can no longer remain silent. It’s time to speak up for a People’s Vote on the final deal.”


Editor’s Notes:

1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 962 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st July - 20th August 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

2. Full fieldwork from YouGov can be found here:

3. The dossier of research by People’s Vote is here:

4. Hundreds of people are expected to take part in a rally organised by People’s Vote in The Assembly Rooms, Fenkle Street, Newcastle, this Saturday, August 25th, to demand a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.