Downing Street’s strategy of trying to pin the blame on the EU for a disastrous botched Brexit looks set to backfire with a huge new YouGov poll today demonstrating that the overwhelming majority of the public are already pointing the finger directly at the Government.
The poll of more than 10,000 people, commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign, shows that 62 per cent of voters say that if Britain gets a bad deal, it will be “mainly the fault of the Government” - while just 24 per cent disagree. Even Conservative supporters are, by 48 to 43 per cent, more likely to blame the Government.
Today’s poll shows there is widespread pessimism about the outcome of more than two years of negotiations. Only 6 per cent of voters disagree with the statement that the process of Brexit has been a mess, while 84 per cent agree. By a margin of more than four-to-one – 64 per cent to 15 per cent – people now expect Britain will get a bad deal.
Although there is slightly more optimism among Conservatives, a mere 10 per cent disagree with the statement that Brexit has been a mess and they split 58 per cent to 23 per cent on the question of whether or not Britain will get a bad deal. A large majority of people who voted for Brexit now also expect a bad deal and are inclined to blame the Government.
The poll provides further evidence of the opportunity for Labour, which is under increasing pressure to change its official pro-Brexit position and back a People’s Vote, if it toughens its stance. Labour supporters would now vote to stay in the EU by a margin of 68 to 23 per cent, or 75 to 25 per cent when “don’t knows” are excluded.
Asked if they trust the Government to make the right decisions on Brexit, 63 per cent said they did not, while only 24 said they did. Even current Conservative supporters were evenly divided.
Peter Kellner, one of Britain’s most respected pollsters and the former president of YouGov, said:
“Britain would vote to remain in the EU by 53-47 per cent if a referendum were held now. In a conventional poll of around 1,000 voters, a six-point gap could be the result of sampling error. But in YouGov’s survey of more than 10,000 people, the risk of sampling fluctuations is far smaller – around one point on each figure rather than three per cent.
“Moreover, YouGov polled people who reported their vote at the time of the referendum two years ago. This latest survey is able to compare how these same people, who backed Brexit by 52-48 per cent then, would vote today. The five point increase in Remain support, from 48 per then to 53 per cent today is real.
“The shift towards Remain has been driven by a deep disenchantment with the Government’s performance in the Brussels talks with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator. Ominously for Theresa May and Dominic Raab, more people who voted Conservative in last year’s election (48 per cent) agree rather than disagree (43 per cent) that the Government would be to blame for a bad deal.
“If the referendum tapped into a widespread public unease with Britain’s political establishment, the current negotiations have done nothing to dispel that unease. Only 24 per cent of the public trust the Government to take the right decisions on Brexit, while 63 per cent don’t trust it. Once again, the poll contains grim news for the Prime Minister: fewer than half of who voted Tory last year trust the Government while an almost identical number, distrust it. Nor has Parliament’s reputation improved, with 26 per cent of the public trusting it and 61 per cent distrusting it on Brexit.
“These findings suggest that if there is a crisis at Westminster this autumn, it will not just be about the specific issue of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. It will also be about something far deeper: the perceived ability of our politicians to lead our country effectively when the stakes are high and the consequences of failure catastrophic.”
Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP and a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“The Brexiters have tried to blame this mess on everyone from judges and civil servants to ‘experts’ or those MPs who choose to stand up for their constituents. Now they are trying to say this whole botched process is the fault of Europe. But it won’t work because people know the problem is down to the way they have handled Brexit itself.
“The reason why people are talking about what might happen with a ‘no deal’ scenario - whether we can keep planes in the air, food in the shops and medicines available for the sick - is because of the failure of the Government to come up with a workable solution to the basic problems they have created.
“Two years ago we were promised that we could have full immigration control, more money for the NHS and public services while maintaining the ‘exact same benefits’ in our trade with Europe – put simply, that we could have our cake and eat it.
“It’s now clear we can’t. We now know the Government’s proposal means we pay a £50 billion divorce bill, that Brexit will cost the NHS money and Brexit’s champions in Westminster have shown themselves shallow, short-sighted and self-serving. We don’t think the politicians who have created this crisis in Westminster can fix it now. We don’t trust them to clear up their own mess. That’s why more and more people, from every region and nation, from all walks of life, are demanding a People’s Vote on any Brexit deal or the outcome of negotiations.”
Notes to editors:
- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 10,299 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th - 20th August 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
- If reporting this story, please reference the People’s Vote campaign.