A clear margin of voters in the South West are demanding a People’s Vote on Brexit as the consequences for the region of a botched departure from the European Union become apparent, a new YouGov poll reveals today.
The survey’s results come as the People’s Vote campaign publishes a dossier detailing the deep impact of how the Chequers proposals drawn up by Theresa May’s government or a disastrous no deal Brexit will affect the South-West’s jobs, vital public services, investment, iconic industries and young people’s futures.
Building on the success of the People’s Vote march in London in June, thousands of are expected to come together in a day of action across the South West and a rally in Bristol on Saturday (August 11) where there will be high-profile speakers from across the political spectrum including Totnes Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, Labour MP Stephen Doughty and Green Party MEP Molly Scott-Cato.
YouGov’s poll of more than 1,000 people living in the South West reveals that voters want a People’s Vote on any final Brexit deal negotiated by the government by a clear margin of 42 to 35 per cent.
But if talks break down and the UK has to choose between staying in the EU or leaving without a deal, there is an overwhelming margin – 47 per cent to 27 per cent – among South-West voters for the people taking back control of the decision in a new referendum rather than leaving it to MPs in Westminster.
The region, which voted to leave the EU in the 2016 has now swung against Brexit with voters in the South-West saying they would support staying in the EU by a margin of 51 per cent to 49 per cent.
Labour voters in the South West are unhappy with their party’s pro-Brexit position, with 76 per cent saying they want to stay in the EU compared to just 24 per cent who still want to leave. And, in a finding that will pile pressure on local Labour MPs to get publicly behind the People’s Vote campaign, the party’s supporters say they want a new referendum on Brexit by a margin of four to one.
The poll also shows overwhelming support among young people under the age of 25 in the West Country for staying in the EU, by a margin of 86 per cent to 14 per cent. And, although immigration is often cited as one of the main reasons why people voted for Brexit two years ago, the YouGov findings suggest that in a choice between being able to trade freely or control the numbers of people entering the UK from Europe, voters in the South West would prefer, by a margin of 49 per cent to 30 per cent, the former.
The poll also shows high levels of concern among South West voters about some of the likely outcomes of leaving the EU. Significantly, these worries are shared almost equally by people who voted Remain and Leave in 2016.
Asked whether it is important to retain the following in years to come, voters said they wanted to:
- Send EU criminals home and bring UK criminals back to face justice through the European Arrest Warrant (78 per cent of all voters, 86 per cent of Leave voters).
- Keep jobs of workers in companies trading with EU (75 per cent of all voters, 71 per cent of Leave voters).
- Keep structural and development funds currently funded by EU (60 per cent of all voters, 44 per cent of Leave voters)
- Enable fishing fleets to sell as easily as today into EU markets (74 per cent of all voters, 74 per cent of Leave voters).
- Keep European rules protecting status of West Country beef and lamb (62 per cent of all voters, 63 per cent of Leave voters).
- Keep European rules protecting the status of cider, cheese, clotted cream (53 per cent of all voters, 50 per cent of Leave voters).
- Keep international rules that the Cornish pasty must be made in Cornwall (46 per cent of all voters, 47 per cent of Leave voters).
The People’s Vote dossier on the impact of Brexit on services and businesses across the South West is based on authoritative new research, including an economic analysis by researchers at the LSE and details findings on sectors including tourism, the NHS, security, university research funding, structural development and the cost of living.
It demonstrates in the clearest terms so far that people in the South West – from the Isles of Scilly to Gloucester – are deeply affected by bad Brexit deal. Jobs, security, the local economy and the produce which makes people in the South West so proud are all under threat from the Brexit being dumped on the South West by politicians in Westminster.
Among findings, the research shows that:
- The South West’s economy is expected to shrink by two per cent over the next 12 years if Brexit goes ahead, meaning every man, woman and child in the region will be an average of £461 a year worse off.
- The NHS across the South West has lost 745 European-born nurses and midwives since the Brexit referendum – a net loss of 163 highly trained and qualifies staff working in the region’s hospitals
- More than £700 million of EU funding for South West businesses and projects is at risk from Brexit.
- 1.5 million tourists to the South West from Europe may choose to go elsewhere each year, while South West tourist attractions and businesses will find it harder to employ seasonal staff from abroad.
- South West blue flag beaches – the jewel in the crown of the tourism industry – are at risk of pollution and environmental damage and could lose their prestigious status and marque as some of the cleanest beaches in Europe.
- The Cornish Pasty, clotted cream and West Country Cider are all at threat of losing their highly-desired protected status and could end up competing in a free-market free for all.
Peter Kellner, former President of YouGov, said
“This poll is the first significant test of public opinion in the South West on Brexit since the referendum and shows that attitudes are beginning to shift. Voters in the South West support a People’s Vote on any final Brexit deal negotiated by the government by a clear margin which rises much higher when the prospect of leaving the EU without any deal.”
“Opinion is still very polarised with big differences between the views of young people and older voters but it is interesting to see how many Leave supporters have concerns about the possible impact of Brexit on their region.
“And the findings will put pressure on political parties as well. Labour voters in the South West are at odds with their party’s official pro-Brexit position and this poll will make uncomfortable reading for local MPs who are toeing the party line.”
Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter and leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“Whether they voted leave or remain in the referendum, members of the public from all walks of life in the South West now want to take back control of the Brexit process from Westminster and demand a People’s Vote.
“The botched Brexit being dumped on the South West’s doorstep by politicians in Westminster will be a disaster for this brilliant region, its economy, its culture and its young people.
“My own party is in danger of letting down its voters and young people in particular. I urge my colleagues who do not yet support a People’s Vote to study this poll and ask themselves whether they came into politics to stand against the views of our supporters or do they want to join us in the South West in demanding our democratic voice is heard on Brexit.”
Notes to editors
If you report this story, please reference the People’s Vote campaign.
- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,012 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st July - 7th August 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
- About People’s Vote: The People's Vote campaign is supported by nine campaign groups seeking to ensure that the government's Brexit deal is put before the country in a public vote so that we can decide if a decision that will affect our lives for generations makes the country better or worse off. Good deal or bad deal, it's definitely a big deal - and that's why it should be put to a People's Vote. https://www.peoples-vote.uk/
- A rally of people calling for a People’s Vote will be held in at the Colston Hall in Bristol on August 11, with speakers including Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable. More information and ticket information can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/south-west-england-peoples-vote-rally-tickets-48367766291