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Polling Matters / Opinium survey: Public backs Brexit as the right decision by 52% to 39%

January 30th, 2017

New polling this week shows Leave voters are convinced they made the right decision as Remainers stumble on leaderless writes Keiran Pedley

With Trump and May very much making the headlines this week you may have missed the second Polling Matters / Opinium survey (full data here). This survey sought to measure public perceptions of the Brexit vote seven months on and also the strength of feeling on either side. The overarching message is that the public backs Brexit as the ‘right decision’ by 52% to 39% with 40% saying the decision was ‘definitely right’ and 23% saying the decision was ‘definitely wrong’. Some of the key data can be found below.

Do you think the United Kingdom made the right decision or the wrong decision in deciding to leave the European Union? (Fieldwork Jan 10/12 2017)

The results are relatively easy to explain. 93% of Leave voters remain committed to Leave being the ‘right decision’ whereas only 77% of Remain voters think Brexit was the ‘wrong decision’. Similarly 75% of Leave voters think Brexit was ‘definitely right’ versus 48% of Remainers that think it was ‘definitely wrong’. Perhaps some Remainers simply accept the referendum result or perhaps they weren’t that committed to EU membership in the first place.  Whatever the case, with Theresa May’s Conservatives as many as 16 points ahead in the polls, Leavers have little to worry about. Brexit is happening.

Who leads Remainers?

Perhaps a more interesting question is ‘who leads Remainers now?’ We appear to be witnessing something of a political realignment around the referendum result as Theresa May rebrands the Conservatives as ‘the Brexit Party’ (with some success in the polls it should be said). However, on the other side, Remainers look divided and leaderless as Jeremy Corbyn demands Labour MPs back the Article 50 vote when it comes to parliament. The Lib Dems have had some electoral success opposing Brexit but a significant breakthrough looks unlikely. Right now, the most significant opposition to Brexit looks like coming from the SNP. Significant not because it threatens Brexit but because it threatens the breakup of the UK.

Maybe the political realignment point is overdone. Whilst it is true that 25% of Conservative voters think Brexit was the ‘wrong decision’ and 33% of Labour voters think it was the ‘right decision’ old habits, it seems, still die hard.  Without the Labour Party offering full throated opposition to Brexit a genuine realignment around the referendum result appears unlikely. What will be interesting in the short term is how Labour’s grassroots react to Corbyn’s commitment to Brexit. With 60% of Labour voters saying that Brexit was the ‘wrong decision’ and that number likely bigger among members Corbyn may be about the face the biggest crisis of his leadership so far. It is clear that many on the left are losing faith. The question is will they go as far as to abandon him altogether?

Keiran Pedley

Keiran Pedley is a regular contributor to PB and editor of the Polling Matters podcast.  He tweets about polling and politics at @keiranpedley

Check out the latest PB/Polling Matters episode below.

Note on the podcast: This week’s episode was somewhat controversial as guests Jade Azim and Suzy Dean traded blows on feminism and Brexit. Some people loved it but others found it too combative. Rest assured, this episode does not represent a change in the podcasts direction. We should be back to normal next week.