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Bregrets, They’ve Had A Few: Brits Beginning To Regret Brexit?

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A new poll from YouGov seems to indicate that Britons are beginning to regret the decision that was made to leave the European Union in the referendum that took place last year:

In a recent YouGov poll for The Times, there appeared to be good news for those who want Britain to remain in the European Union and bad news for those who favour Brexit.

After 16 months of tracking Bregret (or rather, thus far, the relative lack of it), a record high of 47% said they thought Britain was wrong to vote leave the EU, coupled with a record low of 42% saying we were right to do so.

Each individual poll has a margin of error so it is important not to take one set of results out of context. In our most recent poll the numbers have reverted back slightly, with just a 3% gap between right and wrong to leave. However, when you look at the last few months together the trend does seem to be towards slightly more people thinking Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU.

The average of YouGov’s five most recent polls shows 43% saying we were right to vote to leave and 45% saying we were wrong. By contrast, on average the first five polls of this year saw 46% saying we were right to leave and 42% wrong.

As the chart below shows, there’s always been a sizable number of British voters who have expressed second thoughts about the decision to leave the European Union, but it’s only been recently that this number has become a plurality:

Brexit Poll Chart One

This doesn’t necessarily mean that voters in the United Kingdom are turning completely against Brexit, though. The same poll also finds that a majority of respondents continue to believe that the government should continue to go ahead with the plan to leave the E.U., at least in some form:

Brexit Poll Chart Two

The answer is a bit different when it comes to those people who say they voted ‘Remain’ in the referendum:

Brexit Chart Three

What all this means is hard to say, but for the moment at least it is unlikely to impact either the ongoing Brexit negotiations or the inevitability of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. Both the British government and the European Union have made clear that once the United Kingdom pulled the trigger on formally withdrawing from the European Union that there would be no walking away from the process and that it really wouldn’t be possible for Britain to take back its decision to leave the Union. That process began on March 29th when Prime Minister Thersa May invoked the provisions of Article 50 of the European Union treaty. At that point, the two-year clock started ticking and, at least for now, the formalization of the exit will be completed no later than March 29th, 2019. It’s still unclear what the terms of that exit will look like, and reports over the past six months have indicated that negotiations between London and Brussels are proving to be as complicated as they were anticipated to be. Additionally, there really isn’t any mechanism in British law for the decision to be reversed even it if were possible under the treaty. The law that authorized the government to go ahead with the referendum doesn’t contemplate any kind of a second vote that would attempt to reaffirm or overturn the results of the vote, and as noted above the British public seems to accept the reality that Brexit will happen regardless of what the terms of the final agreement or what the consequences for the United Kingdom might end up being.

At the same time, though, these polls do seem to reflect the fact that the reality of Brexit is starting to hit home with British voters and that, at least to some extent, the thought is starting to take hold that perhaps the decision to leave may have been just a bit hasty, or that there should have been some further consideration of the matter beyond the referendum that took place in June of last year and resulted in a relatively slim majority choosing to leave the E.U. in a vote that brought roughly 72% of the U.K.’s registered voters to the polls. In the end, the margin in favor of leaving was just under 1.3 million votes, which was just about 2.7% of the total amount of people who voted and 1.9% of the total population of the United Kingdom. As I noted in the wake of the vote last year, that leads to the question of why the vote authorizing the referendum didn’t require some form of supermajoritysupermajority in favor of leaving given the consequences that the decision would quite obviously have for the U.K. in the future. Those issues are in the past, of course, but these poll numbers do seem to indicate that at least some portion of the British public is begining to think that the decision to leave the E.U. deserved more consideration than it actually received.

 

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    What this tells us is that there is no great sea change in positions among British voters on this issue rather the positions are largely entrenched. Everything else can be explained by margin of error and that some voters were squishy to begin with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. al-Ameda says:

    This – Brexit – seems politically to mirror America; the sense that while many were not paying attention the country voted to derail.

    While the numbers seem to be soft, I’d be surprised if Brexit was abandoned and the country regained its sensibility.

    It is going to happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. John Peabody says:

    Doug, I beg you, please belay the term “Begrets”!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. JKB says:

    Hardly surprising as prior to the exit, the most apparent changes will be seen as losses. It is how change happens. People are hooked on the status quo and resist change as it is seen as a loss. The benefits usually take a bit of time to appear.

    In any case, the EU is doomed. It is just one big fascistic state with bureaucrats imposing the Zwangswirtschaft of the Nazis (compulsory economy) upon once free people. Barring a police state, more and more people will move to escape the EU as time rolls on, especially to escape the changes that will be imposed as Germany and other large players go Islamic due to demographics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  5. michael reynolds says:

    It was a stupid decision by UK voters, absolutely mirroring the idiocy of Trump voters. Now neither UK nor US government has the first clue about actually governing. The UK is run by feckless ninnies and our government is run by a malicious man-child.

    Remember when the Anglosphere could claim a certain genius at government? That’s done now. The reputation of British and American voters is in the toilet, probably unsalvageable for quite some time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. MBunge says:

    Just to keep a running total…

    Counties OTB will still talk about: Spain, Japan, China, Great Britain.

    Countries OTB no longer talks about: Russia.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    This was scared, ignorant old farts freaking out in culture shock, obsessing over non-issues, and damaging their own children’s future.

    As for the EU failing, I note that the Euro is up about 15% from its 2015 low. The EU unemployment rate has fallen from 10.9 to 7.7. Greece is stabilizing. And if you pay any attention at all to the Brexit ‘negotiations’ it is painfully clear that the EU holds the whip hand and Mrs. May is left to prattle unconvincing platitudes. The Tories are as unprepared to govern as Republicans.

    It is unmistakably clear, or should be, that both British and American voters lost their damn minds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  8. Neil Hudelson says:
  9. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    Shhhh, patience little bung, patience: http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2017/10/26/145254/78

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @JKB:

    In any case, the EU is doomed. It is just one big fascistic state with bureaucrats imposing the Zwangswirtschaft of the Nazis (compulsory economy) upon once free people. Barring a police state, more and more people will move to escape the EU as time rolls on, especially to escape the changes that will be imposed as Germany and other large players go Islamic due to demographics.

    So the EU has gone Nazi? I had no idea.
    I’ve got to start watching the Sturm Und Drang Network, I’ve got to get up-to-date on this stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. JohnMcC says:

    @al-Ameda: Had to happen. Right after Germany became majority-Turk and Sunni Islam became the official state religion.

    Wait, are we getting our apocalypses confused…. I lose count of things to run and hide from…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. Kylopod says:

    @al-Ameda:

    So the EU has gone Nazi? I had no idea.

    In fact at neo-Nazi sites like the Daily Stormer, you find the EU referenced in brackets — ((((EU)))) — the alt-right meme used to attack Jews. In other words, the EU is a Jewish plot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. drj says:

    @Kylopod:

    In other words, the EU is a Jewish plot.

    Yes.

    But wait, there is more!

    * Indeed, the EU is a Soros-funded, Zionist project.
    * The EU, however, has also sold out to political Islam and is full of Israel-hating antisemites.
    * Last, but not least, the EU is a German-dominated attempt to recreate the Nazi Reich.

    And while, for decades to come, the Germans will be employing the jackbooted fascist EU bureaucracy to forcibly convert hundreds of millions of hapless Europeans to Islam (so that refugees can rape all the white women), the EU is simultaneously so weak it will completely implode any day now.

    Hence you can be certain that the whole thing really has no redeeming features.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. Barry says:

    “Additionally, there really isn’t any mechanism in British law for the decision to be reversed even it if were possible under the treaty. The law that authorized the government to go ahead with the referendum doesn’t contemplate any kind of a second vote that would attempt to reaffirm or overturn the results of the vote, and as noted above the British public seems to accept the reality that Brexit will happen regardless of what the terms of the final agreement or what the consequences for the United Kingdom might end up being.”

    No Parliament may bind a future Parliament. Parliament can always pass another law.
    In addition, the referendum was never legally binding.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. DrDaveT says:

    @JKB:

    In any case, the EU is doomed. It is just one big fascistic state with bureaucrats imposing the Zwangswirtschaft of the Nazis

    So, you’ve never actually been to Europe, I take it? Or did you stay on the tour bus the whole time?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  16. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    In any case, the EU is doomed. It is just one big fascistic state with bureaucrats imposing the Zwangswirtschaft of the Nazis

    I always refrain from commenting on this stuff since it’s so completely delusional you couldn’t even start to set it right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Mikey says:
  18. grumpy realist says:

    Heh. Well, as everyone knows, I’ve been avoiding Trump news and obsessively reading up on Brexit news. What we’re seeing is the chaos and confusion of the Tory party, which hasn’t figured out what type of Brexit they want. The absolute loons want to leave toute-suite, chop-chop, let’s not worry about the details. The more moderates (and the Labour Party) are saying, erm, maybe we need a transition period? And the business establishment is getting ever more and more panic-stricken since NONE of the politicians seem to have the sense of a new-hatched gosling and We Gotta Get Some Things Decided On Right Now.

    I suspect that we’ll start to see a surreptitious drifting away from the U.K. by a lot of businesses starting after the beginning of the year. It’s sort of like the handover of Hong Kong back to the Chinese–everyone wanted to still make as much money as possible but nobody wanted to be caught on the wrong side of the divider when the curtain finally came down. And business is now glumly realizing that for all the optimistic statements, the British political system doesn’t have the foggiest idea of what is actually involved here or how complex the whole mess will get. (Heck, several of the MPs haven’t read any of the 50-odd reports analyzing the impact of Brexit on different business sectors.)

    What we’re seeing here is a) the results of a catfight within the Tory party which should have never made it out into the public, b) a tantrum by the nostalgia-obsessed Daily Mail/Spectator/Telegraph readers pining over the loss of Empire and the fact that England can’t use gunboat diplomacy anymore, and c) what you get when you have a bunch of politicians who think that a knowledge of ancient Greek and Latin and having gone to a public school is sufficient training for dealing with the modern world, jolly good, what?

    (It’s the same mentality which thinks that knowing multiple modern languages is somehow very un-British and that everyone in the world understands English if you just shout louder at them.)

    Tea and crumpets, anyone?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Labor needs to stop being cowardly enablers and call for a re-vote on Brexit. As it is now they are complicit in a catastrophically stupid decision by uninformed and misinformed voters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0