New polling draws attention to a fundamental problem for Remainersby Oliver Kamm / March 29, 2018 / Leave a comment
A year from the scheduled departure of Britain from the European Union, it’s obvious that the arguments adduced for Brexit were bogus and that Britain will struggle with the consequences of a policy that has no post-war precedent for irrationality. Even the historic humiliation of the Suez crisis in 1956 is dwarfed by Brexit. Anthony Eden’s dishonest venture cruelly exposed Britain’s diminished status and ruptured the relationship with its most powerful ally. Brexit sets this country at odds with all its allies simultaneously, harms the economy, and reopens the issue of divisions in Ireland 20 years after the conflict was sublimated in a negotiated agreement.
Polls show the public neither trusts nor respects the government’s handling of the issue. A new survey by Survation for the GMB shows that only 15 per cent of voters believe the government is handling Brexit well, while almost half believe it’s handling the process badly. A new Comres/Daily Express poll shows that 44 per cent believe the government’s handling of Brexit so far has been “a total shambles.”
Public opinion is right. The government has no plan for Brexit because Leave campaigners themselves had no plan for it. Theresa May is winging it. There was no vote to leave the single market or the customs union, yet the prime minister insisted on a maximalist vision of departure from Europe that will require reimposing a hard Irish border and will damage economic growth by constraining flows of goods, services, investment and labour. May’s very act of triggering Article 50 when she didn’t know what her European policy was, as well as her vainglorious decision to hold an unnecessary election, has brought British policymaking to a state of stasis that inspires pity and derision among our European partners.
Yet there is no obvious appetite to revisit the referendum vote. Around two-thirds of voters (in the Comres poll) believe the country should accept Brexit and “move on.” What’s the explanation, given that the government doesn’t command public support or respect in its handling of the process?
“44 per cent believe the government’s handling of Brexit so far has been ‘a total shambles'”
The answer is probably twofold. First, though there have already been economic costs to the Brexit vote, the full extent of them will show up only after…