Take a look at pollofpolls.eu and you’ll see some interesting trends.
It’s looking likely we’ll reach an important anniversary in May. As I write — at the end of April 2018 — it is approaching one year since a poll showed a majority of people wanted to leave the European Union; fifty-four polls ago to be precise, in May 2018.
In the 53 polls since then, ‘Remain’ has been the most popular choice on all but 5 occasions (when it was level-pegging between the two).
Over time, ‘Remain’ is becoming gradually more popular, whilst ‘Leave’ is becoming less popular, with latest polls (at time of writing) showing a 10-point lead for ‘Remain’ — even when including ‘don’t knows’.
Most interestingly, the crossroads in the poll-of-polls line chart — the point at which ‘Remain’ overtook ‘Leave’ as the most popular choice — was immediately after the snap general election in June 2017.
Let’s quickly recap on what has got us to this point. Theresa May interpreted a slim majority to leave the European Union in 2016 as a mandate to seek the hardest Brexit possible. She unequivocally lost that mandate in the following year’s snap general election, with the majority of the vote (ironically, 52%) going to parties that rejected her ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ mantra.
In the wake of that election, instead of developing a sensible consensus around Brexit by reaching out across the new House of Commons that had just been delivered to her, she instead chose to ignore the expressed Will of the British People and hunker down.
In an act of pure self-preservation and with more care for the unity of her party than the will of the nation, she unashamedly hatched a plan to remain in government, albeit not in power, by forging a grubby confidence-and-supply deal with Northern Ireland’s hard-line DUP.
By doing so — and throughout the entire Brexit process since then — she has willingly become a hostage to a political party that not only comprises just 1% of votes in the 2017 election, but also maintains a hard-Brexit line despite the part of the U.K. they represent having voted ‘remain’ in 2016. Meanwhile the Will of the Scottish People is completely ignored, despite overwhelmingly voting ‘remain’ in the EU referendum.
And yet, at the same time, Theresa May has humiliatingly jumped through every hoop thrown at her by the lunatic hard-line — yet minority — Brexiteer wing of her own party, their influence due to the balance of power they hold in cahoots with the DUP, and who’s ‘No Deal’ demands — contrary to their claims — is not favoured by a majority of the electorate.
The idea that Theresa May is fulfilling the ‘Will of the British People’ is therefore laughable.
My own (biased) interpretation of that polling data and the shift after the snap election?
After a majority of the British people voted for softer-Brexit and ‘remain’ parties in 2017; after their vote was betrayed by Theresa May flatly rejecting a Brexit that would have maintained the job-saving benefits of the Single Market and Customs Union, they are sick and tired. They’ve had enough. They want to ‘remain’.
So, what does this mean we should do? Cancel Brexit? Alas, sadly not. I’d certainly not trust my incredibly partial interpretation of those polls, and I don’t expect you to.
Indeed, suggesting that such a seismic change of course should be determined by a gradual shift in poll numbers is not much better than Brexiters’ claims that the majority of the British public want ‘No Deal’.
However, going into the — now highly likely — European Elections, all political parties should bear in mind that not only might a second referendum be the only way to break the parliamentary deadlock, but furthermore, the evidence is now suggesting that Brexit is no longer the Will of the British People.
Arch-Brexiter, David Davies, once famously said:
“If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy”.
The question is, will the British people be given an opportunity to change theirs?
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