It’s official: the majority of people think Theresa May’s Brexit is ‘bad’ for us

Theresa May What
Steve Topple

The majority of the public now think that Theresa May’s government is doing a ‘bad’ Brexit negotiating job, according to YouGov’s latest opinion polling. And many people believe that Brexit will leave the UK “worse off”. But in a bizarre twist, most people surveyed still believed that leaving the EU was the right decision for the country.

Bad, bad, bad

YouGov conducted its Brexit polling at the same time as it did its Westminster voting intention. The latter found [pdf p1] Labour still with a lead over the Tories, albeit only by 1%. But buried in YouGov’s report [pdf p5-7] were people’s opinions on Brexit. And the results were very telling.

Overall, the majority [pdf p5] of people (54%) thought the government was doing “badly” in its Brexit negotiations. This compared to 26% saying the Tories were doing “well”, and 21% saying they didn’t know.

Ouch, ouch, ouch

Breaking YouGov’s figures down further, the results showed [pdf p6-7] that:

  • 40% of people thought Brexit would leave the UK economy “worse off”; 25% said it would be better; 19% said it wouldn’t make a difference; and 16% didn’t know.
  • 36% thought the UK would have less influence in the world after Brexit; 34% thought it wouldn’t make any difference; 17% said we’d have more influence; and 12% didn’t know.
  • 25% of people thought Brexit would be bad for British jobs; 24% thought it would be good; another 24% said it wouldn’t make a difference; and 18% didn’t know.
  • 30% thought Brexit would be bad for the NHS, versus 27% who said “no difference”, 26% saying it would be good, and 17% not knowing.
  • 51% thought Brexit would mean less “immigration into Britain”; 32% said “no difference”; 15% didn’t know; and 2% thought it would mean more immigration.
  • 36% thought Brexit would make no difference to their pensions, with 31% not knowing, 25% saying it would be bad, and 8% saying it would be good.

Wait, what…?

But paradoxically, 45% of people thought [pdf p5] Brexit was still the right decision, with 43% saying it was “wrong”, and 12% not knowing. This has, however, moved 1% in favour of Brexit being “right” since March, when the result was split 44%/44% to “right” and “wrong”

And compared to YouGov’s March polling, when the government triggered Article 50, it appears in some areas that the public are becoming less convinced about what Brexit will bring. Because [pdf p2-4]:

  • 15% more people think the government is doing “badly” in Brexit negotiations.
  • 3% more think Brexit will be bad for the NHS.
  • 2% more think the UK will be economically worse off and Brexit will be bad for their pensions.
  • 1% more think the UK will have less world influence.
  • 3% fewer people think immigration will be reduced.

If you are pro-Brexit, the only real area of ‘improvement’ in the YouGov results was that 7% fewer people [pdf p3] thought Brexit would be bad for British jobs.

May’s Brex-ache

Theresa May has had a tough month on the Brexit front. On 23 August, the government revealed she had watered down plans to leave the European Court of Justice (ECJ). And after Brexit Secretary David Davis released some of the government’s plans for trading negotiations, the EU was reportedly left “confused and puzzled”. Then, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a stinging intervention over the Repeal Bill. So the public seemingly growing cold to the idea of Brexit will just be another headache for May, in a long line of Brexit-related migraines over the summer recess.

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