BMG Research has undertaken exclusive polling for The i newspaper on public attitudes to Brexit. The polling covers re-joining the EU, voting intent on re-join versus stay out referendum, future trading arrangements, and the impact of Brexit on various policy areas:

‘Re-join’ and ‘Bregret’

  • Half (49%) of adults would now vote to re-join the EU, while 36% would vote to stay out of the EU, and 13% are undecided. This is the highest level recorded for re-joining since BMG started asking this question over a year ago.
  • Shifts among remain, leave, and non-voters all help explain this. Among 2016 Remain voters, 85% would want to join the EU this wave, compared to 81% in April. We also see a shift among those who did not vote in the 2016 referendum. Of this group, 54% want to join the EU, compared to 44% in April. 
  • Although most 2016 Leave voters still say they want to say out, slightly more say they want to re-join than you tended to get late last year. Around 7% of leavers in November said they wanted to re-join, up to 11% in our previous two polls.
  • Brexit Buyers’ Remorse? When you ask a separate, more direct question of whether those who voted in the EU referendum could go back in time and vote again, more Leave voters (14%) say they would do the opposite way than Remain voters (4%). Those who voted Remain are less likely to vote the opposite way in May than in November (4% cf. 7% in November).
  • When offered the choice of a closer relationship with the EU, half (48%) of voters would also support this relationship, even if this meant having to follow more rules and regulations. In comparison, a third (33%) would prefer to keep the existing relationship, despite any difficulties with trading this may incur.

The impact of Brexit

  • Aside from our ability to respond to Covid-19 or future pandemics with a net score of 0, more British public believe our EU exit has negatively impacted all the other areas polled.
  • Six in ten (62%) consider Brexit to have had a negative impact on the cost of food, and a similar proportion think (60%) think it has had a negative effect on the cost of living.
  • However, even 44% considered leaving the EU to have negatively impacted levels of migration to the UK - a policy area which was a key plank for the Leave campaign.
  • Yet this does not necessarily mean that Brexit itself is a major priority for voters, even if related issues might be. While a few (24%) feel that the EU/Brexit is one of society's most important issues, far fewer (1%) feel it is society's most important issue today. In comparison, other issues such as the cost of living (51%) and healthcare (12%) are much more salient.

On the highest ever re-join lead

"We've been tracking this question for over a year, and this is the largest lead for re-join we've recorded. There has been a clear trend towards re-joining since the turn of the year. In January, the gap between re-joining at stay out was just 2 points; by April, it had grown to 7, and now it sits as high as 13.

Voters of all stripes have shifted. Although most 2016 Leave voters still say they want to say out, slightly more say they want to re-join than you tended to get late last year. Around 7% of leavers in November said they wanted to re-join, up to 11% in our previous two polls.

Those who voted remain in 2016 have become even less comfortable with our position outside the EU. Last year as many as 15% of Remainers said they were content with staying out, which has now declined to just under 1 in 10 in our latest poll.

But these shifts, although notable, don't tell the whole story. The views of those who didn't vote in 2016, either because they were too young or chose not to, are also key to explaining the gowning levels of re-join support.

More of this group back re-joining than staying out by some margin. Around half would vote to re-join, and just 20% say they would stay out. Their views have also moved in the re-join direction. The data is quite noisy as they are a relatively small group, but by comparing an average of the last four polls and comparing it to the preceding four, you see a 7%-point growth in support for joining the EU.

This highlights that while there is certainly growing unhappiness with Brexit, it would be unwise to assume this would definitely translate into a re-join victory in a referendum. Turnout matters as in all electoral contests, and a re-join lead predicated in large numbers by young people who tend to vote in lower numbers and those who chose not to vote last time is certainly shakier than the headline numbers might suggest."

On the impact of Brexit

“Nigel Farage said Brexit has failed, and it appears the public largely agrees. In not a single policy area do we find more of the public saying our EU exit has had a positive than negative impact.

And on the issue that is probably hitting most Britons the hardest in the pockets at the moment, the cost of the food at the supermarket, the impact is the worst of any of the areas listed. As many as 6 in 10 say the effect of Brexit has been negative here, with only 1 in 10 positive. Even when it comes to migration levels, a key plank of the campaign to leave the EU, many more voters say Brexit has a detrimental impact than believe the opposite.

What's also striking is that many leave voters are also reaching this conclusion. On issues such as the economy, migration, the NHS, and the cost of living, more of those who voted to leave in 2016 say the impact is negative than positive.

This is also not a static picture; the public is becoming increasingly negative about the effects of Brexit. Compared to when we last asked this question in November, on most of the areas we asked about, there has been an increase in the share saying the impact will be negative, with the biggest shifts seen in areas such as the economy, NHS and cost of living.

In this month's poll, we also see the largest lead for re-joining the EU over staying out that we have recorded since we started tracking this question. These numbers should leave little doubt as to why.” An article by The i on the impact of Brexit can be found here.

Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results are here.

For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.


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