Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tories are sitting pretty with double-digit polling leads as the opposition Labour and Liberal-Democrats struggle to find a resonant and coherent position on Brexit. A new poll from YouGov helps explain why the 52-48 Leave-Remain Brexit vote won’t translate into a tightening election race:
There is a third group who change the dynamics of EU-related arguments – the “Re-Leavers.” These are people who voted to Remain in the EU and many still think that leaving was the wrong decision, but crucially now believe the government has a duty to carry out the will of the British people.
When taking this into account, we can split the country into three groups instead of two: The Hard Leavers who want out of the EU (45%); the Hard Remainers who still want to try to stop Brexit (22%); and the Re-Leavers (23%). The other 9% don’t know.
This group means that when discussing Brexit and its implications in the campaign the electorate is not two pools of voters split almost down the middle 52/48. Instead, it is instead one massive lake made up of Leave and Re-Leave voters and one much smaller Remain pond. This means that the Conservatives and UKIP are fishing among 68% of voters with Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Greens and nationalists scrapping for just 22%.
“Re-Leaver” is an overly cute moniker, but the poll raises a couple interesting points. As we’ve noted before, these results should put to bed any notion of “Bregret. Not only is there no evidence that some huge portion of Britons regret or feel misinformed about their decision, the proportion of the country that thinks that the result of a free and fair referendum should be overturned by other means is vanishingly small—and rightly so.
It also exposes the flawed logic of the Liberal-Democrats and some anti-Corbynites in Labour who think that if only their parties back a hard Remain position that they’ll get the lions share of the 48% and enough of the mythical Bregret vote to win a majority. Whatever other limitations he has as a party leader (and these are many) Corbyn’s decision to keep Labour as a pro-Brexit party looks pretty sensible when he knows that a large proportion of hard Remainers are Scottish nationalists who won’t be voting Labour anyways. It’s unsurprising then that the Lib-Dem’s gambit to be the “Party of Remain” didn’t pay off at local elections earlier this month. While the leader of the Lib-Dems has said they may “double [their] seats,” that’s from a paltry 9, and they seem unlikely to outperform expectations.
Between Brexit itself and Scottish nationalists pushing for a second independence referendum, Theresa May has plenty of challenges ahead. But with her opponents boxed into a corner on Brexit, the June elections are looking poised for a Tory landslide.