Britons have more confidence in the EU than Westminster for the first time in 30 years, according to the results of a new poll – a finding that a leading Brexiteer has blamed on a lack of tabloid stories about straight bananas since the UK left the bloc.
The World Values Survey (WVS) exploring trust in the institutions of 24 nations revealed the proportion of people declaring confidence in the UK parliament has dropped by 10 percentage points to 22%. Meanwhile, there has been a seven per cent rise in confidence in the EU, to 39%.
Only 24% of people questioned in the survey said they were “happy” that the UK voted to leave the EU while 49% said they were disappointed with the outcome.
But the data was largely shrugged off by former Brexit secretary David Davis, who told the Guardian it was down to a lack of anti-EU stories in the right wing press – he named the Sun, Daily Telegraph, Times and Daily Mail – and lamented: “No one reads about square strawberries or straight bananas any more”. (The latter was a recurring theme of the Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent from 1989 to 1994, one Boris Johnson.)
The findings also show the UK is now among the ranks of countries least likely to have confidence in their governments and parliaments, behind France, Germany, Australia, Iran and China.
Bobby Duffy, the director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, which analysed the figures, said: “Confidence in parliament has halved since 1990. We’re among the least likely of more than 20 countries in the study to have confidence in the government, confidence in the police has fallen sharply, particularly in London, and only Egypt has less trust in their press.”
Davis added the marked shift was probably a result of “a whiny, unpleasant, bitchy row” in parliament over Brexit since late 2017, “which has been completely unproductive”.
How furious will be when he finds out who was the Brexit secretary for much of that period, before theatrically storming out of Theresa May’s cabinet and setting in line a chain of dominoes which brought it down?