Eighteen months since the tide began to turn over public opinion on Brexit and the reality continues to sink in. And now it’s even hitting Conservatives.
According to an Opinium survey for the Best for Britain group, one in three Tory voters, or 33%, now believe that Brexit has created more problems than it has solved. Only 22% say the opposite.
Some 39% of Tory supporters said the Northern Ireland Protocol was a key Brexit concern, 36% are worried about red tape affecting UK businesses and 33% are frustrated about difficulties with gaining work abroad.
When the survey was opened up to the wider electorate, as opposed to Conservative voters, 57% said that Brexit was causing more problems than it solved.
The findings will make more uncomfortable reading for Brexiteers after a recent poll by new firm peoplepolling, which conducted a split sample. When asked a simple question about rejoining, 42% of respondents wanted to return to the European Union, while 35% opted to stay out.
Even when the supposed problems with rejoining – becoming part of the single market and the Schengen area, accepting free movement of EU nationals, applying EU laws and paying into the EU budget – were listed to the other half of the sample, 38% still wanted to return to the EU, with 35% wanting to stay out.
No doubt this will have been bad news to the client who ordered the poll: the right wing channel GB News, home to, amongst other Brexiteers, former UKIP and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and columnist Dan Wooton. The same survey found Labour with a 24-point lead over the Tories, and the Reform Party to have continued to gain momentum at 8%.
Yet it still seems unlikely that this swaying of public opinion will be acted upon.
Keir Starmer may have hoped to have claimed to take back control of the Brexit narrative by audaciously flipping Vote Leave’s infamous slogan, but he continues to make his thoughts on rejoining transparently clear, while prime minister Rishi Sunak still bangs the drum about Brexit “freedoms” creating more opportunities, even as he seeks a compromise over the Protocol and prepares to ditch Jacob Rees-Mogg’s proposed bonfire of EU regulations.
It doesn’t feel like the will of the people, as expressed in these polls, will be acted on any time soon.