Whisper it, but Conservative MPs are saying privately what the public are increasingly telling pollsters: that Brexit has been a disaster.
Amber Rudd, the former home secretary and the sort of thoughtful figure for whom there is no longer a place for in the Conservatives, has told a podcast that senior figures in the party who backed Brexit will concede exactly that “after a drink or two”.
The comments coincide with a poll for GB News – GB News! – showing the public overwhelmingly think the UK got a bad Brexit deal, with just two percent claiming to be richer as a result of leaving the EU.
Rudd tells Craig Oliver’s Desperately Seeking Wisdom podcast that it has now dawned on Tory Brexiteers that leaving the EU was a failure. “If you discuss Brexit after they have had a drink or two, they will admit it has been a disaster,” she says. “It was an act of self-harm.”
She says she had been “abandoned” by the Conservatives: “I’m not in politics because I can’t stand up and say Brexit is a success. You have to do that to be a Conservative spokesman,” she said.
Perhaps Tories are slowly catching up with the public. In a poll result which was presumably not what the channel hoped for (it was commissioned for the Brexit-supporting presenter Camilla Tominey’s programme) just four percent said they thought that the UK government got a “good deal” with the EU. 54 percent say the government got a bad deal, and 42 per cent said they didn’t know or preferred not to say.
It’s not yet a full admittance the decision was wrong. Tellingly, both the channel and the academic quoted, Matthew Goodwin, talk of the deal Britain got “from”, not “with” the EU – not our fault, guv, we had no say, we could only take what was offered.
But whether it’s quietly, in Conservative clubs and fuelled by vino, or said to pollsters commissioned by Brexit-boosting news channels, the message is becoming more consistent: Brexit has been a catastrophe. That sound? It’s a penny dropping.