UK’s Splendid Isolation: Most Britons Are Disappointed with How Brexit Turned Out

Written by | Wednesday, December 29th, 2021

Some 60% of people in the United Kingdom say Brexit had gone badly or worse than expected one year after it happened in a poll for the Guardian newspaper published Saturday (25 December). Out of those who voted to leave the European Union, some 42% had a negative view of how it turned out in reality. “We’re seeing is a significant minority of Leavers saying that things are going badly,” Adam Drummond, from the Opinium pollster, said. Boris Johnson hailed the signing of post-Brexit trade deal almost a year ago as the moment when Britain took back control of its destiny. But now, as the Covid-19 pandemic drags on, the cost is becoming clearer — and voters are noticing. Brexit has been a drag on growth. It brought new red tape on commerce between Britain and its largest and closest market, and removed a large pool of EU labor from the country on which many businesses had come to rely. The combination has exacerbated supply chain shortages, stoked inflation, and hampered trade.
If it was, voters appear to be increasingly unhappy with the result. According to an earlier poll conducted by Savanta Comres in November, a majority of the UK population would now vote to re-join the the EU — including one in ten who voted to leave in the 2016 referendum. In June, only 49% wanted to reverse Brexit. In fact, recent surveys show the collapse in Johnson’s ratings owes less to Brexit than to doubts over his trustworthiness and leadership, including allegations his office partied during a 2020 lockdown when festivities were banned. While some analysts now bet his government cannot last until general elections slated for 2024, many on the Remain side caution against hopes this might trigger a sequence of events that could one day restore ties with Europe.
Already polls from December 2020 suggested voters remain as divided on the Brexit issue as they were at the start of 2020. YouGov has regularly asked people the question: “In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to leave the European Union?” During the last three months of 2020, on average, 39% have said that the decision was right, while 49% have stated it was wrong. On the question ‘In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to leave the European Union?’, the answer was 40% said that the decision was right and 49% wrong. The divide looked even sharper when voters were asked how they would vote now in response to the question that appeared on the 2016 referendum ballot paper: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the EU or leave the EU?” A year ago, a handful of polls by ComRes, Deltapoll and YouGov posed that question again. On average, they found that 53% would vote Remain and 47% Leave.

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