Wed, July 10, 2019


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OR-funded study challenges Brexit assumptions about Leaver and Remainer attitudes

The New Statesman recently reported on a survey which found ‘remainer’ and ‘leaver’ attitudes towards different Brexit options are not what one may assume, and the implications for our main political parties could be dramatic.

Part-funded by the UCL Clinical Operational Research Unit, the survey’s findings undercut many well-used assumptions including the notion that those who voted ‘leave’ are all die-hard Brexiteers who would favour leaving over any deal that kept the UK in Europe.

The survey asked over 1,600 British citizens to rank into order of preference the following Brexit outcomes: no-deal Brexit, Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, a softer Brexit and remaining in the EU. The survey then asked them to rate how much they preferred each option to the one ranked below it. 

69 per cent of remainers strongly preferred remaining in comparison to their most preferred form of Brexit. This was in stark contrast to only 35 percent of leave voters strongly preferring any leave option over remaining.

The study suggests that remainers care more about remaining than leavers do about leaving, and hints that there is a lot more nuance of opinion between the various Brexit factions. Commentators and politicians can no longer repeat the mantra ‘Brexit means Brexit’, because it means at least three different things with three different groups of supporters and the ideological fanaticism often attributed to leave voters just isn’t there.

No longer can any form of ‘soft’ Brexit be touted as a reasonable compromise. Any deal will upset remainers and many leave voters. In fact, 24 per cent of leave voters feel so negatively about some of the leave options that they would prefer to remain rather than see them implemented.

For a more in-depth look at the survey results, visit the New Statesmen’s article.