One in three Tory voters lose faith in Brexit, poll finds

Survey finds 33% of Conservatives believe costs outweighing benefits

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Monday 09 January 2023 08:51 GMT
Keir Starmer denies changing Brexit stance to appeal to Leave voters

Conservative party voters are losing faith in the idea of Brexit benefits and opportunities, a new poll suggests.

On in three Tory voters (33 per cent) now believe Brexit has created more problems than it has solved, according to Opinium survey for the Best for Britain group.

Only 22 per cent of those who intend to vote Conservative say Britain’s exit from the EU has solved more problems that it has created.

Problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol was cited by 39 per cent of Tory voters as the key concern, while 36 per cent cited red tape hitting UK businesses and 33 per cent cited difficulties working abroad.

Among the wider electorate, a clear majority (57 per cent) said Brexit was causing more problems than it was solving.

Naomi Smith, chief executive of Best for Britain, which campaigns for closer ties with the EU, said: “Our polling clearly shows voters across the political spectrum now realise Brexit has made the UK poorer, less competitive and less attractive for businesses.”

The campaigner added: “Those claiming to represent voters must stop insulting our intelligence and start advocating closer ties with Europe.”

Craig Mackinlay, Tory MP for South Thanet, told The Telegraph he was “not surprised” to hear the results of the Opinium poll – arguing the government had been “far too timid in using the freedom of Brexit to actually deliver Brexit dividends”.

There is growing agitation on the Tory right about Brexit. Some are angry about the possibility that plans to remove all EU law from the statute books by the end of 2023 could be delayed or watered down in the face of challenges in the Lords.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned Mr Sunak not to “let down electors” on Brexit opportunities, while fellow Brexiteer David Jones said Rishi Sunak’s personal authority was based on the retained EU law bill being “completed successfully”.

Boris Johnson is believed to been to use to a speech to the Tory faithful at the Carlton Club this week to make clear he is watching his successor when it comes to Brexit, the levelling up agenda and Ukraine.

But senior Tory Tobias Ellwood – who has previously called for the UK to rejoin the EU single market – said the poll showed that it was time to “exhibit the courage to upgrade our Brexit model upgrade our Brexit model”.

The chair of the defence select committee added: “No one is calling for another referendum, but as this poll confirms, more of the electorate is saying this isn’t the Brexit they voted for.”

On Sunday Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer denied changing his stance on Brexit to appeal to Leave voters, after he unveiled plans for a “take back control” bill to devolve power out of Westminister.

The Labour leader told Sky News that he had reflected on the 2016 referendum on EU membership and had listened to the “emotional case for change”.

Separately, Best for Britain polling data shared with The Independent shows Mr Sunak and 15 of his cabinet ministers are at risk of losing their seats in a general election “wipeout”.

Senior Tory figures – including the prime minister, deputy PM Dominic Raab and health secretary Steve Barclay – are all at risk of defeat at the election expected in 2024, exclusive seat-by-seat analysis found.

Despite the dire Tory polling, analysis by Best for Britain revealed that Labour’s mammoth lead could be more fragile than previously thought because of the high number of “don’t know” in surveys who will typically lean heavily to the Conservatives.

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