Four out of 10 people want a second EU referendum before Brexit, poll finds

An exclusive poll for The Independent has revealed just how divided Britain is after its vote to leave the EU, and how one in eight Leave voters might be having second thoughts

Andrew Grice
Friday 08 July 2016 18:25 BST

Four out of 10 people want a second referendum before Britain leaves the EU, according to an opinion poll for The Independent which reveals that the country is deeply divided about the outcome of last month’s vote.

The survey of 2,000 people by ORB found that 40 per cent agree that there should be a referendum on the exit deal the Government negotiates, and should seek to remain in the EU if the public rejects the terms. Such a course is supported by 12 per cent of people who voted Leave last month – a figure which suggests that one in eight people who backed quitting the EU might be having second thoughts, or would like one last chance to halt the process.

A second vote is backed by 68 per cent of people who supported Remain last month. It is endorsed by a majority (55 per cent) of 18-24 year-olds, but opposed by a similar proportion of those aged 65 and over. Support for another vote is highest in the North East and North West, a sign that some people may be anxious about the outcome in areas which saw a strong Leave vote. Almost half of those in the AB top social group want another vote but the idea is opposed by a similar proportion of the C2 skilled manual workers and bottom DE groups.

Brexit - Some Leave voters are regretting their vote

Although 44 per cent of the public do not want a second referendum, the strong support for one will delight pro-Europeans who have not given up hope of keeping Britain in the EU club. Some MPs and peers will try to secure another referendum in Parliamentary votes, and their prospects of success could swell if public pressure grows. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has backed a referendum on the exit terms but the Government opposes the idea.

According to ORB, the new prime minister who succeeds David Cameron in September will face a huge task in healing the wounds from last month’s 52-48 per cent vote for Brexit. People’s views on their own and the country’s prospects are heavily coloured by how they voted.

One ray of hope for the Government is that more people (49 per cent) believe the outcome of the referendum will be good for Britain in the long run than do not (39 per cent). However, only one in 10 of those who backed Remain agrees with this statement, compared to 94 per cent of those who voted Leave.

People are more optimistic about the nation’s long-term economic prospects than their own financial position. But they are resigned to the economy taking a short-term hit. Only 18 per cent think the general economic situation will improve in the next 12 months, while 59 per cent believe it will get worse. However, some 48 per cent think the economy will benefit from the decision to leave the EU in the long term, while 38 per cent do not.

Only one in four people (27 per cent) believes their own financial situation will improve as a result, while 46 per cent do not.

Although immigration was a big issue in the referendum campaign, more people (48 per cent) agree that it is more important to have access to the European single market than it is to limit immigration from the EU than disagree (37 per cent). Again, the country remains very divided: three out of four Remain voters want to put the single market first but two out of three Leave voters do not.

People are split down the middle on where the Brexit vote leaves the UK. Some 83 per cent of Remainers think that the decision has diminished the country’s role in the world, but 86 per cent of Leavers disagree.

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