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Brexit has broken Britain, but there’s no stomach for another bloody battle in the trenches

The challenges of Brexit will not go away for decades to come. So why, asks Sunder Katwala, are people so reluctant to campaign for another referendum

Monday 12 June 2023 20:45 BST
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<p>The challenges of grappling with what happens after Brexit will not go away for many years to come</p>

The challenges of grappling with what happens after Brexit will not go away for many years to come

Brexit divided Britain as never before. Not only did it split the country over the question on the referendum paper, it also created two new identity tribes, Remainers and Leavers. It was a story of bad winners and bad losers, which has left Britain much more divided seven years after the vote than during the 2016 referendum campaign itself.

There has been a significant shift of opinion towards regret, but the much more dominant mood is of exhaustion. Most Leave voters have not changed their minds, though a fifth have. Those too young to vote in 2016 think it was a bad idea by a four-to-one margin. But the overwhelming emotion is that of not wanting to hear more about Brexit from anyone.

In the latest Ipsos issues index, 1 per cent of people think Brexit is the most important issue facing Britain, and 7 per cent rank it as a priority. Though unconvinced that they have seen any benefits from Brexit, only 4 per cent of the under-35s consider it a priority compared to 9 per cent of the over-55s. Some say that everything people care about more – the economy, inflation, the NHS, climate change and immigration – is connected to Brexit, but that is not the common feeling across the country right now.

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