Brexit is going badly but few are changing sides
Negotiating Brexit while keeping everybody happy was always going to be an impossible task but the public is giving Theresa May little credit for her handling of it so far.
Nearly twice as many disapprove of the prime minister?s handling of the issue as approve (49% against 27%), a slight decline from her position last month, when the figures were 42% and 30% respectively. One would expect voters to have more sympathy for the prime minister, given that 51% say the process is proving more difficult than they expected, a feeling shared by both Remainers and Leavers.
As a result, more voters say that they have become more pessimistic about Brexit (34%) since the referendum than more optimistic (23%) and only a fifth expect Britain to emerge from the article 50 process with a satisfactory Brexit deal, while 44% say this is unlikely.
Only 46% of Remainers say Brexit should just be called off if Britain reaches March 2019 without a deal.
What to do when we reach that point, though, is where the deepest divisions emerge and what is interesting here is how much the final result of these questions is affected by how tightly each side holds to its views. The success of the government?s ?no deal is better than a bad deal? line shows in how it has cut through among Leave voters, with 62% of them saying Britain should simply leave the EU without a deal, against 24% who say there should be a transition until a satisfactory final arrangement can be worked out.
If we ask about how they would vote in a second straight Remain/Leave referendum, 91% of Remainers and 88% of Leavers would stick to their 2016 vote. But only 46% of Remainers say that the Brexit process should just be called off if Britain reaches March 2019 without a deal, versus the 27% who back a transition.
Similarly, when we ask if there should be a referendum on the terms of Brexit, with the options being ?new deal? or ?remain after all? (whether that is a realistic possibility or not), 84% of Leavers say ?No? but just 64% of Remainers say ?Yes?. Overall, the figures are 35% in favour of a ?terms of the deal? referendum versus 53% opposed, and although the gap narrowed in a poll in July (to 41% for and 48% against), it has remained relatively consistent.
So despite feeling that the process is difficult and being handled badly, few appear to be changing their underlying views. Indeed, 54% of Leave voters agreed that ?Brexit is a good idea in theory but is being badly executed?. The country is still split down the middle on the matter, with little sign of a decisive shift towards mass rejection or mass acceptance.