The referendum on leaving the European Union caused such an earthquake in the United Kingdom that many years later, referendums questioned the population of what they would vote for today. The state of play, prepared by the National Center for Social Research five years after the British vote in favor of Brexit, shows a polarized opinion as always. According to a survey conducted by this social science research center, 82 percent of the people who answered they would vote as of June 2016.
Proponents of “Stay” continue to see things through their lens, as do supporters of “Leave. The division is as strong as it is at the time of the referendum”, notes John Curtis, a researcher at the National Center for Social Research and professor at the University of Strathclyde. “Remainers” remain more confident about their vote (86%) than “Brexiters” (78%). But a large proportion of those who did not participate will vote in favor of leaving the European Union today.
The main divisions rest firmly in public opinion. 83% of supporters of the EU stay in the EU believe that Brexit will worsen the economic situation. They are even higher than in 2016. Of those who voted to exit, 51% think the decision will be favorable for the economy, and 28% think it will change nothing, a ratio similar to what we could see five years ago.
The division over immigration has narrowed, reflecting a debate that, five years ago, was markedly polarized on the issue amid the European migration crisis. At the time, 85% of “Leave” supporters believed that Brexit would affect immigration. They are only 52% today in terms of the health crisis, which has slowed movements significantly.
government management ruined
During these five years, the two camps have come together at one point: the chaotic management of this phase by his government. In 2019, when Theresa May was desperate to get parliament’s support for her deal, public support for government management fell to 4%, gradually rising to 22% in January 2021.
At the center of the crisis, only 6% of the population felt that the United Kingdom had gotten a good “deal”, with a lower proportion among “Remainers” as “Brexiters”. After the agreement was signed in late December, 21% of the population believed it was a good “deal”, with 35% in favor of leaving the EU and 16% in favor of staying in the EU.
Impact of vaccination campaign
If the deal hasn’t really changed the perception of Brexit in public opinion, the vaccination campaign against COVID has had an effect. In another survey conducted by JL Partners on behalf of Bloomberg in April, 62% of Britons felt that their vaccination campaign had improved thanks to Brexit.
For John Curtis, however, the impact of vaccination on British opinion may have faded over time. “This success may have strengthened the ‘quit’ camp, but the movement remains modest, and should not remain as vaccination coverage in the European Union catches up with the United Kingdom.”, he explains. As far as the economic impacts are concerned, apart from a few empty shelves in fresh produce in supermarkets, the British have yet to notice them.