Are Brexit Opinion Polls finally turning Towards Remain?

Given the industrial scale dishonesty of the Leave campaign and the EU negotiation, which has been sign on the dotted line for slow learners, it’s bewildering that the polls have remained so sticky; about 50% Leave and 50% remain. The recent BMG poll, which was one of the few organisations to to get the Leave majority on the referendum correct, has shown a poll with a decent swing towards remain for the first time with a headline split of 55.5% Remain to 44.5% Leave. This is significant as there seems to be fairly general agreement that if there is a 60% – 40% split towards remain politics might start changing. There is hope that Labour in particular might come out on the side of remain if the polls continue in their present direction.

BMG/Independent Poll: Shift towards Remain at height of Brexit negotiation tensions

Drilling down into the data reveals some interesting results, a caveat of course is that as the sample sizes get smaller the accuracy decreases, so the polls need to be taken as indicative rather than definitive. In all the figures presented below the remain figure is first whereas the leave one is second.

Breakdown by Sex

The male split is  57.5% remain to  42.5% leave whereas the female split is  54%-46%, indicating a slightly greater Remain prominence in the male voter. This may be a spurious result but will be worth watching in future polls.

Breakdown by Age

18-24 age group  76% remain to 24% leave
35-54 age group  58% remain to 42% leave
55+ age group 39% remain to 61% leave

This is in line with other polls in that the younger you are the more likely you are to vote remain.

Breakdown by Party

Conservative 31% remain to 69% leave
Labour 72% remain to 28% leave
This is an even stronger trend than most polls. The Labour vote is quite striking but has probably strengthened its remain tendency by attracting younger voters who overwhelmingly lean towards Labour. It also has some older die-hard remain voters.

Breakdown by Qualification

Degree: 69% remain to 31% leave
No quals: 38% remain to 62% leave
This is very much in line with other polls which show a very high correlation between qualifications and tendency to vote remain.

Breakdown by Employment Status

FT/PT Job: 62% remain to 38% leave
Self emp: 55% remain to 45% leave
Student: 87% remain to 13% leave
Out of work – 6m+: 43% remain to 57% leave
Retired: 38% remain to 62% leave
LT sick: 44% remain to 56% leave

This is broadly in line with other polls. More productive people tend to vote remain, less productive people leave. The groups which vote leave comprise significant numbers of retired people which one would expect as there is a high correlation with age: the older you are the more likely you are to vote leave. The long term unemployed and long term sick are possibly a protest vote, who feel they have little to loose. Students vote most strongly to remain which is in line with other polls.


  1. Peter May -

    I understand the long term sick and straight unemployed might be simply two fingers protesting but are the retired really so out of touch that they cannot remember (at least through their parents) WW2? Don’t they also realise that leaving is also cutting off opportunity for their grandchildren? Who said the old were wise?

    1. Sean Danaher -

      A regional variation analysis might also be useful here. Ceartainly in the post Tatcherite Northern industrial wastelands things were a lot better in many ways in the 1950-70’s; near full employment, high wages and vibrant thriving communities. Of course this was because of the Regan/Thatcher neoliberal revolution rather than the EU, but the difference between correlation and causation is often difficult to untangle.

  2. Peter May -

    Interesting FT article (seems to be free) on assymetry of size and cake and eat it. As I’ve long thought, Brexit is a dream and as they say about the American one, possible only available if you are asleep.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Peter the FT article is not free sadly, it tells me I need a premium subscription to access. What is the title of the article? Often going through a search engine allows access. I have a link however to an excel spreadsheet of the polling data which might be of interest. There is considerable regional variation and it looks as if the NE is the most pro-Brexit part of Britain with a 37% Remain and 59% Leave (others don’t know or won’t say).

      My understanding is that size very much matters in trade negotiation. When the US did a trade deal with Singapore my understanding was that the deal went through very quickly as Singapore largely just had to sign on the dotted line. When the US deals with the EU half the document will be covered by red lines – we don’t like this, this and this.

      I suspect the FT article says that the UK is too small to dictate its own terms, only the US, the EU and China are powerful enough to do so.

      1. Peter May -

        You’re right – I can’t access it now either! It was “Brexit: now the difficult part”. It does indeed mention the importance of size, the fact that 1 is not the same as 27 and that (as we’ve already mentioned many times here) no border in Ireland means no border at Dover and that means staying in the EU just with no say in the rules…
        It suggests the government is not thinking straight. In short it is confirming our prejudices!

  3. Bat Sheetcrazee -

    We should let EU nationals legally resident in the UK vote on these things. There’s that little principle of ‘no taxation without representation’ to consider which was used to justify killing British troops in the 1770s.
    Of course many EU nationals have lived experience of life in a centrally planned economy and so would be unlikely to vote Labour.

    If I had the option of being in the EU with a guarantee we would never return to socialism, I’d vote for that.

    1. Peter May -

      “Of course many EU nationals have lived experience of life in a centrally planned economy and so would be unlikely to vote Labour.”
      Really? And what is the evidence for that?

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  5. Ivan Horrocks -

    Sean, I’ve no doubt that if there were another vote now it would be strongly remain. I say that for the same reason as the Democrats are seeing such massive swings to them in state and special congressional elections in the US. The most reported on was the vote against the appalling Roy Moore in Alabama. But in equally red states elections at other levels are also showing 30+ point swings to the Democrats.

    Why? Well one of the main reasons appears to be that many of those who didn’t vote in November 2016 now realise the magnitude of their error as they see the unfolding horror of a Trump presidency and Republican stragglehold on both houses.

    I’ve no doubt that in the UK a similar situation now exists with those groups who are remain or were wavering outers: they now see the reality of what their failure to get out and vote or half hearted support is going to deliver. This is why we have the constant reference back to ‘the will of the people’ and referendum at every opportunity by Brexiteers, because they damn well know that that ‘will’ is no longer in their favour.

    As an aside, isn’t it utterly sick making that those who have least to loose from Brexit – even a no deal Brexit (which I’m still betting will be what happens) – by which I primarily mean the elderly get to shit on the lives of the rest of us and the futures of young people in particular. The again, I understand ignorance is bliss, which is where years spent reading the Telegraph or Mail will have got you anyway.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Ivan, Cameron’s referendum campaign was dire; I found the whole referendum nauseating and vacuous. I’m not surprised whole swathes of the public turned off.

      I agree a no deal Brexit will be most likely with NI thrown under a bus so to speak. Resentment for the DUP is running particularly high in Tory ranks I believe.

      I particularly liked: “Then again, I understand ignorance is bliss, which is where years spent reading the Telegraph or Mail will have got you anyway”.

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