The split between Leave and Remain voters in the UK has always been extremely narrow – the referendum result was split 52 percent to 48 percent in favor of leaving the European Union. In the four years since the vote, according to politics professor and president of the British polling council, John Curtice, public attitudes have changed very little.
Curtice says that, while a minority of leave voters would be happy to exit the EU without a deal, there are also a significant amount who would not approve of that option, along with most remain voters.
“If the United Kingdom were to leave without a deal, the United Kingdom would certainly be taking quite a risk,” he adds, warning that, while this could go well, if it doesn’t, the government will find itself the subject of a lot of criticism.
“Essentially, for much of the period up to and leading to the day on which we eventually left the European Union on 31 January this year, the polls have pretty consistently shown that, rather than being a small lead for Leave, there was a small lead for Remain,” says Curtice.
He says that this is not simply because the voters have changed their minds, as 85 to 90 percent of people asked said they would vote in exactly the same way again.
Curtice adds that there was a small group that didn’t vote in 2016, mainly those who were too young to vote, who have become very pro-remain in the four-year period since the vote.
When asked whether people are caring about a deal or no deal, Curtice says: “The truth is, for most of the past four years, Brexit was the top of people’s concerns and many a leave voter was willing to contemplate that no-deal, but a substantial minority were not and most remain voters did not want it.
“So, certainly no-deal has been an important aspect of the debate and part of a debate of a Brexit issue that was dominating our politics.
“Coronavirus knocked it off that perch, very little discussion for weeks but new polling suggests that it’s still true that the health and the pandemic and the economy are still the principle concerns in public, Brexit is creeping back up the level of public concern.”