The message to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party is clear
I repeat and represent in this post extracts from Peter Kellner's article in Prospect Magazine where he analysis YouGov polling involving voting data from over 23,000 respondents which gathered at the time of the 2016 EU referendum and 2017 General Election.
The data on the shifts in public attitudes comes from voters that YouGov has questioned since the start of the year. Respondents are asked whether Britain was right or wrong to vote for Brexit in 2016. Thirteen of 14 polls this year show slightly more people saying “wrong” than “right.” - a small but consistent net move away from Brexit.
Significant numbers of younger Leave voters, as well as those supporting Labour in last year’s election, no longer think Brexit is right for Britain.
While movements have indeed been small among many sections, they have been much larger in some politically important groups.
They divided two-to-one for Remain in the referendum. However, YouGov’s combined data, which includes 7,671 people who voted Labour at the general election last year, reveals a marked shift.
While only 7 % of Labour-Remain voters are having second thoughts (changing their minds or saying “don’t know”), as many as 28% of Labour-Leave voters no longer back Brexit. Now Labour’s voters divide almost three-to-one in saying Brexit was the wrong choice.
The table below contrasts the groups where second thoughts are most prevalent with those where voters are overwhelmingly standing firm. Apart from Labour-Leave voters, buyers’ remorse is greatest among voters under 40 who voted Leave, especially women and working-class C2DE voters. (Older women and working-class voters have shifted far less.) Of the major demographic and political groups, only among Conservatives are more than 15% of Remain voters having second thoughts.
Only two really significant groups now favour Brexit more than they did:
Conservative voters (from 72-28% to 75-25% in favour of Brexit)
Voters over 65 (from 66-34% to 67-33%).
The effects of older, mainly Leave, voters dying—and younger, mainly Remain, voters are joining the electorate -
Since the referendum around 1.2m electors have died, while 1.4m have joined the electorate. If we extrapolate from YouGov’s data from the youngest and oldest voters, and take account of variations in turnout by age, then
I reckon that around 600,000 Leave voters, and 300,000 Remain voters have died; while 650,000 young Remainers and 150,000 Leave supporters have joined the voting population.
Combine these figures, and these demographic factors have given us 350,000 extra Remain voters and 450,000 fewer Leave voters.
In the 2016 referendum, the 17.4m Leave voters outnumbered the 16.1m Remain voters by 1.3m.
Demography has already reduced that lead by more than half. At this rate, Remain will take the lead by late next year, even if not one person changes their mind.
Add in the second thoughts now apparent in some groups who voted Leave two years ago, there is a real prospect that a fresh referendum would reverse the decision that the electorate took last time.
Currently the overall impact of all the shifts outlined above is to convert a narrow pro-Leave majority at the time of the 2016 referendum to a small pro-Remain majority today.