Implement referendum result despite Brexit ‘shambles’, say UK voters

Britain's Article 50 negotiations on the terms of its exit from the EU are following the pattern of its membership of the bloc. [Andy Rain/EPA/EFE]

Theresa May’s government should just get on with Brexit, say UK voters, despite more than four in ten of them condemning its “shambolic” handling of the exit talks.

44% of Britons say the Government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations so far has been “a total shambles” according to a new poll by ComRes published on Wednesday (29 March). Only 3% of those surveyed described it as “excellent”.

Nonetheless, a majority of Britons still believe that the 2016 referendum result should be implemented. Almost four in ten 2016 Remain voters also want those who voted against Brexit to accept the majority decision.

Only 35% overall want a second referendum, while 65% do not, according to the poll.

Other surveys have suggested that a second poll would lead to a narrow vote to stay in the EU.

However, Britons remain deeply polarized. 65% of Remain voters want a second referendum, compared to 10% of Leave voters. 71% of Remain voters also believe that the UK economy will be permanently damaged by Brexit. By contrast, Leave voters are far more optimistic that Britain will be able to negotiate trade deals with non-EU countries, and that the UK economy will only suffer a short-term hit after leaving the EU.

Even so, a 44-29% majority fear that they will be poorer after the UK leaves the EU. Voters are also sceptical that May’s government will succeed in negotiating a successor trade deal before the UK leaves the EU.

Anti-Brexit campaigners believe that public opinion is likely to shift in favour of a second poll as the terms of the EU exit agreement become clearer.

The survey of over 2,000 adults was conducted following last week’s European Council summit, at which EU leaders signed off on a 21-month transition period after the UK formally leaves the bloc.

The UK will continue to have full access to the single market, continue to abide by its rules and pay into the EU budget during that period. The summit also marked the formal start of talks on a successor EU-UK partnership.

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