BIG BREXIT SURVEY: Half of people in Lancashire think we would be better off economically in Europe

Have you changed your mind about Brexit? Well, you wouldn't be alone if you had.

Sunday, 22nd April 2018, 8:00 pm

Voters, it seems, are not quite so keen to quit the EU as they were back in June 2016 when the nation opted to go it alone.

A poll of Post readers has revealed around one in 10 of those who voted Leave in Lancashire would now go the opposite way.

While that would not give the Remain camp an overall majority in the county, it would narrow the gap considerably.

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Photo Neil Cross Big Interview Mark Hendrick MP

Our new poll, conducted online, shows 49 per cent of our readers who responded said Britain would be better off economically inside Europe.

In addition 53 per cent felt we should continue to be part of the single market.

Overall most of those surveyed said they would still stick with how they voted 22 months ago – 83 per cent of Leave voters and 91 per cent of Remain supporters.

But, significantly, three-fifths (60 per cent) of all those questioned admittted they were not happy with the status of the Brexit negotiations at the moment, with only 20 per cent saying they were happy and the rest admitting they weren’t sure.

John Wilson Group Leader of Preston's Leave Campaign

The swing, after almost two years of debate and soul-searching, has come as no surprise to campaigners on both sides of the argument.

Sir Mark Hendrick, Preston MP and outspoken Brexit critic, said the reality of what leaving the EU will mean had now hit home to many and some had clearly experienced a change of heart.

“All the things us so-called scaremongers were saying prior to the referendum have come true,” he said. “All the realities, the practicalities of everyday trade involving the ordinary things that we take for granted are out of the window with Brexit.

“The idea that we can trade freely and not be affected by it are really pie in the sky. We will have to do business with countries outside the EU and the everyday things we rely on that come from countries inside the EU won’t be there. It’s going to be a great deal more difficult.”

Photo Neil Cross Big Interview Mark Hendrick MP

John Wilson, who led three separate Leave campaign groups in Preston in 2016, said the decision to quit Europe was still being supported by the majority and any attempts by Remainers to force a change were pointless.

“It doesn’t surprise me that a poll like this shows some people may have changed their view,” he said. “But it doesn’t alter anything.

“The referendum vote was clear, the majority of people want to leave the EU. We voted to leave and that is how it should remain. All the people saying we should have a second referendum are kicking democracy in this country in the teeth.

“I doubt it would ever happen. But if it did then I’m convinced we would still have a majority of people viting to leave. That’s what the country wants.”

John Wilson Group Leader of Preston's Leave Campaign

The Post poll of Leave voters revealed only nine per cent thought Britain was better off economically inside Europe, while around a fifth (21 per cent) felt we should continue to be part of the single market. Remain voters, however, thought maintaining close ties with Europe was a good idea, with 85 per cent saying Britain was better off economically inside the EU and 84 per cent supporting us staying in the single market.

Among those who said they voted Leave, 45 per cent were unhappy with the status of negotiations compared to 32 per cent who were happy. Nearly three-quarters of those who voted Remain (73 per cent) said they were unhappy, compared to only nine per cent who said they were happy. Leave voters were more likely to say they would not vote in the same way now, with one in 10 Leave voters saying they’d act differently (10 per cent) compared to one in 21 Remain voters (five per cent).

John added: “I think all the scaremongers who trotted out so many negative comments have been proved wrong.

“If we had a stronger Prime Minister then perhaps some of these people saying they had changed their minds wouldn’t have felt that way.

“I was happy for Theresa May to take the reins, but I don’t think she has been strong enough. We needed a stronger person in charge, pushing it all the way and maybe it’s because of that that a few people are wavering.

“As a result the EU have been throwing obstacles and hurdles in our way, they have been holding us to ransom every step of the way.

“But we are leaving, it’s going to happen and that’s that.”

Sir Mark responded: “Yes, I think the Prime Minister is weak. But I think that is because the Conservatives have overplayed a very weak hand in Brexit.

“The idea that Europe will simply fall apart if we leave, they wouldn’t function without the UK and and they will miss us is simply wrong.

“Europe takes a significant percentage of our export trade, but it amounts to only a small percentage of their imports. When we have left they will still be 500 million people, we are 60 million. They can manage without us quite easily.

“It was a very detailed debate leading up to the referendum. People were saying they were fed up with it. But, in fact, of a lot of people had paid more attention, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today.

“The whole thing is a disgrace and our own grandkids won’t thank us for what we have done.”

The study, run in partnership with Google Surveys, was completed online by 2,500 people who visited the Lancashire Post website.