Brexit: Three-quarters now want to remain
While all 14 districts in the county elected to leave the EU in June’s national referendum, many people have since changed their minds as the reality of Britain going it alone begins to hit home.
In central parts of the county, where “leavers” averaged almost 58 per cent, the Post poll showed that as many as three-quarters are now in favour of staying in the European Union, warts and all.
In the east of the county the switch from was even more dramatic - Burnley moving from 66.6 per cent in favour of quitting to 77 per cent wanting to remain.
Only Blackpool, which boasted the largest North West majority of “leavers” at 67.5 per cent in the referendum, showed just a modest fall to 62 per cent.
The changing picture mirrors a national nervousness which commentators claim has been growing since the referendum vote on June 23.
The falling pound, higher food prices and worries over future trade deals have all brought the decision to leave into sharper focus with voters.
Preston MP Mark Hendrick, a former MEP and committed pro-European, described Britain’s journey towards independence as “a slow motion car crash.”
He told the Post: “As soon as we trigger it, all those things which were said to be scaremongering about the referendum will start to come true.
“At the moment the markets, even though the pound is down 20 per cent, are generally quite stable. But once it is clear that we won’t be getting any sort of deal that the Government would have wanted, it will affect us financially.”
Mark’s Preston constituency voted narrowly in favour of Brexit in June - 53.3 per cent for leaving and 46.7 per cent in favour of remaining.
In the Post’s poll, conducted yesterday as meetings were going on in the Commons and Lords to finalise the historic bill authorising Britain’s exit from the EU, the vote in the Preston,
South Ribble and Chorley area was showing 74 per cent were now in favour of remaining - a huge swing over the past nine months.
In addition to the online poll the Post asked people in the street what they thought about Brexit amid the political and economic fall-out which had followed the referendum.
One shop owner in Preston city centre said: “I think we’ve fallen off a cliff since the decision and it’s just what I expected.”
A householder from New Longton, who voted leave in June and would now vote remain, said: “I did look into it at the time, but I thought lots of the negatives were scaremongering by politicians.”
The Post poll attracted almost 8,000 votes from across Lancashire. In the referendum in June more than 181,000 people voted in just Preston, South Ribble and Chorley.
The clock can only start running on Britain’s complicated negotiations to leave the European Union once the Government has triggered Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon.
The Treaty, which was signed by all 28 member countries, became law in December 2009 and contains the rules for exit.
Theresa May announced in the autumn that she would trigger Article 50 by the end of March. As the departure process should take two years, Britain should officially leave the EU no later than April 2019, although some feel the process could take longer.
Negotiations will involve all 27 other EU countries and each will have the power to veto anything they disagree with.
Both Britain and the EU will put together huge negotiating teams to thrash out the terms of departure and how much it is likely to cost the country to extract itself from the Union.
Leaders of the other 27 countries are likely to push for tough conditions which might discourage others from following Britain out of the door.
One of the key points to be thrashed out is what happens to British ex-pats living in Europe and also EU nationals who live in the UK.