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UK turning against Brexit and Tories look doomed: top pollster

#turning #Brexit #Tories #doomed #top #pollster

A persistent majority of Britons think Brexit was a mistake, one of the UK’s leading pollsters said Wednesday, forecasting near-certain defeat for the Conservatives at the next election.

Professor John Curtice, president of the British Polling Council, said it was too soon to say that polls have shifted decisively in favour of overturning the 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

But he told reporters that the trend was clear since autumn 2021, when shortages of lorry drivers brought home to many the real-world costs of ending the EU’s free movement of labour as part of the split.

“At the moment, it looks as though the 2016 referendum is going to be as unsuccessful as the 1975 one was in proving to be a permanent settlement of this debate,” Curtice said in reference to a prior referendum.

“Probably Brexit is now less popular than it has been at any point since June 2016.”

In 2016, the UK voted by 52-48 percent in favour of leaving the EU. Now, an average of polls shows about 57 percent want to change that, while 43 percent think it was the right decision. 

The margin has grown wider this year as Britons contend with a cost-of-living crisis, and demographics point to greater pro-EU support in future as younger voters enter the electoral rolls since 2016.

But the main opposition Labour party is unlikely to reopen debate about EU membership, or rejoining the common market, before the next election for fear of scaring voters, Curtice said.

The election is not due for another two years but as it stands, the Conservatives are in deep trouble after installing their third prime minister of the year.

Rishi Sunak has helped to arrest the slump since entering 10 Downing Street last month, Curtice noted, but overall the Tories have a mountain to climb against Labour’s average poll lead of 30 points.

“History suggests that it’s going to be extremely difficult,” the veteran pollster said.

“No government that has presided over a financial crisis has eventually survived at the ballot box,” Curtice added, after Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss provoked a market panic with unfunded tax cuts.

“They have lost ground because the public in general have decided they cannot be trusted to run the country.”

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