Poll shows growing hindsight regret on leaving EU but a 16% Tory lead in a general election
Twice as many people now think it would have been better never to have held a referendum on Brexit than believe it was a good idea, according to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer.
Asked to consider the difficulties the government has had in reaching an agreement, 57% of UK adults surveyed said that they believed it would have been better not to have had a public vote in June 2016.
This compares with 29% of voters who believe it was right to hold the referendum on whether the UK should stay in or leave the EU.
The findings reflect a growing sense of public weariness about arguments over Brexit, which have paralysed British politics and divided the country. People who voted to remain in the EU are overwhelmingly of the view that the referendum should not have taken place, with 87% agreeing and only 7% saying it was a good idea.
Those who voted to leave, however, still have a majority view although a decreasing one that it was right to have put the question to the people; 57% of this group said that they believed it was the correct decision, against 32% who now think the reverse.
Despite this, the poll gives the Tories under Boris Johnson, who led the campaign to leave, a commanding 16-point lead over Labour, which opposed leaving the EU in the referendum. As Johnson prepares to push for a 12 December general election in a Commons vote tomorrow, the Conservatives are up three points compared with a week ago, on 40%. Labour is unchanged on 24%, while the Liberal Democrats are down one point on 15%. The Brexit party is down two on 10%, the SNP up one on 5% and the Greens down one on 3%.
The Brexit deal that Johnson struck with Brussels 10 days ago is regarded by more people as bad for their own financial prospects and those of the UK economy than the proportion who think it will be beneficial. Around 40% of voters think it will be bad for the UK economy as a whole, compared with 26% who think it will be good.