Only 18% of leave voters think Brexit has been a success, poll finds

Only 18% of 2016 leave voters believe Brexit has been a success, according to polling for the thinktank UK in a Changing Europe – but 61% think it will turn out well in the end.

Seven years on from the referendum campaign, the pollsters Public First asked more than 4,000 leavers how they felt now about Brexit. Less than a fifth of them – 18% – said it had gone well, or very well, while 30% said it had gone neither well nor badly, and 26% said it was still too soon to say.

With inflation stuck at historic highs and GDP stagnating, economists have increasingly warned about the continuing impact of Brexit on trade and investment. Less than a third of the leave voters polled (29%) believe Brexit has had a negative economic impact, however.

Among those leavers who believe Brexit has not gone well, many blame politicians for handling it badly – a narrative espoused by the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who recently claimed that “Brexit has failed”. In this group, 70% said Brexit could have gone well, and almost half (48%) believe that politicians could have made it work but did not even try.

Implementing the decision to leave the EU has repeatedly split the Conservative party in the past seven years. Wrangling over the UK’s relationship with the EU led to the defenestration of Theresa May and helped Boris Johnson to secure an 80-seat majority in 2019 by promising to “get Brexit done”.

The UK in a Changing Europe director, Anand Menon, said disappointment about the way Brexit has been managed is likely to exacerbate mistrust of politicians.

“While very few people think Brexit is going well, a large number of leavers also believe it is still too soon to make a definitive judgment. Many leave voters believe Brexit has not been a success because politicians have let them down. The danger is that this will lead to an erosion of faith in politics and politicians,” he said.

Despite the dissatisfaction among many leavers with the way Brexit has been managed, there is little sign in the polling of a wholesale change of heart – perhaps helping to explain Labour and the Liberal Democrats’ reluctance to focus on Brexit in campaigning.

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