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25 September 2017

POLITICO: Support grows for second Brexit vote

Support for a second referendum on Brexit is growing among British voters, amid diminishing optimism about the UK’s future outside the European Union and waning confidence in London and Brussels’ handling of the divorce negotiations, according to a detailed new poll shared exclusively with POLITICO.

Just over half of those surveyed said they back some form of a second referendum, with the most popular scenario being a vote to either accept the government’s Brexit deal, or to stay in the EU — an option backed by 34 percent. That is up from 28 percent in a similar survey in March, according to new findings from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR). In the earlier survey, 45 percent of people backed a second referendum — although these figures include public votes that would still mean the U.K. leaves the EU under either outcome.

The pro-EU Liberal Democrats are the only U.K. political party now backing a second referendum, but they hold just 12 seats in parliament. The opposition Labour Party, which meets for its annual conference in Brighton this week, has so far ruled out the idea — and decided Sunday not to have a debate or vote on the issue during the gathering. The Scottish National Party is not formally pushing for a vote, but leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hinted it still might, telling the New Statesman last week that the case for a second vote “may become very hard to resist.” [...]

Overall, 39 percent of respondents reject the idea of a second referendum — and 7 percent want a “hard Brexiteer’s referendum” in which people would choose between the government’s deal and leaving the EU without a deal. Another 10 percent back a referendum that would give voters the chance to reject the government’s Brexit deal, but send it back to the negotiating table.

The country is still split down the middle in its wider attitudes to Britain’s Brexit future, with 47 percent of those surveyed saying they are “worried” about Britain post Brexit, against 46 percent saying they are “hopeful.” But the trend is downward: 41 percent were worried and 50 percent hopeful when GQRR asked the same question in March. [...]

Voters also back the government’s challenge to the EU over the Brexit divorce bill. The prospect of the U.K. paying £50 billion — a figure cited by some EU officials — to settle its financial obligations to the EU is rejected outright by 61 percent compared with 23 percent who would accept such a figure. A lower bill, of £30 billion, would also be deeply unpopular, with 54 percent saying it would be unacceptable and 29 percent in favor. Among Remain voters, a £30 billion bill is considered acceptable, the survey suggests, but £50 billion would be rejected even by a majority of them.

There is also support for the government’s refusal to accept the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as part of any Brexit deal. Some 59 percent of respondents said the U.K. should not be bound by the judgments of European courts after Brexit, and even among Remain voters the issue was split, with 43 percent accepting that European judges should have a say in British law after Brexit, and 42 percent opposed.

On the issue of the Northern Ireland border, only 31 percent said customs checks between the Republic of Ireland and the North would be acceptable, with 47 percent against. [...]



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