Soft Brexit preferred choice of Britons as poll shows willingness to compromise on immigration

The Independent reports:

A majority of people would rather the UK have a soft Brexit, which sees the country give concessions on EU immigration in return for access to the single market, a poll has found.

The exclusive survey for The Independent by BMG Research revealed that people preferred the option compared to a hard Brexit that sees the UK leave the single market altogether to gain “full control” of its borders.

The data, coming as Conservatives prepare for a battle at their conference over the terms of Britain’s EU withdrawal, flies in the face of the stronger approach backed by Cabinet Brexiteers David Davis, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson.

…BMG asked more than 1,000 people at the end of September whether they prefer a hard Brexit in which the UK “leaves the single market, leaves the customs union and gains full control over all aspects of immigration” or a soft Brexit which sees Britain retain “a degree of access to the single market, in return for giving some concessions to the EU on immigration to the UK”.

In total, a slim majority – 52 per cent – said they would rather Theresa May take the softer option, compared to 48 per cent who backed the hard option.

You can read the full Independent report here and full polling details here.

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17 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 5th Oct '16 - 2:15pm

    I can only really see Vince Cable out of senior Lib Dems making the case for soft brexit, which is actually the most popular option.

    The rest seem to be saying we should remain somehow, which is not at the moment what the country want to hear. Importantly, Vince Cable is also challenging the EU’s terms of the debate, which others seem reluctant to do with the Guardian saying we should just look at the “choices” that the EU gives us.

    People who support Vince Cable should speak up because he’s one of the only ones representing the country on this issue at the moment.

  • Soft Brexit seems better than membership of the EU
    https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-irMmB3SEfzg/V2lEQbLT0lI/AAAAAAAACC4/HXc8oRlA-LkoKYaKHHmjhGX3W78q4MSYACLcB/s1600/EFTA%2BEEA%2BScorecard.jpg

    We voted to exit the EU, not the Single Market.
    The Lib Dems must really accept the result and campaign for Soft Brexit. After all the party is meant to be ‘democrat’

  • paul barker 5th Oct '16 - 7:24pm

    This was a pointless & dishonest exercise, “Soft Brexit” on this definition is not available. The choices are full Freedom of Movement or no “Access” to The Single Market at all. No concessions will be offered because none can be. Free Movement is not on the table, as various EU “Bigwigs” keep repeating, its all or nothing on that issue.
    Andrew Ducker is right, we cant heal The UKs divisions by being reasonable so we should fight for the 48%.

  • If the EU adheres to its policies and given the size of its bureaucracy I have little doubt that is what will happen, there is only one result from Article 50, namely ‘Hard’ Brexit; ‘Soft’ Brexit is something the UK can effect once it is outside of the EU, although stating up front our desire for a ‘Soft’ Brexit may change the nature of some of our Article 50 negotiations. So I agree in part with Paul.

    Going back to the poll. It would seem that both the Independent and NewsHound don’t do analysis, because what immediately struck me about the poll findings, wasn’t the standalone numbers but these numbers in the context of the referendum result. Treating the Referendum as an opinion poll (which legally it was), effectively 1-in-3 people voted for ‘Leave’, 1-in-3 for ‘Remain’ and 1-in-3 did not vote. Taking into account the post-referendum reaction, it was natural to assume of those who voted ‘Leave’ only a minority really supported a ‘Hard’ Brexit.

    So the BMG poll is showing something different, namely there is a much higher support for ‘Hard’ Brexit than the referendum result would seem to indicate. Hence the results set I found interesting can be found on page 72 of BMG’s full breakdown (the analysis of the ‘Soft’/’Hard’ Brexit question results starts on page 64). Here we see the ‘Hard’ Brexit support consist of 1-in-5 ‘Remain’ voters, 4-in-5 of ‘Leave’ voters and 2-in-5 of non-voters. What I find notable is the relatively high number of ‘Remain’ voters who prefer ‘Hard’ Brexit and that whilst a majority of non-voters probably supported ‘Remain’ a significant number quietly wanted ‘Leave’.

  • Bill le Breton 5th Oct '16 - 10:52pm

    Roland writes, “Here we see the ‘Hard’ Brexit support consist of 1-in-5 ‘Remain’ voters, 4-in-5 of ‘Leave’ voters and 2-in-5 of non-voters. What I find notable is the relatively high number of ‘Remain’ voters who prefer ‘Hard’ Brexit and that whilst a majority of non-voters probably supported ‘Remain’ a significant number quietly wanted ‘Leave’.”

    But is that surprising when a) no one with a profile was campaigning for EEA/EFTA before voting day, and b) no one with a profile or any traction is campaigning for it now?

    If it is a eventually a hard brexit then it is so by default.

  • Roland,
    really interesting post. I think it’s because the remain voter was softer than it sometimes portrayed being. Very understandable and entirely reasonable caution may have played a big part in the way some voted. Obviously, once the reason for caution has been removed then you would expect some shifts. Similarly, after the leave vote some Leavers will become more cautious which favours “soft Brexit”.
    The thing is nothing is ever as simple and binary has it is sometimes portrayed.

  • Nick Burret,
    I think that the notion of the 48% is misleading because there will be those that were voting for no change rather than from belief in the EU or through supporting freedom of movement. Once change became unavoidable the reason for caution dissipates a little on one side and grows a little on the other. I don’t really think people fit into neat political boxes.

  • Richard Underhill 6th Oct '16 - 11:23am

    Andrew Ducker: The situation has moved on from 23 June. The Prime Minister has been included in a cabinet reshuffle. The new PM has made announcements about the 1972 Act, the timing of Article 50, the status of the European Court (and an intention to derogate from the European Court of Human Rights).
    There is a negative in her policy, she does intend to put the results of the negotiation to Parliament. To rely on the Royal Prerogative would be undemocratic. To assert a power for a Prime Minister to use would be unconstitutional, if we had a constitution. There are no precedents for the UK to leave the EU.
    In street language she is “OUT OF ORDER”.

  • Richard Underhill 6th Oct '16 - 11:25am

    TYPO, sorry: she does NOT intend to put the results of the negotiation to Parliament.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Oct '16 - 11:41am

    John B:

    “The Lib Dems must really accept the result and campaign for Soft Brexit. After all the party is meant to be ‘democrat’”

    And while we’re at it, we should also accept the last election result and campaign in support of the present Conservative government.
    Just for your information, “democrat” does not mean you have to support the prevailing majority opinion on anything. If it were, then there would be no democratic discussion on anything.

  • ‘Hard’ or ‘Soft’ Brexit the pound’s still falling… down a whole cent today at $1.2640….

    Hammond flies to New York to plead with US bankers…Mind you, if Hammond’s conference speech is anything to go by, the US bankers will be asleep after 5 minutes…
    Perhaps that’s the plan; Bore them into submission…

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