So Remain’s ahead – but is it enough?

Remaining in the EU has the support of a majority of those asked in a Channel 4 super-poll. Normally polls ask 1000 or so people what they think or who they would vote for. This one was more the size of your Exit Poll on election day.

The Survation poll had 54% of people say they wanted to remain in the EU. In addition to that, over a hundred areas that voted to leave the EU in 2016 would now choose to remain.

Whatever deal May comes back with within the next few weeks is going to be imperfect. A tonne of stuff will be kicked into the long grass. There will be no permanent solution to the Northern Ireland border because there isn’t one that doesn’t involve us staying in a customs union indefinitely. Brexiteer Tory extremists will not wear that for a minute.

It looks like British people are surveying the options available to them and saying “no, thanks.”

To proceed with Brexit without going back to them and asking them what they want to do would be undemocratic and irresponsible.

Could Remain win another Referendum? Possibly. For a start we would’t have Number 10 screwing up the campaign messaging. Nor would we have an ebullient Cameron and Osborne labouring under the misapprehension that they won the Scottish Independence referendum with a deeply negative message tempered with a bit of panic inspired love in the last few days when they could see it all going wrong. We couldn’t take anything for granted and we’d need to work, positively, for every vote.

But perhaps even then the margin of victory either way might not be much. A 54-46 win for Remain would be preferable to any Brexit because it wouldn’t cost jobs and make us all poorer. The new Government, because there would have to be one of those as well, would have to show grace, magnanimity and imagination to those who voted to leave and take action to heal a deeply divided nation.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • William Fowler 6th Nov '18 - 7:53am

    54 percent is not high enough, it is almost within error margin, needs to be at least 60 percent.

    Only way you will get that is if you get the EU offering an improved deal, especially on immigration.

    Govn will say EU is intransigent and trying to rip-off UK if it goes to another election, quite likely to generate more support for them than less even though everything seems like a mess to ardent remainers.

  • All the fault of Cameron & Osborne! What about Clegg, that debate with Farage was the worst moment.

  • John Marriott 6th Nov '18 - 9:58am

    I watched the Channel 4 prog last night. There was the Tory, the Labour, the Green and Nigel. Where was the Lib Dem? That question about immigration that elicited the 62% as agreement was misinterpreted in my opinion by the host. Equally, that 54% for remain could easily be whittled away if we have another vote, given the kind of characters still around.

    I’m still for Remain; but I’d much rather wait and see what is on offer when the negotiators emerge from ‘The Tunnel’ before I make a final decision. To be honest the movers and shakers in the EU hierarchy have got other things to worry about at the moment, which have more to do with geopolitics than Brexit. Are there any bets that, contrary to a certain person’s opinion, the EU in ten years time might not be “more or less the same”?

  • David Blake 6th Nov '18 - 11:43am

    COMPLAIN TO CHANNEL 4. If we don’t, they will continue to ignore us.

  • Laurence Cox 6th Nov '18 - 11:47am

    @William Fowler
    “54 percent is not high enough, it is almost within error margin”

    You clearly don’t understand statistics, this is a sample of 20,000 not the regular 1,000 where the 95% confidence limits are +/- 3%. Here the 95% confidence limits would be +/- 0.7%

    The more important issue is the one that Prof Curtice mentioned just before the end of the programme, which is that there is not much evidence for Remainers and Leavers changing to the other side; most of the change comes from young people who didn’t vote at all last time around saying that they support Remain. Winning a second referendum is going to come down to a good GOTV campaign.

  • I don’t think LEAVE has the stomach for another fight. It’s a busted flush and they know it. What’s more, I know a lot of leavers will say they haven’t changed their mind but a lot know they chose the wrong box and they will probably just stay away and mumble something of a face saving nature. You’re now talking about a contest between institutional actors and a grass roots movement.

  • Barry Lofty 6th Nov '18 - 12:42pm

    After reading the comments on the recent channel four opinion poll I am tempted to cover my ears up and let the country get on with any deal it can salvage from this awful Brexit mess, but then again I think about who and what they told us about the glorious lives we would lead outside the EU and I just cannot let them get away with it. At my age the long term result of leaving may not effect my life to much but it will for my children and grandchildren and whatever happens over the next few months I will still feel it is a terrible mistake to leave the EU!! Two years have past since the referendum and the bitter devide is still there, another vote might be the only way to solve this predicament with the true facts put to country!!

  • Leekliberal 6th Nov '18 - 12:53pm

    David Blake says COMPLAIN TO CHANNEL 4. If we don’t, they will continue to ignore us.

    Iv’e just done exactly that and feel better for it! Why not do it yourself?

  • Sue Sutherland 6th Nov '18 - 1:36pm

    I rejoiced in that poll especially when the Tory and Labour guys and Farage looked so sick, BUT, when the 54% was analysed it included people who did not vote in the referendum (will they vote next time?) and young people who are also unlikely to vote, ditto question. Laurence Cox is right about GOTV being crucial. William Fowler is also correct about 54% not being enough but not for the reason he gives.
    However, that poll is very welcome because it could be the tipping point for a deeper change in people’s attitudes and strengthens our argument for a referendum on the terms.
    It was also clear from the analysis that people aren’t convinced about the economic arguments for Remain. We need Vince to summarise this over and over again and we need Tim to put our emotional reasons for wanting to be part of the EU. Now is the right time to do this because everyone is wearing poppies and Tim is the best emotional voice we have.

  • paul barker 6th Nov '18 - 2:47pm

    Apologies for a slightly off-topic comment.
    The idea that Polls typically have a sample of 1,000 is a Decade out of date; costs have been cut to the bone & the usual sample size now is around 600 or 700. That is OK for Labour & The Tories but it means that smaller Parties like us bounce around. Our Polls over the last 2 Months have ranged between 6% & 13%. Even Polling averages like that done by “Britain Elects” jump about from Month to Month. Its worth remembering every time a Poll comes out that seems particularly cheering or depressing, unless its below 6% or above 13% it probably doesnt mean anything.

  • Peter Watson 6th Nov '18 - 3:44pm

    @John McHugo “The Brexiters are now the Establishment and the Elite.”
    I’m not sure that this is the case. If anything, the Remain campaign looks as much like the “metropolitan elite” and the “Establishment” as it ever did despite the departure of figures like Cameron and Clegg.
    This is probably inevitable: the foundation of the Remain campaign is maintenance of the status quo which is obviously more attractive to those who are doing well out of it (“I’m alright, Jack …”!) and who feel more threatened by change.
    Remaining in the EU is never going to be the basis of a radical movement (even the word “remain” is a pretty stagnant sounding concept to rally around!) unless perhaps campaigners adopt a more proactive position of pushing the UK to be at the heart of the EU instead of focusing solely on opposition to change.

  • Alex Macfie 6th Nov '18 - 5:03pm

    Peter Watson: If you think the typical remain campaigner is part of an “elite”, then this just goes to show how debased the word “elite” has become. In this context, it is now used to mean anyone with a job and an education above secondary school level, and who lives in an urban or suburban environment. “Metropolitan elite”? Well I’m “metropolitan” (I live in a big city) but no way am I elite (in the proper sense of the word), and the same is true of the vast majority of Remain supporters (many aren’t even metropolitan). We are the metropolitan non-elite, or the liberal non-elite.
    The (“I’m alright, Jack …”!) people are the likes of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage, who are a proper elite, woh are supporting a change (no-deal Brexit) that they would be very happy with because they would prosper from it, while the majority (including us non-elite Remainers) would lose out.

  • Richard Elliott 6th Nov '18 - 6:40pm

    This a boost – a clear shift to remain. To those who are fed up with the battle or thinking of backing Mays dogs dinner deal, just pause to think – leaving the EU and supporting the brexiteers is not only thrashing progressive values and citizens rights, threatening Irish agreements and aiding economic decline but also it wont stop the pain. Mays proposal is to shift the cliff edge until Dec 2020 with endless expensive arguing in between. Reject any May deal and keep fighting.

  • The phrase ‘Game on’ comes to mind here. A year ago nobody was talking about a new referendum, except us. The idea was generally thought to be a bit ludicrous. Now the momentum is extraordinary – BUT we still need to make it happen.
    Is there anyone reading this who has not written to your MP to urge them to back the Peoples Vote? If so, do it now. Just a simple email: And tell all your friends and family, your local party members to do the same.

  • Peter Watson 6th Nov '18 - 7:13pm

    @Richard Elliott
    “This a boost” Agreed.
    “a clear shift to remain.” Not so sure. This seems consistent with what might have been the result if 16 year olds had been given the right to vote in the 2016 referendum and if they had chosen to exercise that right.
    Perhaps surprisingly, opinions on both sides of the argument still seem very entrenched with little sign of a “shift” from supporters of Brexit, and any strategy for an “exit from Brexit” needs to address the fact that the argument has not really been won and Brexiters have not been won over.

  • paul barker 6th Nov '18 - 9:02pm

    In the last few hours Momentum has announced the results of its members survey – overwhelming opposition to any form of Brexit & broad support for the idea of a Peoples Vote. You can read the details on Labour List. This pretty much kills off the argument often used on The Labour Left that Anti-Brexit campaigning was a cover for Blairites trying to undermine Corbyn. Its another small shift in the ongoing Labour debate.

  • The most vocal Brexiteers will never change there self-worth is tied up in Brexit working. No amount of facts will change that, they dread the prospect of looking in a mirror in the morning and seeing an idiot staring back at them. So for them Brexit must work or they’d be wrong and that could never happen. The less committed have been drifting away for quite awhile, they don’t talk about Brexit now, in fact they will dive under a desk rather than broach the subject. In a new vote how would they vote, well some would still vote to leave, a very few would vote remain but a substantial number just wouldn’t bother. It is also worth pointing out that a large number of Brexiteers have moved to other realms and the young who can now vote don’t tend to vote for Brexit.

  • I am happy to welcome a modest shift to Remain at this stage – at least it is movement in a positive direction, albeit far from decisive. However, as Prof Curtice pointed out on Channel 4 last night, most of the change seems to be from people who didn’t or couldn’t vote in 2016, rather than from any major change of heart by existing Brexiteers. The likely outcome of any further vote is therefore highly uncertain and a massive campaign of persuasion and motivation will be necessary to shift opinion by a sufficient margin to decisively settle the issue. A narrow victory for Remain would still leave the U.K. disastrously divided … and, in these circumstances, Leavers would no doubt feel a sense of continuing injustice and resentment.

    In the meantime, as Paul Barker has noted, the Mommentum members’ survey makes interesting reading – but this is not unqualified good news either, as Paul says, “another small shift in the ongoing Labour debate”. Whilst this shows “broad support for the idea of a People’s Vote”, only 41% of Momentum members apparently support a People’s Vote on the final deal/no deal “in all circumstances”, whilst most of the remainder would only support this option once it becomes clear that Labour is unable to secure a General Election. That, of course, is already patently obvious to most independent commentatators – but it seems that majority Labour opinion will not be converted to a firm commitment to support a People’s Vote on the final Brexit outcome until they have gone through the motions of demanding a General Election … which, naturally, will temporarily unite Tory MPs in opposition! So, once this Westminster Party game has been played out, perhaps Labour will then finally climb off the fence …

  • Peter Watson 7th Nov '18 - 11:00am

    @Alex Macfie “If you think the typical remain campaigner is part of an “elite”, then this just goes to show how debased the word “elite” has become.”
    “Elite” is certainly over-used, and as a (late) middle-aged, middle-class, white, male, graduate, card carrying member of the RSPB, National Trust & English Heritage with a good household income (so only 200 miles north west of being a stereotypical Lib Dem!) I certainly don’t feel “elite” but have to accept that I might be perceived as such by those less fortunate.

    Given the way Brexit splits the country I don’t think there is a “typical” Remain or Brexit campaigner. Both sides draw support from all quarters but I’m more aware of Remainers emphasising different demographics. In particular, attacking Brexiters as relatively old and uneducated makes me cringe and undermines the campaign.

    In the media, whether as interviewees and panel members or in the audience, Brexit supporters appeared more diverse. Perhaps inevitably, spokespeople for both campaigns come from unrepresentative and relatively affluent backgrounds. Rees-Mogg, Johnson and Farage don’t seem any less “posh” than Cameron, Clegg, Osborne, and Miller. Rees-Mogg and Johnson even manage to defuse their extreme poshness, one with excessive politeness and the other with Wooster-esque bumbling. Somehow, these Brexiters managed to depict themselves as speaking up for the people while their Remain opponents often appeared to be speaking down to them. Farron was almost unique on the Remain side in demonstrating a “common touch” and able to relate to Brexit supporters among his friends and family, but unfortunately he was not prominent before the referendum.

    For me, this appearance and perception of Remainers was significant in enabling them to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • Peter Hirst 7th Nov '18 - 5:23pm

    For a future referendum to be significant, we would need to win by a larger margin than the present polls predict. However, with a fair campaign conducted over at least three weeks and improving the electorate to include 16 – 18s and everyone who lives here, the small change in the result so far would in my view magnify to a substantial victory. It would be an act of faith but wars have been won on less.

  • Philip Knowles 7th Nov '18 - 6:46pm

    The most upsetting part to me is that where I live is the only part of Great Britain (apart from the City of London) where the Leave vote has increased. That’s despite street stalls, Brexitometers, coverage on Sunday Politics with farmers expressing real fears at an Auction Mart and a letter writing campaign.
    Hitting my head against a brick wall.

  • Philip Knowles 7th Nov '18 - 6:55pm

    @Laurence Cox @paul barker
    The confidence levels also only apply around the centre. The Liberal Democrats could easily be around 20% (or 0%). We’re probably around 18/% but need to be at 25%.
    Yes it would be good to be on TV more but many of us have been out delivering and canvassing for the last few months (both on Brexit and LibDem policies). The new framework announced by Denise Baron is the way to go if we want to increase awareness and the vote.

  • chris moore 7th Nov '18 - 7:21pm

    @Paul Barker.

    Hi Paul, you ‘re not right re sample sizes for UK general Election opinión polls. They are not nowadays typically 600 or 700.

    Here are the sample sizes for polls published in October.

    1607, 1503, 2007, 1647, 1009, 2010, 1128, 1649, 1044, 1802, 1017, 1648

  • Philip – don’t be despondent. Think of it this way: If you hadn’t been doing the street stalls, letters etc., your local Leave vote would have increased more than it has. You’re having an impact by holding it down. That will really matter in a referendum, so please keep up the good work.

  • You can see from the swings by local authority that this is not just new voters making a difference, voters in Labour areas have switched to Remain while voters in Tory areas have switched to Leave but the latter shift is balanced by new voters and non-voters opting for Remain.
    Also my understanding is that ex-pats were excluded who will certainly vote in much larger numbers in a new referendum.
    Final point is that this poll was asking the same question as in 2016, whereas the new question should be do you want Theresa May’s Brexit deal or the deal we have already (if there is a new referendum).

  • Peter Watson 7th Nov '18 - 11:40pm

    @ppb “You can see from the swings by local authority …”
    Is the sample really big enough for that?
    Polling 20000 people means about 30 per parliamentary constituency and about 60 per “billing authority”, so I don’t know if the predictions of the poll at that scale are particularly accurate and they might be based upon assuming some sort of uniform national (or possibly regional) swing.

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Nov '18 - 11:53pm

    @ Richard Elliott,

    I would really like to know what Theresa May’s proposed deal is before I oppose it.

  • @Peter Watson

    It uses MRP – Crudely demographic characteristics such as age, gender etc. matched to an area’s Census demographic profile.

    It is a fair criticism that this is not a poll for each individual area. But when yougov did it at the General Election it proved pretty accurate even down to an individual constituency level.

  • Alex Macfie 8th Nov '18 - 5:22pm

    Peter Watson: “Rees-Mogg and Johnson even manage to defuse their extreme poshness” and “managed to depict themselves as speaking up for the people” the same could be said for (“public” school educated) Farage but this is an act, and it does not change the fact that they are all of the elite. They may have played a succesful con trick in persuading people that they are not elite and that the label should be applied to another group of people, the vast majority of whom are not elite. But this does not mean we have to accept their false narrative. They are elite. We are not. Simple as that.
    Regarding the “I’m alright, Jack …” narrative, there’s another reason it does not apply to Remain supporters or their leaders. While it may well be true that many Remainers believe that they personally would be better off if the UK remained in the EU, this is because they believe that the country as a whole would be better off, and that the same would be true of the working-class voters who were persuaded by the Leave elite to vote Leave. They expect a bigger pie with larger slices for most people. As for the Leave elite, their attitude is far more sinister. The likes of JRM don’t mind if the UK as a whole becomes less prosperous as a result of a Leave vote, as long as they themselves prosper from it. They are happy with a smaller pie because they get to have more. This is the true meaning of “I’m alright, Jack …” .

  • Peter Watson 9th Nov '18 - 8:07am

    @Alex Macfie “the vast majority of whom are not elite”
    The Remain campaign was too happy to trumpet the higher proportion of graduates and ABC1s on their side as if that made their opinions worth more.
    Remainers talking about tradesmen or low paid workers in the farming and hospitality industries invariably sound like they are referring to “others” and are often dismissive of British workers’ ability or willingness to do that work. Consequently, “wanting what is best for the whole country” then sounds condescending and gives Brexiters an open goal to sound like they are speaking up for people who feel left behind.
    Elsewhere in the debate, Erasmus was given undue prominence as a benefit of EU membership when the socio-economic background of those benefiting from it are not particularly representative of students let alone the wider population.
    I’m not pointing this out because I believe that those of us who voted Remain are elite but because I believe that by giving this impression, by belittling people on the other side of the argument, leaders of the Remain campaign let us down with poor tactics that led to the Referendum being lost. The polls still show a bitterly divided country with few people changing their minds, but perhaps it is not too late for the Remain campaign to change and improve its approach, and look more like the grass-roots movement that it is.

  • Malcolm Todd 9th Nov '18 - 9:49am

    Alex Macfie 8th Nov ’18 – 5:22pm
    “The likes of JRM don’t mind if the UK as a whole becomes less prosperous as a result of a Leave vote, as long as they themselves prosper from it.”

    The trouble is, I don’t think that’s true and I’m quite certain you don’t know that it is. It’s the same old true-partisan mindset: everyone who disagrees with me is either an abject idiot or an evil liar. It’s exactly the same attitude as those Brexiters who come on here and bray about elite Remainers who only want to stay in the EU because we’re on some sort of Brussels gravy train.

    Of course, most (if not all) of the politicians have an eye on their own political careers in all this, some more and some less; and I’m tempted to break my own embargo on pretending to see inside others’ heads when it comes to Boris Johnson, whose pure pursuit of self-interest is almost transparent. But that’s a rather different point; and we should never forget that most (if not all) politicians are in politics in the first place for reasons of principle, even the ones we most violently disagree with.

  • David Allen 10th Nov '18 - 6:08pm

    54 to 46 (for Remain) isn’t very different from the Scottish Indyref result, which was 55 to 45. That referendum was close, but the SNP had to stop well short of a “We wuz robbed!” response. They accepted that at least in the short term, a decision had been made. It will be much the same if Remain win by 54 to 46.

    Yes, the country will still be in a divided, embittered mood if we have a People’s Vote and a narrow Remian win. But the country will be equally divided and embittered if we go through with Brexit. If we have a no deal Brexit, the government will soon collapse in the wake of chaos. If we have a BINO Brexit, we will be in endless negotiation to get out of the “transition” (or “vassalage”) arrangement, whereby we carry on obeying all the EU rules and fruitlessly seek a better deal. People’s Vote won’t make our mood any worse. And it’s odds-on it will prevent national disaster. What’s not to like?

  • “I don’t think LEAVE has the stomach for another fight. It’s a busted flush and they know it. What’s more, I know a lot of leavers will say they haven’t changed their mind but a lot know they chose the wrong box and they will probably just stay away and mumble something of a face saving nature. You’re now talking about a contest between institutional actors and a grass roots movement.”

    Well said, PJ. Brexit is an idea whose time has passed, a cultish fad produced by intense propaganda. Future generations will marvel that so many were taken in. I compared it to other eccenrtrc ideas and I still feel this is how it will come to be viewed:

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