A new study by HOPE Not Hate reveals just how divided England is on Britain's departure from the EU. But they're united when it comes to the PM.
She may have clung on over the summer, but the latest research of public attitudes on Brexit offers some grim reading for the Prime Minister.
The findings show a country deeply divided. There are two very distinct groups and – and little prospect a deal can be secured without angering and further alienating one or both, according to HOPE not Hate’s Fear and Hope 2017 report, which looks at attitudes in England on Brexit, race and immigration.
The study shows England is deeply split as a nation, and it is the generational divide which seems most stark. Over-65s are optimistic about Brexit, with 77% believing we can thrive outside the single market – while only 28% of under-25s agree.
On immigration, too, the report notes:
“Polarisation has continued and if anything deepened. An increasing number of people are more tolerant and open to immigration and multiculturalism, but a quarter of society remain firmly opposed and, their views are hardening.”
And while views have softened on immigration, attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have worsened. 52% say Islam poses a threat to the West, while 42% say that they are more suspicious of Muslims as a result of the recent terrorist attacks. These are views that will take time to challenge – but they must be challenged before the rot sinks in.
The divide that seems most start however is party political. There’s a gaping generational rift when it comes to who represents us.
54% of 18-24 year olds feel represented by Jeremy Corbyn – compared to just 18% of over-65s, who are most likely to identify with Theresa May (42%). The two figures are almost the reverse of each other.
That 54% backing for Corbyn can’t be understated – this is a generation that traditionally feels unrepresented by everyone. HOPE Not Hate described the figure as ‘staggering’. And it comes as as YouGov poll reveals just 14% of 18-24 year olds say they’d vote Conservative if there was an election tomorrow (two thirds would back Labour).
If young people feeling represented is a good thing, there’s more good news: most people now see immigration as a benefit to Britain: 88% of those polled believe immigration is essential and that economic need should determine future levels. Reassuringly, it is the two most liberal groups in society which have grown most since 2011 (22%), now forming 39% of all respondents.
The real concern for May though is the finding that 62% of people have little or no confidence in the PM getting a good Brexit deal.
And just 6% of those surveyed are very confident that Theresa May will secure a good deal for Britain in the EU negotiations. That is surely an indictment of the muddled thinking and bungled negotiations we’ve seen even this early on.
Today’s report paints a mixed picture of post-referendum England. But while the public – in England at least – are still divided on Brexit, they’re united when it comes to one thing: the fact that Theresa May is in no position to deliver the land of milk and honey we were promised.
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.