A new poll reveals confusion across the board, as pressure mounts on Labour to back a fresh referendum.
As Labour’s NEC meets to discuss Labour’s EU election campaign – and whether the party should unequivocally back a second referendum – Brits remain in the dark about the party’s position.
New polling from YouGov shows that 42% of voters think the party is anti-Brexit – despite the party’s official conference position being that it ‘accepts that the public voted to leave the EU’ and supports a Brexit deal.
Just 14% of voters think the party is pro-Brexit – while a whopping 25% don’t know.
The biggest group of Labour supporters – at 35% – also think the party is anti-Brexit, compared to just 17% of Labour voters who think it’s pro-Leave, 29% ‘neither’, and 25% simply don’t know.
Significantly, 61% of Leave supporters think the party is anti-Brexit. That is, the majority of Leavers have already made their minds up on that front.
The picture that emerges from the stats is this: the largest group of voters – regardless of allegiance – already think Labour is anti-Brexit. Except Remainers themselves.
Nearly a third – 30% of them – think Labour is neither for or against Brexit, and 24% don’t know. That leaves a huge demographic of Remainers Labour could potentially – in theory – sweep up.
Many Remainers will be thinking – if Leave voters already believe Labour is anti-Brexit, why not actually commit to it – and sweep up Remainer votes in the process?
One Labour member from the Remain group ‘For Our Future’s Sake’ claimed the figures were ‘entirely unsurprising’, after nearly three years of prevarication: “The sort of political triangulation which is fertile ground for Farage’s Hard Right Brexit Party,” Jamie Dickinson said.
Hugo Lucas, spokesperson for ‘Our Future, Our Choice’, said the figures show that Labour needs to provide clarity on its position, and fast. “If people don’t know what the opposition stands for on the biggest policy decisions this side of the Second World War, that’s a problem.”
There is another problem though: no party is safe from the confusion over Brexit. The YouGov poll has some lessons for politicos on how little attention many voters play to the EU debate: 34% don’t know where the staunchly pro-EU Lib Dems stand on Brexit (including 31% of Remainers). 43% don’t have a clue where the Greens stand (including 39% of Remainers). One in five people (21%) don’t even know where UKIP stand.
In other words, there’s no guarantee that backing a second referendum will get Labour out of this hole. But there’s no guarantee of anything in today’s volatile times. You can’t blame Remainers for trying…
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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