25 SEP 2018

Brexit and an opinion poll

Last month, I wrote in my Thame Gazette article about my programme of 'Conversations in the street'. That is where I simply turn up and conduct what amount to street surgeries. In my article, I pointed out one fact from the surgeries was that "Brexit does not appear to come very high" on the list of things people want to raise with me. It seemed to set the cat amongst the pigeons, especially on social media. But what did those criticising this fact do? They decided to attack my work in conducting 'Conversations in the street'; attacking the very notion that an MP talks to his constituents on his own!

This week I saw an opinion poll conducted over 21-23 September by ORB International, a respected firm. It supported the view relayed to me by constituents in my conversations. First, one of the main results of the poll confirms that a massive 82% are fed up with both some pro-Brexit and some pro-Remain politicians who claim they speak for everyone who voted in the referendum. It is not just the politicians in whom many people have lost faith, either. They have also lost faith in the detail of what we are trying to achieve and simply want us to get on with delivering Brexit. That accounts for 52% of those polled.

In addition, 62% of those polled also took the view that they were not bamboozled by the complexity of the issues at the time of the Referendum or that the issues were too complicated. In other words, they believed they answered the right question and got the answer right.

But what does the Brexit look like that people appear to have voted for? First, it does not principally consist of a no-deal Brexit, particularly if those aged 18-24 are looked at on their own. The overall percentage opposing a no-deal solution was 48% with a low percentage of 30% for those who support no-deal. Moreover, it is also interesting to see what many of us have been saying for a long while now come through in the figures for the nature of the negotiations. 82% agree that the solution lies in making concessions on both sides – or in other words in one or more compromises. 71% agreed that the Government should prioritise negotiating an acceptable settlement including 62% of those who voted for Brexit.

I am not one to put undue trust in opinion polls but neither is this a case of simply sitting on the fence. We have a decision to implement; we are committed to leaving the EU in March of next year. Personally I also believe we need a negotiated settlement and that the Government needs the time and space to still try to achieve that. That is what this poll sensibly makes clear. This is neither the time for rushing around crying betrayal or for trying to frustrate the decision of the referendum. The matter, as the polling showed, will be sorted by compromise and for that we need to ensure that we keep a cool head.

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