For all the UK’s five decades in the EU, most Britons were happy for us to stay in. They didn’t want us to leave.
The issue was settled in the 1975 referendum when, by a massive 2-to-1 landslide, the electorate voted to remain in the European Community.
In the years that followed, calls to leave were on the far side lines of politics.
Yes, Brexiters will argue that the 2016 referendum settled the issue for Brexit. But it didn’t really.
Unlike in the 1975 referendum, when all the four countries of the UK positively voted to stay in the European Community, in 2016 half of them didn’t.
And whilst the margin win for Remain in the 1975 referendum was a stonking 35%, in 2016, the margin win for Leave was an abysmal 4%.
A mere 37% of the UK electorate gave their support for Brexit in 2016. A minority, which did not reflect the true feelings of most of the country, and certainly not all the countries of the UK.
Today, poll after poll show that a significant majority of British voters think Brexit is a mistake, and they would now vote to rejoin.
If the 2016 referendum had been held just a year or two earlier, polls indicate that Remain would have won by a landslide, just like in 1975.
▪ Two years before the referendum, in 2014, Ipsos UK polling showed that Britain’s support for wanting to remain in the EU was the highest it had been in 23 years – 56% in favour of remain, just 36% for leave.
This, despite the apparent rise of UKIP, that the Tories and Labour seemed so scared about.
▪ One year before the referendum, in 2015, the Ipsos poll showed that support for continued EU membership was even higher – a staggering 61% in support of remaining, with just 27% supporting leave.
The 2016 referendum now looks like an aberration, a statistical quirk that didn’t, and now certainly doesn’t, represent the nation’s feelings as a whole.
Every year since the EU referendum, hundreds of thousands of pro-EU supporters have marched in London and other cities.
In March 2019, it’s estimated that the People’s Vote march in London attracted over a million marchers demanding a new vote on Brexit.
Brexiters, be honest: your side never could, and never did, attract such numbers for a pro-Brexit demonstration; not even a small fraction of such numbers.
Why? Because Brexit only ever had minority support, and today, that support has collapsed.
Of course, Britain now needs a new vote on Brexit.
In a democracy, no decision is permanent, and any decision can be changed if that has the support of the electorate.
Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer: Are you interested to know today’s ‘will of the people’? Then ask us.
- Video: Every British Prime Minister from 1957 to 2016 wanted the UK in the European Community.
- We miss EU – short video
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