Exclusive poll: Britain ‘becomes a Remain country’ just before Brexit

Peter Hoskin

Peter Hoskin reports on a landmark poll of voters, revealing a demographic shift that means the Leave majority will disappear in January 2019

16 September 2018 22:49

Britain will become a Remain-supporting nation two months before the official leaving date from the European Union, according to an exclusive YouGov poll for DRUGSTORE CULTURE.

The survey of 1,645 people aged 18 to 24, commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign, shows that 66 per cent are ‘absolutely certain to vote’ in a fresh referendum on Brexit – if one is offered.

Newly-eligible members of the electorate divide by 87 to 13 per cent in favour of staying in the EU, while the 18-24 year-old age group as a whole divides by 78 to 22 per cent in favour of Remain – compared to 71 to 29 per cent in 2016 when the original referendum was held.

This pronounced demographic shift means that the original Leave majority of 1,269,501 is now shrinking by 1,350 every day and –according to YouGov’s projections – is set to disappear on 19 January 2019, two months and ten days before the official Brexit date of March 29.

This transformation of the electoral landscape will be seen by many as the most powerful argument yet for a fresh vote on the Brexit deal – an argument that DRUGSTORE CULTURE backs in its first editorial today.

This pronounced demographic shift means that the original Leave majority of 1,269,501 is now shrinking by 1,350 every day and –according to YouGov’s projections – is set to disappear on 19 January 2019.

Though Theresa May will be boosted by reports in The Times that the EU is warming to her plans for the Irish border, Boris Johnson, the former Foreign Secretary and her most prominent leadership rival, lambasts the same proposals in today’s Daily Telegraph as a ‘spectacular car crash’ and a ‘constitutional abomination’. On the Labour side, Sadiq Khan, London’s Mayor, declared his conversion to a new referendum in yesterday’s Observer.

Today’s poll undermines one of the central elements of the Brexiteers’ case, which is that the 2016 referendum result represents the settled will of the British people and an unambiguous mandate that politicians dare not ignore.

The new figures provide fresh evidence that the two-year-old pro-Leave majority is about to disappear, and will prompt questions in the prelude to the party conference season about the declining relevance of the original vote.

The survey also shows that Brexit is overwhelmingly the issue cited by young voters as the most pressing facing Britain, and that 42 per cent say that they would be more likely to vote Labour if the party backed a fresh referendum. Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal thus far to countenance such a shift in policy has dismayed Labour MPs and party members, who are much more sympathetic to the case for a second vote.

The survey also reveals that:

*Young voters believe by a ratio of four to one – 54 per cent to 13 – that children growing up today will be worse off than their parents.

*49 per cent predict that crimes against minorities will increase if Brexit goes ahead, compared to 9 per cent who think they will decrease.

*53 per cent believe the NHS will get worse, compared to 13 per cent who think the service will improve.

* By a margin of more than three-to-one – 61 to 18 per cent – they think that free trade is more important than immigration control.

*Asked which sectors of society will benefit from Brexit, they cite bankers and corporate executives, in contrast to the young and health service patients whom they expect to find life harder.

Peter Kelner, a past president of YouGov, said that the new figures ‘tell us how those who were not yet 18 last time would vote now. Those who say they are certain to vote divide six-to-one for Remain. This matters statistically: for it helps to explain why demographic factors alone will cause the UK this winter to switch from a Leave country to a Remain country.

‘Because this cross-over point occurs before March 29, 2019 – when the UK is due to leave the EU – it means the British public’s view of Brexit will have changed even without anyone who voted two years changing their mind. Young people who were not eligible to vote in 2016 and can do so now make it much harder for anyone to claim that Brexit is still the “will of the people”.’

Peter Kelner: ‘This matters statistically: for it helps to explain why demographic factors alone will cause the UK this winter to switch from a Leave country to a Remain country.’

He added: ‘Older voters are just as keen on leaving the EU as they were two years ago, younger voters are moving even more strongly into the Remain camp – and the very youngest voters back continued membership of the EU by a remarkable margin. It is very rare for a significant demographic group to support one side so overwhelmingly on an issue that splits the nation down the middle.’

Femi Oluwole, chief spokesperson for the pro-EU group Our Future Our Choice, said:

‘Young people blame the government for the Brexit shambles and the polls show that this generation will follow through by punishing MPs at the ballot box, Young people don’t want to live in a Britain that will result in a fewer jobs, a broken NHS, higher taxes, and no future for their children. But that is exactly what this poll shows they believe will happen after Brexit. There’s only one answer – a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.’

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