The last to admit a mistake is always the one who makes it. It is now more than six years since a majority of Britons voted in favor of Brexit in a referendum and more than two years since the UK finally cast off with the continent. A pandemic, war and recession later, two in three citizens favor a referendum on EU membership in the coming years, according to a poll by consulting firm Savanta for The Independent newspaper. There are exactly 65% who want to repeat the consultation, compared to 55% who defended it a year ago. They differ in timelines because the wounds of years of division and controversy over the most transcendental issue facing a generation are still alive. 22% want to vote now; 24% would like to do it again in the next five years; 24%, in 10 years; only 4% get a term of 20 years.
Those who do not want to hear or talk about a new referendum make up 24% of respondents. Every fourth. And next to it the most important political actors. The Conservative government of Rishi Sunak – himself a fervent supporter of Brexit since its inception – because against all odds it maintains that the “freedoms” acquired with the split must continue to be deployed and exploited. The Labor opposition and their leader Keir Starmer for refusing to deter all those traditional voters in the north of England who have turned their backs on the left and embraced Boris Johnson’s promises. “There are no more arguments to return to the EU or to return to the single market. But I do believe that there are arguments for pushing through a better Brexit so that it finally works (…) We can reach a better agreement with the EU because the current one doesn’t work,” Starmer told the BBC last December.
The Labor leader, who today’s polls call for an unassailable victory should general elections be held (they aren’t scheduled before the end of 2024), will seek to align his speech with that of businesspeople, economists and a majority of Britons still prefer to use common sense to ideological slogans. The same consulting firm, Savanta, asked citizens what the future should hold for a relationship that has been fundamentally tumultuous so far. 47% supported the need for closer ties with the EU, compared to 14% who called for an even greater distance. What is relevant, however, is that 30% of those who voted in favor of Brexit in 2016 – one in three – now want a closer relationship with the continent.
“Polls consistently suggest that a demonstrable majority has emerged in favor of rejoining the EU,” John Curtice, Britain’s most experienced sociologist at spotting trends or shifts, told PoliticsHome. “Even considering that the current state of the economy has nothing to do with Brexit – something most analysts would disagree with – it’s very difficult to sell the idea that this decision was a success when the economy is declining the drain,” says Curtice.
Leaving the EU would have cost the UK treasury more than 45,000 million euros in uncollected taxes, practically the same amount that the Sunak government had to find to try to calm the panic triggered by its predecessor’s tax cut markets was triggered. Liz Truss on what many saw as the conservative Eurosceptic sector’s last-ditch effort to launch a deregulatory and brutal Brexit. That’s the calculation of John Springford, deputy director of the think tanks Center for European Reform, an organization critical of community institutions.
Springfold maintains a mathematical model in which, based on comparing the performance of economies similar to that of the UK in the pre-Brexit period – the United States, New Zealand, Germany or Australia – it dares to accurately assess the consequences and deterioration determined to originate from the exit from the EU. “There is no doubt that the UK economy has contracted significantly as a result of Brexit,” Springford said. “In March 2022, when Sunak was economy minister, he tacitly accepted the calculations of the Bureau of Fiscal Responsibility, which foresaw a 4% drop in GDP due to the exit from the EU, and took it upon himself to increase taxes to ensure public services were funded. According to my own analysis, all previous tax increases would not have been necessary if we had stayed in the EU,” he says.
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Although it is more difficult to determine the impact of Brexit on the UK’s current spiraling inflation and living standards crisis, the London School of Economics calculates the cost of the shopping basket as at least 240 euros extra for every average UK household, in the two years the UK has been out of the community club.
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