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Poll reveals changing loyalties

Voters identify with Brexit position more than parties

Anti-Brexit rally in Edinburgh

More people now identify with Remain or Leave than with parties (pic: Terry Murden)


British voters increasingly identify themselves by where they stand on Brexit rather than on party lines, a new academic report finds.

Only one in 16 people did not have a Brexit identity, while more than one in five said they had no party identity.

The trend emerges in Sir John Curtice’s latest analysis which finds there has been no decisive shift in favour of another referendum on Britain leaving the EU.

The report, Brexit and public opinion 2019, by The UK in a Changing Europe, reveals that by mid-2018, only just over 6% of respondents to the British Election study did not identify with either Leave or Remain.

Those seeing themselves predominately as Scottish or Irish are more inclined to support Remain while among those who describe themselves as English not British, there is strong support, not only, for Brexit but for a ‘hard’ Brexit.

Polls show that 4% think that no deal means a reversion to the status quo, while 8% think that ‘nothing important would really change’ if the UK left the EU without a deal.

MPs are even more divided than the public on the impact of no deal: Only 2% of Leave backing MPs expect medical supply shortages if there is no deal against 14% of Leave voters; 75% of Remain supporting MPs expect shortages against 55% of Remain voters.


  • The number of people who see immigration as one of the most important issues facing the country has more than halved from around 45% in the months leading up to the referendum to under 20% – the lowest level since 2001
  • Most people are ‘balancers’ when it comes to immigration – appreciating both its costs and benefits.

Party politics

  • More voters than ever describe Labour’s position as ‘unclear’ and ‘confused’
  • More Conservative voters (46%) than Conservative members (38%) support Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal and a survey of Conservative MPs show them more aligned than ever with their eurosceptic membership.

Professor Anand Menon, director of The UK in a Changing Europe, said: “This report highlights the fundamental divisions Brexit has created, and in some cases exacerbated, in British society. New Brexit identities have emerged, which seem to be stronger than party identities. Divisions are also clear on national lines, as well as between MPs and their respective party members.”

The 58 page report is written by 34 academics and is the most comprehensive and authoritative analysis of Brexit and public opinion to date. It analyses emerging Brexit identities and what voters want from Brexit.

Most of the academics who contributed to the report are part of The UK in a Changing Europe, including: John Curtice, Sara Hobolt, Rob Ford, Anand Menon and Alan Wager.


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