The New Welsh Political Barometer Poll: the Latest on Brexit

Today sees publication of the latest Welsh Political Barometer poll – the ongoing collaboration between ITV-Cymru Wales, YouGov and Cardiff University, which provides the only regular opinion polling in Wales.

Once again, our new poll has asked a couple of questions about the defining political issue of the moment – Brexit. In discussion of the previous Barometer poll, in November, I noted that there had been an apparently significant move since summer 2017 on the issue of whether the UK should hold a second referendum on the matter. Hitherto, public opinion in Wales had been clearly opposed to another vote on Brexit. But both the September and November Barometer polls saw shifts of several percentage points towards the idea of another referendum. By November, this meant that the people of Wales were split pretty much down the middle on the idea.

Our new poll once again asked a sample of respondents the following question:

“Would you support or oppose holding a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union to confirm or reverse Britain’s decision to leave the EU?”

This is the pattern of responses that we obtained (with changes from the November poll in brackets):

Support a second referendum: 39% (-5)

Oppose a second referendum: 49% (+6)

Don’t Know: 12% (-1)

Any apparent trend towards support for a second referendum has thus gone clearly into reverse. Although the gap between support and oppose, at ten percentage points, is not huge, there is nonetheless once again clear water between the two sides.

What about the question of how people would vote in any second referendum. Since June 2016, Barometer polls have consistently asked a question about this:

“If there was another referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union tomorrow, how would you vote?”

Polls since the original referendum have consistently shown the balance in Wales between Remain and Leave in this hypothetical second referendum to be very close. That is once again what our new poll has found – here are the figures (with changes from November’s Barometer poll once again in brackets):

Would vote to Remain: 45% (no change)

Would vote to Leave: 44% (+4)

Would not vote: 6% (no change)

Don’t Know: 6% (-3)

So things continue to be very close between Remain and Leave, and the five-point Remain lead in the last poll – which had equalled the largest Remain lead in any poll since the referendum – now shrinks once more to virtually nothing.

There will doubtless be plenty more ups and downs in the Brexit process over the next few months. Perhaps some of those will have a measurable impact on public attitudes in one way or another. Our latest poll, though, provides us with further evidence of the resilience of public opinion on the matter thus far. The November Barometer poll was the only one since June 2016 to have shown the people of Wales to be evenly split on the idea of a second referendum. Possibly that was something of an ‘outlier’: this latest reading of public attitudes once more suggests the balance of opinion to be clearly against the idea. Meanwhile, the balance of opinion on how people would vote in any such ballot continues to be stubbornly even between the two sides. Lots of people who follow the Brexit saga seem to believe that there will be significant changes in public attitudes at some point. That may still prove to be the case. But we can see precious few signs of it yet.