It’s official: the Supreme Court has ruled that parliament must vote on the triggering of Article 50. May can either accept this ruling or, surreally, appeal to the European Court of Justice. I would love it if she did the latter, but it’s very unlikely.
In the run up to the decision, which emerged as expected, ICM did a poll for the Guardian on several Article 50 related questions. The Guardian ran with “26% of voters want second referendum on Brexit once final deal is known”, which I think was supposed to tell me that a quarter of people wanting a referendum on the final deal is a lot (I beg to differ, but I digress). However, when you dig into the numbers, the poll reveals some pretty bad news for Remainers. For instance, a whopping 63% agree with Theresa May that it would be better to leave with no deal at all from the EU than a bad deal; 59% think the threat of slashing taxes for business was a good move by the prime minister; only 18% thought this threat made to the EU was a bad idea.
I think Remainers want to tell themselves that there is widespread buyer’s remorse regarding voting to Leave – but the facts do not bear this out. The reason that consumer spending has been healthy post-Brexit is because the majority of people think it’s a good thing we’re leaving.
Remainers need to bide their time and stop telling themselves that more of the public is on their side at present than is actually the case. It’s fine for the Liberal Democrats to talk this up because if 26% of people want a second referendum, then that’s 26% of people who would potentially vote Lib Dem, which is a huge number for that particular political party. But Remainers generally should be under no illusion that as things stand, we are in the minority.
The crunch comes if we do indeed leave the EU with no deal in place and become the low tax, low regulation state that is so beloved of many on the Right. I think when people are asked if slashing taxes for business is a good thing, they don’t make the connection that this means less taxation overall and therefore almost certainly less public service spending. I would love to see the polling on if Brexit meant more of the NHS was privatised, what people would think of it then.