What people are saying about Brexit on the seventh anniversary of the vote

Fri 23 Jun 2023
Posted by: Richard Cree
Trade News

Map of UK and EU

The referendum for the UK to leave the EU, which took place seven years ago today (23 June) changed Britain forever.

It is hard to think of many single political events that have had the same impact on domestic politics. It divided the country, with families and friends falling out, as the political map of the UK was also redrawn.

So, it’s perhaps not surprising that coverage of its seventh anniversary is equally divided.

The Guardian leads with a piece based on YouGov polling, which shows the majority in favour of rejoining (58%) at its highest level since the vote. It adds a kicker that respondents to the poll said they are more likely to trust the European Commission (25%) than the British Government (24%).

The Independent runs with a poll of its own, which it says shows that "most Britons now think the UK was wrong to leave", before taking a detailed look at what it dubs "Brexit's seven biggest headaches".  

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports on the findings of a snap poll by the BBC, which found that more than a fifth of leave voters would now vote the other way.

Question time

The BBC ran a Question Time Brexit Special, with an audience made up entirely of people who voted leave. On the programme, remain campaigner and former Labour party communication chief Alistair Campbell was clapped by the audience for saying that leave voters had been “lied to by conmen”.

In a separate article the Guardian also reports that only 18% of leave voters think Brexit has been a success.

The Times takes a more upbeat view of the situation, reporting a survey by UK in a Changing Europe that finds the majority of leave voters, while unhappy with how Brexit has been implemented, still believe it will turn out for the best.

This poll also finds that, contrary to many tracking polls, 70% of leave voters would vote the same way if another referendum was held today.

'Too soon' judgment

Speaking about the result, UK in a Changing Europe director Anand Menon said: “While very few people think Brexit is going well, a large number of Leavers also believe it is still too soon to make a definitive judgment.”

While there has been no comment from former PM and Brexit frontman Boris Johnson, his fellow Brexit cheerleader Nigel Farage has warned that “the battle for Brexit is not over”.

Speaking exclusively to the Daily Express, Farage complained that because the Conservatives have “failed” to implement Brexit properly, there was a high likelihood that if Labour wins the next election it would start the process of rejoining.

Current Labour policy is to “make Brexit work”, rather than seeking to reopen the old debates.

The Express also takes a stab at offering an assessment of where the country stands seven years on from the vote. 

Will we stay out or rejoin? 

As to whether the next seven years will see us rejoin or not, the Institute for Government's Jill Rutter offers a forensic assessment of the last seven years and concludes that reversal of the decision is "nowhere on the horizon" and that Brexit is "likely to stay done".

Meanwhile in a more bombastic piece for the New European, Matthew D'Ancona suggests that there will be a campaign to rejoin but that to do so the UK will need to take a hard look at itself. "Wake up, get busy: it's later than you think. Seven years of this nonsense is more than enough. It's time to win again." 

There has been no official government comment on the anniversary of Brexit.