By Joe Harker
Earlier in the week Channel 4 aired their show "Brexit: What the Nation Really Thinks", revealing the results of the biggest ever independent opinion poll on whether the UK should leave the EU. The polling showed that if the UK had the chance to vote on Brexit again it would back Remain by 54 per cent. The polling was conducted in conjunction with Survation and showed that 105 council areas that previously voted to leave the EU now backed staying in it.
In 2016 Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to Remain, while England and Wales voted Leave. The Channel 4 poll now showed that all four UK countries had a majority backing Remain. If Britain has changed its mind on Brexit then can politicians still be say they are carrying out the "will of the people"?
The Daily Telegraph criticised the Channel 4 programme, saying it was "big on scale, short on focus". They were critical of a lack of focus on what the data actually meant, suggesting that Caroline Lucas of the Green Party taking the information at face value and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage suddenly becoming very picky over how the polls was done is not the best debate that could have been had. Polling has a margin of error and right before the Brexit result most were saying Remain was going to win it. This poll could be wrong too.
Gaby Hinsliff of The Guardian writes that whether or not the poll is true and the UK does indeed now back Remain, politicians can't continue pretending they know what the public wants from Brexit and are carrying out the "will of the people".
For so long politicians have defended their actions over Brexit as doing what the public has told them in the 2016 Referendum but that handily avoids the issue of there being no public consensus over what sort of deal the British people want to leave with. There are supporters of different kinds of Brexit, people who still want the UK to Remain and one lady in 10 Downing Street who is absolutely convinced her plan will deliver the result of the referendum, even if it is about as well liked as the Bubonic Plague.
Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski demanded that prime minister Theresa May "protect what Britons voted for", but beyond leaving the EU what that entails is very unclear. With no concrete deal to vote on the Brexit vote was done on the idea of leaving the EU, there were no specifications how it should be done or what the UK's future relationship with Europe would be. It was one question: "Do you want to be in or out?"
Unfortunately that leaves a political void that politicians are only too happy to fill. Since the public never had the chance to say how they wanted Brexit to be done it was open season for anyone to claim that what they were doing was what the people wanted to be done.
Supporters of Hard Brexit claimed the public had said we wanted to be out which meant we had to sever all ties. Supporters of Soft Brexit don't think that's feasible and point towards nothing being on the ballot paper about what type of deal would be struck. Supporters of Remain have been trying to get a People's Vote going and re-run the referendum, hopeful that the public have turned against Brexit now they know more about it.
Far from having any sort of consensus, it seems that the UK has a number of significant minorities that don't add up to a consensus on Brexit. In 2016 we learned that not enough of the country wants to stay but in the past two years we've seen that there is not enough support for a specific type of Brexit that is being offered.
Politicians can't claim to be carrying out the will of the people when there is no collective will in the country. Supporters of a People's Vote would say that makes the case for another vote on the matter but there is no guarantee that it would provide one. The UK government has had more than two years to negotiate a deal without success, they shouldn't pretend they're honouring the wishes of the public with this omnishambles.