Do British Voters Still Want a Brexit ?
EU migration into the U.K. is slowing and raising concern in British industries as public opinion suggests softening views on immigration.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May is determined to cement a withdrawal agreement with the European Union that will eventually allow the United Kingdom to drastically reduce immigration from the EU, arguing that’s what most voters wanted when they narrowly approved in 2016 the country’s looming exit from Europe.
But although the British exit from the EU – the process called “Brexit” – is still weeks away, the flow of EU workers into Britain has already slowed to a trickle. Net migration from the EU into the country slumped to 57,000 in the year ending last September, according to recently released figures from the Office of National Statistics, or ONS.
The U.K. is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, and uncertainty surrounds whether May’s plan will pass muster with Parliament, which may vote on it again on Tuesday.
Many British industries heavily reliant on European labor and already fearing a post-Brexit evaporation of their labor pools say the slowdown in migration is already starting to hurt. “Are we feeling a pinch? Yes, we are,” says Tim Thomas, a director at Make UK, a manufacturers’ trade group.
Almost half of British people want a second referendum on Brexit, a new poll has found.
48 per cent of voters said they wanted a say on the final deal Theresa May negotiates with with the EU, compared to just 25 per cent who disagreed.
More than one in three people who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum want a second poll on the Brexit deal, as do two-thirds of those who backed Remain.
Polls indicate a so-called soft Brexit deal that allows the U.K. to remain in the single market and customs union after leaving the EU is the outcome that now resonates with most of the public, Ford says.
But are those polls and the growing chorus of alarm over a hard Brexit from business groups having any effect on members of Parliament, which soon must decide the fate and shape of Brexit?
“It’s hard to know,” Ford says, noting that the conventional wisdom in Westminster is usually a year behind changing facts. “But I think it is filtering down.”