With a year until Brexit, the Government needs to get a grip, say voters

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Published date
04 Apr 2018
Voters think the Government is mishandling Brexit. They're not putting people’s jobs and livelihoods first, and won’t deliver the side-of-a-bus promise of an NHS Brexit any time soon.

With all the stories produced a year ahead of the Brexit date on 29 March, you might have missed the GMB union’s opinion poll assessing how ordinary people think the Government is handling the issue.

Conservative supporters are more inclined to give the Government the benefit of the doubt, as in some cases are those who voted Leave (but not always). Interestingly, it is the poorest and oldest who have least faith in the Government to deliver on its fantasy-land Brexit. Probably because they’re used to getting kicked in the teeth by people in power.The top finding according to Sienna Rodgers at Labour List is that 

just 15% per cent said they thought Theresa May’s government was handling the Brexit process well, while an overwhelming 48% believe it is being handled badly.

That should worry Ministers who glow with inner confidence about how well they think they are doing.

Asked how far they agree that “the government has put people’s jobs, wages and living standards as a top priority in its Brexit negotiations”, only 8% strongly agree, with 38% saying they somewhat or strongly disagree (10% more than overall pats on the back.) Those aged 35-44 disagree by two to one.

That has to be the priority for unions and politicians. And the best way to put jobs, wages and living standards – and of course rights at work – first in the Brexit negotiations is to keep open the option of staying in the single market and customs union. Until someone comes up with a better alternative for jobs and rights, the TUC will continue to argue that the Government was wrong to rule those options out before negotiations began.

As ever with polls, some of the detail is even more fascinating. For example, generally pro-Remain younger voters are actually more likely to believe that the Government would deliver on Boris Johnson’s side-of-a-bus promise of a £350m a week boost to the NHS after Brexit than older voters.

40% of those aged 25-34 think it’s likely to happen, compare with just 14% of the over 65s. Overall, though, just one in five voters think it’s ‘quite’ or ‘very likely’ (and just one in twelve say ‘very likely’), compared with 57% who think it is ‘quite’ or ‘very unlikely’.

And by more than five to one (67% to 12%), voters think that “Brexit is distracting the government from addressing other important issues facing the country”, including 61% of people who voted Leave.

GMB general secretary Tim Roache, who commissioned Survation to do the polling (full tables here) said:

The Brexit clock is ticking, people are increasingly worried about the future, and the Government is doing nothing to put their minds at rest. So many people voted for Brexit because the idea of 'taking back control' appealed to them - the status quo and how things were going just wasn't working for them. Ministers need to put the needs of working people and communities ahead of their own backbenchers' obsessive backbiting

And TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady added to Mr Roache’s condemnation, telling PM Theresa May to “stop crossing her fingers and hoping that something will turn up,” urging her to “rise above Cabinet divisions” and to secure “a deal that delivers for ordinary people, across the whole of the UK.”