Brexit 'now more popular than ever' due to EU vaccine row, poll finds

13 April 2021, 10:15

By Fiona Jones

YouGov pollster Peter Kellner tells LBC Brexit is now "more popular than it has been at any point since the referendum" due to the EU-UK vaccine row.

The pollster reinforced Bloomberg's latest research which has found increased support for Brexit, with two-thirds of adults believing that being outside the EU has helped the UK’s vaccination programme succeed.

In the Bloomberg survey of 2,002 people, 67% of respondents said the EU has behaved in a “hostile” way toward Britain in the dispute over vaccine supplies and just 13% said the bloc had acted like an “ally and a friend.”

YouGov pollster Peter Kellner said that Bloomberg's figures are at the higher end of poll findings, but the sentiment is real.

"What the pollsters agree on is that in the last three months, after five years of stability, very few Remainers or Leavers were changing their minds [and] there has now been a shift.

He continued: "Brexit is more popular than it has been at any point since the 2016 Referendum...the row over vaccines and performance of the vaccines has been responsible for the shift."

Mr Kellner pointed out that the shift has not been huge, with only a few percentage changes: "The increase is significant, it's real, it's important, but it's not as massive as might have been expected.

"I suspect what will happen over the next few weeks, months and years is that other issues with Brexit will come to dominate peoples' views of Brexit. It won't be dominated by the vaccine row as it is now."

He continued: "Looking to the medium term, there are two related but distinct questions; do people think Brexit is going well or badly? And that may change.

"Secondly, if they think it's going badly, who do they blame?"

The pollster said the opponents of Brexit need to achieve two things: persuade people that Brexit is going badly and it's the fault of Brexit, not the fault of Brussels.

Scientists for EU founder Dr Mike Galsworthy also told LBC this outcome was expected, considering the vaccine row.

"We've been at verbal war with the EU about AstraZeneca, about vaccines, and also because the EU have had problems not just in getting drugs from AstraZeneca but on the nation state levels of actually being able to roll them out, people have seen that contrast.

"It has shifted the polls a bit, but...there are certainly lots of other issues associated with Brexit, from small businesses to Northern Ireland which will over time come into play as well."

Dr Mike Galsworthy told Nick his view of the EU has slightly changed due to the argument over vaccines, clarifying it is not the EU construct but Ursula von der Leyen.

"I was dead impressed with Michel Barnier all the way through the negotiations," he said, "when Ursula von der Leyen came in and we had for example that Article 16 stuff, that was really really off."

He said he understood why the EU was frustrated over their AstraZeneca contract being "gazumped" by the UK one, but "it's been pretty artless at a time of high tension."