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British politics

The Red Wall has turned against Brexit

Jack Taylor/Getty

Regret over Brexit is much more widespread than people think, says Tom McTague in UnHerd. According to a new poll, a majority in every single constituency bar one – Boston and Skegness in Lincolnshire – think leaving the EU was a mistake. Not only that, but public views are beginning to “harden down the old party lines”. Between 2016 and 2019, Brexit allowed the Conservatives to turn scores of Labour seats blue in northern England, Wales and the Midlands. But now that shift has reversed: those swing areas have turned against Brexit even more strongly than traditional Conservative regions.

This is a huge problem for the Tories, because the voters who regret Brexit see it as “synonymous with the Conservative Party”. It was Boris Johnson who promised that voting Leave would curtail immigration and boost the NHS. “Yet for most people, nothing has changed – or if it has, it has got noticeably worse.” The NHS has fallen to bits; swathes of small boats are crossing the Channel; new trade deals are less than lucrative. “The Tories couldn’t have designed a set of outcomes less in keeping with the spirit of the Leave vote.” Meanwhile, Labour finds itself in an “enviable position”. Because the Conservatives are linked so closely with Brexit, Keir Starmer enjoys his party’s association with Remain without having to risk “reopening the old wounds” of the referendum by pledging to rejoin the EU. It’s now Labour’s turn to “gain from the Brexit revolution”.