More voters think it was a mistake to leave the EU than think Brexit was the right decision

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More voters in Wales believe it was a mistake for the UK to leave the EU than think doing so was a good idea, according to a YouGov St David’s Day poll for WalesOnline.

The findings suggest a shift of public opinion in the four-and-a-half years since the June 2016 EU referendum but it is only a slight change.

Asked whether, in hindsight, they thought Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the EU, some 40% said that the decision was right, 46% said it was wrong and the remaining 14% said they didn’t know.

In the 2016 referendum, 52.5% of those voting backed Leave while 47.5% opted for Remain in a turnout of 71.7%.

Today’s poll results have marked differences according to the party voters support, their social grade and the region of Wales in which they live.

See more details from the exclusive St David’s Day poll for WalesOnline on how people plan to vote in May’s Senedd elections with Welsh Labour facing a major problem; how well people thought the UK and Welsh Governments had handled coronavirus; and see how people said they would vote on independence here.

Pollsters YouGov quizzed 1,004 people in Wales from February 19 to 22. The findings show Conservatives remain very hostile towards the EU, with 78% saying it was right to leave the EU and only 13% saying it was wrong.

Labour supporters were almost as strongly of the view that it was wrong to leave, with 74% taking that view and 17% saying it was the correct decision.

Plaid Cymru supporters thought leaving was the wrong decision by a margin of more than two to one, with 64% opting for that position against 29% who thought it was right to quit the EU.

In terms of age, the results showed that the younger you are, the more likely you are to believe that Britain should have stayed in the EU.

In the 16-24 age group, just 14% thought the decision to leave was right against 67% who thought it was wrong.

Among those aged between 25 and 49, some 31% agreed with the decision to leave with 48% taking the opposite view.

In the 50-64 age group, there was a small majority in favour of the decision to leave, with 47% backing it against 44% who thought it was wrong.

It was among those aged over 65 that support for leaving remained by far the highest, with 61% saying it was the right decision and 33% saying it was wrong.

So far as social class was concerned, those in the higher ABC1 bracket thought the decision to leave was incorrect by a margin of 51% to 49%.

The less well-off C2DEs thought marginally that the right decision had been taken, by 42% to 40%.

There were also quite big regional variations, with two of the five regions thinking Britain was correct to leave the EU and three thinking it had been a mistake.

In Mid and West Wales, more thought the right decision had been made by a margin of 46% to 37%, while in North Wales it was much closer, with 45% thinking it was correct to leave the EU and 44% thinking it was wrong.

The other three regions all had comfortable majorities believing it was wrong to leave the EU: Cardiff and South Central Wales by 51% to 38%; South East Wales by 48% to 36% and South West Wales by 48% to 34%.

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Finally, women were significantly more likely to think leaving the EU was a bad idea (by 48% to 37%) than men (who had a majority of 44% to 43% thinking it was a good idea).

Helen Wales, who chairs the Wales for Europe group which campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU and in due course would like to see it return to membership, said: “It’s encouraging to see that there has been a shift in view since the referendum.

“We are already seeing the negatives of Brexit with the problems Welsh businesses have been having, although to some extent the emphasis on the pandemic hasn’t given those problems as much prominence as they deserve.

“If we had still been in the customs union a lot of the logistical difficulties faced by British businesses simply wouldn’t have occurred.

“A review of the Withdrawal Agreement will take place in 2025. By then I would like to think that more people will understand the damage that has been caused to our economy by Brexit, and that we will be in a position to negotiate a closer relationship with the EU.”

Our St David’s Day poll from YouGov covers issues including Brexit, this year’s Senedd elections, independence for Wales and coroanvirus.

Our political writers have also analysed some of the poll findings.



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