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Britons regret Brexit decision, says poll

Demonstrators wave Union (L) and EU flags as they gather on Pall Mall to participate in an anti Brexit, pro-European Union (EU) march in London on March 25, 2017, ahead of the British government’s planned triggering of Article 50 next week. Britain will launch the process of leaving the European Union on March 29, setting a historic and uncharted course to become the first country to withdraw from the bloc by March 2019. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

For the first time since Britain voted to leave the European Union, more people now believe that the decision was a mistake, an opinion poll released Thursday said.

Asked “in hindsight, was Britain right or wrong to vote to leave the EU?”, the YouGov poll in The Times newspaper found that 45 percent said wrong (up two), while 43 percent said right (down three).

“This is the first time that more people have said the referendum came out with the wrong result, and suggests that the issue still divides the country,” The Times said.

In the June 2016 referendum, 52 percent voted for Britain to leave the EU.

YouGov found some 43 percent favour a so-called “hard Brexit” where Britain leaves the EU completely, while 36 percent backed a “soft Brexit” where Britain remains inside the European single market and retains open-borders EU immigration.

Some 39 percent said they thought Brexit would leave Britain economically worse off; 28 percent said they thought Britain would be better off; while 18 percent said it would make no difference.

YouGov surveyed 1,590 British adults online on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The poll compares with one released April 16 that said support for Brexit had hit a five-month high, with 55 percent backing Britain’s exit from the EU. That survey, by research company Orb International, was published in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap general election for June 8 in a bid to strengthen her majority in parliament heading into the Brexit negotiations with Brussels.

In YouGov’s general election voting intention poll, the Conservatives were on 45 percent (down three on April 20-21), Labour 29 percent (up four), the Liberal Democrats 10 percent (down two) and UKIP on seven percent (up two).

Asked who would make the best prime minister, 48 percent said May (down six), 18 percent said opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (up three), while 33 percent said they were not sure.

Asked what the top general election issues were, four main themes emerged: Brexit (64 percent), health (47 percent), immigration (36 percent) and the economy (35 percent).


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