Bregrets? Why Britain has had few over Europe

Financial Times:


The most likely reason for the steadfast opinions, however, is that the referendum scrambled political identities. Ipsos Mori’s fascinating “Shifting Ground” survey shows how the UK’s political tribes have been reconfigured. Before the referendum, supporters of the Labour party sat on the left side of the economic axis, favouring tax and spend policies. The Conservatives were towards the right, advocating free market economics. On social issues, the Tory tribe flirted with authoritarianism while Labour voters floated towards liberalism. Crucially, there was substantial crossover on all these issues — in the political centre ground.

But Brexit has laid waste to that. The survey shows that the crossover between Leavers and Remainers is much smaller, and that these tribes are more starkly divided on social issues such as the death penalty and the pace of cultural change. Brexit has become a form of identity politics. And healing the divide is going to be difficult.