Six in 10 Britons say Brexit uncertainty bad for mental health

Less Brexit placard

The depth of British anxiety over Brexit has been revealed by research showing that more than six in 10 people believe the ongoing uncertainty is bad for mental health.

A poll of 2,004 people carried out late last week by the research company Britain Thinks found that a significant majority of the public are bored and confused by the Brexit process and have very little trust in politicians to sort it out.

It found that 83% of people were sick of seeing Brexit on the news every day, 64% believed the attendant anxiety was bad for people’s mental health, and more than two-thirds felt Brexit became more confusing the more they heard about it.

Asked whether or not they agreed with the statement “I’m not impressed with what either the Conservative party or the Labour party have been doing on Brexit”, 84% of respondents concurred. Seventy per cent said a general election “would not resolve anything”.

There was greater division on…

Electoral Commission says new Vote Leave investigation ‘not in public interest’

Vote Leave ‘battle bus’

The Electoral Commission believed it would “not be in the public interest” to investigate whether Vote Leave committed a second breach of referendum spending laws, according to the website OpenDemocracy.

Last week Vote Leave dropped its appeal against a £61,000 fine for breaking the EU referendum spending limit by donating hundreds of thousands of pounds to the pro-Brexit activist Darren Grimes. Grimes’s appeal against his own £20,000 fine continues.

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, who played prominent roles in Vote Leave’s campaign, are now facing calls to reveal what they knew about the arrangement as they consider their bids to succeed Theresa May as Conservative party leader.

Last year an investigation by the BBC’s Spotlight programme reported that online adverts placed on behalf of the DUP were booked by Vote Leave’s director in Northern Ireland.

The commission subsequently announced that it had considered the allegations but would not be launching an investigation because it did not have sufficient evidence.

At the time, it…

Tom Watson repeats call for Labour to back second referendum

Tom Watson on The Andrew Marr Show

Tom Watson has called on Labour to support a second Brexit referendum under all circumstances if the party is to beat the Conservatives in a general election.

As the party considers whether to call another no-confidence vote in Theresa May’s government, its deputy leader said a people’s vote would bring the country back together.

His latest call comes after May’s deal was struck down for a third time in the Commons on Friday, and as MPs prepare to vote on a series of Brexit options, including a second referendum, on Monday.

His words will be met with unease from some Labour MPs, particularly those in leave-dominated areas.

The Labour frontbencher Melanie Onn, the MP for Grimsby, resigned from her shadow position last week to join a rebellion against the party’s backing for a second referendum, while three shadow cabinet members abstained on the vote.

Watson acknowledged the party was split over Brexit but insisted Jeremy Corbyn was signed up to pursuing a second referendum under all circumstances.

“Whatever the deal looks like, if it is underpinned by a people’s vote, that is how we bring the country back together,” he said.

In words that will increase pressure upon fellow Labour MPs who have argued against a second referendum, Watson said: “It seems inconceivable that if there was a general election that a people’s vote was not in that manifesto.”

Labour confirmed on Wednesday it would expect MPs to support a motion, tabled by Margaret Beckett, which said parliament should not…

Labour MPs will be whipped to back public vote

Jeremy Corbyn speaking during PMQs

Jeremy Corbyn will whip Labour MPs to support a Brexit referendum in the indicative votes – but could face a wave of resignations from frontbenchers determined not to back it.

The Guardian understands a delegation of shadow ministers, including known second referendum sceptics Ian Lavery, Jon Trickett and Richard Burgon, held a meeting lasting more than two hours on Tuesday evening with John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor.

One shadow minister warned Labour would face “a very significant rebellion” if it tried to force MPs to back the motion, and another said: “If we whip for it, we won’t have a shadow cabinet by the end of the day.”

The motion, tabled by Dame Margaret Beckett, suggests parliament should not ratify any Brexit deal “unless and until” it has been approved in a “confirmatory public vote”.

One shadow cabinet source suggested the amendment went beyond what had been agreed by Corbyn in calling for a referendum on any deal passed by the house, which some believe undermines efforts to reach a compromise Brexit deal that Labour has pursued over recent weeks.

However, there was also a furious backlash on Wednesday morning from the pro-referendum wing of the party against an interview by the shadow international trade secretary, Barry Gardiner, in which he said Labour was “not a remain party now” and it could have difficulty supporting a motion for a referendum on any Brexit deal.

Gardiner also suggested Labour was concerned that the motion could suggest the party would allow Theresa May’s deal to pass if it led to a referendum.

“It would be saying we could accept what we have always said is a very bad deal. Therefore it looks as if the attempt to have a public vote on it is simply a way of trying to remain because nobody likes this deal,” Gardiner told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“To put that up as the only alternative in a public vote and say we will let it go through looks as though you believe that, at the end of it, remain would be the result. It is not where our policy has been.

“Our policy is clearly that we would support a public vote to stop no deal or to stop a bad deal, but not that we would allow a bad deal as long as the public had the opportunity to reject Brexit altogether.”

He said Labour could not be portrayed as a party that wanted remain at any price. “The Labour party is not a remain…

What do voters make of Brexit now?

Union Jack and EU flags at Westminster

Almost three years ago the UK voted in favour of leaving the EU.

Yet the original departure date of 29 March has been delayed and the government is searching for a way forward.

So, what do the majority of the UK’s voters now think about Brexit?

How well have talks been handled?

Theresa May argues that her deal is the best way of fulfilling the instruction to leave given by voters in the EU referendum.

Trouble is, voters themselves – including not least those who voted Leave – have become deeply critical of how the UK government has handled Brexit negotiations. This is suggested in data from surveys conducted by NatCen Social Research up to 17 February of this year.

Chart showing opinion on how well the UK government has handled talks
Two years ago, those who voted Leave were inclined to give the government the benefit of the doubt.

However, as many as 80% of Leave voters now say that it has handled Brexit negotiations badly. That figure is almost as high as it is among Remain voters (85%), who had previously been more critical of the government’s approach.

Remarkably, Leave voters are now just as critical of the UK government’s role as they are of the EU’s: 79% of Leave supporters say the EU has handled Brexit badly.

Will the UK get a good deal?

Meanwhile, the longer negotiations have continued, the more pessimistic voters have become about how good a deal the UK will secure.

Two years ago, there were almost as many who thought that the UK would obtain a good deal (33%) as thought it would find itself with a bad one (37%).

However, that mood soon changed and by last summer as many as 57% reckoned the UK would emerge with a bad deal.

Now that the first phase of the Brexit negotiations has been concluded – though, as yet at least, not approved by MPs – the proportion who think the UK is heading for a bad deal is, at 63%, even higher.

Chart showing opinion on whether the UK will get a good deal or a bad deal
Here too, Remain and Leave voters are now largely in agreement. This is despite Leave voters initially being much more positive.

As many as 66% of Leave supporters now believe that…