Earlier this week I was visiting a clinic and in the course of the normal everyday banter with the nurse she said how she can’t wait for Brexit to be over. Later that evening a cab driver said the same to me. My mum says the same, indeed everybody I meet says the same – people are pig-sick of this Brexit business and we want it finished, writes Brian Monteith.
We Scots have of course been here before. After the independence referendum of 2014, the SNP chose to start afresh with a new campaign that ignored respecting the outcome of what we might call the Scottish People’s Vote.
A day did not seem to pass without Nicola Sturgeon saying we needed to have a second “indyref” so we could change our minds.
Despite Scotland’s underwhelming economic performance, the deteriorating educational attainment, the lengthening NHS waiting times, growing shortages of teachers and nurses, and individual examples of ministerial incompetence in transport, infrastructure and the like, Sturgeon kept banging that independence drum.
We are a patient lot and allowed the First Minister her indulgence. After “Peak SNP” had been reached at the 2015 general election – on the rebound from the referendum – the SNP then lost ground at the 2016 Holyrood and 2017 council elections. The more Sturgeon banged on and on about independence, the more support for the SNP fell away. The public just wanted the SNP leader to get on with the day job but she would not listen.
Eventually the Scottish public snapped and, in the 2017 general election, the SNP lost 21 MPs and saw its vote share drop by 13 per cent – yet still Sturgeon has gone on and on about independence.
The result is a new survey makes harrowing reading for the SNP. Polling for the nationalist think tank Progress Scotland shows support for staying in the UK now at 60 per cent and those opposed dropping to only 38 per cent.
More worrying for SNP campaigners is that 33 per cent of “Yes” voters would now vote to stay in the UK compared to only 11 per cent of “No” voters changing their minds.
Even in the “Yes City” of Glasgow, support for staying in the UK has risen to 55 per cent. And all of this bad news comes despite the SNP’s incessant warnings about Brexit.
Learning from that lesson, it is therefore no surprise to me that the latest polling on public attitudes towards Brexit also shows a similar pattern.
People are fed up with the constitutional wrangling, they want Brexit put to bed and their politicians to return to dealing with their day job.
Polling by ComRes for the Brexit campaign Leave Means Leave shows a hardening of attitudes with 63 per cent of the public wanting Theresa May to go back to her original promise that “No Deal is better than a bad deal” by leaving on WTO terms, with only 37 per cent against.
People saying their faith in politics “is at an all-time low” because May failed to deliver Brexit on time stands at 59 per cent.
Opposition to reversing Brexit is also high, with 54 per cent believing a second referendum betrays Brexit and 59 per cent agreeing revoking Article 50 betrays Brexit.
Surveying the many other questions of the polling gives a strong feeling that, like so many people I meet, the public just wants the Brexit decision to be honoured and completed.
Politicians who are going back on their word of respecting the referendum by obstructing it are doing severe harm to their own reputations and the belief in democracy.
Just as the SNP paid a high price in the loss MPs and of votes after going on and on about independence, so May will suffer the same fate if she seeks an extension to EU membership and there are elections for the European Parliament.
The voters will speak – Conservatives will pay a heavy price – and they will deserve it.