Best for Britain board member Anatole Kaletsky writes in The Times that Theresa May is “guilty of introducing two serious falsehoods into British politics – and then repeating them incessantly until they appear self-evident.
Mrs May’s first big lie was, and still is, that the British people voted last year not only to leave the European Union but also to end the free movement of people between the EU and Britain. Her second big lie, which follows from the first, is that “the voice of the people” has instructed her to withdraw from the European single market and customs union, even though these commercial arrangements are clearly beneficial to the British economy.
Since neither free movement nor the single market was on the referendum ballot, how can Mrs May claim her unimpeachable mandate to dismantle both? Mrs May claims inspiration from the “will of the people,” but where is the evidence that voters really want to end free movement and leave the single market?
Amazingly, neither the opposition parties nor the media have demanded such evidence from Mrs May in the election campaign. Best of Britain, the campaign for tactical voting whose board I chair, therefore commissioned YouGov to add some questions on these issues to their regular poll on voting intentions conducted last week for The Times.
Asked whether the government should try for a deal to stay inside the single market, 50 per cent of voters wanted to stay in, against only 21 per cent who backed the government’s decision not to try. The remaining 29 per cent said “don’t know”.
As remarkable as this two-to-one opposition was its spread across almost all age groups, regions and political allegiances. Even Conservative voters and people over 65, who are overwhelmingly pro-Brexit, wanted the government to try for a single market deal. In fact, the only sub-group of voters supporting Mrs May’s position on the single market were people who intend to vote Ukip on June 8.
We therefore posed the sort of question that a constructive Brexit negotiation would address: “Do you think our government should offer EU citizens the right to travel, work, study or retire in Britain, in exchange for EU countries giving British citizens the same rights?”
Again, public opinion strongly contradicted Mrs May’s intransigent stance. The YouGov sample overwhelmingly supported free movement: by 62 per cent against 17 per cent, with 21 per cent don’t knows. Every regional, political and demographic group also supported this position with one sole exception: Ukip voters, who opposed reciprocal free movement by 35 to 43 per cent.
The conclusion is clear. The voice of the people that Mrs May claims to follow is really just the voice of Ukip. Such cynically selective attention may be convenient for a Tory leader trying to gain parliamentary seats by absorbing Ukip. But a prime minister must do what is best for the country, not best for her party. Mrs May could start by listening honestly to what the people of Britain are saying about Europe, instead of falsely claiming a mandate to do whatever it takes to please the groups who will advance her own political career.”
See the YouGov data yourself
You can see the full YouGov data here.
Please do visit www.bestforbritain.org and use our tactical vote dashboard to see who you should vote for to stop an extreme Brexit.