Has Brexit put people off referendums for good?
As Theresa May prepares to trigger Article 50, beginning the official process to leave the European Union, public appetite for the sort of referendum that decided it has waned.
In 2012, Brits were more likely to say they wanted the nation’s big issues to be decided by referendum — but now there is a 20-point lead for letting Parliament decide, according to YouGov.
Rather than having given the public a taste for decision-making, the historic vote to leave the EU appears to have turned people off power.
In January 2012, YouGov found that 45 per cent of Brits thought that referendums would be the best way to settle Britain’s four or five biggest policy decisions each year.
Thirty-nine per cent thought that they should be left for Parliament to deal with.
However, nine months after the EU referendum, 50 per cent of Brits believe big decisions should be for Parliament to consider rather than be put to a referendum (30 per cent).
Unsurprisingly, traumatised Remain voters are the group most against referendums, with two thirds thinking that Parliament should decide on big policy decisions.
However, Leave voters also want such issues be left to Parliament, albeit by a much smaller margin (44 per cent to 39 per cent).
The antipathy towards referendums will not be welcome news to Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, who is pushing for a second independence referendum.
Today it emerged that MPs walked out of a meeting today because they were presented with a Brexit document that was ‘too gloomy’.
A source told the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg that Labour chairman Hilary Benn tried to ‘bounce’ MPs into agreeing to include the 155-page report in the government’s Brexit White Paper.