Government divided and confused, so is public – but business means business

Sir Lancelot
In search of the Holy Grail of public opinion research truth, the good sir knight takes no prisoners

This from Sir John Curtice the other day is a great reminder of the realities of public opinion on Brexit: Curtice for the BBC: what kind of Brexit.

I picture the dashing data knight as Cleese’s Sir Lancelot at the wedding in Holy Grail, running amok through the castle, wantonly butchering hapless garlanded politicians with his Sword of Truth. Or of opinion data at any rate.

Sir John skewers the carousing Brexiteers by pointing out how divided the country is on what sort of Brexit we want. He cites for example the ORB tracking numbers on how the public makes the central trade-off of Brexit. It’s between controlling immigration (the No1 issue in voters’ minds in the run-up to Brexit, according to Ipsos MORI and others at the time) and having free trade – and the British public is still evenly split on where we see the priority:

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But this is not something UK business is quite so agnostic about – and when making massive economic decisions, business counts an awful lot in the government’s calculations. This in the FT last year gives a flavour of how big FTSE companies see it: FT: big business on Brexit. Ipsos MORI’s Captains of Industry study in January showed the levels of concern even then on the UK government’s ability to get a good deal for British business:

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See the full data: Ipsos MORI Captains of Industry report, Jan 2018

A hard hat isn’t enough now, pal

With Jaguar Landrover (with whom I did some lovely driver-meets-designer interviews a few years ago on the Range Rover Evoque – let’s get me in here) joining other car manufacturers now in speaking out in some alarm against any kind of hard Brexit (Independent: JLR speaks out), is the game really up now for the hard Brexiteers? Johnson’s infamous “f*** business” sounded a lot more like a cry of desperate panic than of triumph.

Business thinks the hard Brexiteers have no clothes. Some of the public hasn’t completely realised it yet, but business has now started to say it aloud. Cue Danny Kaye …



Published by Simon Riley

Qualitative researcher in the UK. I listen to people from all walks of life and think about what it all means. I work for leading brands, media companies and government.

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