Disclaimer: I’m basing this post on maybe 15-20 friends whose 2016 referendum voting patterns and Brexit opinions I know. It’s not a huge sample size of course but it is roughly split between Leavers and Remainers.
The Remainer Public
This is the easiest group to understand. They want everything to stay as it is. Basically we remain in the EU, the single market and the customs union. Period.
Why? Because they believe the UK’s long-term future will be better if we stay in the EU. They may recognise deficiencies with the EU but believe we’re better off trying to correct those deficiencies from within.
The Leaver Public
Politicians and the press often say things like “Leavers want a deal” or “Leavers didn’t vote to be poorer” but, whilst either of those things may be true as secondary considerations, Leavers primarily want to leave the EU, which means leaving the single market, the customs union and the remit of the ECJ. Most of the Leavers I know would take no deal over cancelling Article 50 any day of the week.
Why? Because they believe the UK’s long-term future will be better if we free ourselves from the EU, even if that involves a short-term hit to the economy.
The Public on Both Sides
Many people trot out the suggestion that the public were mislead by the pre-referendum campaigning. That doesn’t bear out amongst the people I know. Most had made up their minds long before campaigning got under way, often having decided their position back as far as Blair’s government when a referendum was considered and rejected, if not many years before that.
Idiots in Parliament
Parliament is partly hamstrung by the fact that the majority of MPs are Remainers, yet some of those Remainers feel a duty to respect the public vote.
Then there’s the matter of domestic politics being at work and that trumps a lot of the Brexit considerations as far as MPs are concerned. Labour wants to govern, the SNP wants another Scottish independence referendum, the right-wing of the Tory party wants to unseat Theresa May and shift the leadership in their direction, the DUP is paranoid about being separated from the UK, the LibDems want to rebuild themselves domestically and I have no idea what the breakaway group (Change UK or whatever) wants.
This all means that very few MPs are actually working for the good of the country and are instead trying to achieve domestic goals and, in any case, harbour conflicting opinions about Brexit within themselves.
We’ve seen some strange parliamentary votes recently with right-wing Tories voting with left-wing Labour MPs to defeat the Prime Minister.
These things make MPs look incompetent, which indeed they are.
MPs are keen on some sort of deal with the EU. They can’t agree on what form that deal should take but they want something. A deal, however, is a secondary consideration to the public, at least as far as the people I know are concerned.
Remainers still want to remain absolutely but figure that if we must leave then let’s make it as painless as possible with some sort of deal.
Leavers still want to leave absolutely but figure that if a deal makes it more palatable to others then they might just take it, just as long as it’s sufficiently to our advantage and doesn’t tie us to the EU indefinitely.
A deal is a compromise for both sides; neither really wants one in the primary sense.
She needs to step in with something along the lines of: “One’s parliament is a shambles. Orf with their heads, all of them.” Then the Brexit negotiations could be handed over to the Spice Girls because they could hardly do a worse job. At least they, unlike MPs, know what they really really want.