Millions of people who voted Leave did not vote for Theresa May’s hard Brexit.
We can’t know for certain. More recent polling could be used to show this—if being against a “hard Brexit” is defined as prioritising free trade over immigration control.
“There were also millions of people who voted Leave but did not vote for Theresa May's hard Brexit”
Jo Swinson, 27 April 2017
There has been lots of commentary on who voted for each side in the EU referendum and why. We’re focusing specifically here on people’s expectations in relation to a ‘hard Brexit’, as Ms Swinson referred to.
Theresa May has said this is the only way to control things like immigration. EU officials say this as well. This is because EU free trade rules for the single market require free movement of people between member countries.
The disagreement comes in what voters prioritise. Faced with a choice over whether free trade or immigration control comes first, as many as 36% of Leave supporters said they would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ maintain freedom of movement in return for free trade, compared to 74% of Remain voters, at least when confronted out of the blue by a pollster.
At least half of Remain voters were found to back some policies that the research defined as parts of a hard Brexit as well.
This is all debatable. There is no set definition of a hard and soft Brexit, and we don’t yet know what the trade offs will be during the negotiations.
What this polling does show is that we should beware of making strong claims about what voters on either side think: there are Remainers sympathising with “Leave” positions, and Leavers sympathising with “Remain” positions.
For a broader examination of the reasons behind voters’ decisions last June, social researchers at NatCen have published extensive analysis.
Update 28 June 2017
We updated the wording of the piece to make it clearer and to emphasise the limitations of what the polling is able to tell us.
This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.
The integrity of our elections is in danger, and we need your help
You’re probably here looking for facts. Thank you for that trust. But with the EU parliament elections on the way and more elections a possibility, we need to act now to make sure our elections are protected, before it’s too late.
Could you help protect our elections by becoming a Full Fact donor?
Misinformation isn’t new, but advancements in technology mean it can spread at an unprecedented scale. Our dangerously outdated election laws have not kept up with the digital age, putting our next elections at risk of abuse.
Currently, it’s possible for a candidate to run a thousand different political ads to win the same seat, promising something different to each group it targets. At the same time, there’s no law requiring those who publish online campaigns to disclose who they are or how they are funded. The opportunity for bad actors to manipulate election results is left wide open.
You may already know about our work to make public debate online more honest and transparent. Every day, we call out the most harmful misinformation on social media platforms when and where we see it. But right now, we’re urging the government to overhaul our election laws to make sure political campaigning is held to the same level of scrutiny online as it is offline.
This work all depends on the generosity of hundreds of people who all believe that for democracy to work, we need transparency. Our monthly donors help strengthen our voice, and show our politicians that this really matters. Would you consider joining them?
Become a donor today to make sure our elections are protected.