The rise of the re-leavers
The FT has an interesting analysis about the impact of Brexit on the elections. The British electorate is now splitting into three sections: the hard leavers are 45%, the hard remainers are 22%, but there is a group of re-leavers at 23% - these are people who supported remain but now want to leave. This puts support for Brexit at two thirds of the electorate. In other words, support for Brexit has grown massively since the referendum.
The article also notes that this will have important ramifications for the elections. The Tories are now fishing in the pool of the two-thirds, while Labour, LibDems, the Greens, and the Unionist are battling for just 22% of the electorate. Among the crucial group of re-leavers, the Tories are way ahead of Labour. The switch from remain to re-leave is also responsible for the continued weakness of the LibDems, who have not seen the surge in support that so many observers predicted.
In his FT column Wolfgang Munchau makes the point that, while there is now a broad consensus in the UK that Brexit will happen, there are still doubts on the continent. This may be one of the reasons the EU is offering the UK such a tough deal. Behind that lies the hope of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the deal on offer is sufficiently bad, the British will see sense and not leave. Münchau says the priority on the British side will have to be to get rid of these political miscalculations by pre-legislating a fully-costed and easily-understandable plan B that would automatically kick in if there is no deal ,or if a deal is refused. It is only at this point that the EU will start to calculate the costs of a hard Brexit - to supply chains of continental manufacturers and the legal uncertainty of financial contracts, for example. Plan B needs to be viable, but there should be no confusion that it serves the purpose of shifting expectations - it should not be seen as a favoured option.