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Politics / Brexit survey triggers calls for people’s referendum

A SURVEY showing only one third of Shetlanders would vote for Brexit if given the chance to vote again has strengthened the case for a referendum re-run, according to some isles politicians.

The national poll of over 20,000 by Survation indicates a six per cent swing in voter intentions with 54 per cent saying they would vote remain if given the chance.

Even the UK countries which voted leave – England and Wales – would now both vote remain, while the vote to stay would be stronger than before in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

An unknown sample size of Shetlanders indicated a 10 per cent swing with an estimated leave vote share of 33 per cent. In Orkney it is even smaller at 29 per cent.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael said that the results were “no surprise” and that the door is still open for another referendum owing to the political mess in Westminster.

He added: “I think that what the people voted for in 2016 was a rupture from the EU, but they did not vote for a destination.

“Once the destination is known then it is sensible, in my mind, to have a people’s vote on whether or where the people wants to go.”

Scottish National Party Shetland branch chairman Iain Malcolmson said that many folk he had talked to had changed their minds since the referendum.

He said that in Shetland there was a genuine issue with fishing being pro Brexit, but it was no surprise people in general were turning away from leave, given the shambles the government was in.

Malcolmson said that far from reflecting the will of the people, the figures showed that a clear majority were now in favour of remain.

The leave vote, he said, in many areas had been a protest about being economically abandoned, but people had no clear idea what it was they were actually voting for.

He said that the government’s rejection of staging another referendum was nothing to do with political principle but all about the certainty that they would lose that vote.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said however that it was wrong to argue that just because people in particular areas like Shetland were not getting what they wanted there was a case for another referendum.

He added: “The majority in Northern Ireland voted against, but that is being imposed on them by a hard-line DUP.

“That’s democracy. The country voted to leave the EU, but opinion polls come and go.

“The house of commons needs to do its job and that is not being helped by the incompetence of the Conservative government.”

Carmichael said that election exit polls of half the number of people were “painfully accurate” at gauging how the nation had voted, so the Survation result had to be taken seriously.

“Democracy is a process, it’s not an event. That’s why we do not just elect a parliament once and leave it at that,” he said.

“It is also the case that many of the claims that were dismissed as scare-mongering in 2016 such as the border in Ireland could not be easily dismissed and are as big or even bigger problems today than they were at the time of the vote.”

According to Carmichael, it was conceivable every single proposal the government came with would be voted down. This would default to a hard Brexit with the government then facing the choice of a “people’s vote” or a general election.

The survey – What does the British public now think about Brexit? – can be found at: https://www.survation.com/what-does-the-british-public-now-think-about-brexit/

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