Sunak's would-be voters are moving to a better position.
On the seventh anniversary of the referendum on Brexit the Mayor of London decided to hang the flag of the European Union on the building of his office. The mayor was against the idea of withdrawal and is still in solidarity with the EU. But it all went wrong. The mayor's office received an official notice that in such a case its leadership would be held criminally liable for violating the law on outdoor advertising.
The law does not prohibit the display of other countries' flags in England. The banners of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the United Nations, sports clubs, the National Health Service, and attention! – rainbow flag – may also flutter freely. Moreover, it is stipulated that the cloth must consist of six horizontal stripes and even specifically spelled out: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. This is just in case the impostors with some colors of pale fuchsia substitute something.
But even more surprising is that Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, is required by the same law to ask permission from the Borough Council of Newham, the neighborhood where London's City Hall is located. Well, it's like the Mayor of Moscow asking the Tverskoy District Administration for something.
Khan wrote an open letter to the European Union in which, among other things, he said he would support Labor leader Keir Starmer in his effort to grant the right to vote in general elections to EU citizens who legally reside in Britain and pay taxes there. And that, for a moment, is 5 million people.
The analytical center UK in a Changing Europe found that the majority of those who voted to exit were dissatisfied with the way the leadership was adapting to the new realities. But 70% would still vote to exit, and 16% would already vote to stay.
The same conclusion was reached by analysts from another center, Public First: "Those who voted for the exit show great disappointment with their choice, but the general tendency is to blame the politicians in power for the failure of the idea."
And the idea may not fail, and even in the long run end in success, believe 22%. 39% do not rule it out in principle, and 11% think the whole story will end badly or very badly.
Almost half of those who voted for the exit believe that politicians could have done better, but did not even try. 70% of them, answering another question, believe that it was a good idea, but it just didn't happen.
And then there's the most interesting part. Of those who eventually became disillusioned or even left the Conservatives, 19% will vote for the Reform UK populists, and 22% will support Labor at all. In other words, almost a third of voters who are critical or doubtful are out of the Tory lists. Or else. Of the 60% of those who voted for the exit who were disappointed but still voted for the Conservatives in 2019, only 24% will now vote.
James Frayne, an expert at Public First, believes that Sunak must demonstrate at all costs now that he will bring the idea of Brexit to success.
"The general election can be won or lost on key issues – health care or the economy – but Brexit will make a huge difference either way. Those who voted for the exit are just waiting for some signals from the government that the idea will be saved and will work very soon."
In the meantime, Sunak will have to fight back on specific flanks of the front.
Migration. It was assumed that with the introduction of controls at the borders, the difference between those who entered and those who left would be less than 100 thousand people a year, and the rest would be stuck somewhere in the EU. Last year, that migration difference was 606,000 people. This is the first record. The number of migrant boats from that side of the Channel this year alone was 45,000. Not migrants, but migrant boats. That's the second.
Foreign trade. After leaving the European single market, Britain was expected to conclude a series of wide-ranging treaties on the free exchange of goods and services. These have already been signed with Australia, New Zealand, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland. Negotiations are under way with India, Israel and Mexico. To date, the loss from exiting the Common Market is estimated at 4% of GDP.
Health care. "Every week we send £350 million to the EU. Let's spend it on public health care," was a slogan from the days of agitation for divorce. Now even its authors don't believe in it. When the referendum was held seven years ago, almost 4 million patients were on the waiting list for surgery or hospitalization – there were not enough medical personnel. Now there are 7.5 million, and 170,000 people leave the profession every year because of low wages and a huge amount of work.
Small and medium-sized businesses. Here the losses could even be offset by achievements, although it depends on how you look at it. Cheap labor from Europe (mostly Eastern), left Britain, so they had to hire Englishmen in the stores and bars. They cost more, so we'll raise prices too. Agricultural products from the EU disappeared from the shelves – we have import substitution. Well, it's more expensive, but it's our own, British and rustic. There is even more paper turnover, agriculture does not yet understand the new international agreements, universities are deprived of grants and exchange opportunities.
So maybe we should go back? Political science professor Tony Travers thinks: "We are light years away from that. But in any case, Britain will have to accept some EU rules and play by them. At this stage, we have to build a more rational relationship with Europe. We are not going anywhere from that."