Engineers call for Brexit rethink as 70 per cent back remaining in the EU

The overwhelming majority of respondents to The Engineer’s latest poll back remaining in the EU and maintaining our current relationship with the trading bloc.

With the clock running down on negotiations, and leave voters increasingly divided on what kind of relationship they would like with the EU, respondents to The Engineer’s most recent poll were offered a more nuanced range of options than simply leave or remain.

Brexit rethink

However, the vast majority of those taking part (981 of a sample group of 1406) eschewed the various options on offer – which included Theresa May’s Chequers deal, and a so-called “hard Brexit” – in favour of remaining in the EU.

Meanwhile, 222 respondents (16 per cent of the group) said that their preferred option was the so-called “no deal” scenario in which the UK leaves and trades under WTO terms, whilst 10 per cent favour something similar to the EU’s trading relationship with Canada or the European Free Trade Area (EFTA)

In such a polarising debate, voters appear united on one thing: indifference to Theresa May’s so-called Chequers plan, which appealed to just 32 respondents (2 per cent of the sample). A similar sized group (36 respondents) were unimpressed by any of the options we put on the table.

The Engineer has carried out a series of similar polls since the 2016 referendum, all of which have attracted a similar sample size, and which have pointed to a growing desire in the engineering community to remain in the EU.

On the eve of the referendum 52 percent of respondents said they would be voting remain, whilst 69 per cent backed remaining in a similar poll carried out in December 2017.

As usual, the topic provoked a lively response from readers.

Interestingly, whilst previous Brexit polls have mainly attracted comments from those in favour of leaving the EU, the majority of those joining the debate this time were in favour of remaining.

We can be bloody minded about it and continue over the cliff or we can take stock and think again.

Many commenters called for a second vote in light of the illegal activities of the official and unofficial leave campaigns. “The electorate was duped,” wrote John Rampton, “and this lie alone is enough to require a second vote. One without the lies and propaganda this time.”

Bruce Renfrew agreed: “The fact is that no one…has a complete handle on the impact of leaving the EU,” he said, “all we do know is that it’s going to be damaging at best and catastrophic at worst. The government’s own research and subsequent forecasts predict such outcomes. We can be bloody minded about it and continue over the cliff or we can take stock and think again.”

Others, such as Sandy, asked where exactly the UK’s much-vaunted post Brexit trading opportunities lie. “Who will we trade with after Brexit?” he asked. “Not the US who don’t want to trade with anyone on equal terms, not China who are extremely parochial and one-sided, not unfortunately Oceania, who are too far away for low energy export, and certainly not Russia and South America is broke. Who’s left?”

Meanwhile, Grace Nodes echoed the concerns emanating from Industry’s various trade bodies over the impact of Brexit on just-in-time manufacturing. “We exist in the world’s largest free trade bloc,” she said. “This works for industry and services, most of which do not “understand” outdated national boundaries. If we turn our national borders into trade barriers “just in time” manufacturing will struggle, and probably simply move the other side of said border, services are already decamping. What do we gain from Brexit? So far as I can see we simply lose.”