Leave, or stay?

This is not a question that can be answered with facts or economic equations. You can’t add up all the plusses and take away all the minuses to find a definitive answer. In retrospect, perhaps, but right now, in the present, no one knows. No one can know.

It reminds me of the argument that my wife and I have every time we’re stuck in a traffic jam: will it be faster to stay on the current route or take an alternative? Both of us have our opinions, both argue our case (often with more vigour and certainty than is merited), but neither of us knows, because it’s impossible to know the future.

Of course, we can review what the experts say about remaining or leaving the EU, but the simplicity of the question belies the endless complexity, contingency and assumption that any attempt at an answer involves. Most experts suggest that remaining in the EU would be better than leaving, at least in economic terms, but it’s far from convincing for many that we would be better off overall – economically, legally, politically, socially, emotionally etc….

MPs are divided

We decide questions like this based more on expectations than on certainties. Do you expect that the UK will strike better trade deals inside or outside the EU; will it have more influence on the world stage inside or outside; will it be able to attract more investment, create more jobs, have more social harmony – in or out?

On these fundamental questions, MPs are split profoundly along party lines. At least 90% of Labour MPs believe that the UK will prosper more in the EU than out. On the other hand, almost 80% of Conservative MPs think the UK will flourish more outside than inside the EU.



With this level of diametrical opposition, it’s difficult to see how the May-Corbyn talks can come to a workable compromise. With all the goodwill in the world, the parties appear to be irreconcilable.


Populus interviewed 124 Members of Parliament on the Populus MP Panel in March and April 2019. Data have been weighted to be politically representative of the House of Commons.

David Racadio

David is responsible for Populus's industry studies, which help clients in a range of sectors, including banking, insurance, food manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and retail, to benchmark their corporate reputations and understand the attitudes of key stakeholders that impact on their industry.