'We're already pretty pessimistic': Britain's leading pollster John Curtice says leaked Brexit forecasts won't sway Leave voters

  • Pollster John Curtice says the publication of leaked government papers detailing the damage of Brexit is unlikely to sway voters.
  • He says the country is “already pretty pessimistic” about the consequence of leaving the EU.
  • “It’s not as though we went into this with wild enthusiasm for the economic consequences,” Curtice told Business Insider.

LONDON – Britain’s leading pollster John Curtice says the publication of leaked government papers detailing the damage of Brexit is unlikely to sway voters because the country is “already pretty pessimistic” about the consequences of leaving the EU.

“It’s not as though we went into this with wild enthusiasm for the economic consequences,” Curtice told Business Insider.

“We’re already pretty pessimistic about what kind of deal we’re going to get, we’re pretty pessimistic about the economic consequences, and we long have been. That so far has not changed people’s attitudes and preferences for the most part,” he said.

John CurticeBBC / YouTube

“Voting to leave was at most a case of: ‘It probably won’t be too bad, and I’m so fed up about immigration and a supposed loss of sovereignty that I’m going to vote for it.'”

The secret document was prepared by the Treasury and leaked to Buzzfeed News, and predicted Britain would see lower economic growth under every likely Brexit scenario modelled. Theresa May’s spokesperson told Business Insider that it was a “draft document that had not been signed off.”

Curtice said the leak could mean pro-Brexit cabinet ministers would be “even more pissed off with Chancellor Philip Hammond” because the leak “presumably comes from the Treasury.”

Hammond campaigned for Remain before the referendum and privately and publicly pushed for a soft Brexit in recent weeks, to the fury of Leave-voting colleagues. Tory MP Steve Baker on Tuesday described the leaked version of the report as “an attempt to undermine our exit from the European Union.”

Curtice said similar sets of figures released by the Treasury before the EU referendum had failed to persuade voters to vote to Remain.

“The difficulty is that you’re not talking about a forecast which says the economy is going to get worse. You’re talking about an economy that will not be as good as it otherwise would be. That’s complicated, that’s difficult. It was always more difficult to convey than: ‘£350 million goes out the door to Brussels every week.'”

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