The Brexit Diaries - Week 5: Trump divides diarists but views converge on Brexit process

PRWeek has partnered with insight and strategy consultancy BritainThinks in a unique project to take the temperature of both leave and remain voters in the run-up to triggering Article 50.

Diarists are divided over Trump's policies but slowly converging on Brexit, writes Deborah Mattinson
Diarists are divided over Trump's policies but slowly converging on Brexit, writes Deborah Mattinson
Once again Donald Trump has dominated the British news, and it is over attitudes towards him that remainers' and leavers' opinion most sharply divides.

Most remainers are horrified by his first actions as President, especially the ban on entrants to the US from certain Muslim-majority countries.

One remainer commented: "I think this is absolutely disgusting and racist. He has banned seven Muslim countries from entering the US, but no terrorists have come from the seven countries that he has banned. They normally come from inland anyway. I think this will cause a civil war." 

By contrast, many leavers strongly support the policy – to the extent that they would like to see it introduced in the UK. 

Their approval is also about the accountability of politicians. They point out that it is rare for one to keep his pledge: "Yes I do agree. I applaud Trump for doing what he promised to do should he be elected. How unusual! For having the courage to do what he believes is righ,t rather than cave in to the PC brigade."

Yet, although attitudes towards the US highlight the differences between remainers and leavers, their views on the Brexit process now appear to be converging. 

Both groups agree that parliament should not interfere, given that the public ‘has spoken’, and want to see Brexit proceeding as smoothly and quickly as possible. 

As one remainer observed: "I think as the majority had voted out we should just get on and do it, and I say that even though I personally voted to remain."

Whether leave or remain, few can detect any real difference in their own lives yet. 

There is some talk of prices rising but most have not noticed this personally. 

Leavers are particularly resistant to any talk of a negative impact of Brexit and still feel resentful at being told that there will be an economic downside. 

They strongly reject this ‘advice’: "I haven’t noticed anything at all - apart from having to listen to some upstarts telling us how wrong the majority were to vote out".

Some remainers anticipate greater impact in the future: "There will probably be nothing that you’d notice at present, but I expect it will impact highly when implemented." "Remember, we haven’t actually left yet," pointed out another.

Looking to the future, our diarists, especially remainers, are somewhat cynical about the business response. 

Several anticipate that companies will be eager to reassure the public that it is business as usual – although this, they believe, may not turn out to be the case. 

"HSBC have been quite proactive in their attempts to reassure us all about the impact of Brexit."
Some assume that leaving the EU will be used to justify negative changes, such as a price hike: "The word ‘Brexit’ is bandied about as an excuse for price rises," said one. 

There is a warning to business here as our diarists are watch events unfold with a sceptical eye.

Deborah Mattinson is a partner at BritainThinks

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