The Europhobic press had entered the rapture: a reputable and well-researched poll, from an organisation so often dismissed by them as another bunch of Rotten Lefties (tm), had brought them the news they wanted to hear: Britain really was a nation of Eurosceptics, and most of the population favoured that good, hard Brexit their editors and proprietors dreamed about. It was truly manna from heaven.
Over at the Baby Shard bunker, the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun could hardly believe their eyes: “NEARLY SEVEN in ten voters back a ‘Hard’ Brexit with full border controls - a staggering survey claims … The London School of Economics yesterday said the British public had ‘accepted’ the decision to leave the EU”.
And at Northcliffe House, the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre was equally cock-a-hoop, telling readers “Even Remainers now back a 'hard' Brexit: Most Brits want to regain full control of our borders and to become free of meddling EU judges, survey reveals”. Dirty Des’ finest at the Express were similarly overjoyed.
“The massive study of more than 20,000 voters by the London School of Economics and Oxford University revealed that Theresa May’s blueprint to free Britain from Brussels rule is backed by more than 70 per cent … The findings are a huge blow to Remainer campaigners who have been told there is no popular support for their hopes to thwart the democratic will of the British people and keep the UK in the EU”, they eulogised.
But then, the old adage that something which looks too good to be true just might be too good to be true comes into play. The survey over which the right-wing EU-bashers are getting so worked up is not some kind of conventional opinion poll, but a far more nuanced and complex undertaking. Take this paragraph from an article describing the process.
“In our design, respondents were shown a series of possible Brexit negotiation outcomes in pairs and were asked to choose which one of the two that they liked best (there was no ‘don’t know’ option). This requirement that they choose - that they make trade-offs between the different aspects of the negotiations - is crucial to the conjoint approach and to our results. A screenshot of what the respondents saw is below”.
After describing the process of evaluating the results, the authors warn “What we caution readers to avoid, however, is looking at these numbers as raw measures of support for particular features (as in conventional public opinion polling). This they are not. At no point did we ask respondent to evaluate individual features – they were only asked to make judgments of bundles of outcomes” [my emphasis].
They also note “The answers aren’t always easy and what we see consistently is that the public - both Leave and Remain voters - are willing to make trade-offs. Indeed, they appear to be almost completely indifferent over some aspects of the negotiations … It is not easy, as the government must now do, to make trade-offs between complex and interconnected aspects of Britain’s relationship to the EU”.
But it is all too easy for the anti-EU press to tell readers it has found the magic Brexit bullet. It has not. The press saw what it wanted to see. No surprise there, then.