#RemainerNow Reasons

What makes someone change their mind about Brexit? What makes someone brave enough to admit it – even on Twitter?

I’m lucky enough to work with the @RemainerNow team. We talk to hundreds of people who voted leave or abstained in the 2016 referendum, but who now want to remain in the EU. Find out more here.

This is a list of some of the reasons RemainerNow people have given for why they’ve changed their minds. I offer no statistics, structure or analysis here – but each reason has been cited by at least one person.

Please feel free to let me know of other reasons – yours or those you’ve heard, either in the comments below or @JamieWoodhouse.

  • I just want it to be over (remaining is the only way)
  • The Brexits on offer in 2019 are so different from 2016 promises (sunlit uplands, easiest deal ever)
  • Disgust with the people pushing Brexit – they don’t share my values / I don’t trust their motives
  • I’m shocked at the way our government is willing to even undermine democracy and the rule of law to make a no-deal Brexit happen. This isn’t my Brexit
  • I’ve talked to my kids and grandkids – didn’t realise how they felt about Brexit’s impact on jobs / rights / public services
  • I didn’t realise how complex Brexit was going to be and how badly our government would mess it up. Even if we still want to leave we need to revoke Article 50 now and have another think
  • Didn’t think about UK people losing our freedom of movement rights (live, work, retire in 31 countries)
  • Our government has already wasted 3 years on Brexit when so much needs fixing in the UK. If we go ahead with Brexit – government will be doing nothing else for another decade or more
  • Protecting The Union (Scotland + Northern Ireland) – I didn’t even think about Ireland in 2016
  • Our politicians and press only ever talked about the negatives of the EU. The benefits were hidden or claimed by UK politicians as their own. I’ve learned so much more about the benefits of trade, international co-operation, freedom of movement
  • Fears over job losses – “project fear” seems to be coming true
  • The Leave campaign lied (NHS, Turkey, trade deals)
  • The Vote Leave campaign broke electoral law
  • Worried about NHS staffing + funding
  • Concerned about availability of critical drug / medical supplies for me and my family
  • Worried trade will impact public services funding / tax take
  • I’ve heard stories about the impact of Brexit on millions of EU people in the UK (e.g. stress of the settled status process) and UK people in the EU
  • I’d lost touch with the EU as couldn’t really afford to travel – it just didn’t feel relevant. I’ve since visited EU countries with my family – it’s helped me feel more of a connection
  • Was told the EU was falling apart – now it seems stronger than ever
  • I’m nervous about the UK standing alone given behaviour of the US, Russia, China – re: trade and security issues
  • I voted leave partly to free the UK to invest more in the regions. Now I’ve realised the EU care more about UK regions than Westminster does
  • I felt as though the benefits of EU membership all helped London, but didn’t do much for the regions. Now I see that Brexit will cause most damage to the regions
  • Brexit has made us an international embarrassment – staying in the EU is the best way of starting to rebuild our reputation
  • I didn’t like the idea of EU regulations being imposed on the UK – but then I realised we’re part of making those rules and none of them negatively impact my life at all
  • I believed we could get a deal that included all the benefits of EU membership without the constraints. I now know that was never realistic
  • Protest vote gone wrong – just wanted to give Cameron and the government / establishment a kicking – I didn’t want this
  • I never thought leave could win – so was comfortable voting as a protest
  • I still have criticisms of the EU, but the damage to the UK from leaving isn’t worth it – we should stay and help make things better
  • I voted to leave because I wanted the EU to be more directly democratic – to actually take some power away from nation states and give it back to the European people. Instead, Brexit now seems to be driven by the nationalism I despise
  • I thought we could strike trade deals with the US, China and Commonwealth countries that would more than offset what we lose in EU trade – that just doesn’t seem realistic now
  • Vote Leave promised we’d have a deal negotiated before triggering the legal process to leave. Now they’re claiming we voted for a no-deal!
  • Given how global politics has shifted in the US, India, China, Turkey and Russia – feels like the EU is the only powerful hope for liberal democracy – we need to stay part of that
  • I voted to leave because I thought we could pursue a more socialist agenda outside the EU. Now Brexit feels like a hard-right Tory project + I don’t see the EU constraining other left-wing governments
  • I wanted an EFTA / Norway / Soft Brexit. Given those aren’t on offer I’d prefer to remain. My vote seems to be being co-opted for ever harder versions of Brexit
  • I felt like we should respect the result of the 2016 referendum – but it promised something we now know is impossible
  • Brexit seems to have emboldened the far-right – I want no part of that.


  1. Many of these things rings bells for me – as a leave voter, but now thinking otherwise. I was – and continue to be – unhappy with a number of the aspects of EU governance. But it has since become clear that the main problem behind all of it is the dishonesty of UK politics and our dysfunctional political systems which are no longer fit for purpose.
    I recall very clearly our entry into the Common Market – as it was known in 1973. Edward Heath took it for granted that the country was happy with this decision, but two things were wrong. Firstly we, the electorate, should have been consulted before going in. Admittedly we were given a vote in 1975, but the result was undoubtedly influenced by the fact that by then we were already members. Secondly, the impression deliberately created at the time was that this was a pure trading arrangement – nothing more and nothing political. We know now that this was a lie and it was always intended that we should become the United States of Europe. Every treaty since then has moved us further down this path. I would be happy to become part of a United States of Europe but I abhor the underhand way in which we have been tricked by the political classes into believing that was not their intention.
    But imagine if politicians had been honest about this right from the start. I believe it would have been far more acceptable had they told us the full story then, and followed this up with persuasive reasons why it was a good thing to do. And it is very likely that the enthusiasm for entry on the basis of a Federal Europe would have been at a high level. So here we are 46 years later, still arguing about whether we want to be members or not.

    What is needed now more than anything is to remain members because it is in the best interests of the whole of Europe – not just the UK; to reform our political system to adopt PR voting for our politicians; to hold regular People’s Assemblies to debate major changes in legislation and to hold regular referenda to confirm.

    We should then become active operators at the centre of the EU leadership, rather than pretending we are different requiring different terms of membership in order to slowly reform and improve also the democratic processes within EU governance. This should include changes to the constitution of the EU as a whole and an aim for all its member countries to political systems that ensure everyone feels that their opinions matter and that we can all influence the way we live.

    With the instability in the world, the loss of the USA as a reliable ally, Putin declaring that Democratic Liberalism is dead the combined weight and influence of Western Europe and others around the world is more essential than ever before.

    1. Wow, that is powerful. You voted to leave and yet you have such great insight, I am quite taken aback, how many more are there like you I wonder?

      1. Thank you John. I have been very interested in politics for almost 60 years. I do nothing lightly in the political arena and admit that I do get it wrong sometimes!

  2. You missed a reason. I voted Leave (almost for a joke / fake vote) because I never thought in a million years we’d ever be leaving the EU.

    I’ve heard that an awful lot.

    1. Thanks Stuart – I’ve heard similar, although more often a protest vote that people didn’t really think would lead to us leaving.

      If you do Twitter, give @RemainerNow a follow for more stories and to connect with others who regret their vote (or lack of vote).

  3. Great to hear so much support for remain however I doubt if people will get the chance to express their views under this dictatorial government that the UK is now lumbered with. The whole Brexit issue was clearly a ploy to avoid the EU restrictions on off shore tax havens which would mean Rees Moggs and his ultra rich friends would have to pay their UK taxes just like the working class do.

    1. Everything still to play for, Trevor. We need to keep up the pressure on MPs and hope it’s not too late. Brexit harms the UK and ~2/3rds of the country are against any specific version of it – we need our MPs to reflect that and do the right thing. There is still time (just).

  4. The remainers warned everyone about the consequences of leaving the EU. Too bad the leavers refuse to listen.

  5. Was heavily conflicted and bombarded during the campaign with different ‘information’ through social channels. The vagueness left me so confused. I’m now distraught at the impact of my vote. Many will never admit that they’ve been hoodwinked, but hands up…I fell for some of it. TTiP was my concern. Not welfare, or immigration. I am mortified what has since unfolded. The disgusting racism and exclusion. I would dearly love to sway my vote.

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