A new poll finds British voters would prefer to stay in
the EU rather than leave without a deal.
But a majority of Conservative voters would rather
leave without a deal, which illustrates the headache facing
Theresa May as she tries to keep her party onside with her
Negotiators hope this week to clinch a final Brexit
deal, providing time to sign an agreement off at a special
summit of EU leaders in mid-November.
LONDON — British voters would rather stay in the EU than accept
leaving without a deal, according to a new poll.
survey of 3,006 voters for Politico, found that
British voters would choose by a margin of 53.5% to remain in the
EU if the alternative was leaving under a no-deal scenario “with
the potential for disruption,” an option favoured by just 46.5%.
The news is likely to bolster calls from anti-Brexit campaigners
for the government to arrange a second Brexit referendum on the
terms of Britain’s departure from the EU, with an option to
remain on the ballot paper.
But the poll, carried out by Hanbury Strategy for Politico, also
illustrates the strategic headache facing Theresa May. Her
own voters are much more hardline than the wider electorate, so
she must try and keep her own core supporters happy her Brexit
strategy while finding a solution which other voters deem
That dilemma is reflected in other questions in the survey. By
47% to 35%, voters say that May should “compromise” with the EU
to get a deal rather than walk away without one in March 2019,
when the country is scheduled to leave.
Voters narrowly support extending the twenty-month transition
period by 39% to 38% — during which the UK would effectively
remain a member of the EU but have no say in decision-making —
even if it costs “billions” of pounds to do so.
But among Conservative voters (those who supported the party in
the 2017 election), 48% would prefer that Theresa May walked away
from the EU without a deal than compromise, compared to 41% who
would prefer her to compromise.
The polling reflects the party’s electoral dilemma as it
faces up to the Labour party which is also committed to
implementing the EU referendum result. Many Conservative MPs are
aware that their success at the next election could depend on
them supporting a Brexit outcome which draws the UK away from EU
rules and regulations, and is seen to honour the result of the
But it is increasingly clear that any deal Theresa May brings
back from Brussels will be a compromise which contains guarantees
to avoid a hard border in Ireland and could therefore keep the UK
in parts of the European single market or customs union.
The question of how many Tories would support such a compromise
when the deal was put before parliament remains
the subject of intense speculation.
Reports emerged over the weekend that the prime minister is close
to securing a final deal with Brussels on the terms of the UK’s
exit, but EU officials quickly pushed back on the speculation to
say the chances of a deal remained at around 50%. The Irish
backstop — an insurance policy designed by the EU to avoid a hard
border in Ireland — remains the biggest sticking point, with both
sides holding on for a compromise from their counterparts.
Nonetheless, negotiators hope that enough progress will be made
this week to strike a deal, providing time to sign an agreement
off at a special summit of EU leaders in mid-November.
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