After being unable to pass her EU deal through the Houses of Parliament, Theresa May is returning to Brussels to try and secure new arrangements to her withdrawal agreement that will replace the Irish backstop. BMG’s latest poll for the Independent, conducted between 4th – 8th February, asked 1503 GB adults a series of questions about Brexit, including whether or not Theresa May will be successful in her attempts with the EU to secure her changes. BMG’s polling finds that the British public are downbeat about the likelihood of May securing her changes. The polling also shows that people would like Brexit to be delayed and that there is support for the public to have a final say. However, many people also feel that the negative consequences of no deal Brexit have been exaggerated and that leaving the EU without a deal would be worth it, if it freed the UK from EU regulations and allowed the UK to secure its own trade deals.
Can the Prime Minister secure changes to her deal?
When asked if they think May will be able to secure the changes to her withdrawal agreement, the majority (53%) of the public do not expect her to be successful. Just over 1 in 5 (22%) believe that the Prime Minister will secure these changes whilst a quarter (25%) of the public feel that they do not know. Trust in May’s ability is also low with potential Conservative voters. Of those who indicated they would vote for the Conservatives if there was a General Election, only 39% expect May to secure the changes, with an almost identical number not expecting her to securing amendments (40%). Leave voters are similarly pessimistic about May’s chances, with the majority (53%) stating that they do not expect her to secure the changes either.
What do the public want?
With the 29th March closely approaching, BMG asked respondents whether they would like to see Brexit delayed. Respondents were provided with two different scenarios regarding delaying Brexit and were asked which scenario was closest to their own view, with the option of choosing don’t know available too.
A slim majority (53%) of British people feel that Britain should delay leaving the EU till beyond 29th March, even if this means further negotiations between the UK and the EU and the possibility of another referendum. Meanwhile, only 1 in 3 (33%) think that Britain should leave the EU without a deal on 29th March this year, even if this means risking a hit to the UK economy. A further 14% of Brits said don’t know. Responses to this question largely mirror how people voted in the EU referendum with the majority (72%) of leave voters stating that Britain should leave on 29th March without a deal and the majority (80%) of remain voters supporting a delay to Brexit.
Regardless of the outcome of further negotiations, most people want to have the last say on Brexit. Respondents were asked if they would support the British public having the final vote on Brexit, whether a deal is reached or not. Half (50%) of respondents support the British public having the final vote, whereas just under a third (32%) oppose it and a further 17% said that they did not know. This rises to 61% in support of a final vote and 39% against when those who answered don’t know are removed.
How do the public feel about a no deal Brexit?
Respondents were presented with a series of statements about a no deal Brexit and were asked to what extent they agreed with them. The first statement was “A no deal Brexit would be an economic catastrophe that would do lasting damage to the country”. Overall, nearly half (49%) of the public agreed with this statement. On the other hand, over a quarter (28%) disagreed with this statement whilst 16% neither agreed or disagreed and another 7% said that they did not know.
Clearly, a large proportion of the public think that a no deal Brexit would have a negative impact for the British economy. However, BMG polling also finds that many think that the negative consequences of Brexit have been exaggerated. Respondents were also asked to what extent they agreed with the statement “The possible negative consequences of a no deal Brexit have been greatly exaggerated by those that want to keep us inside the EU”. Whilst it is not the majority, a sizeable 42% of the population agree with this statement. Just under a third (31%) of people disagree with this statement whereas nearly 1 in 5 (18%) neither agree or disagree and 9% say they don’t know.
Finally, respondents were asked to what extent they agreed with the following statement “Even if it has negative effects, a no deal Brexit is worth it if it allows us to free ourselves from EU regulations and the ability to pursue our own independent trade policy”. Despite concerns about the impact to the economy, more people agreed with this statement (40%) than disagreed (35%). Whilst there is not too much separating the proportion of people who agree and disagree, it suggests that for many they would like to leave the EU even if there is no deal in place.
BMG’s exclusive poll for the Independent shows that there appears to be a desire for the Government to get a better deal, with the majority of the public in favour of delaying Brexit. However, most people do not think that Theresa May will be able to secure the changes she wants for her deal. With the possibility of a no deal Brexit drawing closer, there is no popular consensus regarding leaving the EU without a deal. Whilst nearly half of the public think a no deal Brexit will cause damage to the British economy, a substantial proportion of the country also think that the negative consequences of a no deal Brexit have been exaggerated by those who want to keep the UK in the EU. Moreover, more people agree than disagree that a no deal Brexit would be worth the negative consequences, although this is not a majority. That said, whatever happens with Theresa May’s deal and the possibility of a no deal Brexit, the majority of Brits support the UK public being given the final say on Brexit with another vote on the matter.
Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results can be found here.
For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.
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Andrew Price – Research Executive