Brexit: Majority of voters in northeast support fresh referendum in no-deal scenario, new poll reveals

More than two-thirds of Labour supporting voters in the region also back a new public vote if Theresa May fails to secure a deal

What does a no-deal Brexit mean?

A majority of people in a region that voted heavily to leave the European Union now supports a fresh referendum if Theresa May fails to achieve a deal with Brussels, according to a new poll.

A survey of almost 1,000 voters in the northeast by YouGov, comes as Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, prepares to release the first tranche of technical notes on Thursday, setting out the consequences of a no-deal outcome for various sectors of the economy.

Commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign – an organisation set up to advocate a new EU referendum – the poll suggests 54 per cent of people in the region – which voted by a 16-point margin to leave the EU in 2016 – would back a fresh vote in a no-deal scenario.

A further 22 per cent of respondents said they would prefer MPs to vote in parliament when the prime minister returns from negotiations in Brussels, while 24 per cent said they did not know.

The results also showed 40 per cent of respondents would support a new referendum even if Ms May manages to secure a deal, with 35 per cent opposed and 25 per cent unsure.

The findings came after The Independent’s campaign for a Final Say referendum on any Brexit deal gathered pace, with more than 700,000 people having signed the petition.

Peter Kellner, the former president of the YouGov polling company, said the political significance of support for a fresh vote in the region among Labour voters is “hard to overstate”.

The poll shows that of Labour voters in the northeast, 67 per cent said they would support a new vote if there is no deal, and 57 per cent would back the idea even if Ms May returns this year with an agreement.

Mr Kellner added: “Labour’s leadership, and many of its MPs have been cautious about backing UK membership of the EU, or [supporting] a public vote, for fear of alienating pro-Brexit Labour voters.”

“This survey shows that the reason for fear has significantly diminished – and the greater danger now for Labour could be to alienate the big and growing ... pro-EU and pro public vote majority among Labour supporters, even in the party’s heartlands.”

Labour has repeatedly refused to rule out supporting a fresh public vote on the final terms of any Brexit deal, but the party’s shadow international trade secretary, Barry Gardiner, said this week such a move could lead to “civil disobedience” and social disruption in Britain.

At the 2016 referendum voters in 11 out of 12 areas in the northeast voted to leave the EU by a large margin – the new poll suggests the divide is now evenly split.

Asked how they would vote in a referendum today, 42 per cent of respondents said they would back remain while the same proportion said they would support leave. Nearly 10 per cent said they did not know and 7 per cent said they would not vote.

When pollsters removed “don’t knows”, they found a 50-50 split between remain and leave voters.

Mr Kellner said: “On the night of the Brexit referendum two years ago, the early results from the northeast showed the strength of leave support, especially in Labour’s northern heartlands. YouGov’s new survey shows that a public vote today would produce a very different result.

“Instead of the crushing 16-point victory for the leave campaign two years ago, the two sides are running neck and neck, with both on 50 per cent.

“The swing in the northeast is higher than the national average; and there is a clear reason for this. The region is more strongly Labour than any other: the party has 26 of the northeast’s 29 MPs. And while the views of the relatively small number of Conservative voters towards Brexit are virtually unchanged, Labour voters have moved from 59 per cent to 68 per cent remain.”

The survey’s total sample size was 962 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31 July and 20 August 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18 and over).

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