Brexit: Voters are turning against no deal as deadline approaches, poll suggests

Just a third of those questioned think Boris Johnson should crash the UK out of the EU without a deal if he cannot reach agreement with Brussels this month

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Monday 07 October 2019 15:20
Boris Johnson's new Brexit plan at a glance

Just a third of voters believe Boris Johnson should crash the UK out of the EU without a deal if he cannot reach an agreement with Brussels over the next three weeks, a poll has revealed.

And voters are turning against no deal as the Halloween deadline approaches, the BMG Research survey for The Independent suggests.

The prime minister insists he will take Britain out of the EU on the scheduled Brexit date of 31 October, with or without a deal.

But only 34 per cent of those questioned back a no-deal departure in these circumstances, compared to a total of 51 per cent who said Mr Johnson should extend negotiations, call a second referendum or call Brexit off – all options which he has ruled out.

And the poll suggested that voters believe Mr Johnson should comply with legislation requiring him to ask Brussels to delay Brexit until the end of January if he fails to secure a deal with parliamentary support by 19 October.

Despite apparent opposition to the PM’s central Brexit policy, Conservatives retained their lead in the BMG poll on 31 per cent (unchanged since a similar survey last month), against Labour’s 26 per cent (down one), with Liberal Democrats on 20 (up one) and the Brexit Party on 11 (down two).

The survey of more than 1,500 voters between 1 and 4 October found 53 per cent of those expressing an opinion want the UK to Remain in the EU and 47 per cent to Leave.

If a referendum was held with Remain or no deal on the ballot paper, the split was 55-45 in favour of revoking the Article 50 process and remaining in the EU, after don’t knows and those who would not vote were excluded. The same question last month found 51 per cent in favour of Remain and 49 per cent for no deal.

Asked what Mr Johnson should do if he fails to secure an acceptable deal by Halloween, just 34 per cent said he should take the UK out without a deal and 5 per cent said Britain should depart under the terms reached by his predecessor Theresa May.

By contrast, 20 per cent said the prime minister should revoke Article 50 if he cannot secure a deal by 31 October, 20 per cent that he should hold a second EU referendum and 11 per cent that he should seek an extension to negotiations.

There was a stark division in opinion on the best course of action if an agreement cannot be reached, with a Halloween no-deal backed by 67 per cent of Leave voters, 65 per cent of Tories and 76 per cent of Brexit Party supporters, but just 10 per cent of Remainers, 11 per cent of Labour voters and 8 per cent of Lib Dems.

Some 41 per cent of those questioned said that Mr Johnson should comply with the law known as the Benn Act and request an extension to negotiations if he does not have a deal in place by the end of next week, compared to 34 per cent who said he should find a way of avoiding it.

Boris Johnson has described a law requiring him to seek a delay to Brexit if he cannot get a deal as a ‘surrender act’

And voters rejected Mr Johnson’s description of the legislation, passed by parliament last month, as a “surrender act”.

This language was judged unacceptable by 42 per cent, compared to 31 per cent who said it was acceptable.

And 45 per cent said it was unacceptable to say that MPs seeking to delay Brexit were “betraying the people”, against 35 per cent who said it was acceptable.

BMG Research interviewed a representative sample of 1,514 GB adults online between 1 and 4 October.

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