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New poll shows that most members of the Conservative Party would choose no deal over Theresa May’s Brexit plan

The survey of political party members, led by Professor Tim Bale from Queen Mary University of London, has shed new light on grassroots views on Brexit.

4 January 2019


More than half of Conservative party members want Theresa May’s Brexit deal to be rejected in favour of leaving the EU with no deal, according to a survey led by Queen Mary and the University of Sussex.

Split outcomes in a new referendum

If a new referendum were called with the options of leaving without a deal, staying in the EU or leaving with May’s deal, 57 per cent of Conservative Party members preferred leaving without a deal. Only 23 per cent of members said they would vote for May’s deal in a three-way referendum.

If there was a two-option referendum with no deal or May’s deal, just 29 per cent of members would vote for May’s deal, compared with 64 per cent who would vote to leave the EU without a deal.

"If Theresa May is hoping that her MPs will return to Westminster having been persuaded by their constituency associations to back her Brexit deal, she’s going to be disappointed.

"It appears that those members are in no mood for compromise. Moreover, the Tory rank and file, it seems, are convinced that no deal is better than May’s deal," said Professor Tim Bale, from Queen Mary’s School of Politics and International Relations.

Stark contrasts between Conservative and Labour

The findings are in stark contrast to the views of Labour Party members. A Queen Mary survey released on 2 January showed that the vast majority of members backed remaining in the EU.

In a three-way referendum, with the options of leaving without a deal, staying in the EU or leaving with May’s deal, 88 per cent of Labour members said they would vote to remain. Just five per cent said they would opt for leaving with no deal and three per cent backed May’s plan.

When presented with two options, May’s plan or no deal, 46 per cent of members said that they would opt for May’s deal.

"Our survey shows that Labour’s grassroots clearly hate Brexit, and although many of them still love Corbyn, he might not be able rely for much longer on their support for him trumping their opposition to leaving the EU," added Professor Bale.

More information

The polling data comes from the ESRC-funded Party Members Project, which is a collaboration between Queen Mary University of London and The University of Sussex. It aims to study party membership in the six largest British parties: the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Greens, and the SNP.

The researchers are Professor Tim Bale (Queen Mary), Professor Paul Webb (University of Sussex), and Dr Monica Poletti (Queen Mary). 

The latest data draws from a sample of 1034 members of the Labour Party and 1215 Conservative Party members with a representative sample of 1675 voters.