Sunday, December 5

Voters reject plan for no-deal Brexit



The public decisively rejects Boris Johnson’s threat to crash the UK out of the EU without a deal, undermining his claim to have a mandate for the dramatic step, an exclusive poll for The Independent shows.

Only 34 per cent of voters want the prime minister to carry out a no-deal Brexit on 31 October if necessary – while 49 per cent urge him to either delay, cancel Brexit altogether, or stage a fresh referendum.

The survey, carried out by BMG Research, also reveals the public is overwhelmingly gloomy about Mr Johnson’s chances of negotiating a fresh deal, with only 19 per cent believing he will.

Voters also favour MPs being given a final vote on the Brexit outcome – rather being shut out of the process, as the government intends by 42 per cent to 39 per cent.

Guto Bebb, a Conservative MP fighting a crash-out departure, seized on the findings, saying: “There is no mandate and never has been a mandate for a no-deal Brexit.

“Boris Johnson in 2016 promised a better deal than our current one with the EU. Why can’t he deliver that promise rather than the disaster of a no-mandate no deal?”

And Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: “A no-deal Brexit must be taken off the table. Not only, as the poll shows, is there no public support for it, it is also incredibly irresponsible for any government to pursue something that will result in job losses, damage to our economy and hit our public services.”

he prime minister has justified his warning of a “do or die” Brexit on Halloween, even without an agreement, by claiming the 2016 referendum gives him the authority.

Dominic Cummings, his controversial chief aide, attacked MPs manoeuvring to block a no deal – even by replacing Mr Johnson with an “emergency government” – by insisting it was “simple”.

“The prime minister believes that politicians don’t get to choose which votes they respect, that’s the critical issue,” Mr Cummings said.

However, an independent fact check found no reference to voters being told, three years ago, that a vote for Leave was a vote to crash out of the EU with no agreement, if necessary.

Last week, Mr Johnson admitted that the risks of a no-deal Brexit were on the rise, despite dismissing it as a “million to one” chance during the Tory leadership campaign.

He also failed to rule out calling a general election – but would delay it until after 31 October, in order to thwart parliament’s attempts to block it by shutting it down.

Mr Johnson acknowledged there was no hint of the EU folding on its refusal to renegotiate the divorce deal, blaming “a terrible collaboration” with anti-Brexit MPs.