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The results don’t look good for the team in Number 10, with many more Brits saying they would blame their own government rather than the EU if talks fail. Just under two in five (37%) say they’d blame the UK Government the most, compared to just over one in five (22%) who would blame the EU the most. In more reassuring news for the PM, the proportion of people who would blame the UK Government the most has fallen by five percentage points compared to the last time ICM polled this question in mid-September, when there were various news stories about a lack of serious British proposals for a Brexit deal.

The chart below shows the trended data for results based on all respondents. ‘Don’t know’ percentages are not shown.

More than one in three Brits (35%) insist that both sides would be equally to blame. Persuading this sizeable chunk of the electorate that one side is more to blame than the other will be high on the to-do list of certain political strategists over coming weeks – and could prove crucial in deciding a future general election.

The difference in views by 2016 referendum vote is especially interesting. It’s perhaps to be expected that a majority (54%) of 2016 Remainers say they would apportion most blame to the UK Government, compared to only one in ten (10%) who would blame the EU most.

The views of 2016 Leavers might be much more surprising to some. While Leavers are more likely to say that they would blame the EU compared to the UK Government (35% vs. 21%), they are most likely to say that both sides would be equally to blame (39%).

Back in mid-September, the UK Government and the EU were almost neck-and-neck in terms of who Leavers thought should get the most blame if a deal was not reached. At that time, a quarter (25%) of Leavers said they would blame the UK Government most, only marginally less than the three in ten (28%) who said they would blame the EU the most.

Overall, though, there is still much work to be done if Number 10 wants to win ‘the blame game’ and successfully pin responsibility for any failed deal on the EU, even among Leave voters. As things stand, a clear majority of Leave voters would still blame the UK Government at least as much as the EU if we failed to agree a deal before 31 October.

ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative online sample of 2,013 adults aged 18+ between 04 – 07 October 2019. Interviews were conducted across Great Britain and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults in Britain. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a party’s support lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by a poll, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

ICM Unlimited is the specialist social research and insight team at Walnut Unlimited. For thirty years we’ve partnered with public bodies, charities, not-for-profit organisations, think-tanks, universities and media organisations.

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