Theresa May’s deal may be very few people’s first choice – but it could yet emerge as the public’s preferred option.
Last week Theresa May presented the choice facing MPs and the country as being between three options: her deal, no deal, and no Brexit.
A brand new poll from ICM has tested the public’s view on this choice – and has shown that, when offered all three options, Theresa May’s deal comes in last place with 22% of the public preference. While there’s no clear majority in favour of any single option, a comparatively greater proportion would prefer no deal (29%) or no Brexit (36%).
But take the option of ‘no Brexit’ off the table, and those that previously preferred this option now break dramatically in favour of Theresa May’s deal. So much so that May’s deal could become the UK public’s preferred option if it’s seen as the only alternative to a no deal Brexit.
This has important implications for any future parliamentary vote and especially if there were to be a second referendum. While it may seem at the moment like there are very few fans of the withdrawal agreement as it currently stands, things may change if the available options are seen to narrow. It may well end up as the public’s least favourite option, but at the same time the only option a majority can agree on as the least bad on offer. Maybe, just maybe, this will eventually be seen as a successful compromise after all?
But the furore may have already taken its toll on the Prime Minister before she gets the chance to force a choice in favour of her deal – almost half (49%) of the British public expect her to be replaced as Tory leader by 29th March, when the UK is currently due to leave the EU.
- Almost half (49%) of Brits think Theresa May will be replaced as Conservative leader before the end of March. Excluding those who day they don’t know, this rises to a clear majority of those expressing a view thinking Theresa May will be replaced by the end of March (61%)
- Only 1 in 4 (24%) think there will be a second referendum (or ‘People’s Vote’) announced in this time, with 1 in 3 thinking (34%) thinking a general election will be announced.
- When given a choice between Theresa May’s deal, no deal or no Brexit, Theresa May’s deal is the least favoured of the three options – Only 22% of Brits pick it as their preferred choice compared to 36% for no Brexit and 29% for no deal. 13% say they don’t know.
- However if we take the option of no Brexit off the table and ask its supporters which of the two remaining options they prefer, more than twice as many choose Theresa May’s deal (48%) over no deal (21%). 31% say they don’t know.
- This tips the balance such that, in a hypothetical direct choice between Theresa May’s deal and no deal, it’s possible that May’s deal could just edge ahead. Excluding those who said they don’t know, 51% would prefer May’s deal to 49% who would prefer no deal.
- But crucially it’s those who voted for the UK to Remain in 2016 which swing this choice in favour of May. Only 3 in 10 Leavers (30%) say they would choose May’s deal over no deal, with a majority of leavers (57%) preferring no deal.
This poll was featured in the Sun on Sunday – read the article here
ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative online sample of 2,011 adults aged 18+, between 16th – 18th November 2018. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.