Six in ten Leave voters and a third of Remain voters say significant damage to the economy would be a price worth paying to get their way on Brexit
New YouGov research reveals that large proportions of Leave and Remain voters are so committed to their beliefs on whether or not Britain should leave the EU that they believe significant harm befalling the UK economy, or even losing their jobs, would be a price worth paying in order to get their way on Brexit.
Brexit extremism among Leave voters
Prior to this year’s general election, Tony Blair warned Britain against those who desire “Brexit at any cost”. While it might not quite be “any cost”, it is clear that large number of Leave voters are willing to pay a heavy price for Brexit.
Fully 61% of Leave voters say that they think that “significant damage to the British economy to be a price worth paying for bringing Britain out of the European Union”. Only one in five Leave voters (20%) are clear that such a price is too high for Brexit – the remaining 19% don’t know.
Making the possible cost of Brexit more personal reduces this figure noticeably, although it still remains relatively high. Asked whether the loss of their own job or that of a family member would be a price worth paying for bringing Britain out of the EU, 39% of Leave voters still believe that it would (compared to 38% who do not).
Older Leave voters are significantly more willing than their younger counterparts to see the country, themselves and their families be economically compromised in order to achieve Brexit. Whereas 46% of 18-24 year old Leave voters say significant damage to the economy is a price worth paying for Brexit, this figure increases with every subsequent age group to 71% of 65+ year old Leave voters.
Likewise, when the cost of Brexit would be themselves or members of their family losing their job, the proportion willing to pay that price rose each age group from 25% of 18-24 year old Leave voters to 50% of 65+ year old Leave voters.
Brexit extremism among Remain voters
The research shows that Brexit extremism is by no means restricted to Leave voters. One accusation that some have levelled at Remainers is that they want to see economic harm come to Britain, either to avert Brexit or out of sheer vindictiveness for having lost the referendum.
For instance, accused of having said that Remainers have to hang on while the economy deteriorates before the public mood on Brexit changes, Vince Cable recently denied on the Andrew Marr show that this meant that, on Brexit, he wants Britain to fail economically.
However, it seems that a significant minority of Remain voters would be happy for the economy to suffer should it mean that Brexit were averted. One in three Remain voters (34%), say that “significant damage to the UK economy would be a price worth paying if it meant that Britain stayed in the European Union”. This was only a slightly lower figure than the 38% who thought that averting Brexit at such a cost was too high (the remaining 27% don’t know).
As with Leave voters, fewer Remain voters were willing to put their own or their families’ jobs on the line to get their way on Brexit. If it cost themselves or members of their family their job, close to one in five Remain voters (18%) believe that would be a price worth paying to remain in the European Union – 61% do not.
Earlier this month, Liam Fox criticised elements of the media establishment who he said “would rather see Britain fail than see Brexit succeed”. The research shows that one in five Remain voters (19%) agree that that they would consider “significant damage to the British economy after leaving the European Union to be a price worth paying to teach Leave politicians and Leave voters a lesson”.