Tory leadership: Brexit plan trumps domestic policy

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
June 18, 2019, 7:00 AM GMT+0

A Conservative Party members poll ahead of the leadership vote shows that just 15% would back a candidate with a good plan for running the country if their Brexit plan wasn’t up to scratch

Brexit is the biggest political issue facing the country right now, but once it has been resolved there will still be a country to run.

Nevertheless, the results of a new YouGov survey of Conservative Party members reveal that those who will pick the next Prime Minister are far more interested in getting Brexit right than what comes next.

Asked what they were more interested in hearing about from candidates, two thirds of members (68%) answered “their plan for Brexit” compared to only 29% who said “their other domestic policy priorities”.

And half of members (53%) say they would back a candidate they believed had a good plan for Brexit even if they thought the rest of their domestic agenda wasn’t up to much. By contrast, a mere 15% would be willing to support a candidate for whom the reverse was true: a compelling domestic policy platform but a poor Brexit strategy.

What matters to Conservative members is that the next leader would be willing to invoke a No Deal Brexit

During the brief period in which she was part of the race, Esther McVey pledged to remove all Remainers from her cabinet should she become Prime Minister.

YouGov put a similar issue to Tory members, asking what Brexit background and stance it would be acceptable for a new party leader to have. The results clearly show that it doesn’t matter whether the new PM voted Remain or Leave in 2016; what matters is that they are willing to countenance a No Deal Brexit.

Fully 83% of Conservative members say it would be acceptable for the next leader to have backed Leave in 2016, back Brexit now and be willing to take Britain out of the EU without a deal. Two thirds (69%) say the same of a leader who had voted Remain in 2016, but was willing to take Britain into a No Deal Brexit.

By contrast, a Leave-voting, Brexit-backing leader who took No Deal off the table would only be acceptable to 29% of members. And just 13% to 14% of members could accept a leader who wanted to keep Britain in the EU.

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