Who would Britons blame for No Deal Brexit?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
August 27, 2019, 9:29 AM GMT+0

The current PM would bear the brunt of the blame, shows new data, while Theresa May is slowly sliding off the hook among Remain voters

With Boris Johnson touring European capitals in a bid to convince leaders to make concessions on the Withdrawal Agreement, the prospect of No Deal Brexit looms ever larger.

Should that eventuality – that the Prime Minister says he wants to avoid – come to pass, who will Britons hold responsible?

According to YouGov data, Boris Johnson himself sits top of the list. Overall almost two thirds of Britons (65%) think he would bear at least some responsibility for causing a No Deal Brexit, including 45% who think he would bear “a lot” of it.

Not far behind are those MPs who have been actively seeking No Deal Brexit, at 64% (including 43% of Brits who would see it as being heavily down to them). Only slightly further behind are MPs who have been seeking to thwart Brexit, whom 63% of Britons would hold responsible (although fewer, 35%, would consider them to bear a lot of the responsibility).

That MPs with such different Brexit agendas would be so similarly blamed is due to the partisan nature of the responses.

The results show that Remain and Leave voters are holding different groups culpable. For instance, while 76% of Leave voters would blame MPs who tried to stop Brexit for bringing about No Deal (including a majority of 54% who think such parliamentarians would bear a lot of the responsibility), this figure falls to 57% of Remain voters (with only 24% putting a lot of the blame on them).

Likewise, 82% of Remain voters would hold No Deal-seeking MPs responsible should they bring about the EU withdrawal they are hoping for (including 60% who would place a large portion of blame on them), compared to 57% of Leave voters (of whom only 30% see that it would be their fault to a big extent).

For neither group would MPs be the biggest villain of the No Deal story. Leave voters are most likely to say the EU would be at fault for a No Deal Brexit (79%), while Remain voters are most likely to lay the blame at Boris Johnson’s door (86%).

We asked the same question back in February. The figures have not shifted to a remarkable degree, but there are a few stand-out changes.

First is the degree to which Remain voters are now less likely to hold Theresa May responsible for a No Deal Brexit. While earlier in the year 47% would have considered to hold a lot of the responsibility for bringing about No Deal and 29% believed she would have held some of the responsibility, these figures have now flipped to 25% and 46% respectively. At the same time the proportion of Remain voters who would absolve her completely has risen from 7% to 18%.

At the same time, Leave voters have if anything become more likely to blame the last Prime Minister, with an eight point shift from “some of the responsibility” to “a lot of the responsibility”.

Remain voters are increasingly like to see themselves as blameless in the event of a No Deal Brexit, from 53% expressing this view in February to 72% now. At the same time, they are increasingly likely to blame Leave voters, with the proportion saying their electoral opponents would share a lot of the responsibility in the event of No Deal rising from 40% to 58%.

Photo: Getty

See the full results here

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