The pro-Brexit portion of the print media has been talking up a YouGov poll this week, done on the topic of what the public thinks about a government of national unity to halt no deal Brexit. It found that 44% oppose the idea of bringing down Boris Johnson’s government and temporarily replacing it with a government who will halt a no deal Brexit, with 37% favouring the idea. This is being talked about as a “crushing blow” to those MPs who might be contemplating it; as usual in the Age of Brexit, the precise opposite is true.
That only 7% more voters want to avoid what amounts to a parliamentary coup to replace the current government is astonishing. In normal times, you would expect this number be exceptionally high, in the 30+ percent range. Perhaps it helps that Johnson has yet to win a general election, but that is still a very narrow lead for the non-coup idea. Bear in mind, that is not a 7% lead for the government over an alternative government after a general election, but for replacing the government without a general election at all. 19% Don’t Know is high for such a straightforward question as well, suggesting a large slice of the electorate would look the other way.
I’ll put this another way: less than 50% of voters would be minded if the current occupant of Number 10 was removed from office without a general election. That’s plain weird and should hardly deter MPs thinking of forming an alternative government.
The actual bad news, as usual, is for Corbyn. Only 15% would support him taking over as interim prime minister, with a whopping 63% against the idea, an almost 50-point gap. It gets worse when you drill down further: only 34% of 2017 Labour voters would favour the idea of Corbyn as temporary PM, with 41% against. This means he doesn’t even have a plurality amongst Labour voters. Remain voters are against the idea by a 34-point margin, which when you consider the fact that Boris Johnson is PM and no deal Brexit is looming, is remarkably damning on Corbyn.
This doesn’t mean MPs are going to get together and bring down Johnson. I’d still rate it as much more unlikely than likely. The two big problems are Corbyn being in the way and the fact that most of those who want to avoid no deal have wildly different ideas about what they would like to do instead. They will try to stop no deal Brexit via parliamentary procedure, which I remain unconvinced about. Good luck to them.