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.
Dominic Ramos says
Only solution is putting it back to the people, or a Royal Commission.
Paul W says
There are two other solutions: Leave with a deal or leave without a deal.
The problem is that this is one of these vague questions where people project their own desires onto whatever’s being asked. Like, ‘Do you think the country needs a strong leader who can get things done withotu having to worry about public opinion?’ always gets a high ‘yes’ rate because everybody can think of things that they think ought to be done but that aren’t because politicians are scared of public opinion, whether that’s taxing all sugar or stopping Brexit.
But you can’t have ‘a strong leader’ just like you can’t have ‘a government of national unity’: you to have a have a specific leader or a specific government. And that is where it falls apart as the polling shows: as soon as you start asking about a particular PM for a ‘government of national unity’ (which is a funny name for a government explicitly designed to divide the country, but there you go) support collapses. Corbyn is the most obvious example, but none of the other polled candidates gets over 25% either.
So actually this result isn’t that surprising. All it really says is that 37% of those polled want Brexit stopped by any means necessary, the constitution be damned. But we already knew that. It’s basically just the proportion of the 48% from 2016 who will never be reconciled to any form of leaving the EU.
Paul W says
Agreed. Broadly speaking the 44/37 split is just another expression of the Leave/ Remain division, although it has a party dimension too – Conservative/ Brexit/ UKIP versus Labour/ LibDems/ TIG/ Greens/ Nats.
A pollster from one of the main companies pointed out a few months back that any opinion poll with around 20% or so Don’t Knows should be treated with caution because it was an indication that the voters hadn’t really focused on the issue in question.