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Poll reveals voter price for Brexit outcomes

The majority of voters on both sides of the Brexit debate say violent protests and attacks on MPS are ‘prices worth paying’ to achieve their goals, research shows.

The survey also found most people, regardless of political stance, believe the UK will become substantially poorer by leaving the EU and that Brexit will prompt the break-up of the UK.


Representative sample

The findings are part of latest Future of England Survey, which explores people’s attitudes towards the constitution across England, Scotland and Wales. It is led by the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cardiff. Professor Ailsa Henderson of the School of Social and Political Science is the lead for Edinburgh.

The polling, conducted by YouGov, spoke to representative samples from each country – 1594 in England, 1503 in Wales and 1006 in Scotland. It asked what people would be willing to see happen to get their way on Brexit.


Worth it?

Researchers found that most Leave voters think violence towards MPs is a ‘price worth paying’ to achieve their goal – 71 per cent in England, 60 per cent in Scotland and 70 per cent in Wales.

For Remain voters, the figures were 58 per cent in England, 53 per cent in Scotland and 56 per cent in Wales.

The poll also discovered that most Remain and Leave voters think protests in which people are badly injured are a ‘price worth paying’ to get their way.

Among Remain voters, support was 57 per cent in England, 56 per cent in Scotland and 57 per cent in Wales. For Leave voters, it was 69 per cent in England, 62 per cent in Scotland and 70 per cent in Wales. 

"It’s hard to not be shocked - not only because so many think that violence is a likely consequence of Brexit, but that so many on either side of the Brexit divide seem to think that such events might be ‘worth it’. Given that we appear to be on the brink of another general election in which further polarisation could be a deliberate campaign strategy for some parties, these findings should give all of us pause for thought and underline the importance of responsible and measured debate."

Professor Richard Wyn Jones, Co-director of the Future of England Survey, Cardiff University

Union threat

Significant numbers think Brexit is likely to lead to the break-up of the UK - 47 per cent in Wales, 52 per cent in England and 61 per cent in Scotland.  

Majorities on both sides are willing to see the UK unravel to get their own way. Among Leave voters, 74 per cent in England, 74 per cent in Wales and 59 per cent in Scotland agreed Brexit was a price worth paying.  

Similar proportions of Remain voters believe that undermining faith in the union would be a price worth paying to stay in the EU. 

Majorities of Remain voters in England, Scotland and Wales believe English independence is a price worth paying to stay in the EU.

"These findings demonstrate that Brexit is putting the union under considerable strain regardless of whether we stay or go. Both sides are prepared to fundamentally rewrite the rules of politics as we know it to get what they want. Staying in the EU will likely decrease faith in the union. Brexit could well change its borders. Brexit has revealed most in Britain to be ambivalent unionists who now see it as expendable to get their own way on Brexit.  Because this holds for both Leave and Remain voters, it confirms just how much the Brexit debate has polarised the electorates in Britain. Polarisation is reshaping how we argue with one another, and what we argue about, but could reshape the union as well."

Professor Ailsa Henderson, Co-director of the Future of England Survey, the University of Edinburgh

Poorer Britain

The survey also asked about additional consequences of leaving or remaining in the EU. 

Majorities in all three countries think that the UK will become substantially poorer as a result of Brexit – 52 per cent in England and Wales, and 61 per cent in Scotland.  

More than three quarters of Leave voters believe that it will be worth it – 76 per cent in England and Scotland, and 81 per cent in Wales.

Around half of those polled said that the destruction of the UK’s farming industry is a likely consequence – 42 per cent of English voters, 46 per cent of Welsh and 53 per cent of Scottish. 

In contrast, 31 per cent in Scotland, and 33 per cent in both Wales and England believe that staying in the EU is likely lead to the destruction of the UK’s fishing industry. 

Related links

View full survey results for Scotland

View full survey results for England

View full survey results for Wales

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