Conservative party members oppose Theresa May's Brexit deal and think it doesn't respect the referendum result

  • 59% of Conservative party members oppose Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the European Union.
  • Over half believe it fails to respect the 2016 referendum result.
  • Nearly half of Conservative members believe May should resign if MPs vote down her deal as expected.
  • Tory party members also support a no deal Brexit and don’t believe it would cause disruption.
  • However, remain would comfortably win a new referendum, the research also suggests.

LONDON – Conservative party members overwhelmingly want MPs to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal, with more than half saying that it fails to respect the result of the 2016 referendum, according to a new poll.

A survey of 1,215 Tory party members published on Friday found that 59% oppose the Withdrawal Agreement May has negotiated with the European Union, while just 38% support it, according to YouGov polling for leading academics at the ESRC-funded Party Members Project.

Over half of members who are against the deal (56%) have considered quitting the party over it.

The findings will spook figures in Downing Street who had hoped that Conservative MPs would return to Westminster from their constituencies after Christmas having been urged by party members to get behind May and her deal.

The prime minister was forced to postpone a parliamentary vote on her deal after more than 100 of her MPs announced that they planned to oppose it.

However, today’s poll finds members are, if anything, even more critical of May’s deal and her premiership than her MPs.

According to the poll, over half of Tory party members (53%) believe that May’s deal fails to respect the 2016 referendum result, with just 15% of members saying that May had negotiated a good deal with Brussels.

This figure is even higher among members who voted for Brexit, with 67% of them believing May’s deal does not respect the 2016 vote.

Almost half (48%) said May, who has pledged to stand down before the next general election in 2022, was doing badly as prime minister, compared to 51% who said she was doing well.

Theresa MayDan Kitwood/Getty Images

Those around May had hoped that the party would row behind her following the failed coup attempt against her led by Brexiteer Conservative MPs before Christmas.

However, today’s poll finds that 44% of Tory members say she should resign if MPs reject her deal later this month as expected.

The Tory party membership is particularly supportive of leaving the EU without a deal, despite the myriad warnings from ministers about the disruption it would cause across multiple aspects of life in the UK, including food and medicine.

A whopping 76% of Tory members said that warnings about a no deal Brexit are “exaggerated or invented, and in reality leaving without a deal would not cause serious disruption.” Just 18% said the warnings were realistic.

The research also found that a majority of Conservative party members would back no-deal in a future referendum. For example, in a hypothetical choice between Remain and no-deal, 76% backed the latter.

The polling finds that the party’s membership is well out of step with the general public.

In a new nationwide Brexit referendum with two options – stay in the EU and leave without a deal – today’s poll finds that 45% would vote to stay in the EU while 35% would vote to leave without a deal.

Remain would also come on top in a vote on three choices, the research found, with 42% of people backing Remain, 25% supporting a no deal. Worryingly for May, just 13% of all voters backed the third option of supporting her deal.

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