Future of England Survey reveals public attitudes towards Brexit and union

Deep divides fuelled by the Brexit debate have been laid bare in new research from Cardiff University and the University of Edinburgh.

Academics say the latest Future of England Survey, which explores people’s attitudes to the constitution across England, Scotland and Wales, will be ‘uncomfortable reading’ for both those who voted Leave and those who voted Remain in the 2016 EU Referendum.

Among the questions posed, representative samples of electorates in each country were asked what they would be willing to see happen to get their way on Brexit. The researchers have been asking people’s views on this topic since the historic vote three years ago. A range of scenarios were put to respondents and they were asked to state whether each one was a ‘price worth paying’ or ‘not worth paying’ to either Leave the EU or to Remain.

Key findings from the 2019 Future of England Survey, conducted by YouGov, show:

  • Most Leave voters across all three countries think violence towards MPs is a ‘price worth paying’ for Brexit – 71% in England, 60% in Scotland and 70% in Wales. The majority of Remain voters across all three countries think violence towards MPs is a ‘price worth paying’ to Remain – 58% in England, 53% in Scotland and 56% in Wales.
  • A majority of Remain voters across all three countries think protests in which members of the public are badly injured are a ‘price worth paying’ to stop Brexit and remain in the EU – 57% in England, 56% in Scotland and 57% in Wales. Even larger majorities of Leave voters in all three countries think protests in which members of the public are badly injured are a ‘price worth paying’ to achieve Brexit – 69% in England, 62% in Scotland and 70% in Wales.
  • Majorities in England, Scotland and Wales think that violence towards MPs and violent protests in which people are badly injured is ‘likely to occur’ if Brexit takes place.

Professor Richard Wyn Jones, co-director of the Future of England Survey and director of Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, said: “It’s not often that one finds oneself shaken by research findings, but in this case it’s hard to not be genuinely shocked – not only by the fact that 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’ in order to secure their preferred outcome.

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