Poll: Half of voters back delaying Brexit to negotiate new deal

Anti-Brexit protestors. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Anti-Brexit protestors. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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Almost half of voters (45%) would back delaying Brexit beyond the scheduled date of March 29 to allow time to negotiate a better deal, according to a new poll.

With just 53 days remaining to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, just 34% said they would oppose a delay for this purpose.

Those questioned for the monthly YouGov tracker poll for The Times also backed postponing Brexit to give more time to make preparations for a no-deal departure, by a margin of 39%-37%.

But they opposed a delay to hold a general election by 50%-28% or a second referendum by 44%-37% and were almost evenly split (38% opposing to 37% supporting) on whether the Government should seek more time to get Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement through.

Some 35% of those questioned said that MPs were right to back the so-called Brady Amendment, offering Parliament’s support for the agreement so long as the controversial backstop arrangement for the Irish border is removed.

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But 23% said it was wrong and - in a sign of public uncertainty on the issue - 42% said they did not know.

Just 10% thought it likely that the EU would agree to ditch the backstop, against 60% who said it would not.

Only 14% said that the Government had done a good job of negotiating with the EU, compared with 78% who said it had done a bad job.

And just 14% of those questioned thought Mrs May’s deal would be good for the country, against 37% who saw it as a bad outcome.

More than half (51%) said that leaving without a deal would be bad for the country, compared with just 18% who thought it would be a good outcome.

Some 48% of the 1,650 voters questioned said the UK had made the wrong decision when it opted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, against 41% who thought it was right to leave.

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When don’t knows were removed, the result was Wrong 54%, Right 46%.

It is now more than a year since the monthly poll recorded a majority thinking that the 2016 referendum result was the right thing for Britain.

Some 37% said that a new referendum resulting in the UK remaining in the EU would be a good outcome for Britain and 7% viewed it as an “acceptable compromise”.

But 43% said this would be bad - including 36% who said it would be very bad - for the country.

More than half (52%) said that a second referendum with a Remain victory would make the country more divided, against just 17% who said it would bring Britain together.

A Norway-style Brexit leaving the UK in the single market and customs union was regarded as a good result by 27% and bad by 28%.

Less than one in eight (12%) of those questioned said that Labour’s policy on Europe was “clear”, compared with 70% who said it was “confusing”.

And just 14% said they supported Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit, against 56% who oppose it.

When the same question was asked about the Conservative policy, some 24% found it clear and 61% confusing.

Mrs May’s approach was backed by 33% and opposed by 47%.

- YouGov questioned 1,650 British adults on January 30 and 31.