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As British MPs struggled and failed to find a way through the Brexit morass on Wednesday, Financial Times readers gave their own answers on the question of the UK’s future ties with the EU.
Ahead of MPs seizing control of parliamentary business on Wednesday afternoon, we conducted a straw poll, using our “best guess” of the likely Brexit options that would be voted on in the Commons. The more than 7,600 readers who responded were asked to vote for all of the options that they found “acceptable”.
Just over 70 per cent of respondents favoured revoking the Article 50 exit process altogether. By contrast, this was only the fifth most popular option among MPs in Wednesday’s “indicative votes” on Brexit options, with a total of 184 votes for and 293 against.
“The whole process was too flawed to be taken seriously, in so serious a matter,” wrote Philip Sturdy, one of the readers who took part in the survey. “If there is a substantial block of the electorate that still wants to campaign for leaving the EU, the sensible and proper way to handle that is to start again.”
But the FT survey was not completely discordant with the MPs’ deliberations.
The second most popular choice among our readers was another EU referendum, with 65 per cent support. In terms of the sheer number of votes in the House of Commons, this was the most widely favoured option for MPs, with 268 votes in favour and 295 against.
“It’s the only way out,” an anonymous reader wrote. “Damage has been done and feelings will be strong for a month but soon enough we will be back to where we were before.”
It is worth noticing, however, that the option with the tightest margin in the MPs’ vote was the initiative to bolt on a customs union to prime minister Theresa May’s deal, which failed by just eight votes in parliament. That option — which could come back for parliament’s deliberations next week — was much less popular among our readers, with a mere 15 per cent backing in the survey.
(All eight options considered by MPs were voted down — but could come back for further deliberations on Monday.)
Among the FT survey, the third most popular option was the so-called Common Market 2.0 — just about the softest possible Brexit — which would keep the UK in both a customs union with the EU and the bloc’s single market. This attracted 38 per cent of votes in our poll. Among MPs, it received 188 votes for, but 283 against.
“We need to work with our neighbours,” wrote Diana Cooper, another respondent, in support of this option. “We cannot please everybody but this compromise at least stands a chance of letting us get on with our lives.”
Meanwhile, the Labour party’s plan and the hard no-deal exit were supported by a minority of respondents, at 7 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. Similarly, MPs rejected a no-deal exit by 160 votes to 400.
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