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Tipsheet

ALL IN: The Conservative Base Wants Brexit, Even If It Ends The United Kingdom As We Know It

AP Photo/Rui Vieira

As Tory MPs scramble to choose the next prime minister, Britain’s conservative base made abundantly clear that Brexit must happen — even if it means the end of the United Kingdom as we know it.

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Sixty-nine percent of Britain’s Tory base wants out of Europe even if Scotland leaves the Kingdom while 59 percent say they are for the departure from the European Union even if it means that Northern Ireland secedes from Great Britain as a result, according to a new YouGov poll. The poll surveyed 892 conservative party members between June 11 and June 14.

Brexit could complicate Westminister’s relationship with the two constituent kingdoms that have stayed in the United Kingdom for hundreds of years. An independence referendum for Scotland was defeated in 2014 but supporters of the move towards sovereignty are gearing up for another vote in the next few years. Northern Ireland meanwhile is compelled by the Good Friday Agreement — a 1998 peace treaty that ended decades of terrorist bloodshed — to keep its border with Ireland open even after Brexit happens.

The same poll also found that the British conservatives are willing to endure “significant damage to the economy” to leave the E.U. The British Sterling has dropped in value since May as the financial market reacted to the growing prospect of leaving the E.U., which a leaked internal government report concluded might cause severe social and economic disruption if handled incorrectly.

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The Tory base backs Brexit partially out of electoral consideration. More than half of British conservatives believe that if Tories fail to deliver Brexit, their party will be out of power — forever. Moreover, the majority of conservative voters would oppose Brexit if it will lead to a Labor government under Jeremy Corbyn. 

Despite this, 54 percent of Tories still back Brexit even if it means it will destroy their party. 

The conservative base’s steadfast attachment to Brexit is likely buoying the candidacy of Boris Johnson, the current frontrunner in the prime ministerial race. Johnson has promised that if he becomes Britain’s next prime minister, he will make Brexit happen. In his campaign launch video, he said, “If I get in we’ll come out [of the E.U.,] deal or no deal on October 31."

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