A majority of voters think some level of violence against MPs is a “price worth paying” in order to get their way on Brexit.
An academic study by Cardiff University and the University of Edinburgh found more than 70 per cent of leave voters in England and Wales would condone some sort of violence being directed against MPs in order to get their way on Brexit.
The majority of remain voters also felt the same it if it meant we would stay in the EU – although the number fell to 58 per cent in England, 53 per cent in Scotland and 56 per cent in Wales.
Flabbergasted by the results
Richard Wyn Jones, a professor of Welsh politics at Cardiff University who co-directed the research, said he had been “flabbergasted” by the results, given the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox before the referendum in 2016 and recent threats made towards other MPs.
“If we’re going into a general election in which polarisation is the name of the game, it’s very, very hard to see how you can bind these wounds,” said Wyn Jones.
Most people who responded to the survey also thought that violence towards MPs and violent protests in which people are “badly injured” were likely to occur if and when Brexit happens.
“I think this division is now existential,” Wyn Jones said. “It’s about who we think we are and who we think we’re not. It’s very hard to see how the state of the union in its current form survives Brexit.”
He added: “If we’re going into a general election in which further polarisation is a deliberate aim of the campaigning of at least some of the political parties, you do wonder in all seriousness where all of this ends.”
Breakup of the UK
Of the 4,103 politically representative respondents, a significant number – 47 per cent in Wales, 52 per cent in England and 61 per cent in Scotland – thought that the UK’s departure from the EU would likely lead to the breakup of the UK.
Many were also willing to see the union change substantially if it meant they would get their own way on Brexit.
Among leave voters, 74 per cent in England, the same percentage in Wales and 59 per cent in Scotland believed the breakup of the UK would be worth it to take back control through delivering Brexit.
Similar proportions of remainers believed undermining faith in the union would be a price worth paying in order to remain in the EU.
Under considerable strain
Ailsa Henderson, a professor of political science at the University of Edinburgh and fellow co-director of the research, said the findings showed that Brexit negotiations were “putting the union under considerable strain regardless of whether we stay or go”.
She added: “Both sides are prepared to fundamentally rewrite the rules of politics as we know it to get what they want.
“Staying in the EU will likely decrease faith in the union.
“Brexit could well change its borders.”
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