Violence against MPs 'worth it' to get own way on Brexit

24 October 2019, 22:55

Both Leave and Remain voters think violence against MPs is a price worth paying
Both Leave and Remain voters think violence against MPs is a price worth paying. Picture: PA

By Sylvia DeLuca

A majority of voters believe violence against MPs is a "price worth paying" to get their way on Brexit, a survey's co-director was "shocked" to reveal.

The report by researchers from Cardiff University and the University of Edinburgh found both Leavers and Remainers believed violence could be "worth it" if it meant their views prevailed.

The survey's co-director Professor Richard Wyn Jones said he was "genuinely shocked" at the findings.

Based on polling by YouGov, the survey found 71% of Leave voters in England, 60% in Scotland and 70% in Wales believed violence towards MPs was a "price worth paying" for Brexit.

Among Remain voters, 58% in England, 53% in Scotland and 56% in Wales considered violence towards MPs was a "price worth paying" for Britain to stay in the EU.

A police officer walks past pro-Brexit activists demonstrating outside the Houses of Parliament
A police officer walks past pro-Brexit activists demonstrating outside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: PA

Voters on both sides said protests in which members of the public are badly injured were a "price worth paying" to secure their desired outcome.

Among Leavers, it was 69% in England, 62% in Scotland and 70% in Wales. On the Remain side, it was 57% in England, 56% in Scotland and 57% in Wales.

The findings come among concerns among MPs on both sides of the debate that they are facing rising levels of abuse and threats from members of the public.

Labour MP Jess Phillips told Global's Newsroom she was "jumpy, worried and frightened" after her constituency office was targeted last month.

Sky News reported that Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg and his young son needed a heavy police escort as they left Westminster as People's Vote protesters pursued them chanting "shame on you" after a crucial vote on Saturday.

Professor Wyn Jones 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.

"Given that we appear to be on the brink of another general election in which further polarisation could be a deliberate campaign strategy for some parties, these findings should give all of us pause for thought and underline the importance of responsible and measured debate."

Britain is supposed to leave the EU on October 31, however MPs have voted for a delay to the process, leading the prime minister to call for a snap General Election.

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