On the four last occasions when we asked our panel about May’s deal, the proportion of respondents willing to see Conservative MPs vote for it was as follows: 19 per cent, 40 per cent and 60 per cent. As it became clearer that the most likely alternative to the deal was a softer Brexit, the proportion of panel members prepared to recommend it, however reluctantly, rose (as at the same time the number of ERG and other Tory MPs willing to oppose it in the lobbies fell).
This month sees a turnaround in the trend.
A majority of respondents are once again opposed to Conservative MPs voting the deal through – just over half. Some two in five still support it. Our explanation of the change is that the local elections rebuff, Theresa May’s talks with Jeremy Corbyn and the postponement of Brexit itself have swung some panel members back round. Furthermore, most senior Ministers are unwilling to champion the deal enthusiastically – and Downing Street itself seems too exhausted to give it another publicity push.
This background of declining support bodes badly for any concessions to Corbyn on the Customs Union.