Duncan Smith claims without evidence polls show "vast majority" want no deal

PUBLISHED: 12:01 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:48 05 March 2019

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith speaking on Bloomberg (Pic: Bloomberg)

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith speaking on Bloomberg (Pic: Bloomberg)

Bloomberg

Iain Duncan Smith has claimed polls show the "vast majority" - including Remainers - want a no-deal Brexit, without citing any evidence.

The hardline Brexiteer and former Tory leader told US TV network Bloomberg “all the polling tells us categorically” that there is a majority for leaving the EU without any form of agreement.

And he insisted Brexit would lead to “another Reformation”, a reference to the 16th-century religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe.

In actual fact, the overwhelming majority of recent polls have shown a majority to stay in the EU in the event of a second referendum. The three most recent, for Deltapoll, Kantar and ORB, show pro-Remain majorities of 45-41, 43-35 and 48-42.

The most recent poll by YouGov, who called the 2017 election most closely, showed Remain beating Leave by 48% to 38%.

But Duncan Smith insisted: “If you look at the polling it’s quite clear that the vast majority want to get out now, even if they voted Remain, and just get on with it.

“It’s very difficult, you know, to break it down, but all the polling tells us categorically – and the same in my constituency – which is [sic] that the majority are happy to get out without a withdrawal agreement, that gets the highest scoring of the lot.

“And that’s because, what we’ve been seeing with the EU in the last few months is really not a very nice sight.

“It’s a group of people that you’d think would want to do a good arrangement with us and actually stay out as friends, but in fact spend their whole time slagging the UK off and deliberately making threats.

“Well, it doesn’t seem to be that’s a very good way to behave. And if they behave like that, what’s happened in the UK, I think people have hardened up in the sense that this is not a very good organisation.

“And so I think everyone is rather happy to be leaving.”

Dismissing what his interviewer described as “doom and gloom”, the former work and pensions secretary said: “I think that the problem is when you’ve been attached to an organisation as centrally controlling as this thing, the EU, then it’s very difficult. People get persuaded that there’s no life outside.

“But when you think that the UK, after 40 years, still does the majority of its trade outside the EU not in the EU, which is unique to the UK, our growth markets are outside the EU. We actually have a surplus in trade with places like the United States and all these other countries around the world.”

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The most recent figures, from 2017, show UK exports to the EU, dismissed blithely by Duncan Smith, were worth £274bn (44% of all UK exports).

He added: “We run a deficit, an enormous deficit, in trade with the EU, and so I think outside we will do incredibly well. It’s like another Reformation and there will be the same explosion in talent and opportunity.”

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