New Tory MPs likely to be more pro-Brexit than old ones

by Nick Kent | 15.05.2017

A clear majority of Conservative MPs backed Remain during the referendum, but Tories with a good chance of becoming an MP for the first time on June 8 are likely to be more pro-Brexit.

We’ve analysed the views of two groups of candidates: the 12 who have been selected to replace retiring Conservative MPs; and those fighting the 50 most marginal opposition-held seats.

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In each case, we have tried to identify how the Conservative candidate voted in the referendum: 24 backed Leave but only 15 Remain. In a further 23 cases, we were unable to identify the candidate’s views.

In 62% of the cases where we could identify candidates’ views, the Tory was pro-Leave. During the referendum, 57% of Conservative MPs voted Remain.

Most candidates will say they will support Theresa May in negotiating Brexit, however they voted in 2016. But such an analysis does give a rough guide to what kind of Conservative parliamentary party there will be after the election. Will it be dominated by a new wave of passionate Brexiteers, who will prefer no deal with the EU to an agreement? Or will it contain a significant group of Tory MPs who will prefer a softer Brexit?

Our surveys shows that in the Tory-held seats, Leave has a clear advantage. Eight Remain and four Leave supporting MPs are retiring. They have been replaced by six Leave and three Remain supporting candidates, and three whose vote is not recorded. The only prominent Remainer on the list is Vicky Ford, the MEP. The retirement of George Osborne and Andrew Tyrie means the departure of two senior and prominent Remainers; new MPs are unlikely to be as confident about speaking out.

There’s a similar pattern in the 50 most marginal seats. Leave is slightly ahead with 18 backers versus 12 Remain supporters. A further 20 have no recorded preference.

As might be expected, six out of the 10 contesting London marginals voted to Remain. Two of those London candidates who voted Leave share the majority view of their constituents but the other two Leave supporters are standing in seats that voted Remain – Ealing Central and Enfield North.

Any exercise like this is challenging. Many candidates expressed no view at the time of the referendum and some of those who did may now say they would vote differently. There was no time to interview candidates but we have applied some basic principles. We searched the Twitter feeds of those active during the referendum and looked at any other public statement we could find; we also looked at smaller scale exercises conducted by others.

Finally, it should be noted that the 50 top marginals do not include a number of SNP-held seats in Scotland which the Conservatives have a high chance of winning in the changed circumstances of 2017. We have simply looked at the 50 seats with the smallest percentage point margins over the Tories in 2015.


Edited by Hugo Dixon

3 Responses to “New Tory MPs likely to be more pro-Brexit than old ones”

  • Hey Hugo this is great news. More soft BREXITeers the better.

    Its odd now many people I know were on the fence hence voted to stay IN, however based upon how the EU have reacted to a democracy doing to what it wants to do, have now become BREXITeers.

  • Hey James,
    If you are referring to recent comments by Messrs Juncker and Tusk, or even Merkel, point out to your friends that have all been polite in their dealings with the PM, but have had to point out several self-evident truths that they’ve been saying for the last 6 months. In particular, the EU has to defend the integrity of the Single Market and not allow bits of it to be cherry picked. It would clearly be illogical were they to offer Britain better or even equal terms to their other members. They have been entirely consistent in this, so claims of ‘bullying’ are just Uk tabloids starting to get a bit desperate that they are being found out.