29% of Remain voters would accept expulsion of all EU nationals after Brexit, study suggests

Twenty-nine per cent of Remain voters would accept a Brexit scenario in which all EU nationals were forced to leave the UK, new research suggests.

Meanwhile, more than a third of Leavers — 34 per cent — said they would back a deal that gave Britain no control over EU immigration and similar levels of migration to now.

The innovative study by researchers at Oxford University and the London School of Economics (LSE) found the views of Remainers and Leavers, away from the sometimes vitriolic public debate, were not as far apart as had been thought.

Instead of asking directly whether participants would accept certain outcomes of Brexit — such as a specified level of immigration control or a given value for the divorce payment — the academics included a wide selection of propositions in a slew of potential scenarios ranging from hard to soft Brexit.

The 29 per cent figure was the least popular proposition among Remainers, however; 60 per cent said they would accept an outcome that included all EU nationals could stay in the UK indefinitely, and this was the most popular single item.

“We allowed those numbers to be revealed by people’s choices,” Dr Thomas Leeper, an associate professor in political behaviour at LSE, told The Independent. “Twenty-nine per cent of Remain voters would be willing to accept a [deal] that contained that feature, against a set of alternatives. They are not isolated preferences.

“That number is actually signifying that Remain voters are very favourable to the rights of EU citizens, but they’re not so favourable as to oppose that outcome completely.”

The study uncovered a phenomenon Dr Leeper called “losers’ consent”, meaning Remain voters appeared willing to accept features of a hard Brexit out of respect for the result of last June’s referendum.

Figures shared with The Independent showed a convergence of opinion, rather than reflecting the often highly polarised public discourse, with voters’ preferences in many…

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