**Theresa May faces public backlash over hard Brexit, poll finds
A clear majority of the British public oppose Theresa May’s uncompromising Brexit negotiating position and are not prepared for the UK to crash out of the EU if the prime minister cannot negotiate a reasonable exit deal, according to a new poll.
In a sign that public support for the government’s push for a hard Brexit is increasingly precarious, just 35% of the public said they backed Britain leaving the EU without an agreement with other states. The UK would then fall back on to World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs, which MPs and business leaders have claimed would devastate the economy.
The survey – conducted by ICM for the online campaigning organisation Avaaz on the day the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to trigger article 50 – suggests May would face a considerable backlash if Britain crashed out of the EU on WTO terms. In a welcome boost for soft Brexit campaigners, over half (54%) of those surveyed backed either extending negotiations if a satisfactory deal could not be reached, or halting the process altogether while the public was consulted for a second time.
The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Tom Brake, said the findings proved the government’s position was indefensible.
Of the 54% of people who opposed the government’s position, 34% said May should continue negotiating. A further 20% backed halting the process pending a second referendum on the terms of the deal, an option backed by the Lib Dems and a cross-party group of MPs including the Labour MPs David Lammy, Heidi Alexander and Ben Bradshaw, as well as the Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas.**