January 4, 2019 / 11:06 AM / 6 months ago

Majority of UK PM May's party members oppose her Brexit deal -survey

* Most members of May’s party oppose deal -YouGov poll

* No-deal warnings exaggerated, say 76 pct of party

By Kylie MacLellan and Andy Bruce

LONDON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May’s bid to push her Brexit plans through parliament was dealt another blow on Friday when a survey showed most of her own party’s members oppose the agreement and would prefer to leave the bloc without a deal.

If lawmakers do not approve it, the world’s fifth largest economy is on course to leave the European Union on March 29 without a deal, a nightmare scenario for many big businesses who fear disruption to trade.

May needs 318 votes to get her deal through parliament yet 117 of her Conservative Party’s 317 lawmakers voted against her in a confidence vote on Dec. 12. She will need the support of some of the Labour Party’s 257 lawmakers or to win over swathes of her own party and the Northern Irish party which props up her minority government.

The YouGov survey of 1,215 Conservative members found 59 percent of the party’s rank-and-file opposed May’s deal, with just 38 percent in favour.

Asked about warnings over the risks of no-deal disruption, including potential food and medicine shortages, 76 percent of Conservative members said they were “exaggerated or invented”.

“Grassroots Tories (Conservatives) are even less impressed than Tory Members of Parliament (MPs),” said Tim Bale, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London, who helps run a study of British political party membership.

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by John Stonestreet

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