A Bonus Barometer on Brexit
Just in time for the ‘meaningful vote’ in the House of Commons tomorrow night comes a new, bonus, Welsh Political Barometer poll. In addition to our usual questions about voting intention – about which more soon – we asked a series of items about Brexit and the forthcoming parliamentary vote.
The new poll once more ran two long-standing Brexit-related questions. We asked about support for a second referendum, using a standard question format that has been asked repeatedly since September 2016. The results for this showed little change: most of those who voted Remain in 2016 support this, but an even bigger proportion of those who voted Leave in June 2016 are opposed. The balance of opinion continues to be marginally against (with 46 percent opposing a second referendum, 41 percent in support and 14 percent choosing Don’t Know).
The new poll also asked once more our standard Remain .v. Leave question, using the same question format we have repeated since July 2016, which offers people a Remain / Leave choice. The latest poll again shows only small changes since November (changes since our last poll are in brackets below):
Remain: 44% (-1)
Leave: 38% (-3)
Would Not Vote: 9% (+3)
Don’t Know/Refused: 10% (+2)
All changes since the previous poll are within the normal ‘margin of error’. Nonetheless, a six-point lead for Remain is the largest seen since the referendum (albeit only by a single percentage point).
The poll then asked a series of questions that have not generally been asked in previous Barometer polls. The first question was simply a support or oppose one on the draft Brexit deal:
“A draft deal on the terms of Brexit has been agreed between the government and the European Union. From what you have seen or heard about the deal so far, do you support or oppose the draft Brexit deal?”
The pattern of responses was:
Don’t Know: 30%
A few things stand out from the results here. The first is that a large proportion of people – nearly one-third of the full sample – select the Don’t Know option. But a second thing that is clear from the results is that, of those willing to offer a view, those supporting the deal are outnumbered two-to-one by opponents. When we look in more detail at the results, we see that a plurality – though not an absolute majority – of Conservative supporters do support the deal. Among 2016 referendum voters, though, a plurality of those who voted Leave and an absolute majority of Remainers are opposed.
A further question in the poll asked “Generally speaking, what would you like to see happen now?” and gave respondents a number of different options. These were the responses:
Britain should accept the draft deal and go ahead with Brexit on these terms: 15%
Britain should reject the draft deal and seek to reopen negotiations and seek a different deal: 12%
Britain should reject the draft deal and leave the European Union without any deal: 17%
There should be a referendum on whether or not to accept the draft Brexit deal: 7%
Britain should stop Brexit and remain in the EU after all: 31%
Something else: 1%
Don't know: 17%
Clearly, the country is not ‘coming together over Brexit’ (as Theresa May has sometimes rather optimistically suggested over recent times), with no option able to win the support of even one-third of respondents. Remain is the most popular option, particularly with those who voted that way two years ago. But none of apparent Leave options wins very widespread support. However, just about the only thing less popular than these options is the idea of a second referendum!
In a further question, respondents to our poll were asked whether MPs should approve the proposed Brexit deal. Once again, lots of people were undecided, with more than one-quarter of people choosing Don’t Know. But among those with a view, those thinking that MPs should support the deal were outnumbered exactly two-to-one by those favouring opposition: 48 percent to 24 percent.
In a further twist, our poll put some of the current potential alternatives to people, in a series of forced binary choices without a Don’t Know option. When people were asked to choose between accepting the draft deal or Britain leaving the EU without a deal, then the deal won out by 60 percent to 40 percent. When they were asked to choose between the deal and a second referendum on whether or not to leave the EU, however, the majority were opposed – by some 54 percent to 46 percent. And when the alternatives were Britain leaving the EU without a deal and having a referendum on whether or not to leave, then the majority in favour of a referendum edged up slightly, with 44 percent supporting a ‘No Deal Brexit’ and some 56 percent choosing the referendum option.
Finally, our poll had further grim news for the Prime Minister. Our poll asked the following about the Prime Minister’s position:
“Do you think Theresa May should remain as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, or stand down now and let someone else take over?”
The good news here for the Prime Minister is that the clear majority of Conservative supporters (some 76 percent) favoured her staying in office. But we then asked a follow-up question, relating to the situation if – as currently seems almost inevitable – the Prime Minister loses the meaningful vote in parliament. In that context, close to a majority (46 percent) of respondents thought that Theresa May should step down, with only 35 percent thinking that she should stay. (The other 19 percent selected Don’t Know).
Overall, a wealth of evidence that suggests that Theresa May has signally failed to united the public behind the draft Withdrawal Agreement. Far more people are opposed than supportive. If MPs do indeed vote down the deal, they are very unlikely to face any public backlash.