Earlier this week NatCen released new polling on what people want from Brexit. The vast majority (90%) of people would like to keep free trade with the European Union. By 70% to 22% people would also like to limit the amount of EU immigration into Britain. Getting these two things together does not, of course, seem particularly likely. Asked if Britain should agree to keep free movement in exchange for keeping free trade, people are much more evenly split – 49% think we should, 51% think we should not (the full report is here).

Personally, I still think the best way of judging public opinion on Brexit is probably not to ask about individual policies, but to test some plausible scenarios – when it comes to it, people will judge the deal as a whole, not as the sum of its parts. YouGov released some updated polling on Brexit today that repeated that experiment, and again found that a Canadian type deal is likely to get the widest support from the public (that is, no freedom of movement and a more limited trade deal). The problem with a Norway type deal – retaining full free-trade with the EU in exchange for keeping freedom of movement and a financial contribution is that most of the public would see it as not respecting the result of the referendum.

I’ve written a much longer piece about the YouGov polling over on the YouGov site here, so I won’t repeat it all. One interesting bit though is looking at the possible outcomes of an early election, fought on the issue of Brexit. Now, I should start with some important caveats – hypothetical election questions are very crude tools. While I’m sure an early election would be dominated by the issue of Brexit, there would be other issues at play too, so a question like this will over emphasise the impact of Brexit policy. Nevertheless, it suggests some interesting patterns. YouGov asked how people would vote if Brexit could not pass a Parliamentary vote and instead an early election happened. In the scenarios the Conservatives and UKIP back Brexit (as they undoubtedly would) and the Lib Dems back a second referendum (as they’ve said they would). YouGov offered three different scenarios for Labour – one, where Labour back Brexit, two where Labour back only a “soft Brexit”, three where Labour also offer a second referendum. In all three cases the Conservatives would win easily – even the closest scenario gives them a twelve point lead. The interesting finding is the Lib Dems – in the two scenarios where they are the only party offering a second referendum their support goes up to 19% or 22% (if Labour also offer a referendum the Lib Dems don’t gain nearly so much). So, while these are hypothetical questions that need to be taken with a pinch of salt, it does suggest that appealing to those voters who really are set against Brexit could be a route back for the Lib Dems, especially if they are the lone “anti-Brexit” party. The full results for the YouGov polling are here.

Meanwhile Ipsos MORI released their monthly political monitor. In terms of voting intention the Conservative lead is halved from last month, but that is likely something of a reversion to the mean after a towering eighteen point lead last month. Topline figures are CON 42%, LAB 33%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 7%, GRN 3%. As ever, wait until you see the change echoed in other polls before concluding that the Conservative lead is waning.

Theresa May still enjoys a positive approval rating – 54% are satisfied with the job she is doing, 30% disatisfied. The new government also have a net positive rating at their handling of the economy so far – 51% think they’ve done a good job, 30% a bad job. Where the public are not convinced is on how the government are handling the biggest issue – only 37% think the government are doing a good job at handling Brexit, 48% think they are doing a bad job. Full details of the MORI poll are here.

424 Responses to “NatCen & YouGov polling on Brexit and MORI’s political monitor”

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  1. Anthony

    Was there a reason why the party options in the “what if parties did X” questions were restricted to those in the English polity?

    I know it’s the biggest, but there are interesting political issues in the other polities that might have been worth teasing out.

  2. The pollis certainly fascinating, and it looks as though an early election would be bad for Labour. With such a big lead for the Conservatives, if maintained, I really wonder what would happen.

    I suppose with in effect three smallish opposition parties FPTP might give some highly unpredictable results in some seats..

    A lot to think about there for all the parties obviously. Highly risky for all, but LDs and UKIP have little to lose in terms of parliamentary seats.

  3. The poll is…

    It may well be good news for the SNP as well, but we cannot tell.

  4. It certainly doesn’t feel like a second referendum, or a general election, to confirm the terms of Brexit would necessarily be the panacea that some hope.

    It feels largely like all of the sound and fury since June has achieved precisely nothing. It has probably polarized opinion, but not changed it.

  5. Chasing “remoaners” is hardly likely to add to the already diminished credibility of the Liberal Democrats?

  6. Neil A

    “It certainly doesn’t feel like a second referendum, or a general election, to confirm the terms of Brexit would necessarily be the panacea that some hope.”

    And the same seems true for Scotland. Those on the indy side who are desperate for indyref2 seem likely to face a similar situation of a still evenly divided population.

    Is it possible to hope for the middle ground in both constitutional debates?

    Real Devo Max for Scotland within the UK, and the UK remaining in the Single Market, while not being in the EU?

  7. @oldnat

    Maybe the first but not the second. It is the “nobody’s happy” compromise, whereas DevoMax is a bit more “everyone get’s something”.

  8. @JonesinBangor

    I don’t think there is anywhere near a majority of people supporting the Lib Dem position on Brexit, but I think there is a substantial minority.

    If they can get to 15-20% in the polls, and see their support rise in the South West back to traditional levels, they can be a player for sure. They could easily grab a few of their lost seats back.

    However, I suspect the Lib Dems are probably terminally hollowed out in many areas such as the north.


    I don’t see how the Lib Democrats will do well in the South West outside Bristol on that one?

  10. Neil A

    ” It is the “nobody’s happy” compromise”

    But the alternative is 40% happy – 40% miserable, according to YG!

    The rankings of the 4 options that YG gave are interesting.

    1. Out of/EU/WTO Rules
    2. limited Free Trade Deal
    3. In Single Market
    4. Stay in EU.

    percentages of respondents ranking each of these options in preference (wee Scottish sample in brackets – but hey! I’m a Scot)

    1. First 26% (18%) : Second 23% (22%) : Third 10% (16%) : Fourth 33% (44%)
    2. First 26% (21%) : Second 30% (29%) : Third 33% (44%) : Fourth 7% (5%)
    3. First 17% (18%) : Second 35% (40%) : Third 39% (32%) : Fourth 8% (10%)
    4. First 31% (42%) : Second 9% (9%) : Third 8% (8%) : Fourth 52% (41%)

    Most of the people responding to the poll may have taken into account the prevailing political mood, but it does seem to contradict your idea that no one would be [moderately] happy with a solution that fell below their preferred outcome.

  11. Regarding Theresa May’s positive ratings (54% approval). She has been PM for four months and her honeymoon is unusually long,

    She’s benefitting from the British predilection for women leaders. Ever since Elizabeth I, folk memory has associated women leaders with peace and prosperity. Prior to Elizabeth her macho predecessors in the previous five centures started countless ruinous wars to to prove their prowess and earn booty for their knights. Elizabeth introduced a new idea – that war was a grand old waste of money and you should only fight if attacked.

    In recent times we’ve had Thatcher who fought one small war when a crown territory was attacked, to Blair and Cameron who started pointless foreign wars to prove their machodom, and failed horribly in their endeavours. Theresa May is a reversion back to the female norm (for us) of calm, peace and prosperity. This is the Kingdom of Boudicca’s Daughters – Lizzie as Queen, Mrs May as Prime Minister, Arlene Foster and Nicola Sturgeon as the First Ministers of Northern Ireland and Scotland. Only Wales holds out with a male leader (Carwyn Jones). A long period of blessed peace and prosperity awaits us. That;s what the voters are thinking..

    This puts us at odds with the United States (whose whole history has been dominated by males with no Elizabeth I or Thatcher-type character in evidence). I know some in the press think the special relationship is back on, but I think this is the point where we go our separate ways.

  12. But in this post-poll world we can be sure of only one thing – the polls are wrong.

  13. Candy

    The “British” didn’t have Elizabeth ! as a monarch. England (incorporating Wales) did.

    If you insist on posting ludicrous interpretations of history, you might at least restrict them to your own patch, instead of compounding your foolishness.

  14. NickP

    “But in this post-poll world we can be sure of only one thing – the polls are wrong.”

    But you are suggesting that as a truth, Surely, in this post-truth world, that makes you wrong – and consequently, all polls are right (especially when they contradict each other)?

  15. @Oldnat,

    Tsk, tsk, the English and Welsh have always been British, as have the Scots.

  16. Neil A

    “the English and Welsh have always been British, as have the Scots.”

    As have the Irish, and the Manx and the Bretons for that matter – but they didn’t all have Lizzie I as their Queen. :-)

  17. @OldNat

    Most of Britain is England – sucks for you, but as long as you remain in the Kingdom (for begging bowl reasons), you must bow to this reality. If you hate the idea, just declare independence, pay your own way, the door is over there…

  18. @ Oldnat and Neil A

    If “devo max” is what the centre ground would want, should it also include, at the same time, electoral reform of Westminster?

  19. Candy

    What a sad wee soul you are. Your ignorance is manifest in both the English and Scots usage of that word.

  20. Sam

    Is there any particular reason why, having decided the number of MPs from each nation, each nation should elect their representatives in the same way?

    England seems wedded to FPTP, but why should everybody else follow their lead (unless you are another Candy of course :-) ).

  21. @OldNat

    What words? “Begging Bowl”? :-)

    Like I said, if you hate the thought of England being 85% of the Kingdom, declare independence. True you have a horrendous deficit, but surely you’d be glad to privatise the Scottish NHS to make ends meet and get rid of the English yoke?

    If however you decide to stay and accept the charitable alms of people like me, you need to accept that Elizabeth I was the founder of women’s rights in the UK. She established that women could run countries extremely well and paved the way for Mrs Thatcher and Mrs May, Englishwomen both.

  22. @Oldnat,

    My point is that just because the British compose more than just the English, it doesn’t follow that something English (like good Queen Bess) isn’t also British.

    Andy Murray is British. Haggis is British. Nessie is British.

    Scones are British. West Bromwich Albion is British. Cricket is British.

    Love Spoons are British. The Welsh language is British. Mount Snowdon is British.

  23. Candy

    Congratulations on demonstrating gender equality. Women can be just as bloody stupid as men. Quite why you want to demonstrate that on here is another matter.

    Probably your bridge needs you.

  24. Neil A

    May Woden (a good Anglo-Saxon god, of Germanic origin – that should p!ss you off) give me strength!

    Everything that you say about your Good Queen Bess being British would also apply to her being European – since you seem to be relying on geographical proximity for your argument

    All the things you mention are European.

    Other than joining Candy under her bridge, why would you want to post such nonsensical stuff?

  25. @OldNat

    You seem to have issues with Elizabeth I. Everytime I mention her, you go off on a rant.

    The fact remains that she is the reason that women leaders are seen as normal and even desirable in the UK. She proved that women could run countries as well and better than men. She was the benchmark for all her successors,

    In the United States by contrast, all the key events of their history (war of independence, civil war, world wars, vietnam war, cold war) were male affairs. Though Abigail Adams had a bit part in the war of independence.

    That’s why Hillary struggled to get elected there, while Mrs T got elected over 36 years ago and we’re onto our second woman leader, Mrs May, who has outstanding ratings..

    It is true that Scotland hasn’t had the same luck with women (the neurotic Mary Stuart who had her husband killed and the incompetent Sturgeon), but the UK has had great luck with female leaders.

  26. Candy

    You are funny. :-)

  27. @Oldnat

    I didn’t suggest she wasn’t European.

    I just think you’re wrong to say that an Englishwoman can’t be representative of the British.

    I suspect that for political reasons you want to frame the concept of “British” as a being something of the United Kingdom, as opposed to something from the British Isles, (or Great Britain for those who don’t subscribe to the Isles concept).

  28. Candy

    If you want to consider powerful women, then think of Catherine the Great or Maria Theresa..

    I would suggest that your insularity does you no favours – except England isn’t an island.

    So I’ll have to content myself with pointing out that your peninsularity does you no favours.

  29. Neil A

    It’s a bit difficult to suggest that a monarch of one country who imprisons the monarch of another is representative of both countries (though she may be representative of the institution of monarchy).

    However, if you want to claim that Charlemagne, Harold Godwinsson, Cnut, Victor Emmanuel II and every other monarch in Christendom are part of the same tradition, then I concede the point – totally irrelevant though that point would be.

    Mind you, it would make us all part of the same European Union project, that we could all enthusiastically participate in.

    Though you might want to erect your own borders according to your own prejudices.

    I’m happy for my country to be part of a shared cultural heritage with the rest of Europe, and would want that to be cemented in a political union with them and rUK in that union.

    Unhappily a majority of English and Welsh voters have turned out to be separatists, who really don’t much like dealing with other people.

  30. @OldNat

    But Catherine the Great (of russia) and Maria Theresa (of Austria) didn’t inspire female successors. Neither Russia nor Austra has ever elected a woman leader.

    Elizabeth I did inspire the idea that women were good leaders. It helped that Queen Anne was the mother of the union and that Queen Mary II presided over the glorious revolution and Queen Victoria presided over the industrial revolution, and between them all they established that women leaders were unusually lucky but Elizabeth I did most of the work in establishing women could lead.

    Biographies of Margaret Thatcher reveal that people at the time (nearly four decades ago) completely accepted a woman could be PM, and the issues that dominated the election were solely about policy. Similarly Mrs May didn’t get her job because she was female, it was taken for granted she could do the job. Britain is very unusual in having this succession of female leaders – and it is down to the magic and folk memory of Good Queen Bess.

  31. @OldNat – “It’s a bit difficult to suggest that a monarch of one country who imprisons the monarch of another is representative of both countries”

    OK so that is why you hate Good Queen Bess. She imprisoned Mary Stuart only because after she gave Mary asylum from the ferocious Scots, Mary decided to repay her by trying to take her throne. Mary was a Scottish nut-job who had murdered her husband and had no idea of how to behave and deserved to be imprisoned.

  32. @OldNa

    Tempting as it is to “debate” Candy (if it can be called that), I feel on balance this may be a case where the phrase “don’t feed the trolls” may apply.

  33. Candy

    You are imaginative – though sadly also remarkably foolish.

    Only someone as incoherently nationalist as your good self would be so determined to suggest that your 16th century monarch was such a role model for the future.

    That the sperm that impregnated the mothers of Queen Anne, and Victoria carried only an X chromosome, in honour of your Bess is something that only the deranged could imagine. No surprise then!

  34. Going back to the last thread, people were unhappy that many if the protesters in portland oregon had not voters. I would like to point out a few things, 1) oregon is a reasonably safe blue state, voting is pretty pointless there if you want to stop trump 2) that the right to protest isn’t dependant on voting, the constitution does not guarantee freedom of speech and assembly only to people who can prove they have voted 3) because of the nature of the voting system in the US there were only two viable candidates for the presidency, both of which any reasonable moral person would have refused to vote for.

  35. MOG

    You are quite right – but sometimes it is just too tempting to point out foolishness.

    I was rather more concerned with Neil A’s comments. I have respect for him – even if he was being more provocative than serious tonight.

  36. @OldNat

    You are in denial that the template for modern Britain was laid down by Elizabeth I a) her 40+ year reign was peaceful with only a few skirmishes with the Spanish b) she pivots away from Europe and establishes the first colonies in the USA c) she establishes the English Navy as our supreme mode of defence/diplomacy d) the peace she establishes allows a blossoming of poetry, theatre, business and science which later eras lacked (apart from the 19th century). Her era is when our language got nailed down and our culture crystallised. The Scots are obsessed with Mary Stuart but she was a bit part in the story and a failure.

    You are living in a world that Elizabeth I created and Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May are her successors – and it sticks in your craw because they are all Englishwomen.

  37. CR

    I agree with your comments on voting in Oregon.

    Possibly, some of these demonstrators would have voted, if Sanders had been the Democratic candidate. We don’t know.

    However, if more voters in safe blue states had voted Green, to the extent that they had 5% of the vote, then their would have been a potential breach in the two-party duopoly that is so limiting for the USA.

  38. MOG

    Don’t trolls ever give up trolling and being orgasmically excited by the process?

    Probably not.

  39. @ Danny (from the previous thread)

    Saw two different articles yesterday that I think explain the phenomenon really effectively.

    h ttp://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2016/11/16/13645116/rural-resentment-elites-trump

    This talks about the white working class vote in the northern United States including rural whites. In the south, they vote Republican and voted for Republican candidates at record levels over Obama. But northerners had voted, in come cases pretty overwhelmingly for Obama. It focuses on how a lot of Democrats there did switch to Trump.

    But now for the part where I find out that I live in a different country than the United States.


    This is actually undercounting the Latino and black support for Hillary in California. My guess is that 95% of blacks and 85% of Latinos voted for Hillary (based on precinct level and jurisdictional results). But I think it’s about right on the white vote. Whites overwhelmingly voted for Hillary, which is the stunner. I don’t know the last time whites in CA voted for the Democratic Presidential candidate. Maybe 64′ but I would guess the Great Depression. And both white women AND white men voted for Hillary. And even blue collar whites voted for Hillary.

    This is truly stunning. Because it does defy the demographic story. Hillary won Nevada because she got the massive Latino turnout she needed. Ditto in New Mexico and Colorado. But white working class there were behind Trump. She won African Americans in Pennsylvania but apparently was overwhelmed by rural white Democrats switching. Trump won Iowa by a greater margin than he did Texas. But we know why Texas and Arizona went the way they did. Latinos swung Hillary but whites by and large did not.

    In California, you had a very different reaction. And that reaction and response is continuing. People really are outraged.

    “I suspect her being chosen has more to do with patronage and it being her turn, but she could have been calculated to be on the right of the left and thus appaling to the traditional centre ground swing voters. Thus her making headway in California against an anti establishment candidate ought not to be a surprise.”

    I must disagree. People here are not voting on the basis of patronage. They’re voting on who they feel makes the best President (keep in mind, George W. Bush received 44% of the vote here in 2004).

    “I accept what you say, but if i was a democrat in California, I would be looking for evidence of churn amongst voters, republicans going centre left Hilary, but what ought to be be left democrats going Trump. These could perfectly well be lost in the headline figures.”

    There wasn’t any though. Left wing Democrats (even ones who loved Sanders and held their noses) went for Clinton.

    I gotta get back to work but here’s the Scotland comparisson with Brexit. Brexit got enormous support in the northern English Labour heartlands with high unemployment, de-industrialization, and recession and mostly white. But in Scotland, places like that voted against Brexit.

  40. Much as getting involved in this is a bad idea, didn’t Cleopatra set the bar for women about 1,500 years before Elizabeth the first.

    Mind you that does require admitting that there actually is a thing called history beyond the shores of Britain.


  41. SoCalLiberal

    ” Brexit got enormous support in the northern English Labour heartlands with high unemployment, de-industrialization, and recession and mostly white. But in Scotland, places like that voted against Brexit.”

    That’s true – and also suggests that people are hugely influenced by the party they support, when they make decisions. Obviously a minority of party supporters (according to polls) vote the opposite way, but in general the proposition holds.

    In Scotland, no meaningful party supported Brexit (though some individual politicians did), and there was a 62% vote to Remain.

    Now, the Unionist parties seem to have abandoned that stance and gone with “the UK voted Leave, so we’re with that if that’s what they want”.

    It will be interesting when we eventually see a proper Full Scottish poll if Unionist party supporters have rallied behind Leave and/or SNP/Green supporters have moved more towards remain.

  42. SoCalLiberal – “I gotta get back to work but here’s the Scotland comparisson with Brexit. Brexit got enormous support in the northern English Labour heartlands with high unemployment, de-industrialization, and recession and mostly white. But in Scotland, places like that voted against Brexit.”

    You need to be careful – Scotland is the most white part of the UK along with Northern Ireland. Ethnic minorities are a small number there, and eastern europeans also tend to avoid Scotland like the plague for some reason…

    Northern England (the parts that voted Brexit) has a lot of ethnic minorities and a lot of those ethnic minorities voted for Brexit. Same with the Midlands cities.

    The only reason Scotland voted remain is that they believe that an independent scotland would fare well if England remained in the EU and hence there would be no trade barriers between the two. They are absolutely frantic about England expressing self-deterninism and being outside the EU because 65% of their produce goes to England and they don’t want to be on the other side of a tariff. Hence the reason they are trying to force England to stay in the EU.

    England is not having any of it. If Scotland doesn’t like it they can leave, but they are frantic not to do that either for some reason.

  43. @Candy

    Northern England (the parts that voted Brexit) has a lot of ethnic minorities and a lot of those ethnic minorities voted for Brexit. Same with the Midlands cities.

    This is not true for my bit of West Yorkshire.

    I was at the count in Kirklees, and those wards with the largest ethnic voters (some where they are the majority, not the minority) voted far more strongly to rewmain.

    The size of the Leave lead was pretty much correlated to the proportion of the white electorate in each ward.

  44. socalliberal,
    i still think california went democrat because it is doing well economically and therefore does not have voters who feel left out from the nations wealth. I think this is probably a trend, but equally the reverse trend has been building in other states.

    “But in Scotland, places like that voted against Brexit.”
    I still think the protest vote against the status quo has long been in the hands of the SNP in Scotland, and they massively increased this showing by obliterating the Labour party in recent elections. (the conservatives having been obliterated some time ago). The SNP has little opportunity to be seen to be failing, because it has no power to alter Uk wide policy and therefore is unlikely to fall from grace. Although Trump is nominally a republican, his nomination was itself a rejection of the official republican candidates, and his victory now is a rejection of the democrat. So you could say the parallel is that Scotland has rejected both national parties, and so has the US.

    In Scotland even people who do not believe in Scottish independence support the Scottish nationalist party, because they reckon it is the only one looking out for especially Scottish interest. Do you reckon California could go for a ‘California unites’ party? It might free the democrats in congress to run a party line more conciliatory with the states losing out? Or are matters not nearly so polarised as in Scotland?

    Oh, documentaries I heard suggest that Scotland is pro EU immigration. Their difficulty is that immigrants would rather go somewhere wealthier. I heard some slightly weird interviewing of immigrants with mixed scots-continental accents. Obviously natural if they have learnt English there, but odd to me from the deep south.

  45. it is alright Scotland saying they love immigration safe in the knowledge that the immigrants would prefer not to go there.That is why scotland is depopulating.

  46. AW

    Thanks for an interesting summary and to YouGov for the elections questionswith answers which were quite telling I think.


    “It feels largely like all of the sound and fury since June has achieved precisely nothing. It has probably polarized opinion, but not changed it.”

    Yes, I think that sums it up nicely.

    Nick P

    On polls.



    “May Woden (a good Anglo-Saxon god, of Germanic origin – that should p!ss you off) give me strength!

    I think what NeilA is posting represents the current UK political reality, nothing more.

    On Elizabeth 1 I think you will find that she is considered a hugely significant figure in England and Wales. As you well know peoples understanding of history depends on what is taught and how it is taught.


    “Tempting as it is to “debate” Candy (if it can be called that), I feel on balance this may be a case where the phrase “don’t feed the trolls” may apply.”

    I really don’t think that Candy fits that description at all.

  47. But they do.

  48. oops, that last post came out of sequence and referred to scots welcoming immigration.

  49. The Euro has declined steadily against both the Dollar and the Pound since the US Presidential election. The Pound has recovered about 35% from its low point against the Euro post Brexit result.

    It will be interesting to see how long this continues, and before anybody else points it out, I would expect the value of the Pound to remain volatile during the Brexit process.

  50. DANNY

    Possibly correct in both contexts :-)

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