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. OK, I only have time at the moment to read the Introduction and Summary. Here is my initial read on the document:

    1. The UK Government has the exclusive right to use prerogative powers when dealing with UK foreign relations (including treaties) on the international plane, unless in any specific area this right has been expressly restricted or abrogated by the UK Parliament.

    2. The UK Parliament has not taken any decision to abrogate or restrict the Government’s right to issue the Art 50 letter.

    3. The UK is a dualist (rather than a monest) system. As a result any actions taken by the UK Government when exercising its prerogative powers cannot affect the domestic legal rights of UK citizens, as before this can be done the UK Parliament will need to transpose these actions into domestic law.

    4. It is not true that rights created under the ECA 1972 are fixed in perpetuity. These rights can and do change over time. An individual UK citizen therefore has no right to expect these rights not to change. And the proper vehicle for such changes is firstly, the UK acting to do so via prerogative powers on the international plane; and secondly, the UK Parliament transposing these treaty obligations into domestic law.

  2. RAF

    Thanks for that.

    I wonder if any of these are new arguments – or are they just a rehash of what the UK Government failed to persuade the E&W High Court with?

  3. Somerjohn

    “It was because we’d rather have fought WW3 in Saxony than Sussex. A point with which Pete B and TOH would presumably concur. Once the Soviet/Russian threat ended – or we thought it had – we withdrew.”

    I would agree with you about that.

  4. @OldNat

    Mainly a rehash with a few direct objections to the EWHC decision.

    Interesting they don’t argue that A50 is reversible, which I thought they might do. They say the question is irrelevant as either the could will uphold the EWHC decision that UK Parliament has by virtue of the ECA implicitly abrogated the Government’s right to use its prerogative powers to issue the A50 letter. Or it will decide on the basis of the government’s arguments that it alone has the Constitutional right to issue the letter.

  5. via Number Cruncher


    CON 41 (+1)
    LAB 29 (-3)
    LD 7 (+1)
    UKIP 12 (-1)
    GRN 4 (=)
    SNP 6 (=)

    Observer article – https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/19/tories-trusted-by-twice-as-many-voters-with-economy-than-labour-poll?CMP=twt_a-politics_b-gdnukpolitics

  6. RAF

    Thanks again. It will be interesting to see whether any/all of the devolved administration counsel do raise the question of revocability.

    I imagine that if anyone does, then the Supreme Court has little option but to ask the ECJ for a Preliminary Ruling.

  7. @OldNat


  8. @OldNat

    Buckingham Palace is owned by the Crown, as is Windsor Castle.

    The only properties owned by the Queen are the ones Queen Victoria bought with the money she saved from her allowance: Sandringham, Balmoral and a property on the Isle of Wight. That is why the Queen has parked her various offspring on estates in Sandringham.

    Everything else belongs to the crown, as do all the paintings etc purchased by the various Georges before Victoria (everytime the Georgian Parliament paid their debts, they demanded paintings, art, sculpture, land and other goodies for the nation). .


    Thanks for the poll details. It’s good to see more polls coming through.
    May is still 26% clear of Corbyn on best Prime Minister and She and Hammond are well clear on the economy. The honeymoon continues and Brexit appears to be having no effect on potential GE voting, at least not yet.

    It will be interesting to see if the Autumn Statement has any effect on polling.

  10. Candy


    One wonders why the UK Government (on behalf of the public interest who are actually “the Crown”) don’t insist on managing these properties properly – and maximising the tourist income from them.

    Perhaps just normal incompetence?


    I wasn’t comparing Sweden with Britain the figures are before and after. The government there has criminalised criticism of its invasion oops immigration policies and in an absolute disgracefully racist policy decided the rape by a migrant is not as bad as rape by a native Swede because they don’t know better !

  12. On BBC News:-

    Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who describes himself as a republican, has said he backs the £369m taxpayer-funded restoration of Buckingham Palace.
    He said the Queen’s residence was a “national monument” that needed to be preserved.

    So not likely to becomea big issue then IMO.

  13. @OldNat

    I think it is down to incompetence. The govt gave them an allowance to maintain the buildings, but they were spending the reserve without telling anyone. They never used to be this rubbish – I understand Windsor Castle was repaired using money from tourist visitors, so whoever was in charge of managing that situation did a good job. I’m guessing they then probably retired with a medal and an idiot took over.

  14. OLDNAT

    Buck House is owned by the state, just like the white house in the USA is. No one ever complains or suggests that the President should pay for renovations to his home so why do they think they have a right in the UK?

    ” why is the UK so rubbish at maximising the income from tourists wanting to visit the place?”

    because it’s actually a building which is in use for entertaining foreign heads of state etc

    Security is a bit of an issue now!

    “If the former, why does one of the world’s richest woman get so much cash from us to do up her pad?”

    Back in the days of George I the crown estates were given to the government in exchange for an income called “the civil list” only 15% of the income from the crown estates goes back to the Monarch, so in other words we the people have been ripping them off for centuries !

    The Royal couple wanted to make Clarence house their residence, but on accession Churchill forced them to move into Buckingham Palace.

    The amount is now so high because as ever successive government have failed to spend anything reasonable on maintenance, to the point that there have been fires.

    The fire at Windsor castle was caused by ancient wiring I don’t think people would appreciate Buckingham palace going the same way, nor paying for its reconstruction.

    Having said all that, it does seem an exorbitant amount, and there have been comments that they could have rebuilt the entire thing for less !

  15. Candy

    Windsor Castle is the top Royal, tourist venue, I understand – but its numbers are well less than Windsor Legoland.

    Maybe, if we replace Royalty with plastic figures?

  16. Thoughtful
    “Having said all that, it does seem an exorbitant amount, and there have been comments that they could have rebuilt the entire thing for less !”

    Same goes for Houses of Parliament.

  17. Pete B

    “Same goes for Houses of Parliament.”

    But lots of Parliamentarians have already been replaced with plastic figures!

  18. Lol. Parliament should go round different cities in the UK, and the old place bulldozed or used as a camp for asylum seekers.

  19. SoCalLiberal (if you are around)

    The “YesCalifornia” branding seems rather familiar – even down to the “Blue Book”!

    Seems fair. Trump and the conservative ethnic nationalists go with the UKIP model, so Yes California going with the Scottish liberal, civic nationalist strategy seems sensible.

  20. SoCalLiberal (if you are around)

    The “YesCalifornia” branding seems rather famil!ar – even down to the “Blue Book”!


    Seems fair. Trump and the conservative ethnic nationalists go with the UKIP model, so Yes California going with the Scottish liberal, civic nationalist strategy seems sensible.

  21. I’m off to bed, but what do people think about the cast of a play in USA haranguing the Vice-President elect who was in the audience? I seem to remember that Benedict Cumberbatch did something similar recently. Why do these arrogant people think that anyone is interested in their political opinions? Would we tolerate a footballer or a violinist or a clown pontificating to the audience? They need to remember that they are just entertainers and not political arbiters .

  22. Pete B

    In what way was Pence harangued?

  23. “They need to remember that they are just entertainers and not political arbiters .”

    That’s absolutely right! These people need to understand that in our post liberal democracies they aren’t allowed to state their views. Make them illegal. Only our side can speak out. Everyone else can shut up.

  24. I really do fear that we are in an era of victim politics, where Politicians just try to convince as many people as possible into believing that the problems they have are down to ‘ liberal elite’ or immigration or anything else that motivates different voters.

    The problem will come when these ‘victim’ voters realise that the Politicians they elected have no intention in solving their problems and just wanted to gain power to serve their own interests.

    What happens in two years time, when many Brexit and Trump supporters realise that they have been played ? How many who voted Brexit realised that this would mean being outside single market and customs area, with implications for their jobs/businesses ? How many who voted for Trump would be happy that the wealthy are being given tax cuts, with no tax cuts for ordinary working people ?

  25. PETEB

    @”. Why do these arrogant people think that anyone is interested in their political opinions? ”

    Because they are on a stage.

    Because some people who don’t go to theatres elected a government they don’t like-and then one of them actually came and sat in the audience!

  26. . So the cast told him how worried they all are :-

    “‘Vice president-elect Pence we welcome you and truly thank you for joining us here,’
    ‘We sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,’
    ‘But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our Americans values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.’
    ‘We truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.’

    So it seems the central message was -” we are the diverse America”……………………as opposed to the homogenous America ………..which voted for you.

  27. @Colin – if you really don’t think non white Americans are right to be worried at what Trump has said over these last few months, and that they have no right to openly voice these fears, just because 47.2% of the 58% of eligible electors voted for Trump, then I think you need to reconsider. That such people feel a need to express their views should tell you that there is a problem.

  28. Watching Philip Hammond on Marr this morning I had two scary impressions: one was of how much he resembled Anthony Eden at the time of the Suez crisis – not yet stricken but in a state of bewildered anticipation that the UK government was not going to be able to take the decisions it needed to because it would be dictated to by other governments; secondly that his argument was enitirely based on an approach which simulated a poker game: the EU and the government were keeping their cards close to their chests; they would aiming for the best possible deal; they would in the coming days or weeks put their cards on the table. In the real world, however, this would be based on the projections to be made by the OBR on future economic and monetary trends, etc. Yet policies are best based on facts including facts about the policies and aims of the Government, which the CBI, IMF, and the OBR as well as the Houses of Parliament have i.d.c. to be told, as does the EU.

  29. Good morning all from a little blustery Itchen Valley Hampshire.

    “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”

    This is not surprising after all the Lib/Dems are the cheerleaders for the re-moaners and having only 8 MP’S the Lib/Dems would jump at the chance of a second referendum, not for the good of the country but for narrow political gains.

    It’s clear now the Lib/Dems have become a single issue party and that’s stopping Brexit. It’s their main theme for the up coming by-elections.

  30. ALEC

    I can understand their worries-though I think we need to be careful about slipping into the suggestion that all non-whites voted for Clinton.

    And the source of their concern is manifestly that the “consensus” that these “diverse liberals” were happy to live under has been broken. Broken by people who don’t live in cities by & large, or if they do , cities of mouldering industrial heritage rather than theatrelands.

    I am left wondering how the cast of Hamilton, and their audience would have reacted , before the election, to a bunch of blue collar or rural americans turning up in their theatre & giving a speech about the divisions in American society which they feared?

    US seems to be a sadly divided nation-but Trump just identified & talked about this. He didn’t create it.

  31. Colin,
    If that extremely polite request for fair treatment is haranguing I think you need to have a good look at the language used by the minority Trump tendency in recent months and come up with some new vocabulary..

  32. Alec

    “That’s absolutely right! These people need to understand that in our post liberal democracies they aren’t allowed to state their views. Make them illegal. Only our side can speak out. Everyone else can shut up.”

    That rants not like you Alec. Nobody is suggesting they can’t speak out but they should do so where it is appropriate and on stage to a semi-captive audience is not the place.

  33. Allan Christie
    I think it is important to bear in mind that the public are still almost equally divided on what is “for the good of the country” and over the next two years no-one knows how that opinion may evolve.

  34. TOH,
    I really don’t see how that venue for making their point was inappropriate.. it was all over in a few moments and if it had not been for the hysterical response by Trump and his supporters would be forgotten by now. All they were saying was “please think twice about what you said in the campaign”

  35. OLDNAT
    In reference to £369 million to be spent on Buckingham palace
    “Hopefully, there will be a poll tonight where some pollster has asked whether spending cash in this way meets with voter approval”

    If there is a poll it will probably show a north south divide. The north being everything north of Watford and spewing up in disbelieve that they are being made to fund this obscene amount of money for one building which houses one of the wealthiest women on the planet.

    I personally think it’s appalling where so many of (her subjects) are having to use food banks they are now being told to chip in to help fund repairs for ones crumbing residence.

    Of course there is a business case for keeping such an iconic building but I doubt much of the tourist spin offs filter out of London. I’m not against the palace having a makeover as it’s clearly a crumbling wreck but it should be funded by the Queen or better still just give all the Royal estates over to Historic Scotland and English Heritage and let them create their own revenue streams.

    One will not be amused but we’re all in it together. :-)

  36. ANDREW111
    Allan Christie
    “I think it is important to bear in mind that the public are still almost equally divided on what is “for the good of the country” and over the next two years no-one knows how that opinion may evolve”

    The central theme of why people voted for Brexit was to hand back control to the UK electorate (accountability) and curb mass migration into the UK. It’s up to those who campaigned for Brexit to deliver on this in full.

    I do understand why so many in the EU won’t give way on any free trade deals with the UK without compromising on free movement of people as they know curbing free movement of people was at the core of the Brexit message and they would love nothing more than to frustrate the Brexit result.

    It’s because of the EU’s draconian approach to member states we are now seeing several eastern European nations leaning towards Moscow and the rise of the far right.

    When will they learn that by reforming they might just save their stupid expansionist project!!

  37. TOH
    Peston as John Bird as Peston: Chancellor, the French and German financial institutions are working busily to persuade the banks to move their operations to Frankfurt and Hamburg. Does the City not need to be told what mechanisms and strategies the Government is adopting to support its role as the leading European financial institution?
    Philip Hammond as John Fortune as Hammond: Ah, but you see, what the City recognises is that during the transition – that is, you follow me, the transition from our strong membership of the EU to one in which we, er, no longer have that strong position, but another position which will be even stronger, but out of the EU – but one which has yet to be decided, depending, as you rightly say, on the position taken by our friends in France and Germany, which we should not take for the granted, the Government and the City, working together, with the help of the Bank of England will have this golden opportunity of deciding what that new relationship will be.
    John Bird, as Peston: Yes, I see, Chancellor. So this has been agreed with the Governor of the Bank of England and the banks?
    John Fortune as Hammond: Good heavens, man, no! That would fatally weaken out negotiating position in our discussions with the EU and er – with that Canadian fellow at the Bank of England.

  38. John Pilgrim

    I have taken the trouble to listen to Hammond on the Marr Show and have to say his performance was in my eyes, excellent. At the end of the program we know no more about how the Governemnt will negotiate than we did before it. Exactly right, as I say anybody who knows anything about negotiations will know that is the correct position.

    I think leaving the EU is much to serious and important an event than the sort of humour in your last post to me.

  39. It’s interesting how many right wing posters on here think its is now useful to use the catch all meaningless phrase “liberal elite” for anyone who disagrees with their views. I think it is only right to have a balanced vocabulary on here so I suggest we adopt “illiberal mob” as a useful description for them. It’s just as short and accurate so there can’t possibly be any objection to it.

  40. TOH
    I am suitably chastened and uninformed. Have a good day.

  41. John Pilgrim

    You have a good day as well John.

  42. Hireton

    Or you could have used, “progressive alliance” as an example. Oft used by the left and equally meaningless. After all, many of Thatchers policies were ‘progressive’, but I doubt the people who use the PA phrase are referring to her!


    Actually i do not think it is a meaningless phrase at all. It has been defined as;-

    “Liberal elite (also metropolitan elite in the United Kingdom) is a term used to describe politically left-leaning people, whose education had traditionally opened the doors to affluence and power and form a managerial elite.”

    From memory i think you are ” left” leaning. I don’t know if you are a member of the elite. I cannot see why anybody who fits that description would object.

    For those on the right the description should fit the persona so I would be happy with being described as a member of the Right Wing Elite. The word Elite here being used as in the latest social class definition of elite.

    Your suggestion is just insulting.

  44. How long will the Tory competence on the economy last considering that Hammond proposed the extension of food banks as a solution this morning. Maybe it will even increase by rewarding the innovative pretension.

    As to the liberal and illiberal elites, they are really the same lot, just appealing to different coalitions of the voters. As always, the middle classes will manage just OK, even when Trump fully implements his illiberal democracy, the ones who will suffer are the lower classes who were made the fool of history (again) by getting the option for voting for a dog or a canine.

    As to the street theatre (both on the street and in the theatre), a thoughful American liberal noted, “they went low, now we are going for the jugular” (of course, in theatrical terms).

  45. ANDREW111

    I don’t think it was “haranguing”.

    But I do think it was the opposite of the “diversity” which it espoused.

  46. @ToH
    I object because the ‘group’ you define simply doesn’t exist.

    I suppose you could make some kind of argument for it during the Blair years, but that was ten years ago; I suppose you could make an argument that the people running the BBC and the world of arts and entertainment are ‘liberal’, but crucially they don’t run the country.

    I’ve worked in and around the ‘elite’ for years, and I can tell you that being a Liberal in that – overwhelmingly Conservative – group is a very lonely experience!

    There are surely a few liberals who are part of the ‘elite’ that runs this country, but they are a very small minority and certainly don’t control what happens in and to the country as a whole.

    I suspect the sudden enthusiasm on the right for this phrase is because it allows them to fix blame for past failures in running the country on someone other group that conveniently doesn’t exist.

    After all, they need someone else to blame after we have left the EU…

  47. Britain as a nation looks across the atlantic to America for politics,culture(or lack of it) and for intellectual ideas. hence the population here and most of the posters included know a awful lot about things American.
    On the other hand the nation does not look to Europe in the same way. The demographic of lower Saxony is of no real interest to our mainstream as opposed ,for example, to that of florida or california. I know i trivialise to make a point but to many Europe is a good place to have a holiday and apart from that is of no interest whatsoever.
    Brexit gives us the opportunity to put that Atlantacist spirit into economic reality by persuing a free trade deal with the US and canada

  48. Allan Christie,

    Well, the biggest advocates of the “stupid expansionist project” were always the British Conservatives! Especially Boris who was particularly keen on admitting Turkey!

    strange but true….

    I always thought the expansion was dangerously rapid (although there are no videos of me saying so to edit selectively of course!). Perhaps it was always a Brexit plot??

    Meanwhile you correctly articulate what the majority of Leave voters want… But it is what the majority of British voters want which should be what counts, and that is much less clear….. Which is why a second referendum once we know what we are getting into would be the democratic option

  49. Colin,

    Yes, I apologise. Your posts on the topic of Pence and the actors were informative and fairly neutral.

    It was Pete B who talked of “haranguing”

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