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. ANDREW 111
    No problem.

  2. TOH,

    “right wing elite” seems an acceptable self-definition.

    I am with BigFatRon in agreeing that this group is the one that really runs the world, even if slightly more and less “liberal” factions within it may sometimes have the ascendancy.

    Meanwhile I was always happy to self-define as a “NOPE”, an acronym that evidently never caught on!

  3. I’d have thought the obvious rightwing equivalent of liberal elite would be authoritarian elite.

    It may suit some to treat liberal and left-wing as synonyms, but that is to compare apples and oranges. I’m liberal in my views, but not left wing. On the other hand, I’m definitely anti-authoritarian.


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

    You might, I will be delighted to have lefdt the EU.

  5. ANDREW111
    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!”

    That’s true but we can’t dwell on the past..

    On the EU rapid expansion..I just don’t think a one shoe fits all and it’s beginning to show. Bulgaria is fed up with anti Russian sanctions and have just elected a pro Kremlin president and Moldova, (although not part of the EU) but does have access to the EU via its citizens holding Romanian passports have also elected a Kremlin leaning president.

    Then there is the real prospect of a Frexit with Marine Le Pen. Nice lady.

    “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”

    In that case we should have another GE ASAP and let the voters decide whether we go along with the current governments plan for Brexit among other things or voters can choose a government who would set out in their manifesto a pledge to hold another EU referendum…To me that’s far more democratic as we the voters are holding parliament to account.

    “I’d have thought the obvious rightwing equivalent of liberal elite would be authoritarian elite”

    “It may suit some to treat liberal and left-wing as synonyms, but that is to compare apples and oranges. I’m liberal in my views, but not left wing. On the other hand, I’m definitely anti-authoritarian”

    Most if not all authoritarian regimes are to the left…

  7. Allan
    “Most if not all authoritarian regimes are to the left…”

    Maybe in the past but not these days… (discounting China, which is no longer really left-wing but maintains such a rhetoric) Many African and middle eastern countries are authoritarian but not left wing, for example. Authoritarian theocracies are more common than left wing versions now…

    re. Bulgaria: a relatively poor country that sees big opportunities for Russian tourism since Turkey fell out of favour.. Also famous for corruption and probably one of the countries that expansion should not have included so easily! The anti-Russian sanctions have been a bit pointless however anyway, with minimal effects on Russia other than to bolster Putin politically…

    The only problem with general elections is that our voting system is not representative. If all the parties promised to respect votes not seats on Brexit it would be ok…

  8. Allan Christie

    We are in harmony then because I agree with “it shouldn’t fall disproportionately on the backs of the poor”.

  9. @S Thomas
    To be fair, the first referendum supported our entry by 2/3 to 1/3

    The second referendum (forty years later) supported our exit by 51.5% to 48.5%

    I think what most of us asking for as a follow-up referendum is a choice as to what form of Brexit we get; the decision is made to go, but under what terms is totally undefined and open to debate, despite the best efforts of Messrs Farage and Fox to re-define Brexit as incompatible with any relationship with the EU other than arms-length trading.

  10. Andrew111

    how do you join the right wing elite? have you an application form? Is there a sub group called the authoritarian right which contrasts with ,say, being a National socialist, Aren’t these labels confusing?.

    I think i will stick to being a Scottish realist

  11. @S Thomas

    Well, mostly you join by being born in the right family.

    You attend public school, probably go to Oxford, have strong family connections in banking, politics and the law, and get a straight pass into a good job in a major bank/firm/chambers or an internship in the Tory party.

    Occasionally people gatecrash (Murdoch for instance) – they are considered vulgar as they are ‘new money’ but nevertheless generally accepted as they are useful to the group…

  12. @Thoughtful
    If you think the BBC is ‘far left’ then you are pretty much placing yourself ‘far right’ – accusations of bias normally say far more about the accuser than the accused.

  13. Pete B – “what do people think about the cast of a play in USA haranguing the Vice-President elect who was in the audience?”

    I doubt anyone really cares, least of all Trump and Pence. They’re using this to distract from what should have been the big news – Trump settling the Trump university case and paying $25 million to the plaintiffs.

    Trump knew that if he used the phrase “the theatre should be a safe space”, he’d trigger the Dems, and he was right. That is all they’re talking about, wall to wall coverage of it, and the other stuff has been buried.

    He’s played them for fools – again.

  14. @toh

    So just to be clear when you earlier referred in a response to Peteb to a group of American actors as part of the liberal elite you meant that they were ” politically left-leaning people, whose education had traditionally opened the doors to affluence and power and form a managerial elite.”? You were using that phrase in the precise meaning you have referenced and not all in a general derogatory way?

  15. There’s an article in today’s ST about the French Presidential Election.

    FN’s policies in immigration are well publicised. Less well publicised are their Left Wing economic policies.

    In the context of a busted flush Socialist candidate & a Centrist Republican candidate , this might prove interesting.

  16. It is the hints about a Blair + Osborne which are intriguing :-)

  17. @S Thomas

    The Clintons actually diss Blair for his moneymaking in the leaked Clinton emails! :-)

    It actually makes me wonder if he is reinserting himself into the whole Brexit thing because some foreign investment bank is paying him to.

    It certainly doesn’t help the right of the Labour party (who are trying to rehabilitate themselves) – if he cared about them he’d keep a low profile. Lab is also struggling with the issue that their heartlands voted strongly for Leave. And the Conservatives have decided to accept the result of the referendum, they’re all brexiters now, so former PMs sticking their oar in doesn’t help.

    So who benefits from Blair’s intervention?

  18. Candy
    Blair thinks he does, presumably.

  19. Candy: “So who benefits from Blair’s intervention?”

    Credulous right-wing conspiracy theorists needing something to write about?

  20. @Somerjohn

    You are sweetly innocent if you don’t think Blair is being paid to do this.

    If he wasn’t being paid, and genuinely wanted to stop Brexit, well surely he realizes how toxic he is and how his presence gives a boost to the Leave side? “War-criminal corrupt money-maker Blair wants to Remain in the EU” – not exactly a rallying cry that will overturn the referendum, is it? Given how unpopular he is, the voters will say to themselves, “Yup, we were right to vote Leave”.

  21. Going over the HM Gov written arguments to the A50 appeal.

    First they bring up the argument that Treaties exist on a separate plane of governance, to which the Executive has primary authority and parliament merely approves it in the National plane. I doubt that’s going to be accepted. They very quickly gloss over that even if this argument was true, once things do enter into the National plane they are no longer in the Government’s sole realm of authority, and only Parliament can revoke treaties that grant British people rights.

    The statement even makes the claim that “The true postition is that acts of the Government in excise of the prerogative can alter domestic law.” Which is technically true, just that they require *consent of parliament* first.

    It further attempts to state that the EU referendum explicitly authorised the government. This is going to be thrown out immediately, because there was a finding in fact of law that the EU referendum act was non-binding, and Parliament had been informed and advised that it was non-binding.

    They do attempt a perfunctory argument that when they said “advisory” they actually meant “empowers the government to do this”, questions asked and answered in Hansard that contradict this are ignored.

    The argument then returns to the Dualist argument, trying to establish sole government authority over treaty law. Again they consistently ignore and gloss over that once Parliament *does* ratify a treaty that grants rights to British people, it becomes part of British law and not something in the sole power of the Government.

    And that’s pretty much it. They spend most of the document showing that the Government has power over treaty law. And never quite acknowledging that in this case there is domestic law and rights of the public that will be fundamentally altered by activating withdraw from the EU. There is a final claim that they were directly authorised to do so by the EU referendum act, which isn’t really backed up by anything much. And that’s it for their arguments.

    This is a hefty 56 page argument, but it appears to have been printed on tissue paper.

    They don’t touch on anything that the Scottish and Northern Irish governments may submit, because obviously they haven’t had a chance to read and respond to them yet.

  22. @S Thomas

    Dare I point out that the Government insist that they will present that exact question to Parliament after they activate Article 50 and have the first round of negotiations. And dare I suggest the same issues apply?

  23. I just had a pig farmer at my door asking if he can check my garden for escaped pigs. Talk about bringing the bacon home..


    Yes you have a point regarding authoritarian regimes not being on the left so much these days, I’m still wrapped up on the Cuban revolution and the romantic Juche system of North korea.

    For all Bulgaria’s faults a large section of its population favour closer ties with Russia and it should be a concern to the EU that one of its poorest member states is leaning towards Moscow. Maybe it is to do with tourism from Russia but even so the EU is split when it comes to Russia..Italy for one wants sanctions lifted as they are counterproductive.
    “The only problem with general elections is that our voting system is not representative. If all the parties promised to respect votes not seats on Brexit it would be ok”

    Ah now…You see you want parliament to have a vote on a second referendum yet you say ” “The only problem with with general elections is that our voting system is not representative” In that case surely the present sitting MP’s in parliament aren’t representative of those of us who voted leave.

    As far as I know only a handful of MP’s would actually vote to block A50 and those who do are probably committing political suicide.

  24. Well, UKPR managed a new low.

    If you are interested in the theoretical basis of UKIP, Thatcher 2.0 relaunched, Trump, and what will come (and what has been in place in some of the Eastern European countries):


  25. Jayblanc

    Thanks for that analysis.

    I saw that the Supreme Court has asked not just the Lord Advocate to deal with the distinct aspects of Scots Law in this case, but also Independent Workers Union of Great Britain to do the same.

    An outline of the submissions to be made by the IWUGB lawyers is here –


    I don’t think anyone else has raised the question of the rights of migrant workers.

  26. @ S Thomas
    Well, we’d be in pretty much the same mess that we are now, with a referendum decision taken that is essentially undefined and un-executable.

    And as Jayblanc rightly points out, this is exactly the position May wants to put Parliament in! So presumably you agree that her current course would be a recipe for disaster…

    However I think the right pair of options would be:
    – do you want this exit outcome?
    – do you want to return to the status quo, or nearest available defined alternative?

    Then at least we would be presented with a choice between two properly defined outcomes…

  27. @Old Nat

    As I mentioned before, I suspect that the calls from the back-benches to drop the case were because the introduction of the Scottish Law jurisdiction allowed a whole range of new arguments.

  28. BFR
    So if the answers were ‘No’ and ‘No’ presumably we’d leave and trade with the EU on WTO terms?

  29. So much judgement based on todays current situation, when it almost certain that the same players will not be in place come the time of Brexit. Indeed there is no small chance that the EU might well be teetering on the edge of break up by the time of A 50 !

    Elections in the main countries with current leaders very unlikely to remain in office, and a referendum in Italy which the leader looks like loosing.

    Calls for more exit referenda in other EU countries.

    One thing however is certain. The EU we do negotiate with will be a very different place to the one we see now.

  30. Jayblanc

    Difficult though it is you may have noticed the difference between Parliament and a referendum.

    parliament allows debate;a referendum is yes or no.

    However, please see the Maastricht debate for the effectiveness of Parliament.

  31. @S Thomas

    I don’t see how parliament can debate into being a better deal than the EU is willing to offer?

  32. BFR

    would the liberals regard the second referendum as advisory or binding and would they accept that if the country voted acceptable they would vote to leave on those terms or would they still protest?.

    If A50 is triggered then us leaving is irrevocable so as far as Europe is concerned then a second referendum will not matter a jot.

    and what if Europe says to us that we having triggered A50 will need to rejoin and to do that we will need to join the Euro. Do the British Public need to be consulted on that first.?


    “One thing however is certain. The EU we do negotiate with will be a very different place to the one we see now”

    That’s an extremely good point. Many of the current EU leaders will have left or been booted out of office in a few years time. The thing about the current EU is that it somehow pretends to the outside World that we are all living in perfect EU harmony.

    The governments of the 28-1 = 27 EU member states forget that they don’t speak for all EU citizens and there is growing discontent within the union.

    The dream of a second UK EU referendum actually might be more popular in the UK than in some current EU member states in a few years time if elections produce the right results.


    @”I don’t see how parliament can debate into being a better deal than the EU is willing to offer?”

    Indeed-nor can any set of Referendum 2 questions define what they will agree to.

  35. Allan Christie

    “there is growing discontent within the union.”

    I linked to the TNS poll for the European Parliament earlier.

    It’s the latest in a long series, but I couldn’t see much evidence of your assertion there.

    Do you have other polling evidence?

    If you meant that the anti-EU voices are shouting louder, that’s a different thing.

  36. OLDNAT

    They wouldn’t be the same polls that also predicted a hung parliament, a Clinton victory and a vote remain win?

    Polls are all over the place and there are a lot of shy European exiteers out there. I don’t think the EU will totally implode but who knows what will happen when Trump shakes things up.

  37. Allan Christie

    No. It’s not.

    So, on a polling site, I presume you have some polling evidence for your assertion?

    Or is it just that well-known idea of saying something you hope is true?

  38. Perhaps they want us to have a referendum to decide whether to have another referendum?

  39. OLDNAT

    No I don’t make unfounded assertions and it’s not me just saying something and hope that it’s true. I actually do some research then add my own spin on it….I mean who doesn’t?


  40. Allan Christie

    Thanks. I remember that one from June – “The debate in other EU member states about the future of the institution may just be getting started.

    A majority of the Greeks (68%) and pluralities of the Dutch (44%), Germans (43%), Italians (39%) and French (39%) all want some EU power returned to their national governments”

    But that is one poll. What I asked you for was for evidence of growing discontent with the EU. There has always been discontent with political institutions (and damn right too!) but is it growing? / remaining about the same? / reducing?

    I have no idea – but if you have access to a series of polls with similar questions, asked year after year across the EU, then I’d love to see it.

    I’m limited to the only one I know of – which is the TNS (Kantor) one.

  41. @S Thomas
    As regards advisory or binding, it would depend what the Act of parliament said, like every other referendum. I’d ilke to think us liberals would be more open and honest about what it did say than Messrs Cameron and Farage…

    As regards A5o being irrevocable – this is what the two sides in the legal case have agreed, as it suits both of them to say so, but there is no clarity fro the EU of this – in fact, based on past experience of multiple referenda, the likelihood is that they would allow us to reverse course, although the terms are not clear and would have to be sorted out.

    it’s an either/or question, with two defined outcomes:
    – leave on the terms negotiated by May
    – stay in on the terms set out by the EU

    If the EU reject any cancellation of A50 then there is no point in having a second referendum IMHO.

  42. @OLDNAT, https://t.co/ox931XrsOC Re: Govt’s case in the Supreme Court.

    Many thanks for posting this.

    I concur with RAF’s general synopsis. I would say this is a much better reasoned response to the Divisional Court’s judgement (and the original argument).

    Will be interesting to see what arguments the devolved administrations put forward.

  43. Great timing from Andy!

    Winning just in time for me to switch over to Planet Earth.

  44. Early French results suggest a Fillon/Juppe run off next week.

    Sounds like the Leftists joining in was more effective than Le Pen’s supporters doing so.

  45. I’d just like to say that I find the word ‘re-moaner’ offensive. It’s also lazy. Generally I enjoy hearing from both sides, but if everyone took more care to avoid offensive language the debate here would be a lot more pleasant to read.

  46. ah yes, congratulations to currently-still-British Andy Murray!

    re further referenda, the Lib Dem position is pretty clear: It would be between Leaving on whatever terms Theresa has negotiated and Remaining. Since Article 50 would have been triggered there would be no delay in Leaving if that was the vote, and hence any further referenda would be on rejoining and probably far far in the future.

    Of course this course of action is in the hands of the EU 27, who could enforce article 50 if they wished (at least most people including High Court judges seem to think so…). Personally I think the UK Remaining is so much in the interests of the EU politically, that they would make it happen, and quite possibly offer somewhat more generous terms than Cameron gained. But as some have pointed out, if Merkel were to lose in Germany (possible, perhaps) or le Pen to win in France (unlikely, given their voting system) then things might be different.

    Anyway, since we would be staying rather than rejoining there is no reason so suppose current opt-outs such as the Euro would not continue…

  47. Andrew111

    Politics can be unpredictable – as we know!

    But Merkel is standing again, and her popularity is at 71% after 11(?) years in power.

  48. Hireton,

    In best TOH tradition I will express agreement with your post of 5.11 pm .. It definitely made me smile as well!

    and BIGFATRON: sorry for paraphrasing most of your post of 6.15 pm!

  49. Marine Le Pen takes huge lead over Nicolas Sarkozy in French first round presidential election poll


    Results likely to add to growing fears far-right leader could be on course for victory in wake of shock Brexit and US presidential votes

    The far-right leader had 29 per cent of the vote when pitted against Les Républicains’ former president, who was eight points behind, and held a 15-point lead over the Parti de Gauche’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the poll released by Ipsos

  50. And Sarkozy fails to make it to the second round primary.

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