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. @Assiduosity

    “a bunch of libelling former radical communists turned intellectually threadbare libertarians with hulking great chips on their collective shoulders”

    This made my day. Spiked, nailed!

  2. Alan

    Many thanks for finding that interesting work on the Center. Looks worth a good read.


    Yes, nice to agree.

  3. @ S Thomas

    “Do those who use this expression know how stupid it is. It joins Post history in the pantheon of inanity.”

    In a sense all such descriptions of social / cultural / historical occurrences can be argued absurd in the way which you criticise ‘post truth’.

    ‘Renaissance’ was the name given to a period of ‘rebirth’ of classical ideas in Europe during the middle part of the last millennium. The term was coined / popularised in 19th century but has recently come to be regarded as ‘absurd’ as classical culture was clearly embedded in the mediaeval world from which the so-called ‘Renaissance’ emerged, there was therefore no ‘re-birth’.

    As such the term ‘Early Modern’ is now preferred as though it were somehow neutral, yet it is teleological. It carries with it the notion of that epoch as the beginning of our own ‘modern world’ and makes a connection between the two as though we are the inexorable creation of that time and its purpose was progress into our existence. Neither is true and the term is neither neutral nor precise.

    Yet, both terms are useful as their meaning (reference to an historical era) is widely understood by those who use them – which is one of the core function of words.

    So, to return to your bone with ‘post truth’. At present, the phrase is an attempt to describe a phenomenon that is contested – what matters is whether the phenomenon exists or not – have we entered a time when untruths are used to acquire power more readily than in the recent past. If the proposition is false, the phrase will fade, this is what happened to Francis Fukuyama’s notion of ‘post history’.

    Attacking the phrase in preference to the notion is playing the man rather than the ball. If the proposition sticks it may well be an alternate, less controversial description will come along in time anyway,

  4. @ Alan

    Thank you both for the Opinium work – interesting reading and also your explanation of the reasons why the number of groups would be constrained.

    Really helpful.


    I have just had a look at that ICM Poll, your right it really is dire for Labour and Corbym and very solid for May & the Tories.

  6. THE OTHER HOWARD (et al.)

    Disastrous is the word.

    Corbyn really knows how to read the mood of a room. Every room. And how to best interpret the zeitgeist.

    In his CBI speech:

    “I would not say I have any Mecca anywhere.”

    Twenty seconds later, in case anyone missed it…

    “So I think we learnt from each other, we learn from travel, we learn from ideas. I don’t have any one Mecca anywhere.”

    He should fire his speechwriter: a noble sentiment, but tinged with religious metaphor. Silly, silly, silly…

  7. It is really interesting, and extremely sad to see how alt-right views are now so common here. It is perhaps even sadder how the traditional conservative (small “c”) views kept these under cover, but now in the great revolutions since 23 June, these views are so openly pronounced, and even worse, try to quieten alternative voices.

    The guy, who invented the expression of alt-right, and advises Trump was arrested two years ago in Budapest for organising a white supremist conference.


    How time flies … and now these views are here on UKPR, and in the name of the freedom of speech, these views want to repress, ridicule other (humane) words.

  8. @,WB
    “More Pratchett from Moving Pictures and this sums up my life:
    “The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.””

    Pratchett (RIP) really excels at condensing the big picture into a universal(ish) language that everyone understands. Most of his works drew thinly veiled parallels with the times we live in. Maybe the most apposite is this from Jingo:

    “It was much better to imagine men in some smokey room somewhere, made mad and cynical by privilege and power, plotting over brandy. You had to cling to this sort of image, because if you didn’t then you might have to face the fact that bad things happened because ordinary people, the kind who brushed the dog and told the children bed time stories, were capable of then going out and doing horrible things to other ordinary people. It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone’s fault. If it was Us, then what did that make Me? After all, I’m one of Us. I must be. I’ve certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We’re always one of Us. It’s Them that do the bad things.”

  9. Assiduosity

    I suspect that those who use the term “post truth” use it in the very restricted context of alleged lies told by the leave campaign in the UK and trump in the US.
    I think they would be very surprised to find it applied to alleged lies told by the remain and Clinton campaign.

  10. Kester
    Unless he was referring to bingo halls.

    Corbyn is finding it hard to fashion any sort of message that resonates with the public through the traditional methods of the papers or TV news. I think his supporters hope social media and ‘doorstep conversations’ will make up for this. After all look at Trump. He had very little support in the traditional media.
    My opinion is that much of the public has already made up their minds about Corbyn and are not really willing to listen.

    May would win a landslide currently, I would have thought a GE soon would give her the time to ride out the likely short term turbulence from Brexit before the following one. But what do I know?

  11. @Cloudspotter @Kester

    Mecca in the context used by Corbyn is no more a religious reference than any other term that has fallen into common usage to allude to a large point of reference. As in David Vine’s famous comment: “Welcome to Tel Aviv, a real mecca for tourists”.

  12. Yes California have confirmed that their independence plebiscite ballot measure has been accepted by the California Attorney General for 2019.

    Judging by their site, it’s more than the “Wee Blue Book” that they’ve borrowed from Scotland’s indyref!


  13. RAF

    Well aware; I just don’t think that matters. There are a thousand ways to say what he said without leaving himself in the crosshairs of a rapidly right wing media.

  14. @LASZLO

    “Alt-right’ is term which exists only to make the unacceptable acceptable. Unfortunately, it seems to be working.

  15. I think the “post truth” thing is being too readily condemned by […some…] posters here.

    It seems to me a very recognisable and tangible development. It is the process of moving from an argument over what the facts are, and the use of rhetorical tricks to try and bend that argument to one’s will, to a world in which you don’t even really care what the facts are because you’ve made up your mind and everything must be harnessed to the service of your opinion.

    There’s nothing particularly “right wing” about the concept of post truth. It is essentially how the whole of Russian society (and increasingly, Turkish society) runs. It is also to some extent the cornerstone of what is sometimes labelled “political correctness”.

    […] I abhor the idea completely and wouldn’t want to be associated with it in any shape or form. Give me facts, evidence and debate over slurs, mockery and ad hominems any day.

  16. when things get complicated, or there’s insufficient info., or suspect info., or conflicting info., peeps have a tendency to abandon reason and instead rely on emotions to guide decision-making.

  17. @Carfrew

    I think it’s a particular problem in groups, and group think.

    I think the acceleration of the development can be traced to the ability of the internet to create large communities of like-minded folks that seals them off from dissenting voices.

    Previously the medium was membership of societies (whether parties, unions, clubs or other forms) and readership of print media, both of which were a fairly self-limiting form of association.

    With the internet, any view, however mad or lacking in an evidence base, can find a following of thousands.

  18. The MSM are hugely to blame for the ‘post truth’ phenomenon imo. Most of us do not have access to primary sources and rely on MSM for information. Recently we have seen how the MSM are taking sides, either not reporting events or reporting them inaccurately. This lack of trust in MSM means we are relying on social media and one can only hope that the information you are choosing to believe is correct.

    Of course if we had more people like @ASSIDUOSITY posting on social media, they would challenge our views and make us think.

  19. New thread

  20. “As someone vaguely from the right, I abhor the idea completely and wouldn’t want to be associated with it in any shape or form. Give me facts, evidence and debate over slurs, mockery and ad hominems any day”

    The trouble is that in this life so many things cannot be measured, or real evidence produced.

    I do agree with the rest of it though.

  21. @Neil A

    That may be a factor as well, though oiu might argue the formation of such grouos is a response to the levels of uncertainty etc…

    “The trouble is that in this life so many things cannot be measured, or real evidence produced.’
    @Neil’s point related facts to debate, which, in other words, is what happens in research, both natural science research, in which all facts are hypothetical and subject to continuous testing, and social science including public policy research, which should be doesn’t always inform debate.
    It is the intentional misuse of information or language which seems to me to be dangerous in what I think is a conscious use of post-truth: the use of distorted information determined by an intention of deceive and persuade to a political purpose by some very well educated politicians and some very clever journalists, as in the debate on migration both here in the referendum campaign and in the US presidential election.

  23. to deceive …….

  24. that is, I think it is destructive of freedom and democracy, their bais in science and to their expression between those in power and the governed and vice versa. A good example would be that of Lysenko’s influence in the determination of policies, in Russian agriculture and in Nazi pursuit of racial excellence. While the manipulation of fact distorts public debate, and may be helped to do so by intentional propaganda, bad politics and bad journalism, in both Stalinism and Nazism it justified totalitarianism and atrocity – and would do so again.
    Thus A.V. Chayanov, whose empirical research on pre-revolutionay peasant agrculture still informs world-wide agricultural economis and social research, was arrested by Stalin’s agents in 1930 and shot in 1935, was replaced by Lysenko whose willingness to distorti fact in driving a genetic theory led also to justification of the gas chambers.
    That’s why resisting “post-truth” and adherence to @Neil’s “debate” matters.

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