The Times have a new YouGov poll this morning, carried out after Theresa May’s Brexit speech. Overall, it looks as if the PM has passed her first Brexit test – a majority of the public support the sort of Brexit she is seeking to achieve. Whether they support the sort of Brexit she actually manages to get other EU countries to agree to once negotiations are complete is, of course, a different matter.

YouGov asked respondents if they agreed with some of the key negotiation points May set out: many of these were uncontroversial (an overwhelming majority of people wanted UK control of immigration, an open border with Ireland, the rights of existing immigrations to be protected and continued co-operation on security). Most of these are obvious though – the two more controversial points were the confirmation that Britain would leave the single market and the customs union. A majority of people supported both, but it was split very much among pro-EU and anti-EU lines: a huge majority of Leave voters thought it was the right thing to do, but Remain voters tended to think it was wrong to leave the single market and were split over the customs union.

Looking at a list of specific measures is not necessarily a good way of measuring support for May’s stance anyway. Most of us won’t tot up the individual details, people tend to judge the overall package. Asked about May’s Brexit plan as a whole, there was a clear thumbs up. 55% think it would be good for Britain; only 19% think it would be bad. 62% think it would respect the referendum result and by 53% to 26% people say that they would be happy with the outcome.

While people like what May is seeking, that doesn’t mean they think it is actually achievable. While the public do express confidence in May’s negotiating ability (by 47% to 38%), only 20% of people think that other EU countries will agree to what she wants. Only time will tell how the public react to whatever EU deal May actually manages to get.

The poll also asked voting intention. Topline figures were CON 42%, LAB 25%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 12%, putting the Tories back up to a seventeen point lead. As ever it is only one poll, so don’t read too much into that huge lead: it may be that May setting out a clearer route forward for Brexit (and the good press she got yesterday) has given the Tories a boost… or it may just be normal random variation. Full tabs are here


584 Responses to “YouGov polling on Theresa May’s Brexit speech”

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  1. @Graham,

    True, but the previous MORI poll for LibDems looked like a big outlier, putting them on 14%; this looks like a reversion to a more sensible number.

    MORI historically seems to show UKIP low and Labour high; but even taking that into account this looks fairly good for Labour and Tories, and not great for UKIP

  2. Appreciate I am not a frequent poster here but re the Yougov poll am I the only one who thinks questions such as
    “Britain will NOT try to remain inside the European single market, but will instead try to negotiate a new free trade deal with the EU giving us “the greatest possible” access to the
    single market”

    Seems a very loaded question, what would have been the result if the question was neutral and said are you in favour of
    ” Britain leaving the single market”

    Or if it was biased the other way and said
    “I want Britain to stay in the single market if we can’t get any trade deal” Agree or disagree

  3. Somerjohn

    Oh dear ……………….unconsciously……

  4. @ Neilj

    Agree it is a loaded question, but YouGov are just quoting what was said.

    The other point is whether those being asked the questions have any real understanding of the issues they are being asked about. I suspect that a good percentage have a poor understanding of the issues and just pick up on certain words.

    I think the word ‘independence’ which was quoted on many newspaper front pages was a major reason for leave winning. But many voting leave have no idea what independence would mean for UK economic interests which will affect their families for decades to come.

  5. R Huckle

    “But many voting leave have no idea what independence would mean for UK economic interests which will affect their families for decades to come.”

    I for one would agree with that, but in my view the lack of understanding occurs on both sides of the Brexit argument and many who voted remain do not have the vision to see the great opportunities for our economy. Something fortunately that the PM does see judging by her speech both on the 17th and today..

  6. NEILJ

    A good point on the phrasing of the question. I had not looked at the actual text, but that certainly looks loaded to me. If it had asked merely about leaving the single market then had that as a follow on, it would hold more weight, imo.

    R HUCKLE

    “The other point is whether those being asked the questions have any real understanding of the issues they are being asked about. I suspect that a good percentage have a poor understanding of the issues and just pick up on certain words.”

    While this may affect the respondents’ answers, as long as they remain representative of the general population it does not really matter, in polling terms. You do make a good point on how this helps shape public opinion.

  7. R Huckle – “The other point is whether those being asked the questions have any real understanding of the issues they are being asked about.”

    All the voters need to do is have an understanding of what they want. They don’t need to understand how to achieve it, that is the job of the govt.

    Take Brexit. Voters simply gave the govt a straightforward instruction: We want to leave the EU, go away and achieve this and make it work.

    Not that different to John F Kennedy giving an instruction to NASA to get to the moon by the end of the 1960’s. It wasn’t for Kennedy to work out how to do it, that was NASA’s job. And NASA didn’t say, “Oh Mr President, it’s just too hard, no-one has ever done it before, can’t we just stay cosily here on earth”. They rose to the occasion. Ditto for the govt – they have their instructions, and now it’s time for them to earn their pay and deliver. It should be much easier than going to the moon for the first time.

  8. It would also be interesting to know at what point in this Yougov survey the Voting Intention questions were asked.

  9. 24 hours on, and just thinking through the choreography of the UK’s negotiating stance, and further uneasy thoughts keep coming to the surface.

    I think May’s speech was a short term political success. She has a clear, logical position (leave the single market) and has introduced the threat of a low tax regime if we don’t get the deal we want. It sounds good.

    Thinking that threat through though, and things start to unravel. Nobody in the UK likes the idea of companies getting away with low tax – it just isn’t popular. So there is a developing political issue at home.

    The reaction overseas will be anger – not least because we have signed a G20 agreement not to do this, so we will face extreme global pressure as well – what price trade deals then?

    I think, however, the more important issue is what the practical response would be. Already, left and right wing economists in the UK and elsewhere are crafting thoughts around corporation tax and globalization, with what appears to be a consensus emerging that profit taxes in the age of instant global money transfers are not a great option for governments. Many are coming round to the idea of simple sales levies, where profits within each jurisdiction are assumed, based on local sales and global profits, and taxes levied accordingly.

    There will be issues and complications for sure, but I suspect that a UK heading down the road of slashing corporation tax would simply bring forward the reforms many are calling for, making CT a redundant weapon. Systems evolve, action and reaction.

    I’m beginning to think that the UK has opted for a negotiating position that will prove hard to implement at home, and impotent abroad. I don’t think the EU will be too concerned, if I’m being honest, as I really don’t see any aces up May’s sleeves.

  10. Blatantly loaded questions as others have pointed out. On top of loaded opinion polls projecting past into future.

    BBC, opinion polls meekly follow agenda set by right
    wing of Tory party + UKIP + MSM i.e. about 30% of total U.K.population.

    YouGov should be re-named ConGov ;-)

    How about one respondent one vote by law in opinion polls ?

  11. I have read part of yesterday’s thread and now the end of this one and as often have been enormously educated and impressed by what was said on all sides. Some of the most impressive contributions yesterday came from leavers like Colin and Neil J who were prepared to look at complications and downsides in leaving as well as positives but who complained reasonably enough that t the remain side seemed unable to see any upside in leaving. TOH has just made the same point. So I wondered why I could see no upside and decided that the things that some people can reasonably see as ‘upsides’ I see as the reverse.

    For example, it is true that probably we will be freer to try and strike free trade deals with others (a fantastic opportunity surely). But to me I see a prospect of us desperately trying to strike these deals, with the US, China and so on, failing to make up the trade we lose with the EU and getting in return terms that, for example, allow US corporations to cherry pick the NHS (and take us to court if we resist).Similarly it is a good thing if we are able to control more of our own affairs but (to me) a bad thing if a dangerous position forces us into a race to the bottom where we have low wages, polluted air, dodgy financial practices, bribery level taxes on corporations and so on

    In one respect we do have an opportunity but I just don’t see us taking it. Singapore has made an astonishing success of being an offshore Island by a ruthless combination of capitalist and socialist policies and by an ‘immigration’ policy that works for the Singaporeans but definitely not for the immigrants themselves, Personally I don’t think we have the cohesiveness that would allow us to pull of this extraordinary trick, nor would any of our political parties like their policy mix, (And anyway I wouldn;t want us to do so)

    So it is not that leavers are wrong to see opportunities from their point of view. It is just that their point of view is not mine.

  12. Re. Lib Dems in Mori polls
    Mori had the LD’s up 3% in Nov and then 4% in Dec! Hardly surprising they have gone back to the sort of increase shown by the other pollsters.. over 2016 up to and including October the average for the Lib Dems was 7.9% . As Alistair has explained I believe, their methodology seems to make them more volatile than the others..

  13. @Alec : even if May ends up with nothing in return from the EU, it will be a major political blow for the Europeah Commission as they will end up with immigration controls on EU citizens entering the UK, little or no UK contributions to the EU budget, and tariffs on EU (German, French, Dutch, ) imports into the UK.

    In other words, the EU commissioners will have failed to achieve all the goals they initially believed they could force the UK to accept as they did with Norway or Switzerland. Increasing opposition to the European federal project within the EU is the likely long-term political outcome, especially if the EU leadership is seen as sacrificing the interests of EU citizens and companies in the Brexit negotiations solely for the sake of “punishing the UK” and keeping the other EU 27 countries “in line”.

    As for the grim scenario of tariffs and other trade barriers between the UK and the EU, it will be a short-term external shock which, as in any open market economy will be absorbed by the price system and the exchange rate. In the long run, the economy will rebalance and the UK might even return to the condition of a global trader which it had in the past, rather than resigning itself to be just another regional European economy.

  14. @GUYMONDE

    “So I see (from YouGov) that the voters believe, decisively, that Brexit will:
    – Make us worse off economically
    – reduce our influence in the world
    – be bad for jobs
    – be bad for pensions
    – make little difference to the NHS
    Still, at least they think it will reduce immigration.”

    ________

    Sobering innit. Still, this is what one might expect if one looks at the issue polling, which had immigration rising to the top of all concerns, above the economy, unemployment, NHS… Because peeps think immigration affects all these things and more. Housing, school places, hedges, all that.

    Recent polling shows peeps think leaving the EU will assist the NHS. That might be because they think we can spend that £300-plus million on it, but they may well think that money wouldn’t come to the NHS, but they may think things will still be better because of reduced numbers.

    They aren’t often polled on whether they think things might worsen without access to EU migrants to staff the NHS. Or indeed other migrants. It’s just so easy to blame all sorts on someone else. They don’t necessarily attribute positives like growth to immigration though…

    There is of course, the delicate issue that also doesn’t get polled on: peeps just not being comfortable with so many foreign peeps around. It’s important to distinguish this from racism. It doesn’t have to be a desire to disadvantage foreign peeps, just that for some people, it’s harder to cope with. On top of potentially triggering the flight or fight thing, it requires more empathy to understand and relate to people more different, and for those at the less empathetic end of the spectrum, this can be a big ask.

    It can be an effect reinforced by different aspects, e.g. If you’re an introvert for whom even small differences/changes flash big warning signals, AND empathy happens to be an issue as well…

  15. On a different topic it looks as though Surrey will get it’s own referendum………………on whether or not to accept a 15% hike in Council Tax to cover social care. It will be an iunteresting exercise in finding out if people want to pay for improved social care. At the moment my wiife and i would consider voting in favour provided the additional money goes to cover social care and await the detailed proposals with interest. The vote would be on the same day as the council elections I understand. Will the rest of the voters think the same way?

  16. ANDREW111

    My own feeling is that the LD.s definitely had some momentum up until May’s speech. The question is will that fade after the voters apparent full support for May’s approach to Brexit?

  17. MBruno,

    “and the UK might even return to the condition of a global trader which it had in the past,”

    All it will take is for all those competing advanced industrialised nations that didn’t exist then to meekly move aside to make room for us.

    As I have pointed out repeatedly over the last few months, we have been trading internationally for nearly twenty years on the same as Germany as EU members so if we really were being held back why have the Germans managed to export more than anyone but the US and China and not us.

    Peter.

  18. @Carfrew

    Why would UK control of immigration cut off the supply of EU workers to staff the NHS?

  19. @Peter Carins – Excellent point and completely true. Unfortunately it doesn’t feel that way and no politician tells it like it is. So people go on believing that we don’t setl to China because of the EU. Come Brexit and we will strike a free trade deal and all will be well,

  20. This poll is very good for May because of two reasons.

    “Asked about May’s Brexit plan as a whole, there was a clear thumbs up. 55% think it would be good for Britain”

    And

    ” only 20% of people think that other EU countries will agree to what she wants.”

    If she gets it all she will appear the hero & if she does not, the public will just blame the EU.

  21. TOH Social care should come from general taxation. 15% on council tax will be affordable for many in Surrey .However for some even in a wealthy county the increase will be to much,so I think the vote will be against.

  22. @ Neil A

    Why would UK control of immigration cut off the supply of EU workers to staff the NHS?

    In my view it shouldn’t. The UK should welcome workers and shut out scroungers (i,e. people who exploit our NHS, and benefits system and trouble the police to boot). I actually don’t believe the latter exist in great numbers but this view is not shared by others).

    If, however, control of our borders is taken to mean Government quotas and generally heavy intervention, the system will become very bureaucratic, it will be difficult for businesses, universities and public services to hire the staff they want and everyone will lose out.

  23. @peter Cairns – Indeed. Always wonder why Brexiteers think there is some golden age of export just around the corner, when we’ve been consistently out gunned by Germany for decades under the same EU conditions, even when they ran a very strong DM.

  24. GRAHAM

    VI is asked first, listing Con, Lab, LibDem, UKIP, or Other. If the answer is other, they list SNP, Green, BNP, Respect, and Other. Next question is likelihood to vote. As far as I know this is true of all YouGov polls where VI is asked.

    In this poll, after VI was Brexit right/wrong, then how is the government doing with negotiating so far (21 good/53 bad). Next is the series of “Will Brexit have a good or a bad effect on ______” and finally the series of questions based on TM’s speech.

  25. @Blue Bob

    “If she gets it all she will appear the hero & if she does not, the public will just blame the EU”

    The public generally blame the government of the day for any perceived failures. They don’t even always reward the government of the day for successes.

  26. Neil A

    “Why would UK control of immigration cut off the supply of EU workers to staff the NHS?”

    Perhaps because of the increased bureaucracy involved in applying for a work visa? Or maybe a general feeling of not being wanted in the UK, while other countries are happy to welcome them in?

    Those factors wouldn’t “cut off” the supply of people – but it might reduce the number of applicants significantly. As with everything else, we just don’t know the answers, but any rational human resource planning would sensibly take such possibilities into account, and seek to minimise them.

  27. @Charles,

    The NHS already recruits large numbers of foreign staff who do not enjoy freedom of movement as EU citizens. There may be an increase in bureaucracy, but I don’t see that causing significant extra shortages in staff. Perhaps an increase in the cost of employing foreign staff, though, with employers having to pay to navigate the visa rules.

    I am just curious at this odd all or nothing view of immigration, where we either have to allow it unrestricted, or not have any at all. I don’t think that’s the choice.

  28. Alec

    “Many are coming round to the idea of simple sales levies, where profits within each jurisdiction are assumed, based on local sales and global profits, and taxes levied accordingly. ”

    That does seem a distinct possibility, as the existing international arrangements were constructed to encourage trade by avoiding double taxation. However, globalisation and the digital revolution have changed circumstances so significantly that a number of large companies pay virtually no taxes anywhere!

    It would need a significant bloc of states to create that change, though, and that might depend on how much power the multi-nationals wield, as opposed to states.

  29. RAF

    “The public generally blame the government of the day for any perceived failures. They don’t even always reward the government of the day for successes.”

    It seems that Labour is still getting blamed for any problems with the economy, despite being out of government for six years. Also, the EU should serve as a useful scapegoat to pin the blame on if May can’t get what she wants.

  30. @Sam S

    “It seems that Labour is still getting blamed for any problems with the economy, despite being out of government for six years. Also, the EU should serve as a useful scapegoat to pin the blame on if May can’t get what she wants.”

    I stated what generally happens. If the UK has to accept a compromise on immigration and ultimately agrees to be part of the single market in some form as there proves to be no viable alternative; I can’t see how the voters will not blame May.

    It’s fine to promise the earth in politics. But if you do so you have to deliver.

  31. @Candy

    A more apposite comparison would be with JFK demanding that NASA bring him a sample of Lunar Cheese for his tea.

  32. The Tories are in part doing well because they are doing what people think they should, going ahead with Brexit.

    Secondly like Brexit o not it is being viewed through the prism of the Uk v the EU and it that respect people rally to the flag.

    Even if Brexit goes badly and we lose out the majority of those who backed Brexit will blame “Johnny Foreigner for being Beastly to Blighty!”

    As to countries queueing up to do trade deals with the UK, that should be seen as a necessity rather than enthusiasm.

    They currently trade with the UK under EU rules and when we leave that trade will need new rules.

    Assuming that we don’t use the same rules they will need new ones or just WTO. Ideally they will want something that is as good or better than the EU ones and better than the WTO standard.

    They don’t just want a trade deal they need one!

    Peter.

  33. BigFatRon
    “Oh, and calling the electorate ‘ignorant and stupid’ ain’t going to help…”

    Sorry, I was being sarcastic. I need an emoticon to denote sarcasm.

  34. @Neil A

    Within days of the referendum, I knew EU peeps who straight away saw the prevailing winds and applied to work elsewhere. Apart from not feeling as welcome, and getting the benefits that out being in the EU provided, the trajectory changes, where FUTURE benefits ascribed to being part of the EU may no longer apply.

    Then there is the question of whether it’ll affect us economically in a negative way… Still unproven, but they may not want to take the risk.

    It isn’t just peeps from the continent, I know younger adults who immediately after the ref were making plans to leave…

    Then there is the hostility stoked up by it. You presumably know of the attacks in the wake of the referendum, but it was getting a bit toasty beforehand. People coming up to me to complain about immigrants, wants to know where I’m from when they never used to care, following me around shops, out of shops… Meanwhile younger people I’ve never even met before just coming up to me to talk about how unhappy they are with the negative stance on the EU.

    The ramifications of it all are huge. Check the polling. Peeps hold immigration to account for a lot of things. Once you know how MANY feel that way, why work here rather than somewhere else more accommodating?

    .

  35. Labour has selected Gillian Troughton as the candidate for Copeland. A moderate – and a doctor I believe.

  36. @Neil A

    “I am just curious at this odd all or nothing view of immigration, where we either have to allow it unrestricted, or not have any at all. I don’t think that’s the choice.”

    ———

    Yes, fixating on that simple polarisation means missing the point. I mean, I’m not arguing for free movement, I think it has issues. It’s quite challenging for some natives to deal with, and allows immigrants to be scapegoated. Aside from issues with employment,etc., allowing local rates to be undercut the way peeps like Alec describe.

  37. One of the funny (well, not really) aspects of the responses is that free trade means protectionism (we will trade with China, opium, I presume, although it didn’t work that well previously). Otherwise, send the gunboats!

  38. @Neil A

    I should add a couple of things. Firstly, I was dealing with perceptions. The proportion of the population who may be unhappy with much further immigration at all, unaware of the impact that would have on things like the NHS.

    Secondly, some solutions suggest just letting in the higher-skilled, higher earning types in. which might be fine for recruiting doctors, but not so much the support staff.

    Another point is this. Much of the current immigration is driven by employment needs. You can decide that if you were in power, you’d make an exception for the NHS, very handy, but I could have chosen summat else. Ok, you make an exception for that too, so,I choose summat else currently benefitting from immigrant labour, and you have to make an exception for that too, etc…

    Hopefully you see problem…

  39. @Carfrew

    Agree that sectoral effects will vary widely.

    I currently find myself wondering how the people of e.g. Lincolnshire will feel about being required by Job Centres to take minimum-wage back-breaking seasonal work in their local fields, being sent home with no pay when it rains, now that migrant workers are no longer welcome.

    I have a feeling it’s not quite the “control” they had in mind.

  40. Robin,

    It won’t be a problem.

    Thanks to our New Control of Immigration we will classify the seasonal workers here now that people want sent home as not really here even though they are working here so that they just don’t show up on the figures.

    Easy peasy!

    Peter.

  41. RAF

    I hadn’t even realized it but I had assumed that there are no circumstances in which May will accept a compromise on immigration. If she does then I agree completely, the public will blame her. My thoughts were more along the line of not being able to come to an agreement at all, in which case I see blame being deflected at the EU.

    CARFEW

    “It isn’t just peeps from the continent, I know younger adults who immediately after the ref were making plans to leave…”

    The referendum result killed any intentions I had of returning to the UK, and the only reason I’m still in the US because I need to finish uni. Need to brush up on my German before then…

  42. Re: Brexit
    From the Telegraph today;

    “Two of London’s busiest underground stations had to be evacuated after a unexploded Second World War bomb was discovered close by in the River Thames.”

    The Germans are still trying to get us. I bet ol’ H knew we were going to leave his brainchild so he left some delayed-action presents around.
    ————————————————————-
    More seriously, we are not the only country where many people have concerns about the effects of unlimited immigration. e.g. The Cologne attacks in Germany, various attacks in Belgium, France, Sweden etc. Hungary has built a fence. I do realise that some of the perpetrators of the atrocities are ‘home-grown’ but allowing 300,000 a year in to the UK for instance via Europe adds to the danger. If only 0.01% of that influx are potential terrorists, that’s still an extra 30 mass murderers. Control of our borders will mean that we might be able to prevent a few coming in.

    Possibly without the mathematics, I think that is how many Leave voters think, and it outweighs the fact that French cheese might get a bit more expensive.

  43. Pete B

    As I have suggested before, an emoticon for sarcasm is hard to envisage, but “Fe” works well for irony.

  44. ON
    Very good!

  45. ON
    “…imagined superiority…”

    If I didn’t already know, that comment shows that you aren’t English. ‘Imagined’ doesn’t come into it.

  46. TOH
    re Lib Dem support
    First, if the Lib Dems were on 40%, I might agree, but May’s hoped-for deal is still hated (not too strong a word) by far more people than the current 10-11% Lib Dem support.

    Second, as many people have pointed out, the way that poll was organised either by accident or design got the maximum possible support for May. Asking the immigration question but not the free trade question, and then getting people to endorse her on a wishful deal she is not going to get..

    It is also clear that no-one in the Tory Party or in the tabloids expects her to get it, by the way everyone is going out of their way with the “punishment” by the EU for which there is precious little evidence in what the EU leaders are actually saying. It is clearly the top Head Office campaign right now.

    So the official tactic appears to be to get a Brexit with nothing much from the EU (because May will not compromise in the slightest on Freedom of Movement or the ECJ) and then blame the EU for something that is our fault as has been happening to the last 40 years…

  47. Pete B

    LOL

    “But in spite of all temptations
    To belong to other nations,
    He remains an Englishman! ”

    G&S were rather good at taking the piss out of extreme nationalism!

  48. CMJ

    Thanks for the new graphs, but I think you have swapped the UKIP and LIB DEM % in the latest poll

  49. ON
    I bought a book in the 70s called ‘God is an Englishman’, expecting it to confirm my assumptions. To my chagrin I found that it was written by an Aussie who was quite disrespectful!

    G’night all

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