Petitions are a rubbish way of measuring public opinion. In fairness, that isn’t actually their purpose – a petition is a way for individuals to record and express their opinion, a way of highlighting an issue and exerting pressure. They can indeed be very good at that job. Some people however assume that because a vast number of people sign a petition it must, therefore, reflect wider public opinion. That is not the case – if a million people sign a petition hey are not necessarily representative of anyone but themselves. It shows only what those themselves think, the rest of the population may think the opposite, but not be bothered to sign petitions about it (and some demographic or attitudinal groups may just be more inclined to express their opinions through petitions).

So it appears to be with the petition on the Trump visit. Well over a million and a half people have signed a petition against the visit, but a YouGov poll in the Times this morning shows 49% of people think the visit should go ahead, only 36% think it should cancelled (Though it’s important to note the poll question does not relate to the petition specifically. The poll asked if the visit should go ahead at all, the petition is about the more technical issue of whether it should be downgraded from a full State Visit).

This does not mean there’s a silent majority of the British public who like Donald Trump – quite the opposite, British public opinion is very hostile about him and getting worse. 62% now think he will be a poor or terrible president (up from 54% just after the presidential election) and people here are overwhelming negative about his policies. The ban on refugees and visitors from seven Muslim countries gets the thumbs down from 50% of British respondents and the support of only 29%. Other policies are even less popular (67% think his wall is a a bad idea, similar figures disapprove of his environmental policies)

One can only assume that the public think the invite to Trump should stand despite their dislike of the man and his policies because, like it or not, he is the leader of a country we need to work with. Asked what the attitude of the British government should be towards trump 51% say we should try to work with him, rather than distance ourselves from him (32%). Opinion there is moving swiftly though – there has been a large drop since November when 66% thought the government should work with him.

I do ponder what sort of reception Donald Trump will get of the visit goes ahead. The British public really don’t like him, and if that petition doesn’t measure the balance of opinion, it probably does give us a good idea of the pool of people available to turn up to any visit to protest. That said, there have been plenty of State Visits by unpopular world leaders in the past that have been managed without incident. I just wouldn’t count on too many large public events…

786 Responses to “YouGov finds 49% think the Trump visit should go ahead”

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  1. Barbazenzero

    I don’t think Lucid Talk expect all the questions to be asked in their poll to be revealed.

    They tweeted on Monday that the results were with the BT and another 2 clients but that “which results are revealed is ‘up to them’. In other words, normal polling practice!

    They were expecting the media to run the stories today and tomorrow.

  2. This Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interview with a former UN War Crimes prosecutor and current law professor at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada is very instructive of how the political milieu is currently both different and intertwined between our two countries and the rest of the world:


    Carefrew makes a key point – the petition and YouGov asked very different questions.”


    Well, I was rather reiterating some other peeps’ point to be fair. The stuff on Spaceports though, that’s all me…

  4. YG/Open Britain poll

    “Which should have the final say in each of the following, the Government, or Parliament?

    The different elements of the negotiation, such as trade and immigration?

    Government 40% : Parliament 34%

    Whether the final, overall deal should or should not be accepted by the UK?

    Government 33% : Parliament 40%

    “If Parliament decides that the final deal is NOT good enough, which would you prefer:
    The UK should leave the EU anyway, without a deal – 34%
    The Government should continue to negotiate with the EU and seek a deal that Parliament can accept – 51%


    Thanks for pointing to the YG/Open Britain Poll. Interesting findings. I wonder if they will have any relevance to what actually happens in parliament.

  6. Not Lucid Talk tables, but their report on the poll –

    Preference transfer analysis confirms the stories that have been circulating.

    There has been a noticeable increase in the No. of SDLP voters who say they will transfer (i.e. their 2nd preference votes) directly to the UUP, and vice-versa. This is a noticeable trend and could make a difference in terms of MLA’s to be elected last in seats like South Belfast, North Down, and Strangford.

    There is also a lowering of transferring between UUP and DUP (and vice-versa) – 1st preference UUP voters now more likely to transfer to Alliance, Green, SDLP etc..

    Following on from the above point there has been a lowering of DUP to UUP transferring, and UUP to DUP transferring – with the latter being more noticeable than the former. DUP show higher transfer than before to TUV, and likewise so do the UUP (even more so). 1st preference UUP voters are tending now much more to Alliance, Green, and SDLP (in that order) with the DUP ‘coming in 4th’ in terms of second transfers for UUP 1st preference voters.

    Alliance have always been ‘transfer friendly’ but are now scoring even more healthier in this field i.e. increased No. of Sinn Fein voters saying they will transfer to Alliance just behind SDLP and PBP. • Strong transfer from Sinn Fein to PBP, but not necessarily vice-versa i.e. PBP voters tend more to transfer to Alliance and Green.

    TUV 1st preference voters seem more inclined to transfer to the UUP than before i.e. in the May 2016 Ni Assembly election they tended to transfer mostly to DUP and other Unionists.

  7. TOH

    “I wonder if they will have any relevance to what actually happens in parliament.”

    My thought too.

    The overall strategy favoured by most – Government to decide the detail of the negotiations : Parliament to approve (or not) seems constitutionally reasonable.

    Not unexpectedly, Remainers are very much in favour of a renegotiation if it’s a “bad deal” (79% to 9%) while Leavers less so (63% to 27%) with most Leavers wanting to leave anyway – but that’s quite a healthy bloc of voters who voted Leave, but are not gung-ho for the idea.

    Perhaps we should have Noel Edmunds on a daytime TV show to make the process more entertaining?

  8. On the ‘bad deal’ versus ‘good deal’ question George Osborne with whom I would never knowingly agree made what seemed to me a good point. He said that the government had chosen to interpret the Brexit vote as giving priority to immigration over the economy. Paradoxically they had also chosen to believe that the Europeans would give a higher priority to the economy than to their political priorities whereas the truth was that they were not going to do that at all.

    Obviously the question of what counts as a ‘good deal’ depends on what priorities you have. TOH, for example, expects economic pain but thinks that independence is nevertheless worth it. We now apparently know that 27 per cent of leave voters say they would defect if the deal was bad from their point of view. Does anyone know of other polling information on what people ‘package’ people would count as good or bad.

  9. Charles

    We don’t know that the 27% would “defect”, just that they consider that if Parliament reckoned it was a bad deal, that the UK should go back and get a better one.

    Since the UK government would have done its best to secure what they saw as a good deal, they would have to make some fairly major concessions to get something that Parliament agreed was better.

    It might be wise for Government to do a little more genuine listening to MPs (as well as MPs listening to constituents) during the next wee while.

  10. YG poll
    Is there not a missing question?

    Would you support a humiliated Britian begging to remain in the EU on any terms that the EU is prepared to give ?

    Henceforth the “singapore” option.

  11. @ Old Nat

    yes you are right. I should not have said ‘would defect’.

    Still the point remains that all this talk of ‘deals’ makes this sound like a Trade’s Union negotiation. The negotiators get the best deal they can and ask the work force to vote for or against the result. It they vote against the negotiators have to go back and try and get a better deal. They don’t just say ‘OK’ we are going on perpetual strike.

  12. S Thomas: “Would you support a humiliated Britian begging to remain in the EU on any terms that the EU is prepared to give ?”

    That’s a nonsense question since the UK is free to remain in the EU on the same terms as any other member.

  13. Charles

    Good analogy!

  14. “Spanish Govt to be fined 3 BILLION EUROS by the European Commission for late payments.” report in Spanish press.

    If the £600 billion euros aren’t paid on time, the bill might mount up very quickly! :-)

  15. OLDNAT
    Lucid Talk …. were expecting the media to run the stories today and tomorrow.

    Yes. I’ll be surprised if there isn’t more detail tomorrow. The numbers we can see now indicate the DUP may end up in 2nd place with an SF First Minister, which I suspect HMG would see as non-optimal.

    That News entry and the report weren’t there when I posted on the BT article. I’m most interested in whether the the “moderate” party [Alliance, SDLP and UUP] supporters really are prepared to share their preferences in a non-sectarian way. If those intentions survive for the next month, then in an STV election it could make all the difference to both SF and DUP fortunes.

  16. TOH,
    I believe both Norman Lamb and Greg Mulholland are going to abstain after backing the Lib Dem referendum amendment actually.

    In this post-truth world it is best to be accurate..

  17. somerjohn

    Doubt if my question would find its way onto a ballot paper but may reflect a considerable body of sentiment.

    Same terms would be : are you prepared to allow unlimited immigration from the EU into this country?

  18. Barbazenzero

    Agreed that second (and subsequent) preferences are likely to matter a lot in this election.

    With 5 MLAs in each constituency, significant sharing of preference votes among the “moderate” parties could easily see the most popular of them leapfrogging a candidate or two from “the big two”.

  19. Good evening all from a mild and damp Itchen Valley in rural Hampshire. Train was delayed by 30 mins due to protesters getting onto the tracks. Not sure what they were protesting about but I’m really beginning to take a dislike to protesters…. Snorting about London’s streets and now on the railways.

    Anyway caught part of the news on my way home tonight…Looks like Labour are in real trouble over tonight’s vote and with a couple of potential banana skin by-elections looming the timing couldn’t had been worse.

  20. S Thomas

    Both your original and amended questions are totally irrelevant to what Open Britain were examining in this poll – should Government or Parliament exercise most authority over the two different stages of the process of disengagement from the EU, and what should be the consequence of Parliament not approving of the negotiation result.

  21. ANDREW111

    I was just reporting something reported on the BBC or Guardian web sites I cannot remember which.

    SNP blocking motion defeated by 336 to 100


    I disagree with the SNP’s stance on Brexit but unlike Labour they have been consistent in their approach over Brexit. I can’t see the SNP being in any way damaged by tonight’s proceedings however Labour look like imploding and I think we might be witnessing the beginnings of a Labour party on the split

  23. TOH

    Thanks for the vote figures.

    It’ll be interesting to see how many Lab MPs ignored the “Bain Principle” [1]

    [1] That’s the “long-standing convention in the PLP that we do not support SNP motions” as described by Willie Bain.ex Glasgow MP.

  24. Second reading passes 498 tp 114

  25. Government timetable for the rest of the bills passage has been approved by 329 to 112.

  26. OLDNAT quotes ““If Parliament decides that the final deal is NOT good enough, which would you prefer:
    The UK should leave the EU anyway, without a deal – 34%
    The Government should continue to negotiate with the EU and seek a deal that Parliament can accept – 51%”
    That may be what 51% would prefer, but after 2 years it requires EU unanimous agreement to continue negotiation.
    It seems to me that many blog comments (not just this one) and indeed some speeches in Parliament, totally neglect that the EU will have considerable influence on the negotiations and their result.

  27. Dave

    You shooting the messenger?

    I was giving the pol result, not approving the idea that you can simply go back to the EU and start again. Indeed I made that very point in discussion with Charles, that to do that would mean making big concessions.

    I agree with you that the EU might well say “Non” (or its equivalent in the other 23 official languages of the EU) to re-opening negotiations.

  28. Dave

    “It seems to me that many blog comments (not just this one) and indeed some speeches in Parliament, totally neglect that the EU will have considerable influence on the negotiations and their result.”

    Exactly so.

    Apparently there were 47 Labour rebels and one Conservative, I haven’t got the other no numbers

  29. @ Oldnat and Barbanazero

    Some comment from Lucid Talk on the state of the parties.

    LucidTalk managing director Bill White described the DUP’s 3% decrease as “quite a drop”.

    He said: “But may not totally translate into dropping a similar relatively large number of seats in the new Northern Ireland Assembly. This is because it would take an even larger drop to really feed into the party losing the comparative number of seats.

    “Though this drop could be the difference in terms of them losing one or two extra seats. That is above the number of seats they are expected to lose.”

    He added: “A large number of poll participants who said they voted DUP last May 2016, say they will switch this time to the UUP and other parties.

    “This is a noticeable swing to the UUP, but at this stage in the campaign, is not overwhelming. The DUP can cope with this swing, in terms of not being damaged too much overall in terms of seats, but they can’t afford the swing to grow anymore over the course of the campaign.”

    It ls from Slugger

  30. Here are some extracts from a fulminating post by Richard North about the UK “walking away” from a “bad deal” among a great many other matters.

    In addition to regulatory convergence, there must be a dynamic arrangement that will ensure the automatic uptake of new regulation, and also the changes mandated by ECJ judgements. There must also be internal market surveillance measures, agreed conformity assessment measures, customs agreements, dispute settlement procedures, agreements on competition policy, procurement and intellectual property rights, as well as systems to deal with rules of origin.

    These and much else, will require an institutional structure to facilitate communication and ongoing development, a form of arbitration panel or court, and a consultation body, which allows input into, and formal communication with the EU’s regulatory and institutional system.

    With modern trade deals, there is also a huge element of conditionality, where parties are required to subscribe to common values on human rights (one of the main barriers to a free trade deal with China), on workers’ rights, on environmental protection, wildlife protection and many other incidental matters.

    Not for nothing do we see over 300 heads of agreement in the EU-South Korea FTA, of which regulatory issues are but a small part. And on this agreement, negotiations started in 2006 and the final agreement entered into force on 1 July 2011. However, this was only the last stage of a process which had begun in 1993. Delivery of the current 1,336-page trading agreement, alongside a broader-ranging 64-page framework agreement on political co-operation, took almost 18 years.

    In the comments on a previous post, I have likened the commitment to securing a free trade agreement (signed and ratified) within two years, as akin to a British commander addressing his troops on Salisbury Plain, telling them they are to invade Iraq the next day – but they have to walk all the way from the UK.

    This is my way of saying that to achieve a “bold and ambitious” free trade agreement with the EU inside two years is not just difficult. It is impossible. It cannot be done. And it doesn’t matter how many times it is discussed amongst the chattering classes, it still can’t be done.

    And as if that is not bad enough, Mrs May is also talking about a transitional agreement, a “phased process of implementation, in which both Britain and the EU institutions and member states prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us will be in our mutual self-interest”.

    The point here is that she tells us she wants us to have reached an agreement about our future partnership “by the time the 2-year Article 50 process has concluded”. That will, of course, have to include ratification of her “bold and ambitious” FTA, a unanimous decision which includes some devolved governments. But only then can the transition process be planned.

    This in itself will be complex – far more so than people imagine. We are not signing up to a new treaty, de novo, or extending an existing treaty. We are transitioning from a very complex treaty organisation, out of the EU treaties, into a completely different relationship bound by an entirely new treaty. For a seamless transition, that is going to require changes to the EU treaty, by way of a separate succession treaty, which itself is going to require unanimous agreement and ratification.

    Assuming that we get our FTA inside two years – which I’ve already suggested is impossible – we then have this further hurdle, a complex additional treaty, against an unknown and unspecified timetable.

    In what appears to be a sideways swipe at the Efta-EEA option, Mrs May nevertheless rails against a transitional status, “in which we find ourselves stuck forever in some kind of permanent political purgatory”. This is one of many places where she has quite evidently supped liberally at the Brexiteer kool-aid. How can it ever be permanent when we can leave the EEA with one year’s notice?

    But where she has sated herself with the kool-aid is in her comments about membership of the Single Market. “European leaders”, she avers, “have said many times that membership means accepting the ‘four freedoms’ of goods, capital, services and people”.

    “And being out of the EU but a member of the Single Market would mean complying with the EU’s rules and regulations that implement those freedoms, without having a vote on what those rules and regulations are. It would mean accepting a role for the European Court of Justice that would see it still having direct legal authority in our country”.

    Says Mrs May, “It would to all intents and purposes mean not leaving the EU at all”, speaking straight out of the Janet and John playbook on the “Norway option”. But if Norway is most decidedly not in the EU, and is a member of the Single Market, how is the same arrangement for the UK keeping it in the EU? To claim that represents a total departure from reality.

    And it is there that the German media finds her, with several journals suggesting that she has entered a fantasy world. Spiegel describes her as realitätsblind, which one of our commenters says you could translate as “in cloud cuckoo land”.

    The Germans appear considerably less than impressed with May’s threat to “walk away”, and her assertion that: “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain”. They are right to be unimpressed. As Pete has pointed out, this is not something the UK can sensibly walk away from. The Article 50 process is a matter of negotiating an administrative de-merger. Absence of a deal would create an impossible situation.

    But if Mrs May does “walk”, it is straight into the WTO option, the dangers of which she apparently dismisses on the basis that “we would still be able to trade with Europe”. She does not in any way acknowledge the administrative complications that would arise, or the very real danger of a complete collapse in trade with the EU Member States.”

  31. Sam

    The difficulty is in assessing the effect of such preference switching patterns.

    When White talks about “expected to lose” he’s referring to the effect of dropping from 6 to 5 MLAs per constituency, and the hypothecated result of the last election with those reductions.

    STV is notoriously hard to hypothecate or predict, as one more/less 4th preference vote can see a candidate through to the next round – or plunged into oblivion!

    A combination of 1st preference vote shifts within each community, combined with the order of lower preference votes from the minor parties can have a cumulative effect which produces surprises.

    STV elections are far more exciting than boring old FPTP ones! :-)

  32. @Oldnat

    Yes. Thanks

  33. Oldnat “You shooting the messenger?”

    I did say “OLDNAT quotes” NOT OLDNAT “etc etc”

  34. Dave


  35. Oldnat
    If you have taken “(not just this one)” to refer to your comment, rather than the THIS BLOG, then I did not make it clear enough.

  36. Oldnat
    Just to be clear, my last post was not in response to your gracious “ta” but because I saw I had perhaps been ambiguous.

  37. I wonder whether we’ll end up with imperial measurements being legal again for internal use within the UK? I think it would be a popular measure which would help whichever party brought it in in the polls.

  38. Dave

    Double Ta!

  39. I see the pound had its best day for some time following the President’s utterances. No one pointed up his pro-synth stance beforehand, and it’s summat to take heart from. I look forward to his further observations on trade. Hopefully Theresa can get with the programme…

  40. @Pete B

    “I wonder whether we’ll end up with imperial measurements being legal again for internal use within the UK? I think it would be a popular measure which would help whichever party brought it in in the polls.”


    Long as it isn’t an excuse to sneak some price rises in under the radar in all the confusion. I still remember what happened with Decimalisation. One week baked beans were 8d in the supermarket, next week it’s like they’re 8p. More than twice as much!! An early example of the confusion besetting the young Carfrew at all the injustice in the world. (And this was even before all the modding and stuff…)

  41. @Pete B

    Imperial measurements are still legal I believe.

    As long as the metric equivalent is shown alongside, there is no issue!

    Apart from the US and UK, who uses imperial anyway?

  42. Yes I know we mostly use imperial for road distances and speed, but imperial measurements really do belong in the past on the whole

  43. @Catman Jeff

    Yes, imperial measurements are ridiculous.

  44. I did have a pint of beer last night in the pub. A couple actually.

  45. PeteB,

    “I think it would be a popular measure which would help whichever party brought it in in the polls.”

    I take it your over 50!

    Virtually no one under 30 uses it and most would have to learn it from scratch.

    Still given most of them voted Remain, why don’t the Leavers rub their noses in it and take us back to where we belong……the fifties!


  46. @Neil A

    This article popped up a day or two after our chat about Brexit’s impact on NHS recruitment from the EU, but I forgot to post it…

    “Number of EU nurses coming to UK falls 90 per cent since Brexit vote”

    “Just 101 nurses and midwives from other European nations joined the register to work here last month – a drop from 1,304 in July, the month immediately after the referendum, official figures show.

    This is the first sign of a change following the EU referendum and it is our responsibility as the regulator to share these figures with the public
    Jackie Smith, chief executive Nursing and Midwifery Council
    The statistics from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) also show a rise in the number of EU nurses who have decided to stop working in the UK.

    Last month, 318 decided to leave the NMC’s register – almost twice the 177 who did so in June, the month of the referendum.

    The Royal College of Nurses has warned of a shortage of 24,000 nurses
    The number of overseas nurses asking for an application pack to register to work in Britain also fell dramatically, with just 453 enquiries in December – compared with 697 in July. An even sharper drop was seen last February, after rules were changed to allow regulators to carry out language tests.

    Last January, almost 3,700 nurses and midwives from the Continent asked for an application pack – but after the clampdown, the figure fell to just 861 the following month, since when it has dropped.

    The NHS is heavily reliant on overseas workers, and the number of nurses coming to Britain from elsewhere in Europe has tripled in the last four years.”

    Bit early to be sure, but doesn’t look too good…

    “”With 24,000 nursing vacancies across the UK, the NHS could not cope without the contribution from EU nurses. Without a guarantee that EU nationals working in the NHS can remain, it will be much harder to retain and recruit staff from the EU, and patient care will suffer as a result.”

    Earlier this month, it emerged that almost every hospital in the UK has a shortage of nurses.

    Staff said patients were being left unwashed, unmonitored and without crucial medications.”

  47. CMJ and Hireton
    Whether you like them or not, imperial measurements are still more familiar than metric to a big proportion of the population – e.g. most people over about 50?

    I just thought it would be popular if market traders for instance were able to sell a quarter pound of ham without going to prison.

  48. Most items sold in North America are labelled in both metric and US measures, since they are sold throughout the NAFTA area.

    However, when we leave the EU, the UK will join that proud list of states that are not members of any Regional FTA – Mauritania, Palau, São Tomé and Principe, Somalia, South Sudan, and East Timor.

    What? The ell will return.

  49. CMJ and Hireton and Peter C

    My last reply in moderation for some reason so I’ll try to reword it.

    Whether you like them or not, imperial measurements are still more familiar than metric to a big proportion of the population – e.g. most people over about 50?
    I just thought it would be popular if market traders for instance were able to sell a quarter pound of ham without legal penalties.
    Please not I am not stating my own preference, but speculating on whether it would help a government in the polls.

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