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. Two replies now in moderation. I’ll just try to say this:

    Please not I am not stating my own preference, but speculating on whether it would help a government in the polls.

  2. Most youngsters i deal with in my business always give their height in feet and inches.
    Metric is for the continentals.
    You know where you are with imperial.

  3. @Sam I can’t see how anyone can deny that a full deal within two years is impossible. We are now triggering article 50. What in a rational world should our ‘negotiating strategy’ be now?

  4. The other Howard,
    ” I wonder if they will have any relevance to what actually happens in parliament.”

    The polling result would seem to be 51 to 34 that voters think we should not leave the EU unless a sufficiently good deal can be negotiated with the EU. Quite an interesting result

    S Thomas,
    “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 ?”

    Wasnt that question asked in the poll immediately after May’s speech, where the wording was skewed in that direction? Her phrasing used in that poll was that no deal is better than a bad deal?

  5. “Is there not a missing question?”

    Indeed there is. It’s the question we needed all along, although it is rather difficult to do in practice, but put simply it’s “what Brexit deal do peeps actually think would be a good and realistically achievable deal”.

  6. @Pete B

    I personally can’t see encouraging imperial measurements making any difference on a party’s popularity.

    Like I stated previously, nothing stops goods being sold in imperial measurements anyway.

  7. As to imperial measures … i hear mainly “could I have three slices of that beautiful ham”, rather than “can I have 7/8th of a pound of ham, please”. And of course, when one buys half a pound of butter, then the person buys 250 g.

    But I have to admit it would creat jobs in the plumbing industry – reversing all those 24 mm pipes to 1 inch ones.

    And who uses them? Oddly most Central Europeans in joinery actually use the German version of the inch (Zoll), but whether they actually use 25 rather than 25.2 mm is a different matter.

  8. Before any complaint, I do know that 7/8 of a Pune is 14 ounces.

    I don’t think it politically matters (imperial measure).

  9. @Carfrew

    We’ll get a better understanding of quite how serious the shortage of nurses is in the autumn when a national skills survey reports. 24,000 is a reasonable estimate (I’ve heard larger numbers around), and nursing is both the UK job with the largest *number* of shortages (mind you, it always is), and was in the top 10 for the *most* difficult job to fill last time the data was collected in 2015.

    It is widely accepted across Govt that nursing has a clear and obvious supply problem and that Brexit is likely to exacerbate it. What may concentrate certain minds is that the issue affects private medicine as well as public.

    There are a lot of potential measures being discussed. It is a pressing issue.

    A number of our most pressing skills shortages are likely to be exacerbated in the short term by Brexit until visas and residency questions are settled. For the next couple of years, when you see a big report about £xbn on some infrastructure project, the question you shoiuld be asking is not ‘where’s the money coming from?’, it’s ‘where’s the labour?’

    At the moment we don;t have anywhere near enough people to complete the infrastructure projects we have now – especially at the skilled and experienced end of things – and these are not people we can just whistle up from the dole queue. At the moment, we don’t train enough, we haven’t been great at keeping the people we do train in the industry and we get the rest from Europe and elsewhere. And it’s not like we don’t train enough through lack of trying to get people to do it either.

  10. Mr Nuttall seems to be a small trouble, although, unless the papers carry it, and push it, it is unlikely to affect anything.

  11. Via Number Cruncher

    Opinium/Polling Matters (Strong leader)

    AGREE 46

    AGREE 14

    Opinium/Polling Matters (I like them)

    AGREE 37

    AGREE 22

    Opinium/Polling Matters (Understands people like me)

    AGREE 32

    AGREE 25

    Not sure this tells us anything we didn’t know.

  12. CMJ
    Have you forgotten the Metric Martyrs?
    I think it might have the effect of making a proportion of the population feel happier because it would be a real-life sign that we are throwing off the yoke of Europe, and thus benefit whichever party allowed imperial measures again.

  13. Apologies for all the errors (missing words, replaced words in the previous three ( :-() comments. Never (?) again will I comment on a phone …

  14. One reason I voted strongly for Brexit is over Imperial Measurements. They are central to British history and culture, and it is precisely the petty, small-minded bureaucratic arrogance of the eu in attempting to subvert our way of life that irritated so many and brought about the Brexit result. People always sneer about the alleged “illogicality” of the Imperial system; in my view it is an infinitely better system as it always keeps the numbers small, and deals more in fractions which you can work out in your head, rather than the ludicrous decimal point which overcomplicates matters. Ask anybody what 0.125 x 0.375 is and they go scrambling for their iphone; ask them what 1/8 x 3/8 is, and they can tell you in their heads. Enough said.

  15. Standardisation of measurements really helps export businesses, and international trade.

    If goods were made for UK and international markets, you would not want to use two kinds of packaging – one imperial and an export metric one.

    More critically, in engineering where microns matter, imperial measurements are a nightmare when mixed with metric. Even global US businesses use metric as standard . I can assure you that the Engineers I work with (up to late 50s in age) hate imperial as much as I do.

    I happy for all countries have independent legal systems etc., but standardisation of measurements is surely a win-win all round.

  16. @Laszlo

    Well you never know, “Pune” could catch on. As in “a ‘Pune’ of voodoo polls…”

  17. @The Catman

    “Standardisation of measurements really helps export businesses, and international trade”


    It’s quite gud for avoiding space flight snafus too…

  18. Which is important for our spaceport

  19. @Pete B

    I believe the metric martyrs ran into issues because they refused to show the metric equivalent to the imperial units they were using.

    All they had to do was write ‘xx per kg’ next to the ‘xx per pound’ but they refused.

    I think my comment below yours and Lazslo’s covers standardisation of measurements, important for exporting nations.

    …..and thus benefit whichever party allowed imperial measures again.

    Do you not accept they can use imperial measurements now, so it’s not an issue of allowing then again. They never stopped being permitted.

    Anyhow, enough of imperial matters now from me.


  20. OldNat

    Thanks for the figures.

    It is extremely negative on Corbyn – I suppose the degree of it (and all fronts) is a bit new(ish), but it is not surprising. The surprising is the complete lack of any kind of response, initiative, or just a mildly coherent narrative to counter it.

  21. Obviously for international trade and scientific measurements, the metric system is preferable. My point was simply that if market traders for instance were allowed to sell a quarter pound of ham, it might be popular with older customers, and might add to a government’s popularity.

    I have come across markets in France where they still use the livre as a measure, so why not here?

    If the next election looked as though it might be close, it would be an easy thing for the government to do in order to boost their popularity by a percentage point or two.

  22. @Chris Riley

    Yes, to briefly summarise Neil’s solution it seemed to be a mix of recruiting more from outside the EU, and increasing the pay. Given we already had shortages, the non-EU route is a bit hopeful if it wasn’t filling the gap even BEFORE Brexit, and of course upping pay is tricky when trying to keep NHS costs down. Plus it’s not just about pay but about how welcome you feel, or not…

    And as you correctly identify and neither Neil nor I paid much attention to, an important aspect is training, or the lack of it, and not just for nursing or indeed NHS but as you say Infrastructure etc… Free movement has allowed our Globalistic, liberal regimes of different stripes of the past few decades to brush education and training etc. under the carpet a bit.

    I don’t recall Brexiters paying much attention to this, and of course it may be that the people we may need to import to assist with this training etc. may also be less available due to Brexit….

  23. Chris Riley,
    “And it’s not like we don’t train enough through lack of trying to get people to do it either.”

    Using migrant labour has been immensely useful for successive governments, and they still want to do this. How this is to be squared with their insistance on obeying voters and stopping migration remains to be seen. Perhaps they believe voters will change their minds once shortages take hold. The plan seems to be to give voters what they asked for, and see how they like it.

  24. Returning to the subject of this thread whether someone wants to visit the UK or not is irrelevant, just like it is almost irrelevant to ask do you like what Trump stands for or says.

    Violating US law by denying persons entry into the US who have previously been given a permit and/or Green card is problematic for US lawmakers.

    Denying citizens of the UK, EU and Canada entry into the US because they are dual citizens of seven other countries or were born in those seven countries is problematic for the countries to which those persons are citizens now, and Canada has sought assurance that it’s passport holders will retain the right to enter the US, as we have a Free Trade Agreement with the US and Mexico that specifies movement of labour as well.

    Then beyond that there is the question of violating international law, including UN Charters and Conventions.

    A more pertinent question for pollsters to ask is do you believe, say, the government of Canada or UK should “turn a blind eye and remain silent on the Trump administration violating the UN Convention on Refugees”.

    Some people might argue that Hitler writing Mein Kampf was within his freedom of expression, whereas a line is crossed when citizens of the US start to have their citizenship rights stripped away, are placed in detention centres and then systematically killed.

    We are not at that point yet, but last night I saw a panel discussion on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in which a US law professor of Iranian origin chose to discuss the Trump administration from inside the US rather than come to Canada, for fear he would not be allowed back into the US.

    Finally some think the this first round is a dress rehearsal for the deportation of millions of Latino’s from the US. Only time will tell if this is true, but for now I think the point to make is that citizens of other countries, even citizens who previously had been granted entry permits, are being denied access to the US based on country of origin and religion, without any proof that they are a security threat .

    That is a slippery slope and three US State’s Attorneys General are now challenging the Executive Order, as unconstitutional, Washington, Virginia and Massachussetts.

  25. When devising a question for an opinion poll, it’s important to get the wording right, but in these two petitions it hardly matters. Some people who are anti-Trump will sign one of the petitions and some people who are pro-Trump will sign the other, whether the wording is clear or not.

    Why is it useful to have two petitions, pro and anti, anyway? Both sides of the question will be debated in parliament whether there’s one petition or two.

    Also, when signing one of the petitions (I won’t say which), I noticed how easy it would be for me to sign many times. I have many email addresses at my disposal, and I know many people’s names and postcodes. I could have signed at least fifty times by now if I’d wanted to.

    By the way, if I were Mr Wells, I’d be pretty fed up. The discussions here are meant to be about polling, not about politics. There are many other places in which politics can be argued about.

  26. canada,
    “Then beyond that there is the question of violating international law, including UN Charters and Conventions.”

    It may be we are at a turning point in history. Free trade no longer benefits developed nations. There is an awful lot of ancillary baggage which accompanies a total reversal of national interest. The reaction against refugees is a backlash against the spreading failure of the economic model. It may or may not settle down if the economic problem is resolved. But there is certainly no clear route for that to happen either.

  27. Say what you will about Corbyn or the Tories or Brexit or Trump or Remoaning…

    Just don’t go back to the Imperial system. There is basically ZERO reason to use it!

    I wouldn’t mind seeing some polling on that…and if it went in favour of imperial I reckon i would have to do myself in…

  28. Bruce
    you are inching to an unacceptable conclusion.You need to hectare your member of Parliament on the subject.

  29. My sixteen year old son is doing a design Technology project at school for his GCSE and asked me last night how many cm were there in a foot as he needed to order a length of special wire on the internet from USA. He is familiar with feet and inches and is quite proud that is has just reached 6 foot but the thought of using feet and inches for his project would be ridiculous – I am over fifty and completely agree with him!

  30. @ST
    Just the kind of thing that Paul Acre should take up, now that DC failed to get him impeached

  31. @Carfrew

    No doubt you will have seen the reports this morning of a very significant fall in applications to nursing degrees now bursaries have been removed. I always urge caution with stories on applicant numbers as ‘applications’ do not always equal ‘people going on to study’, especially when you can apply for multiple courses. But it is extremely concerning.

    It would not take much now for a full-blown staffing crisis in the NHS and not having enough people to do the jobs would not be solved by any form of insurance or private system. A real NHS crisis would, needless to say, be something that we might expect to move the polls.

  32. PeteB,

    If you want to go back to Imperial in England fine, but you Foot the bill, and not in my back yard!


  33. @Danny

    Exactly. We will still need significant migrant labour (up to the point where we no longer need labour at all). That is why we are likely to see exciting lists of skills shortage occupations for people we’ll give visas to including jobs like fruit pickers and navvies.

  34. “You know where you are with imperial.”

    Indeed. I myself am 57 kilometres east of Bradford.

    Seriously? I simply cannot believe we are talking about retreating to imperial measures. Just to have this somewhat pathetic idea floated on UKPR, however innocently, demonstrates how backward and lacking in common sense the entire Brexit debate has become.

    On Trump: It’s an interesting poll, and not unexpected. Realistically people know we have to deal with the man, but feel inately nervous about rolling out the reddest of red carpets for him. Again, a major gaffe caused directly because of the desperate situation heading our way due to hard Brexit.

    Trump is as great a lesson as anyone could have that we really need to maintain strong and direct economic, political and cultural links with Europe, instead of pretending American’s think like us. We’ve placed ourselves into a right old geopolitical mess.

    Talking of right old messes, on Corbyn:

    As ever, I’m not allowed to comment on matters Corbyn without first pointing out that I am hysterical, worship Blair, a plotter etc etc – you know the drill.

    The ‘Corbyn offers something completely different’ brigade is now strangely quiet. That debate appears over, with a weary acceptance that the big difference Corbyn will bring is a complete Labour massacre, rather than a tiny Conservative majority.

    There is nothing in Labour now except a sense of drift, a banal mouthing of pointless platitudes and some idealistic dreaming of better times ahead.

    Corbyn was and is a disaster, and it’s sad that those who warned of this were roundly rejected by a Labour party intent on self immolation, as if bleeding themselves to death would somehow bring the rapturous joy of ethical purity.

    That’s what you get for having three shredded wheat for breakfast.

  35. One aspect of Trumpsim that is beginning to shake the world is his tearing up of diplomatic convention.

    This morning we have had two separate cases of confidential conversations between Trump and other heads of state being deliberately leaked to the press, almost certainly by Team Trump.

    We’ve also had news last week that Trump believes it is perfectly acceptable to tear up whatever agreements he and previous US presidents have made, if he believes they aren’t working for America.

    This probably sounds good to his many supporters, and smacks of a man who knows what he wants and won’t tolerate anyone getting in way.

    However, international relationships need trust and cooperation. Friends and enemies alike will be carefully calibrating all their dealings with Trump (with of course, the exception of the UK government, who are so foolish and desperate that they will do anything for the man).

    It seems clear that there is a global loss of trust in the US, and ultimately this will mean less engagement and less support for America. I found Trump’s handling of the Australian PM particularly shocking. Australia is a key strategic ally in dealing with China. Large as it is, the US needs alliances, and unless Trump winds his neck in and starts to behave like a president, the US will become isolated and weakened.

  36. DANNY

    “The polling result would seem to be 51 to 34 that voters think we should not leave the EU unless a sufficiently good deal can be negotiated with the EU. Quite an interesting result”
    I agree it is an interesting result, as I posted to OLDNAT, but my question was will it have any traction in parliament? On the face off it, it seems to add some weight to the Remainers arguments during the next stage of the Bill, but will it is the question?
    Apart from the votes on the Bill to trigger Art. 50 the other interesting news yesterday was the report in the Guardian of a leaked EU document which said amongst other things:-
    “The European commission’s Brexit negotiators must strike a “workable” deal with Theresa May’s government to protect the City of London or the economies of the remaining member states will be damaged, a leaked EU report warns.”
    This confirms a view many have had for some time that the UK’s bargaining position is actually quite good. This appears to strengthen the hand of the Leavers.
    The debates on the report stage and in the HoL will be interesting and the Bill still has many hurdles to clear but for good or ill, depending on one’s opinion, there has been some movement at last.

  37. OLDNAT

    It appears at least two SNP members did not vote against the Bill to trigger Art 50 last night. Do you know who and why?

  38. Laszlo

    I’m impressed that you know that 7/8 of a pound is 14oz. I’d be surprised if more than 20% of the UK’s adult population would be able to get that correct.

  39. Carfrew

    Keep cheerful, the £ is rising against the $ again this morning and in general there has been no negative reaction to yesterdays vote in parliament, at least so far.

  40. @TOH – I think again that you are at risk of applying a little rose tinting to that report.

    Firstly, think why an internal and highly sensitive EU negotiating report would be leaked to the British press. Is this just a straighforward leak, or is there something in it for the EU?

    The report certainly flags up the idea that the EU wants ‘equivalence’ to be maintained to ensure there is no disruption to financial transactions in the EU. But what does that mean?

    Basically they are saying that they will want UK financial regulation to remain equivalent to the current EU regime once the UK leaves the single market, and the document also states that this principle will have to apply to future regulatory developments within the EU as well.

    When I read this, I agree that it shows the EU recognises that there is a negotiating hand for the UK to play, but beyond that it seems clear to me that this ‘leak’ is designed to demonstrate that the city will not be free after Brexit – but will need to remain tied to equivalent current and future EU regulations, even to the extent that an alternative legal oversight mechanism to the ECJ will be needed.

    In effect, there would remain a distinct ‘single market’ for the city, with it;s own rules and regulations, and with westminster having to agree to independent oversight by a transnational body.

    Yes, the document recognises that the UK could refuse the equivalence arrangement, and that this would hurt the EU, but it would also hurt the UK a good deal, and what the document doesn’t say is whether this level of pain for the EU is worth paying if the UK refuses equivalence.

    In short – this paper is telling the UK that the city must remain in adherence with EU rules, which is precisely why I believe it has been leaked.

  41. Alec

    “@TOH – I think again that you are at risk of applying a little rose tinting to that report.”

    I hardly think so, all i was doing was reminding Danny in a non partisan way that there was news yesterday which supported both sides of the Brexit debate. I suggest if you read my post again I didn’t take sides. Indeed i would suggest my last sentence exactly sums up the position we are in today in a totally non partisan way.

    As to your post I disagree with your view of what it means and why it was leaked. I won’t say why because that would appear too partisan.

  42. The other Howard,
    I don’t know whether the poll will have any impact on current parliamentary proceedings. It is more an indicator of a trend. Results depend critically on how questions are asked, but there is consistently a significant pragmatic block whose view depends on outcome. That’s the point. The government will be aware of this group which might turn decisively against brexit and they have been aware all along. I think they have deliberately gone for hard brexit to test this. It seems likely they already have contingency planning to wholly reverse brexit should the voters so decide regardless of what parliament does now.

  43. @Charles

    “What in a rational world should our ‘negotiating strategy’ be now?”

    I don’t know. We are off topic. So are many others. “canada” is sticking to the script.

    Richard North thinks the first topic will be payment of debt from UK to EU and that nothing gets discussed until that is done.

  44. Good ‘moaning’ all from a rather wet People’s Socialist Republic of London.


    Corbyn was and is a disaster, and it’s sad that those who warned of this were roundly rejected by a Labour party intent on self immolation, as if bleeding themselves to death would somehow bring the rapturous joy of ethical purity.

    Whilst I have a tendency to agree with this sentiment (as is the case with the majority of your comments), to be fair the current political climate would be problematic for any Labour leader and will continue to be so till brexit is finalised. From a tactical pov his call to trigger article 50 straight away would have actually favoured Labour as a prolonging of the process just keeps Labour between a rock and a hard place.

    In addition, tactically the three line whip was the right course of action (from what polling evidence there is) if you are trying to fight off a challenge from UKIP in Stoke and Copeland. If Labour can hold these two seats then that could indicate that even with Corbyn Lab may largely hold its ground at the next GE. If they lose then there is a very very very strong case for him to stand down – but even if he does so it may already be a case of ‘alea iacta est’.

  45. @TOH – I would agree with a view that we can’t know for sure why it was leaked, but I would have an issues with where you say – “This confirms a view many have had for some time that the UK’s bargaining position is actually quite good. This appears to strengthen the hand of the Leavers.”

    I tend more towards the view that this leak is on one hand a statement of the obvious – that the EU and UK would both be hurt if the city was less accessible for the EU27 – but mainly a warning shot to the UK to stop assuming that they can leave the EU and assume independent regulation of the city as well as go down the route of an offshore tax haven model as Hammond appeared to threaten recently.

    In terms of who has the stronger hand in the negotiations, I think it would be wrong to read into this any great strength for the UK. If there was an acrimonious split, yes, there would be disruption to the EU27, but markets would respond instantly. We already know London banks are seeking to move staff and set up new operational centres in the EU to hedge against any adverse outcomes, and they won’t be shy of relocating operations into the largest single market in the world.

    They would, I’m sure, prefer to remain in London under the current operational constraints, but the money will move to the market, and the EU27 is an enormous market.

    Again, this is the mistake on many Brexiteers I suspect. The thinking is that UK has certain advantages, so have a good/better negotiating hand. However, when things change, they change. Markets will respond rapidly to any change in the UK’s EU status, and I suspect these changes will erode any temporary advantage we currently have.

  46. @Somerjohn
    I’m impressed that you know that 7/8 of a pound is 14oz. I’d be surprised if more than 20% of the UK’s adult population would be able to get that correct.”
    Only too true. My wife ran up against a youngster who wanted her calculator to find 20% of 100.
    Mind you, Laszlo should know that 1in = 25.4mm not 25.2.

    When I did my physics degree (a long time ago) we were told that one very necessary skill was to be able to convert readily between various systems of units, though its not of daily usefulness to work out how many Angstroms in a parsec.

  47. @TOH

    Keep cheerful, the £ is rising against the $ again this morning and in general there has been no negative reaction to yesterdays vote in parliament, at least so far.

    But not surprisingly appears to be down v the Euro atm – remind me which is larger our trade with US or the Euro bloc?

  48. @Chris Riley

    Presumably the figures for nursing degree applications are for England? It would be interesting to see figures for the other three countries in the UK which I believe still have nursing degree bursaries (and of course different policies on undergraduate funding more generally).

  49. Hi Alec, I haven’t changed my views and still the support the party and JC.

    I even volunteered to do some leafleting, now watch those polls move!

    Nurses, when I did my training I received a bursary of about 6000 a year. Now nothing. The bursary was a big plus and attracted people to the profession.

    The pay and working conditions are not great and have been eroded for years.

    Private companies a screwing the nhs with agency fees cos nurses can earn MUCH more working that way and avoid some stresses of the job.

    These issues have existed for years but we may be heading for another NHS as they all coalesce.

  50. oh… another NHS crisis… (last sentence)

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