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.


The Times this morning has the latest YouGov voting intention figures – CON 42%(+3), LAB 28%(-2), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 11%(-2). While the size of the lead isn’t quite as large as the seventeen points ICM showed earlier in the week, it’s a another very solid lead for the Conservatives following their party conference, matching the lead May had at the height of her honeymoon. Full tabs are here.

While I’m here I’ll add a quick update on two other recent YouGov polls. First some new London polling, which shows extremely positive ratings for Sadiq Khan. 58% of people think he is doing well as London mayor, only 14% think he is doing badly. Mayors of London seem to get pretty good approval ratings most of the time (both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson normally enjoyed positive ratings), I don’t know if that’s down to the skills of the individual politicians who have held the job so far or whether the public judge them by different standards to Westminster politicians. Never the less, it’s a very positive start for Khan, with net positive approval ratings among supporters of all parties except UKIP. Full tabs are here.

Finally, since the subject keeps popping up, some polling on the Royal Yacht. The public oppose replacing the Royal Yacht with a newly commissioned vessel by 51% to 25%. They would also oppose recommissioning the old Royal Yacht Brittania, but by a smaller margin (42% opposed, 31% support). The argument that the cost of the Yacht would be justified by the its role in promoting British trade and interests oversees does not find favour with the general public – 26% think the cost can be justified, 57% think it cannot. Full results are here.


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There are new YouGov voting intention figures for the Times this morning, with topline figures of CON 39%, LAB 30%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 3%. The Conservatives continue to have a solid lead and there is no sign of any benefit to Labour from their party conference (fieldwork was on Wednesday and Thursday, so directly after Jeremy Corbyn’s speech).

Theresa May has been Prime Minister for two and a half months now, so we’re still in the sort of honeymoon period. Most of her premiership so far has consisted of the summer holidays when not much political news happens and she’s had the additional benefit of her opposition being busy with their own leadership contest. Now that is over and we approach May’s own party conference and the resumption of normal politics.

Theresa May’s own ratings remain strong. 46% of people think she is doing well, 22% badly. Asking more specific questions about her suitability for the role most people (by 52% to 19%) think she is up to the job of PM, she is seen as having what it takes to get things done (by 53% to 19%), and having good ideas to improve the country (by 35% to 27%). People don’t see her as in touch with ordinary people (29% do, 40% do not) but that is probably because she is still a Conservative; David Cameron’s ratings on being in touch were poor throughout his premiership. The most worrying figure in there for May should probably be that people don’t warm to her – 32% think she has a likeable personality, 35% do not. One might well say this shouldn’t matter, but the truth is it probably does. People are willing to give a lot more leeway to politicians they like. In many way Theresa May’s ratings – strong, competent, but not particularly personally likeable – have an echo of how Gordon Brown was seen by the public when he took over as Prime Minister. That didn’t end well (though in fairness, I suppose Mrs Thatcher was seen in a similar way).

The biggest political obstacle looming ahead of Theresa May is, obviously, Brexit. So far people do not think the government are doing a good job of it. 16% think they are handling Brexit negotiations well, 50% badly. Both sides of the debate are dissatisfied – Remain voters think they are doing badly by 60% to 10%, Leave voters think they are doing badly by 45% to 24%. Obviously the government haven’t really started the process of negotiating exit and haven’t said much beyond “Brexit means Brexit”, but these figures don’t suggest they are beginning with much public goodwill behind them.

Finally, among the commentariat the question of an early election has not gone away (and will probably keep on being asked for as long as the Conservatives have a small majority but large poll lead). 36% of people currently want an early election, 46% of people do not. The usual patterns with questions like this is that supporters of the governing party do not normally want an election (they are happy with the status quo), supporters of the main opposition party normally do want an election (as they hope the government would be kicked out). Interestingly this still holds true despite the perception that an early election would help the Conservatives: a solid majority of Labour supporters would like an early election, most Conservative supporters are opposed.

Full tabs are here


The Times this morning had new polling on the junior doctors strike (the fieldwork was completed shortly before the strike later this month was called off). It shows that more of the public support the strike than oppose it, but only just, and that support has fallen significantly since earlier in the year.

42% of people said they thought junior doctors were right to go on strike (down from 53% when the question was last asked in April), 38% think they are wrong (up from 29%). While people still think the government are more to blame for the dispute ending in industrial action, support for the strike is clearly flagging.

The decision to move to five day long strikes also looks risky in terms of public support. 34% of the public say they support junior doctors taking five day strike action, 48% of people say they are opposed.

Full tabs are here.


Tomorrow’s Times has a new YouGov poll of the Labour leadership electorate (party members from before the cut-off date, trade union affiliates and £25 registered supporters) showing Jeremy Corbyn with a robust lead over Owen Smith. Topline voting intentions excluding don’t knows are Corbyn 62%, Smith 38%. 8% of voters say don’t know.

Jeremy Corbyn leads convincingly in all three parts of the electorate: among party members he is ahead by 57% to 43%, among trade union affiliates he is ahead 62% to 38%, among registered supporters he is ahead by a daunting 74% to 26%. If the numbers are broken down by length of membership Owen Smith actually leads among those who were members before the last general election, but they are swamped by the influx of newer members who overwhelmingly back Jeremy Corbyn.

The poll was conducted over the weekend, so after Labour members will have started to vote. The actual contest still has three weeks to go, but with people already voting and that sort of lead to make up Owen Smith’s chances do not look good.

Looking to the future, 39% of the selectorate (and 35% of full party members) think it is likely the party will split after the election. 45% of party members who support Owen Smith say that if some MPs opposed to Corbyn were to leave and form a new party they would follow them (29% of Smith supporters say they are likely to leave the party if Corbyn wins anyway… though I’m always a little wary of questions like that, it’s easier to threaten to leave than to actually do it)

YouGov also asked about mandatory re-selection. Party members are divided right down the middle – 46% of full members think MPs should normally have the right to stand again without a full selection, 45% of members think that MPs should face a full reselection before every election. The split is very much along the Smith-Corbyn divide – 69% of Corbyn supporters are in favour of reselections, 77% of Smith supporters are opposed.

Full tabs are here.