On Monday the government tabled the final recommendations of the boundary review. As usual, I’ve done updated notional calculations for what the results of the 2017 election would have been if fought on the new constituency boundaries. They are viewable in full on a google spreadsheet on the link below:

2017 notional election results on new boundaries

For those who have followed the process these recommendations are not much different from those at the revised stage. The Commissions have altered a number of proposed constituency names, and moved a few wards back and forth here and there, but in most cases the broad recommendations are very similar to the last lot – the most significant differences are in East Sussex and around Stockport. As such the party partisan impact of the proposed boundaries are also much the same. If the last general election had been fought on these new boundaries the result would have been something like Conservative 307(-10), Labour 234(-28), SNP 30(-5), Liberal Democrats 8(-4), Others 21(-3). All of the high profile seat changes are largely the same – Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith still both see their seats become tight marginals, Jeremy Corbyn’s seat is still carved up and combined with half of Dianne Abbott’s seat.

A few caveats to those numbers. First, for the avoidance of doubt, they are not a prediction of what would happen now, it’s an estimate what would have happened if the votes cast in 2017 had been counted on these new boundaries. Secondly, they cannot take account of whether people would have voted differently if the boundaries had been different. My feeling is that always someone understates how well the Lib Dems would have done – someone in a Lab-Con marginal might have voted differently if their ward had been included in a Con-LD marginal. Thirdly, these are just one estimate. Rallings & Thrasher, who produce the official estimates that the BBC, Sky and other media outlets would use to calculate swings at the next election have already produced their own totals, which are similar to the ones I have (for good reason, I use pretty much the same method that Rallings & Thrasher do) – their totals are CON 308, LAB 232, SNP 33, LDEM 7, Other 20.

The most important caveat however is that these boundaries still have to be voted on by Parliament to actually come into force. The DUP may back them after all (the initial recommendations were very bad for them and good for Sinn Fein, but the revised and final recommendations retained a four seat arrangement for Belfast, meaning the DUP should retain all their seats), but that still leaves the government with a wafer thin majority. It will only take a handful of rebels (either worried about their own seats, or objecting to things like the seat crossing the Devon-Cornwall border, or opposed in principle to the reduction in seats) to block the changes. We won’t find out in the immediate future, as the government have said the vote will be delayed for some months while the necessary legislation is drafted.

For more on the boundary review, Keiran Pedley has done a nice interview with the great Professor Ron Johnston on his podcast here.

While I was playing with boundary data yesterday, there was also a new YouGov poll of London for Phil Cowley at Queen Mary University London that I haven’t had time to write about yet. Full details of that are here.


A quick update on three new voting intention polls in the last day:

Survation for the Daily Mail have topline figures of CON 38%(+1), LAB 37%(-4), LDEM 10%(+4), UKIP 4%(+3). Fieldwork was done wholly on Friday, after the news of Boris Johnson’s seperation from his wife had broken and changes are from their poll earlier this week which had shown a four point Labour lead. The changes are from their poll at the start of the week that showed a four point Labour lead – obviously given the closeness of fieldwork those changes are more likely to be noise than a sudden surge in Lib Dem support within a matter of days! Full details are here.

BMG for the Independent have topline figures of CON 37%(nc), LAB 38%(-1), LDEM 11%(+1), UKIP 7%(+2). Fieldwork was Tuesday to Friday and the (insignificant) changes are from last month. Full tabs are here.

Finally YouGov‘s weekly poll for the Times had headline figures of CON 39%(nc), LAB 35%(-2), LDDEM 11%(+1), UKIP 5%(nc). Fieldwork was on Monday and Tuesday, and changes are from last week. Full tables are here.

All three polls obviously show Labour and Conservative relatively close. Worth noting is that all three have the Liberal Democrats sneaking up into double figures, something that does seem to be part of a wider trend of the Liberal Democrats very gradually starting to recover support.


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While there hasn’t been a lot of voting intention polling in recent weeks, there has been quite a lot of Brexit polling – those organisations campaigning for or against it used the summer holidays to get a good bite of publicity. This included some large polls from YouGov for Hope Not Hate and the People’s Vote campaign showing Remain at 53% and Leave at 47% if there was a referendum now. Today there was a new NatCen poll that showed Remain at 59%, Leave at 41% (though do check the important caveat from John Curtice’s report that the sample itself had too many 2016 Remain voters, so it actually implied a position along the lines of Remain 53/54%, Leave 46/47%) and a Survation poll showing Remain at 50%, Leave at 50%.

In terms of what to make of this, I’d give the same advice on support or opposition to Brexit as I do on voting intention. There are an awful lot of polls asking about support for Brexit, and a lot of people inclined to cherry-pick those which they agree with. Don’t pay too much attention to individual polls (especially not “interesting” outliers), watch the broad trend instead.

There are four regular tracking polls that people should look to to judge whether or not the public have changed their minds (the data is all nicely collected on John Curtice’s WhatUKThinks website here. First there are polls that ask how pople would vote in a referendum now – regularly asked by both BMG Research and Survation using the original referendum question, and using a more generic version by YouGov in their Eurotrack series of polls. BMG have been asking this since late 2016, and where early polls tended to still show more people would still vote Leave, that has gradually changed and since 2017 they have consistently shown more people would now vote to stay. Their EU referendum polls this year have averaged at Remain 49%, Leave 44% (Remain 53%, Leave 47% without don’t knows)

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The Survation series didn’t start until 2017 – since then their polls have varied between neck-and-neck and small leads for Remain. On average this year their referendum polls have shown Remain 48%, Leave 46% (51% Remain, 49% Leave without don’t knows). Unlike the other two referendum polls Survation weight their referendum question by likelihood to vote which, given that previous non-voters tend to split in favour of remain, probably explains the slightly lower remain lead.

The YouGov Eurotrack poll is part of a regular poll across several EU countries on how people would vote in a referendum on their country’s membership of the EU, so doesn’t use the British referendum wording. Nevertheless, the results show a similar pattern to the BMG polling – results late in 2016 continued to show Leave ahead, but since then Remain has been fairly consistently ahead. The average across their five polls in 2018 is Remain 45%, Leave 41% (52% Remain, 48% Leave without don’t knows)

The most regular comparable poll isn’t asked as referendum VI, but is YouGov’s tracker for the Times asking if people think Britain was right or wrong to vote to Leave the EU, normally asked weekly. The pattern should be familiar – in late 2016 the poll consistently showed people thought Britain was right to leave, in early 2017 it began to flip over, and it now consistently finds more people think Britain was wrong to vote to Leave. On average this year 46% of people have said Brexit was the wrong decision, 42% the right decision (without don’t knows, it would be 52% wrong, 48% right).

So while the movement across the polls has not been massive (was are generally talking about a swing of 3 to 5 points from the referendum result), given the closeness of the 2016 result that is enough to mean polls are consistently showing slightly more people opposed to Brexit than in support of it. There is one important caveat to add to this. If you look at the breakdown by 2016 referendum vote you will often find the number of Leave voters switching to Remain is that that much larger than the number of Remain voters switching to Leave (if it is larger at all!), this is because polls generally find those people who did not vote in the 2016 referendum tend to split in favour of Remain.


August is normally a quiet time for polling – partly because the political agenda is often quite bare, partly because both pollsters themselves and the journalists who normally commission public polls will likely be taking their holidays (There’s also a question to be asked about sampling when a fair chunk of the country will be on its holidays, though personally I suspect that doesn’t actually make a difference once it’s spread over a month). It means polling in late August was very light, with only the regular YouGov/Times poll, which was published on Friday and had topline figures of CON 39%(-1), LAB 37%(nc), LDEM 10%(+1), UKIP 5%(-1).

Parliament returns next week, and hopefully a busier political agenda will be equally reflected in some more interesting polling.