This morning’s Times has a new YouGov poll of Conservative party members, asking mainly about Brexit and the party leadership.

Party members are a generally loyal bunch, so as you’d expect all the main players are seen as doing well, though Michael Fallon and David Davis stand out as having the best job approval. While everyone has very positive ratings overall, there are some contrasts between members who voted remain and leave, most obviously in the case of Boris Johnson. 83% of Tory members who voted Leave think Boris is doing well as Foreign Secretary, only 42% of Tory remainers think he is.

Despite the strongly positive ratings for Davis, there are doubts over the Brexit negotiations. 61% of Tory members think the government are doing well, 33% badly. Asked about what the government’s approach should be, 59% agree with Theresa May’s aim of leaving the single market and customs union and negotiating a new deal, 19% would rather just leave immediately with no deal, 12% would rather Britain did remain a member of the single market and customs union, 9% would rather Britain remain a full EU member.

In terms of the details of Brexit Theresa May appears to have some degree of flexibility with her members so long as Britain makes a clean break. 58% of Tory members would think a transition deal was fine (even if it includes payment and following EU rules), 61% think a one-off payment to settle Britain’s financial liabilities is fine too. Trickier would be any ongoing financial payment in return for market access (70% of Tory members would see this as unacceptable) or Britain remaining in the single market (69% would see it as unacceptable).

Looking to May’s future, there is very little appetite for her immediate removal (only 13% of her party members would like her to go now or in the next year), but equally there is relatively little support for her still being around come the next election (only 29%). Most Tory party members would like her to leave after Brexit (38%) or just before the next election (13%).

Who would be a likely successor is unclear. Boris Johnson leads the field as first choice, but only of 23% of members. Second is Ruth Davidson on 19%, third is Jacob Rees-Mogg, suggesting there are actually real party members who think he’d make a good leader, rather than just journos struggling to fill column inches in silly season. David Davis has now dropped to fourth place on 11%, Amber Rudd is on just 6%.

Asked what is most important to them in a leader the vast majority of party members say ability to win an election or competence as Prime Minister, rather than whether they agree with them politically. Their actual preferences paint a different picture though, with consistent differences between Remain and Leave Tories. Tory members who voted Leave say their first choices are Johnson (29%), Rees-Mogg (23%), Davidson (14%), Davis (13%). Tory members who voted Remain say their first choices are Davidson (29%), Rudd (14%), Hammond (11%), Johnson (10%).

YouGov also asked about various potential candidates individually. 58% think Davidson would make a good leader, 56% Johnson, 55% Davis, 42% Rudd, 32% Hammond, 31% Fox, Javid 29%. While the poll included some less high profile figures who have been talked of as potential leaders of the future, most party members didn’t really have an impression of them – 49% said they didn’t know enough about Dominic Raab to have an opinion, 65% said the same about Tom Tugendhat. Notably, of all those asked about Ruth Davidson was the only candidate that both Remain voting Tories and Leave voting Tories thought would make a good leader. It would be an extremely positive sign for a Davidson leadership campaign… if, of course, she had any interest in moving down to Westminster or seeking the job.

Full tabs are here.


There was a YouGov poll yesterday with some post-Florence EU questions, suggesting a pretty poor reception for Theresa May’s speech. The proportion thinking that the government are doing well at negotiating Brexit has fallen from 24% to 21% since last month, its lowest since January. 61% now think they are doing badly, including three-quarters of Remain voters and almost half of Leave voters.

The principle of a transition period is broadly accepted – 46% think it is a good idea, 26% a bad idea. The majority of the public also say it would be acceptable for such a deal to include remaining in the single market and/or freedom of movement for a transitional period. The tricker elements to sell to the public appear to be the juristiction of the European Court (by 43% to 35% people say this would be unacceptable for a transition period) and continuing to pay the EU during the transition period (38% acceptable, 42% unacceptable.) 62% of leave voters see paying a fee during a transition fee as unacceptable.

Whether they agree with it or not, 33% of people say that the Conservative party’s policy on Brexit is clear – 45% say it is unclear or confusing.

While people are not impressed by the government’s handling of Brexit, the public remain pretty evenly divided on whether or not to go. 44% still think Britain is right to leave, 45% that it’s wrong (typical of past months). Asked what they’d like the government to do on Brexit 40% think they should proceed with their current negotiating aims, 12% would prefer a softer Brexit, 18% would like another referendum to see if people still want to leave, 14% would like the government to halt Brexit.

Voting intention is CON 39%(-2), LAB 43%(+1), LDEM 7%(nc). Full tabs are here


-->

There were two new voting intention polls yesterday, plus ICM’s fortnightly poll this morning. Topline figures are

ICM/Guardian (22nd-24th): CON 40%(-2), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 8%(+1)
Survation/Mail on Sunday (22nd): CON 38%(nc), LAB 42%(-1), LDEM 8%(+1) (tabs)
Opinium (19th-22nd): CON 42%(+1), LAB 40%(-1), LDEM 6%(+1) (tabs)

Changes are from a fortnight ago for ICM, last week for Opinium and the start of September for Survation.

One Conservative lead, two Labour leads and no consistent trend in either direction. Survation and ICM were both conducted after Theresa May’s Florence speech, so give us the first chance to gauge reactions to it. Survation asked about whether people supported or opposed paying £20bn to the EU during a transition period when Britain had access to the single market – 34% of people said they would support it, 47% said they would be opposed. ICM asked a similar question, but found 41% of people supported the idea and 31% were opposed – the ICM tables aren’t available yet, so I don’t know what the particularl wording was and whether it might explain the difference.


Yesterday I got a few questions about a new BMG poll in the Independent that had voting intentions in a hypothetical EU referendum tomorrow at 52% remain, 48% leave. The Indy wrote this up with a pretty hyperbolic “Majority want to stay!!!”. The full results – along with a fair more reasonable and caveated write-up by BMG themselves – are here.

So, what is the bigger picture in terms of attitudes to Brexit, and is there any sign of people changing their minds?

I should start by pointing out that how people would vote in a hypothetical referendum tomorrow is not necessarily the same question as what people think should happen now (perhaps surprisingly!). If you ask people what should happen now, a clear majority say Britain should leave the EU. If you ask people how they’d vote in a referendum now, they are split down the middle between Remain and Leave. The difference appears to be because there is a chunk of people who personally favour remain, but think the government has a duty to leave following the referendum. Neither of these is necessarily a “better” measure of public opinion, opinion is best understood by looking at both: that is, the public are split equally on what they’d prefer, but some remainers think that the referendum means Brexit should go ahead anyway.

If we do look specifically at how people would vote in a referendum tomorrow, there is comparatively little change since 2016. Most Remain voters would still vote Remain, most Leave voters would still vote Leave. People who did not vote at all in 2016 tend to split in favour of Remain, meaning that the overall figure tends to be around a 50-50 split. Polls, of course, typically have a margin of error of around 2 or 3 points. This means if the actual position is a 50-50 split, then normal sample variation will inevitably spit out some results that are 52-48, or 48-52, or whatever. This is the unavoidable result of normal statistical variance, however, it does mean that now and again there will be a poll showing Remain with a small lead, which pro-Remain sorts will get wrongly overexcited about.

In terms of a trend, my impression is that there is some small degree of movement against Brexit… but it is very small. It is hard to discern a trend from questions asking the referendum question because they are infrequent, different companies use different methods and there may be different “house effects”. BMG have probably asked it more regularly than any other company, and looking at just their figures (in the link above) there is a slight trend towards Remain.

YouGov regularly ask a question about whether Britain was right or wrong to vote to Leave the EU (below), which also shows a very tight race, but a slight trend towards Remain. Last year it tended to show slightly more people thought it was the right decision than the wrong decision, now it tends to hover around neck-and-neck.

In summary, there hasn’t been any vast sea-change in attitudes towards Brexit. Most people who voted Remain would do so again, most people who voted Leave would do so again. There is some movement back and forth, but it mostly cancels itself out. If you look at the two most frequently repeated questions, the BMG question on referendum VI and the YouGov question on whether the decision was right or wrong, then there does appear to be movement towards Remain… but it is as yet pretty small and pretty slow. In short, there are some “bregrets”, but not enough to really get excited about. If there is going to be a big change, I still wouldn’t expect to see it until the leaving deal (and the consequences of it) become a bit clearer.


Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor has topline figures of CON 40%(-1), LAB 44%(+2), LDEM 9%(nc), UKIP 2%(-1). Fieldwork was over the weekend and changes are from July.

Leader satisfaction ratings are May minus 17, Corbyn minus 3 and Cable minus 1. While Vince Cable has the least negative net rating, this is because he has far higher don’t knows than the other two leaders (39% compared to 10%) rather than any great surge of “pro-Vince” feeling. MORI also asked some more detailed questions about perceptions of the leaders’ qualities, underlining the collapse in perceptions of May’s and the rehabilitation of Jeremy Corbyn since last year. In September 2016 Theresa May had better ratings on almost everything (the sole exception was being marginally more likely to be seen as more style than substance). Now there are obvious areas where the two leaders outshine each other – May is still more likely to be seen as a capable leader, good in a crisis (though her leads are vastly reduced – in 2016 she beat Corbyn by 44 points on being a capable leader, now it’s only 7 points), but Corbyn now has strong leads on personality and honesty, and is much less likely to be seen as out of touch.

MORI also repeated their regular question comparing the popularity of leaders and their parties – do respondents like the leader and party, the leader but not their party, the party but not its leader, or neither of them? 46% of people said they liked Jeremy Corbyn (up 9 since last year), putting him eight points behind Labour on 54% (up 8) – that means both Corbyn and Labour have become more popular, but Corbyn continues to be less popular than his party. Compare this with the Conservatives: a year ago Theresa May vastly outshone her party, by 60% to 38%. That gap has now vanished – the Conservative party is still only liked by 38%, but Theresa May is now on the same figure, down by 22 points (At the risk of pointing out the obvious, note how much stronger the Labour brand remains than the Conservative party – while they may not vote for them, most people have a broadly positive perception of the Labour party, far more than can be said for the Tories). Full tabs are here

There was also a poll by Opinium at the weekend, which had movement in the opposition direction. Their topline figures were CON 41%(+1), LAB 41%(-2), LDEM 5%(-1), UKIP 5%(+1). Looking at the broader picture, the polls still appear to be clustered around a very small lead for the Labour party. Tabs for Opinium are here.