Europe

State of the Nation: my new polling on the political landscape and the battle lines for the next election

By Lord Ashcroft

The Conservative Party conference that opens today takes place at a more volatile and unpredictable time than any previous gathering I can remember. My new research, including an 8,000-sample poll, helps to make sense of what is going on by showing what the voters themselves make of the unfolding drama.

 

The Brexit Saga, part 94

When asked what they would most like to happen with Brexit, nearly eight in ten Conservative Leave voters choose Boris Johnson’s position of leaving the EU on 31 October with or without a deal. However, only 32% of them think this is the most likely outcome. One in five of them think we will leave after the current deadline, and nearly a quarter believe we will end up remaining in the EU. Overall, 36% back the PM’s policy, including six in ten 2017 Conservatives, nearly seven in ten Leave voters overall, and more than half of Labour Leavers. A further 15% said they would prefer to leave with a good deal even if this meant waiting beyond October, and nearly four in ten – including three quarters of remainers and just over half of Tory remainers – said they would like to see the UK remain in the EU (more…)

The public’s verdict on our political class? They waver between fury and contempt

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published in the Mail on SundayThe full report and data tables are below.

On the face of it, the government is in real trouble. The Supreme Court ruling against the Prime Minister follows a succession of parliamentary defeats, defections, expulsions and daily headlines about turmoil and chaos. But it is a good rule of thumb in politics that the noisier it gets, the more it pays to take a step back, a deep breath, and a good look at the bigger picture.

My latest research, published today, looks at the fundamentals: how voters have reacted to the drama not just of the last few weeks but the years since the referendum, and how this week’s events fit into the longer story. For many people, and not just among those who backed Leave in the increasingly distant 2016 referendum, that story is one of frustration and failure – or, worse, deliberate actions to delay Brexit for as long as possible or stop it altogether. That is the context in which many see the Supreme Court’s decision. Many of the Brexit supporters we spoke to were not so much angered as bemused by the ruling: “they seem to have made up a law and found Boris guilty of breaking it (more…)

My Northern Ireland survey finds the Union on a knife-edge

By Lord Ashcroft

Last month my polling in Scotland found a small lead for independence. My latest research, a survey in Northern Ireland, brings equally gloomy news for unionists: a slender lead for Irish unification in the event of a referendum on whether or not Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom.

In my poll, 45% said they would vote to stay in the UK, and 46% said they would choose to leave and join the Republic of Ireland – a lead of 51% to 49% for unification when we exclude don’t knows and those who say they would not vote. This is in fact a statistical tie and well within the margin of error. Such a result might also reflect the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding Brexit, the Irish border and its potential effect on life in the province, which could recede when the outcome is settled. Be that as it may, the result underlines what could be at stake in the quest for a workable Brexit solution on the island of Ireland (more…)

What my latest focus groups say about the twists and turns of the Brexit drama

By Lord Ashcroft

As last week’s parliamentary drama unfolded, I decided to find out how things seemed to the people on whose behalf it was supposedly being enacted – namely the voters, in the shape of focus groups in Barnet and St Ives.

It was no surprise that people were sharply divided over their new Prime Minister. For many Labour voters he was “dangerous”, a “charlatan”, “bullying”, “running the country into the ground” and “trying to baffle people with poshness;” “he’d be an amazing character if he was fictional.” But Conservative remain voters also had mixed views: while some thought he was divisive, dictatorial and untrustworthy (“I don’t think he’s as proper as some MPs – he can probably go rogue”), for others he was colourful, “flavoursome” and “quite statesmanlike compared to the rest. If you think about how Britain is presenting itself on the international stage, who else would have the personality and persona to stand up and be heard?” “His inauguration speech was actually quite rousing. I thought, we are where we are, but he’s got the right attitude, he wants to try and fix some things.”

A few were less positive than they had once been: “initially I felt it was a good thing, but after what’s happened in the past 24 hours I don’t know. He’s playing a very dangerous game and I’m concerned the game he’s playing could hand the keys to Jeremy Corbyn, which is my worst nightmare (more…)

My Euro-election post-vote poll: most Tory switchers say they will stay with their new party

By Lord Ashcroft

Since polling opened in the European elections I have surveyed over 10,000 voters to ask how they voted, why they chose the party they did, and – at least as of this weekend – what they see themselves doing at the next general election.

 

Who voted for whom?

More than half (53%) of 2017 Conservative voters who took part in the European elections voted for the Brexit Party. Only just over one in five (21%) stayed with the Tories. Around one in eight (12%) switched to the Liberal Democrats. Labour voters from 2017 were more likely to stay with their party, but only a minority (38%) did so. More than one in five (22%) went to the Lib Dems, 17% switched to the Greens, and 13% went to the Brexit Party (more…)

A reminder of how Britain voted in the EU referendum – and why

By Lord Ashcroft

Following the week’s parliamentary drama, here is a reminder of how – and crucially, why – the UK voted in the EU referendum in June 2016.

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24 June 2016

The UK has voted to leave the European Union. On referendum day I surveyed 12,369 people after they had voted to help explain the result – who voted for which outcome, and what lay behind their decision.

 

The demographics

  • The older the voters, the more likely they were to have voted to leave the EU. Nearly three quarters (73%) of 18 to 24 year-olds voted to remain, falling to under two thirds (62%) among 25-34s. A majority of those aged over 45 voted to leave, rising to 60% of those aged 65 or over. Most people with children aged ten or under voted to remain; most of those with children aged 11 or older voted to leave.

(more…)

“It’s not the apocalypse. Calm down” – my Brexit limbo focus groups

By Lord Ashcroft

Last week’s pause in the parliamentary shenanigans over Brexit provided an opportunity to hear what the voters made of it all. This I did with a round of focus groups, conducted in London, Plymouth, Leeds and Newcastle. Though few have the time or patience to digest every morsel of Westminster news, their summary of the state of play was always succinct: “Theresa has had to go back to Europe, but they’ve said ‘non’,” was a typical summary. “She’s just collecting air miles. She’s going round in circles;” “As a country we now look very weak and very silly to the rest of the world. It’s come to the point that it’s almost embarrassing (more…)

How the UK voted on Brexit, and why – a refresher

By Lord Ashcroft

On 23 June 2016 I conducted a survey of over 12,000 people who had just voted in the EU referendum. With the politicians still talking and the 29 March deadline looming, it is worth reading again how the country voted, and why.

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24 June 2016

The UK has voted to leave the European Union. On referendum day I surveyed 12,369 people after they had voted to help explain the result – who voted for which outcome, and what lay behind their decision.

 

The demographics

  • The older the voters, the more likely they were to have voted to leave the EU. Nearly three quarters (73%) of 18 to 24 year-olds voted to remain, falling to under two thirds (62%) among 25-34s. A majority of those aged over 45 voted to leave, rising to 60% of those aged 65 or over. Most people with children aged ten or under voted to remain; most of those with children aged 11 or older voted to leave.

(more…)

What should happen next? What really matters? And how bad is this crisis? My new Brexit deal poll

By Lord Ashcroft

The vote has been deferred while the Prime Minister seeks “reassurances” from the EU, but her message to the House of Commons yesterday was clear – this is the only Brexit deal on the table, and there is no realistic prospect of substantially changing it. Theresa May’s campaign to sell the agreement to sceptical MPs and the public therefore continues. My last survey in late November found that the proposed deal had a cool reception, but with large numbers still to make up their minds. My latest 5,000-sample poll finds shows that more people now have an opinion – but with the balance tipping away from the deal rather than in its favour (more…)

My new Brexit poll: good for Theresa May, bad for her deal

By Lord Ashcroft

After perhaps the most difficult fortnight as Prime Minister, which is saying something, the news from my latest poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, is surprisingly mixed for Theresa May. Though she would probably say this is a side issue and she is focused on other things, her personal standing among voters is actually consolidated. She now leads Jeremy Corbyn by 15 points in the best Prime Minister stakes, and while “not sure” still leads the field over both leaders, the proportion naming Mrs. May has risen while Mr. Corbyn’s numbers have fallen, most dramatically among his own voters (more…)