Referendums

Post-Brexit Britain and the new regime: the voters react

By Lord Ashcroft

 

In the space of a month, Britain has voted to leave the EU, the Prime Minister has resigned and been replaced by a new one, Cabinet ministers have been unexpectedly sacked or promoted, the Leader of the Opposition has lost a vote of no confidence and is being challenged for his position. I decided to ask the voters what they thought of it all.

In the last couple of weeks (allowing for a break to watch the rival drama on the other side of the Atlantic), we have conducted focus groups with different kinds of voters – remain and leave, and from various parties – in Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow. These were part of a continuing project on the new political landscape that I will launch in September, but here is a snapshot.

First impressions of Theresa May as Prime Minister were very positive (more…)

How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday… and why

LR by demographics

By Lord Ashcroft

 

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…)

Why I’m for Brexit

By Lord Ashcroft

Forget the hysteria. Leaving the European Union would not put a bomb under the British economy or end Western political civilization as we know it. But nor would it mean another £350 million a week being spent on the NHS, and staying does not mean eighty million Turks will be arriving at Dover. For voters struggling to make sense of the referendum campaign, this sort of thing has hardly helped (more…)

Voters’ butterflies, the post-Brexit budget, and the Totnes Question: my final referendum focus groups

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By Lord Ashcroft

 

My final round of referendum focus groups, in St Austell and Bromley, found that if the two sides of the campaign are feeling the pressure of the tightening polls, they are not the only ones – the voters are nervous too: “I swing so much between the two. I have actually got butterflies;” “In most elections nothing really changes, but with this one you know in your gut that something big is going to happen. There are going to be major changes and that is quite frightening (more…)

Migration, TV debates, our “special status”, and the Money Saving Expert: my referendum focus groups in Cardiff

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By Lord Ashcroft

My penultimate round of focus groups with undecided voters took place in Cardiff, where many people’s perplexity over the decision at hand was not turning not into enlightenment but exasperation. Among the many words people used to describe the contest so far (“unreliable”, “unrealistic”, “uninformative”, “not that interesting”, “unnecessary”, “a quagmire”, “a lot of bullsh*t”), by far the most common was “confusing”.

The campaign “is not helping one bit. It’s just, ‘this is going to happen’, ‘no it’s not’.” (more…)

Tory wars, Clarkson, Corbyn, Sadiq & Dave, the TUC and immigration: my latest referendum focus groups

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By Lord Ashcroft

 

This week’s focus groups with undecided referendum voters took place in Leamington and in Muswell Hill, North London, with only three weeks to go until the big day. “That will be the actual decision, will it?” It really will. “I don’t think it’s been highlighted that much, considering it’s such a big thing.” “In the paper I always see this ‘Bee-arr-exit’. What does it mean?”

Given the dearth of coverage, what arguments have people noticed from the Leave side? “The amount of money we pay into the EU. It’s a huge figure. If we leave we’ll be £30 billion or £300 billion better off (more…)

Turkey, migrants, the Euro-army, the price of freedom and the Neutrality Paradox: my referendum focus groups in Leeds

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By Lord Ashcroft

 

This week’s focus groups with undecided referendum voters took place in Leeds, where people were doing their best to stay on top of events (“I’m not OCD about it but I like to know what’s going on”). Participants had noticed that recent news had been dominated by migration, including the rise in net migration to 333,000.

For some, this was worrying (“it’s scary when you see it written down”). Others thought it was surprisingly (more…)

How the EU debate turned into CSI Brussels

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published in The Guardian

 

“Usually I’d say ‘What do the Tories want?’ and do the opposite. But you can’t even do that.” This complaint from an undecided voter in one of my recent focus groups sums up the frustration many people feel about the EU referendum campaign. For all that people grumble about partisan politics, the parties’ competing brands – their familiar character, principles, policies, personalities and history, in or out of office – help voters make decisions.

Without party brands to guide them, many voters feel at sea (more…)

Control v. risk: which will win out in the referendum debate?

Matter or not

By Lord Ashcroft

My latest five-thousand sample survey shows how the referendum campaign is developing, and sheds light on the competing themes of the two campaigns: Remain’s emphasis on the risks of Brexit, and Leave’s mantra ‘Vote Leave, Take Control’. Here is what we found:

 

1: Opinion remains divided, but the Leave vote is hardening

I asked respondents to place themselves on a sentiment scale, where zero meant they would definitely vote for Britain to remain in the EU, and one hundred meant they would definitely vote to leave (more…)

“Scaremongering”, Hitler, Boris (again), and the view from Scotland: referendum focus groups with 34 days to go

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By Lord Ashcroft

 

For this week’s focus groups with undecided referendum voters Lord Ashcroft Polls visited Birmingham and, for a Scottish perspective, Glasgow. Here, the decision at hand seemed to most participants at least as important (but much, much less interesting) as the independence referendum nearly two years ago.

This was partly because the European issue was less emotive than Scottish independence: “It’s a bit anticlimactic in comparison. People were more passionate about the change in the Scottish referendum than they seem to be about the change if we leave the EU. This is a damp squib.” The 2014 vote really had led to new levels of civic engagement (“People on Facebook who used to put up videos of themselves lighting their farts are now talking about politics (more…)