BBC Newsnight Refugee Poll
Poll of 1000 British adults about the migrant crisis for BBC Newsnight

40% OF PUBLIC IN FAVOUR OF TAKING MORE REFUGEES

Four in ten members of the public say that Britain should allow more refugees from countries such as Syria or Libya to come and live here, according to a new ComRes survey for BBC Newsnight. Although taking more refugees is the most popular single option (40%), there is a combined majority against increasing numbers: 31% say Britain should take fewer and an additional 26% say it should take about the same amount as it currently does.

People who have seen the photos of drowned Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi are considerably more likely than those who have not to say that Britain should take more refugees (44% to 24%).

There has also been a large shift in attitudes towards allowing migrants coming to Britain via an EU quota system. In June, the majority of the public (59%) said that Britain should not accept migrants brought here by an EU quota system, but there has now been a fourteen point swing in opinion, with more saying that Britain should than should not accept them (55% to 45%).

 

Other findings include:

Handling of the migrant crisis:

  • One in six British adults (17%) think the British Government is doing a good job at handling the migrant crisis, while 42% think it is doing a bad job. This compares to the German Government, which 38% of Britons think is doing a good job of handling the crisis (18% think it is doing a bad job).
  • In line with this, two in five (39%) think that Britain is not doing enough to take its fair share of the responsibility of dealing with people coming to Europe from countries like Syria. 36% think it is doing about the right amount.

Images of Aylan Kurdi:

  • More than three quarters of Britons (78%) have seen the images of the drowned Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach, with a further 14% having heard about (but not seen) them.
  • Despite changes of opinion since June, Britons appear not to make a conscious link between the photos and changes in attitudes towards migration. Less than one third of those who have seen the photos (29%) agree that the images showed that Britain has been too cruel in the way it thinks about migration, compared to two thirds who disagree (68%).
  • Furthermore, more than three in five (64%) who have seen the photos say that photos of drowned children risk distorting rational debate about migration, while an equivalent number (64%) say that such images should not influence immigration policy.

 

Findings in detail:

 

Attitudes to refugees:

Q: Do you think that Britain should allow more or fewer refugees from countries such as Syria or Libya to come and live in this country? Or do you think Britain should take the same amount of refugees as it does currently?

%
More 40%
Fewer 31%
About the same amount 26%
Don't know 3%

Base: GB adults (n=1,000)

  • The photos of Aylan Kurdi appear to be a stronger driver of attitudes, with those people who have seen them being much more likely than those who have not to say that Britain should take more refugees (44% vs 24%).
  • Opinions about taking more refugees are strongly divided by class. The majority of the traditionally middle class ABC1 social grades think Britain should take more refugees than it does currently (54%), compared to just one in five who think Britain should take fewer (19%). The opposite is the case among working class C2DE social grades, with more saying that Britain should take fewer (44%) than more (24%) refugees.
  • Younger Britons are the age group most supportive of taking more refugees: 48% of 18-34 year olds say Britain should take more, declining to 40% among 35-54 year olds and 33% of Britons aged 55+.

 

Q: As you may know, thousands of migrants have recently crossed the Mediterranean sea into Europe. For each of the following pairs of statements, which one comes closest to your view about the situation?

Statement 1 Statement 2
It is the EU’s responsibility to deal with the migrants 68%

(+8)

32%

(-8)

It is the responsibility of country the migrants arrive in to deal with them
The UK should not accept migrants that are brought here by an EU quota system 45%

(-14)

55%

(+14)

The UK should accept migrants that are brought here by an EU quota system

Base: All GB adults (n=1,000). Numbers in brackets are changes from June.

  • Since the end of June, the British public are considerably more open to accepting migrants that are brought here by an EU quota system. More than half (55%) think Britain should accept them, up from 41% at the end of June.
  • There has also been a decline in the proportion of adults saying that migrants are the responsibility of the country they arrive in, with one in three saying this (32%, down from 40%). Instead, more people think it is the responsibility of the EU to deal with the migrants (68%, up from 60%).

 

Handling of the migrant crisis:

Q: How good or bad a job do you think that each of the following are doing at handling the migrant crisis in Europe?

Good job Bad job Neither good nor bad Don’t know
The British Government 17% 42% 38% 2%
The European Union 7% 48% 40% 5%
The German Government 38% 18% 34% 10%
The Hungarian Government 12% 33% 42% 14%

Base: GB adults (n=1,000)

  • Around half of Britons (48%) think that EU is doing a bad job of handling the migrant crisis and just 7% think it is doing a good job.
  • Of the four organisations tested, the German Government is most likely to be thought of doing a good job handling the migrant crisis (38%). Twice as many think this of the German Government than the British Government (38% to 17%).

 

Q: David Cameron has said that Britain will fulfil its moral responsibilities to refugees. So far, do you think that Britain has been doing too much, not enough or about the right amount to take its fair share of the responsibility of dealing with people coming to Europe from countries like Syria?

%
Too much 22%
Not enough 39%
About the right amount 36%
Don't know 2%

Base: GB adults (n=1,000)

  • Half of people from ABC1 social grades (52%) think Britain is not doing enough, compared to a quarter of C2DEs (25%).

 

Q: Did you see the images of the drowned Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach this week?

%
NET: Any awareness 92%
Yes I have seen them 78%
I have heard about them, but not seen them myself 14%
No, I have not seen nor heard about them 7%

Base: GB adults (n=1,000)

  • Awareness of the pictures is broadly consistent across different demographic groups.

 

Q: Thinking about those images, do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

Agree Disagree Don’t know
The images showed that Britain has been too cruel in the way it thinks about migration 29% 68% 3%
The images showed that Britain should have a less tough immigration policy 34% 62% 3%
Images of drowned children should not influence immigration policy in Britain 64% 33% 3%
Images of drowned children risk distorting rational debate about migration 64% 32% 4%

Base: All who saw images of Aylan Kurdi (n=792)

 

  • Three in ten who saw the images of Aylan Kurdi think that the images showed that Britain has been too cruel in the way it thinks about migration (29%), with two thirds disagreeing (68%).
  • More than half of those who think Britain should take in more migrants agree that images of drowned children risk distorting rational debate about migration (55%).
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Date Published
7th September 2015
Categories
Client
BBC Newsnight
Methodology
ComRes interviewed 1000 British adults by telephone between 4th and 6th September 2015. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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