Reflections on the Westminster psychodrama
by Simon Cereda, Consultant

The government has prorogued Parliament, the Scottish Courts have ruled it unlawful, motions to hold a General Election in October have been twice defeated, and Parliament passed a last-minute bill to outlaw a Halloween No Deal. So, what do the British public think?

From recent ComRes research for Britain Elects and The Daily Telegraph here are nine things we learnt from the recent drama that should be weighing heavily on the minds of Parliamentarians in these unpredictable times.

1. The longer the limbo, the closer the fight
ComRes’ latest VI for The Daily Telegraph almost needs a VAR check to show the slim lead the Conservatives are holding over Labour (30% vs 29%). The two parties have danced around within 4 points of each other in every ComRes poll since July, and the ongoing Brexit stalemate is not pushing voters in any one direction any time soon.

2. Follow the Brexit-bricked road
That said – there’s a clear reason for Number 10’s insistence on Brexit at any cost. The numbers show it to be a winning ticket for the Conservatives. ComRes research for Britain Elects tested four separate hypothetical scenarios for an election, and those featuring a delivered Brexit were the only two to give Boris Johnson breathing space in government.

 

Scenario Con % Lab %
GE before 31st October, Brexit not yet delivered 30 27
GE after 31st October, Brexit extended 26 28
GE, Brexit delivered with a deal 36 28
GE, no deal Brexit delivered 37 28

Excl. don’t know/prefer not to say/would not vote

3. Bring your own pen!
Parliament, so far only capable of deciding on Brexits it doesn’t want rather than any it does, is yet to provide an answer to the Brexit question. Half of GB adults (50%) agree that if Parliament is unable to decide on Brexit, it would be better to have a snap General Election. Just one in five (18%) disagree.

4. Corbyn getting home applause
Jeremy Corbyn’s home crowd approve of his decision not to back an October General Election. Three in five of those intending to vote Labour (57%) or Lib Dem (57%), and more than half of 2016 Remain voters (52%), agree with Jeremy Corbyn instructing his MPs to oppose Boris Johnson's request to have a General Election.

5. Conservative voters increasingly want a party line
Just as Jeremy Corbyn is playing to his home crowd, so is Boris Johnson. While the wider public appear split over his decision to bar Tory rebels, more than three in five (61%) Tory voters support them being prevented from standing as Conservative candidates at the next Election, with fewer than one in five (17%) demurring.

6. …and Conservative patience has all but vanished
Conservative voters agree by a whopping ratio of ten to one that if the EU refuses to make any more concessions, the UK should leave the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019 (79% agree vs. 8% disagree).

7. ‘You Don’t Win Friends With Farage’
But is Boris Johnson (or perhaps Dominic Cummings) willing to defy his home crowd over Nigel Farage? Despite the insistence by No10 that a pact isn’t on the table, more than two thirds of both 2016 Leave voters (69%) and current Conservative voters (69%) think Boris Johnson should collaborate with the Brexit Party to try and get enough MPs to secure a parliamentary majority for a no-deal Brexit. So watch this space...

8. Orange Is The New Red?
Jeremy Corbyn’s near monopoly on the youth vote is evaporating as newly enfranchised voters turn to the Lib Dems, almost certainly over Brexit. In comparison to a ComRes/Daily Express poll conducted in September 2018, the Labour vote share among 18-24s has decreased from 62% to 38%, while the corresponding Lib Dem vote share has increased from 9% to 25%.

9. Jeremy Corbyn more off-putting than Leave?
Just over half the public (51%) would prefer to leave the EU with a deal than have Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister – as would over two in five (43%) 2016 Remain voters. It seems that his currency is falling among not only the young.

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