Britons happy with May's handling of Brexit - but not so much with her government or Boris Johnson

As the year draws to a close the final Ipsos MORI Political Monitor of the year reveals some public concern over the Government's handling of Brexit despite approval of Theresa May being high.

Britons happy with May's handling of Brexit - but not so much with her government or Boris Johnson

As the year draws to a close the final Ipsos MORI Political Monitor of the year reveals some public concern over the Government’s handling of Brexit despite approval of Theresa May being high.

Just one in three (33% - down from 37% in November) think the Government is doing a good job at handling Britain’s exit from the European Union while a majority (53%) think it is doing a bad job. Although most (51%) believe the Prime Minister herself is doing a good job at handling Brexit few have faith in the chief members of her team responsible for pulling Britain out of Europe. Three in ten (31%) say Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is doing a good job at handling Brexit (55% say he’s doing a bad job) while three in ten (29%) say the same for David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (39% say a bad job – but 32% don’t know).

Both parties appear split over Britain’s exit from the European Union in the eyes of the public. Two-thirds (67%) agree that the Conservatives are divided over the issue, while 64% say the same of Labour. This holds true even among party supporters with two-thirds of both Conservative and Labour supporters agreeing (67% and 66% respectively) their own party is divided over Brexit.

Even with a less than positive outlook for her own party Theresa May still has strong support of the public with half satisfied in her doing her job as Prime Minister (50%, although down 4 points since last month) while just a quarter (26%) say they are satisfied with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Theresa May also receives much stronger backing from her party supporters than Mr Corbyn. Eight in ten (82%) Conservative supporters say they are satisfied with Ms May whereas half (51%) of Labour supporters are satisfied with Jeremy Corbyn.  Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron’s rating has improved this month with 27% saying they are satisfied with him and 28% dissatisfied (although 45% say ‘don’t know’) while one in five (18%) are satisfied with newly crowned UKIP leader Paul Nuttall (35% dissatisfied - and 47% say ‘don’t know’).

 

When it comes to the economy Britons have a slightly more pessimistic view than last month with 24% saying it will improve in the next 12 months (down 2 points) and 51% saying it will get worse (up 4 points) – leaving an Economic Optimism Index score of -27 (down 6 points). Our ongoing vote intention figures show the Conservatives with a strong lead over the Labour party. Figures show the Conservatives on 40%, Labour on 29%, the Liberal Democrats on 14% and UKIP on 9%. Despite the small improvements for the Liberal Democrats and UKIP only time will tell if this is part of a longer-term trend. Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said:
Theresa May’s honeymoon is mirrored in the public’s views of her handling of Brexit, but once you get past her personal popularity, ratings of her government on the issue - and her Foreign Secretary - are much lower.  In fact, both the main parties are seen as divided on how to handle Britain’s exit from the European Union, even among their own supporters.  Meanwhile, there are some small signs of improvement for the LibDems, following on from their victory in Richmond Park which was a positive news story for them after their lows in recent years.  But as always no-one should get carried away from just one poll – there’s still a very long way for them to go, and it could just be a short-term effect.  The broader picture of a clear Conservative lead over Labour remains the same.
Technical note
  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,003 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 9th – 12th December 2016.  Data are weighted to the profile of the population.

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