Issues Index February 2018 - NHS and Brexit continue to dominate public concern

This month's Ipsos MORI Issues Index poll records the highest scores for two separate issues since April 1997.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Public Affairs
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  • For the first time in two decades, a majority see two separate concerns as big issues facing Britain – the NHS and Brexit.
  • Concern about Brexit has risen by six percentage points since January – half (52%) now see it as a big issue, the highest recorded score for this issue
  • The NHS remains the biggest issue facing Britain overall, on 54%

The NHS and Brexit are dominant as the two biggest issues facing Britain in this month’s Issues Index. Fifty-four per cent say the health service is a big concern, similar to the score last month (55%), while 52% consider Brexit to be a worry. This is the highest recorded level of concern about issues relating to Europe and the EU since the start of this survey series in September 1974; the previous highest score was 51%, in March 2017.

This is the first time in two decades that more than one issue has been named as a big concern by over half of the British public – and only the fifteenth time this has occurred since September 1974. The last example was in April 1997, when the NHS (63%) and education (54%) were both selected by a majority of Britons. 

Months since 1977 with more than one issue over 50%Although NHS and Brexit are tied as the biggest issues facing Britain, Brexit remains the single biggest issue facing Britain by far. It is mentioned by a third of the public (34%), compared to 18% who say the same for the NHS, and seven per cent for immigration.

The proportion who consider immigration and education to be big issues for Britain has risen by two and three percentage points respectively since January, meaning that both issues are the joint third-biggest issue, on 22% this month.
Top ten issues February 2018Concern about the NHS is higher than average for supporters of both main parties, however Labour supporters are more concerned still, with 64% saying it is a big issue facing Britain, compared to 58% of Conservative supporters. Conservative Party supporters are substantially more concerned about Brexit however; seven in ten name it as a big issue for the country (69%). By contrast, Labour supporters are less concerned than the national average (46% see it as a big issue).

There are big differences between Labour and Conservative supporters elsewhere in the top ten too: most notably on immigration, where the level of Conservative concern is double that of Labour supporters (33% to 17%); and also on poverty/inequality, which is named by three times as many Labour supporters as Conservative supporters (24% to 8%).
February 2018: top issues by Political party

Technical note

Ipsos MORI's Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,006 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The answers are spontaneous responses, and participants are not prompted with any answers. 
Ipsos MORI's “Capibus” vehicle was used for this survey. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in-home between 2 and 11 February 2018 at 196 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Public Affairs