- Rise in those saying Theresa May is doing a good job at handling Brexit but most still lack confidence
- Majority say EU is doing a bad job at handling Brexit
- Conservatives still seen as the party with the best policies on Britain’s relationship with the EU though Labour has closed the gap
The number of Britons saying Theresa May is doing a good job at handling Brexit is up from October, according to the latest Ipsos MORI Political Monitor, although more still say she is doing a bad job. Two in five (43%) say the Prime Minister is currently doing a good job at handling Britain’s exit from the European Union – up 11 points from when asked in October last year. Half (50%) however say she is doing a bad job – down 5 points.
Figures for other members of the Cabinet are not as strong. A third say Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox are each doing a good job at handling Brexit (34%, 33% and 32% respectively) although 56% say Mr Johnson is doing a bad job compared with 46% for Mr Davis and 41% for Mr Fox. Three in ten (30%) say Phillip Hammond is doing a good job (45% say bad job) and 29% say the same for Amber Rudd (40% say bad job). A quarter (26%) say Michael Gove is doing a good job at handling Brexit (50% say bad job).
Overall the ratings of the Government have also seen an improvement with 38% now saying it is doing a good job (up 7 points since July) and 54% saying a bad job (down 4 points). When it comes to the European Union itself however three in ten (30%) say it is doing a good job at handling Britain’s exit from the EU while three in five (58%) say it is doing a bad job.
Despite growing approval of Theresa May’s handling of Brexit few are still confident that she will get a good deal for Britain out of the Brexit negotiations. Thirty-seven percent say they are confident in her getting a good deal while 59% say they are not – no change from when last asked in October. Slightly fewer say they would be confident in Jeremy Corbyn if he were Prime Minister (33% say they would be confident and 63% say they would not) although his scores are a small improvement from July when 29% said they would be confident in him and 67% would not.
Overall more say that the Conservatives are the party with the best policies for Britain’s future relationship with the EU when compared to the other parties, although Labour have closed the gap from April last year. Thirty-seven percent say the Conservatives have the best policies (down 11 points from April) compared to 25% saying Labour (up 8 points). Six percent pick the Liberal Democrats and 3% UKIP. When it comes to having the best policies on managing the economy the Conservatives also come out on top with 41% although down 11 points from April. A quarter (25%) chose Labour who are up 8 points from April. Two in ten (43%) say the Conservatives have the best policies for Britain’s businesses compared to 25% saying Labour.
The new poll also asked the public what it thinks the best situation would be for Britain’s economy five to ten years after Brexit – whether it is maintaining free trade with the European Union, even if that means Britain won’t be able to negotiate its own trade deals with countries outside the EU, or Britain negotiating its own trade deals with countries outside the European Union, even if that means there will be barriers to trade with the EU. Half (49%) say that Britain being able to negotiate its own free trade deals with countries outside the EU would be best while 36% say maintaining free trade with the EU.
Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said:
The public have become more satisfied with the way the Prime Minister is handling Brexit since October, since when the negotiations have moved onto phase 2 – and her ratings are more positive than the rest of her Cabinet, especially among older people and her own party supporters. Britons lack confidence in both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn to get a good deal for Britain, but the Prime Minister’s party still has the edge overall when it comes to Brexit. Apart from some exceptions such as young people, graduates and Londoners, most people prefer the Conservative’s policies on Britain’s future relationship with the EU – although Labour has closed the gap since last April.
Overall though the majority are critical of the government – but most groups are even more critical of the EU. Only among young people and Liberal Democrats do supporters of the EU match the critics, while Labour supporters are also negative of the EU (although even more critical of the government).
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,012 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 2nd – 7th March 2018. Sample consists of 70% landline numbers (RDD) and 30% mobile numbers (a mix of RDD and targeted numbers). Data are weighted to the profile of the population.
The facts may have changed on Brexit - but people’s minds have not
Reflecting the national vote in the 2016 referendum, voters in Bedford split almost the same way, with 51.8% voting to leave the EU. Two years on, we joined the BBC Radio 4 Today programme to ask local Bedford residents what they have to say on the matter now.