Pessimism over the economy increases from last month
Half think fall in pound is bad for Britain
Public optimism over the strength of the economy has fallen sharply in the last month according to Ipsos MORI’s latest Political Monitor. More than half (53%, up from 37% in September) think the economy will get worse over the next twelve months, with a quarter (24%) thinking it will get better and 17% saying it will stay the same – leaving an overall Economic Optimism Index score of -29 (compared with -1 in September).
The public also express pessimism over the recent devaluation of the pound. More than half (55%) say they believe the decline in the pound’s value to be a bad thing for Britain – just 14% say it is a good thing and another 26% say it will make no difference. This strong doubt exists even when the question includes a brief explanation that the devaluation means imports will likely become more expensive while British exports will become more competitive (the question was split-sampled so half got each version of the question). In this instance the number of those saying the pound’s deprecation is a bad thing stands at 47% while 18% think it is a good thing.
Concerns over the economy are accompanied by rising public worry over what Brexit means for their standard of living. The new poll also reveals that half (49%) believe their own standard of living will be worse as a result of Britain voting to leave the EU in last June’s referendum – a sharp increase from July when just over a third (36%) said things would get worse. Figures also show that a quarter (24%) think things will get better for them (although it should be noted this has also risen from 21% in July and 18% in May before the referendum), while another quarter (24%) think things will be no different. Those who see Brexit as worse for their standard of living are more likely to be from groups that supported ‘Remain’ in the referendum. More than half (55%) of ABC1s see their Brexit as bad for their standard of living compared with two in five (40%) of C2DEs. Similarly, those with a degree are also more worried with two in three (64%) thinking things will get worse for them compared with a third (32%) of those without a qualification. Young people are also more worried, at 58% of 18-34s vs 36% of those aged 55+.
Despite these anxieties the Conservative honeymoon continues. Theresa May’s ratings are still higher than Jeremy Corbyn's, although hers have fallen and his risen over the last month. Half (48%, down six points) remain satisfied in Mrs May doing her job as Prime Minister (32% dissatisfied) leaving her a net satisfaction score of +16. This compares with three in ten (31%, up four) who say they are satisfied with Mr Corbyn as Labour leader and more than half (55%) who are dissatisfied, giving him a net satisfaction score of -24. Ms. May remains highly favourable in the eyes of Conservative supporters with four in five (80%) satisfied with her doing her job while 54% of Labour supporters say they are satisfied with Jeremy Corbyn. Tim Farron however still remains little known to the public with 44% saying they have no opinion of him (22% satisfied and 34% dissatisfied).
Ipsos MORI’s ongoing voting intentions figures show the Conservatives widening a lead over Labour to its highest since before the 2010 election. The Conservatives currently stand at 47%, compared with Labour at 29%, the Liberal Democrats at 7% and UKIP at 6%.
Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said:
“Economic optimism had been recovering after the shock of Brexit, but this research shows that a fall in the value of the pound will still concern the public, while it is the groups who were supporting Remain who are most worried about the impact of Brexit. But Labour so far is not taking advantage, as the Conservatives’ honeymoon continues - for the moment at least.”
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.