Voters are split on whether Labour would take Britain in or out of the EU

Ipsos MORI's May 2019 Political Monitor shows that half of the public think a Labour government under Corbyn would try to keep Britain in the EU - but nearly half of Labour voters think it would take Britain out.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
  • Keiran Pedley Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Glenn Gottfried Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Cameron Garrett Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
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  • Half of the public think a Labour government under Corbyn would try to keep Britain in the EU - but nearly half of Labour voters think it would take Britain out
  • Half of the public think a Labour government under Corbyn would try to keep Britain in the EU
  • Four in five think Corbyn doing a bad job at handling Brexit

As Brexit talks between the Conservative and Labour parties fail to reach an agreement, Ipsos MORI’s new Political Monitor shows different voters are split on the Labour party's Brexit position.

Half (53%) of the British public believe a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn would try to keep Britain in the EU and three in ten (30%) think a Labour government would try to take Britain out of the EU – this compares with 27% who think the Conservatives under Theresa May are trying to keep Britain in the EU and 60% who think they are trying to take Britain out. Supporters of all parties think that the Conservatives will try to take Britain out – including their own supporters (by a a margin of 70% to 21%). On the other hand, Labour supporters show uncertainty on where the party stands on Brexit – nearly half (46 per cent) say the party would try to take Britain out of the EU, while 38 per cent think it would try to keep Britain in. Half (49%) of Liberal Democrat voters also think a Labour government would take Britain out of the EU, but 65% of Conservatives think it would try to stay.

The Conservative's and Labour Party's Brexit policy

The public also show discontent with Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of Brexit. Just 12% believe he’s doing a good job at handling Britain’s exit from the European Union – four in five (81%) say he’s doing a bad job. This is worse than Theresa May’s figures released last week where 25% say she’s doing a good job and 71% a bad job. Jeremy Corbyn does slightly better amongst Labour voters however a majority (57%) still say he’s doing a bad job at handling Brexit while one in three (32%) say a good job.

Political leaders and whether they've done a good or bad job with Brexit

When asked about the parties and their approach to Brexit, 36% say they like the Labour party (55% say they don’t like it) and just 15% say they like their approach to Brexit (76% do not like it). This is similar to the Conservatives; a third (33%) say they like the Conservatives (58% do not like the party) while just 12% like their approach to Brexit (79% do not like it). When asked about the other parties the poll finds:

  • Liberal Democrats - 35% say they like the party (49% say they don’t like it) and 28% say they like their approach to Brexit (56% do not like it).
  • The Green Party - 36% say they like the party (37% say they don’t like it) and 26% say they like their approach to Brexit (47% do not like it).
  • UKIP - 13% say they like the party (67% say they don’t like it) and 22% say they like their approach to Brexit (58% do not like it).
  • The Brexit Party - 28% say they like the party (52% say they don’t like it) and 31% say they like their approach to Brexit (49% do not like it).
  • Change UK - 18% say they like the party (44% say they don’t like it) and 18% say they like their approach to Brexit (44% do not like it). Four in ten (37%) say they don't know.

Likeability of political parties and their Brext position

Among people who say they voted Labour in 2017, 33% say they like the party’s approach to Brexit, but 60% do not.  For other parties, 43% of 2017 Labour voters say they like the Liberal Democrats’ approach to Brexit, 42% like the Greens’, 22% Change UK’s approach and 14% the Brexit Party’s. 

The public were also asked if the government has done a good or bad job preparing the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal. Four in five (80%) say it has done a bad job planning and just 13% say good job – this includes 61% of Conservative supporters saying it’s done a bad job preparing for no deal and 27% saying a good job. This is similar to February 2017 when 77% thought it was doing a bad job.

Commenting on the findings, Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said:

Just like the Tories, Labour is suffering over Brexit, although for different reasons.  Most people on both sides of the political divide at least agree that Theresa May’s government will try to leave Europe, but for a Labour government each group thinks it would go against their natural inclination: Conservative voters believe a Labour government would try to stay in the EU, Labour and Lib Dem voters that it would try to leave.  That, combined with unhappiness about Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of Brexit helps to explain why their own voters are so lukewarm about Labour’s approach to the issue.  In fact, what the Liberal Democrats and Greens are saying over Brexit is just as attractive to them (though not Change UK’s), and the rise of both of these parties in the polls shows that Labour should be worried that its balancing act is turning off some of its voters.

 

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,072 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 10th – 14th May 2019.  Data are weighted to the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a party’s support lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by this poll, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
  • Keiran Pedley Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Glenn Gottfried Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Cameron Garrett Ipsos Public Affairs, UK

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