BMG’s latest poll, conducted on behalf of the Independent, reveals that just over a quarter (28%) of the British population support UK airstrikes in Syria. As Theresa May prepares to face MP’s questions on her decision to authorise air strikes against the Syrian government, the exclusive survey shows that only a minority of people supported her decision, with the imposition of a no-fly zone as a more popular alternative.
The poll, conducted between 10th and 13th April, asked a representative sample of 1562 GB adults to consider different methods of intervention in Syria, in response to the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government against its own civilians.
When asked to what extent they would support UK forces conducting targeted air or missile strikes on Syrian Government military targets, only 28% stated they would support the decision. Meanwhile, more than a third (36%) would oppose the decision, 26% neither supported nor opposed and 11% said they didn’t know.
On the other hand, when asked whether they would support or oppose the introduction of a no-fly zone over Syrian airspace, implemented and policed by Western air forces including the RAF, nearly half (47%) said they would support it. Not only is there greater public backing for a no-fly zone, but there is less opposition to one as well. Only 11% would oppose the implementation of a no-fly zone whilst 29% would neither oppose nor support and 12% stated they did not know.
Troops on the ground?
With the backing of Conservative MPs including Boris Johnson and Ruth Davidson, Theresa May sanctioned air strikes against Syrian Government military targets on 14th April 2018, arguing that “there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Regime”. Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called the legality of the air strikes into question, given that the airstrikes were not sanctioned by the UN and were carried out before the OPCW had investigated the Syrian Government’s reported use of chemical weapons.
Theresa May might, however, find some comfort that more Conservative party voters support the air strikes than oppose them. 42% of those who indicated they would vote for the Conservatives said they would support air strikes against Syrian Government military targets. Only 31% of Conservative voters oppose air strikes whereas 1 in 5 (21%) neither support nor oppose and 7% don’t know.
Interestingly, even the sending of troops into Syria in a non-combat civilian protection capacity was shown to be more popular than air strikes. The public are seen to be split with this approach, with 32% supporting the decision and 33% opposing it. A further 26% neither support nor oppose the decision and 9% don’t know.
However, the poll did reveal that there is very little support for deploying troops in combat roles. When asked whether they would support or oppose the UK sending ground troops to Syria, with troops deployed in combat roles, less than 1 in 5 (19%) said they would support it. Nearly half of the UK (48%) would oppose that decision with nearly a quarter (24%) neither opposing nor supporting and 9% stating they don’t know.
An article based on these polling results, released by the Independent, can be found here.
Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results can be found here.
For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.
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Andrew Price – Research Executive