A recent BMG poll for The Independent suggests the British public are split over whether Theresa May was right to invite the US President to the UK. Overall 42% of respondents think she was wrong to invite the controversial leader, but only slightly fewer respondents (37%) thought the Prime Minister was right to invite him. It would seem that President Trump not only divides opinion in his own country, but in the UK too.
A relatively large proportion of people (21%) said that they didn’t have a strong opinion either way, suggesting that many are still undecided about Trump, which might imply he has a real opportunity to ‘win over’ many of the British public with his visit later this week.
This was far from the only issue that the British public were split over by the President in BMG’s poll. For instance, although the British public were clear that they did not wish the UK Government to be any friendlier with Trump, with just 10% in favour of this approach, only slightly more people thought that the Government should be more critical of him (39%) than thought that they had already struck the right balance with him (32%).
The majority (53%) of Conservative voters supported the Government’s stance on Donald Trump, although a quarter (25%) did think that they should be more critical. There was still little appetite for the Government to be friendlier towards the President, with only 12% of this opinion.
The fact that 42% of respondents thought that the UK should either be friendlier towards Trump or maintain its current approach appears to be supported by the fact that 44% of respondents who thought that the Government should make “every effort” to be accommodating to Donald Trump to aid trade negotiations after Brexit. Again, there was still a great deal of opposition to this idea, with 36% against the prospect of being more accommodating towards the President.
The public were clearer in their view that the US leader’s visit to the UK did not legitimise his actions and policies, with a majority (53%) believing that it is simply a diplomatic gesture, compared to just under a quarter (24%) who thought it did legitimise his actions. The fact that so many did not think it legitimised his actions may be somewhat surprising given that far fewer people thought that the Prime Minister was right to invite him (37%) and fewer still thought that the Government should be friendlier (10%) towards him.
Opinions certainly weren’t strong when it came to support of protests against Donald Trump’s visit amongst those that weren’t planning on protesting themselves, with 41% saying that they either didn’t know or neither supported nor opposed the demonstrations. For those that did hold a view on the matter, opinions were split, with 31% in support and 29% opposing the planned protests.
The public were optimistic about the UK’s chances of agreeing a trade deal with the US before 2021, with over half (52%) believing that it would be likely and only just over a quarter (26%) thinking that it would be unlikely. Leave voters were very optimistic about the prospects of a quick Trade Deal with the US (69% believing that it would be likely), while Remain voters were also slightly more optimistic than pessimistic, with 43% thinking it would be likely compared to 40% who thought it would be unlikely.
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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Thomas Speed – BMG Summer Placement Student – BMG Research
Dr. Michael Turner – Research Director & Head of Polling – BMG Research