It seems as though the sacking of Michael Gove has given everyone something to cheer about as, in a rare moment of political unity, voters from all the main parties have come together to agree that Mrs May was right to sack him from the government.
Remarkably, both old and young, left-wing and right-wing, Leavers and Remainers, Conservatives, Lib Dems, Ukippers and Labour supporters all support Mrs May’s decision to sack the former Justice secretary.
A sign of party unity?
Although there was most support for May’s decision within her own party, with three-quarters (75%) of 2015 Conservative voters backing Gove’s dismissal, there is surprisingly high levels of support from across the entire political spectrum. 74% of past Labour voters backed the sacking, along with 79% of Lib Dems. A smaller, but still substantial, proportion of UKIP voters agreed with May’s decision at 63%.
At a time when the official opposition appear so divided, Conservative supporters seem decisively behind their new leader, as it is in fact the Tories who feel most strongly that May was right to sack Mr Gove, by a factor of more than twelve to one (74% right, 6% wrong, 20% DK), a significantly wider margin than for either Labour, Lib Dem or Ukippers.
Michael Turner, of BMG Research, said: “Conservative supporters seem decisively behind their new leader, as it is in fact the Tories who feel most strongly that Mrs May was right to sack Mr Gove.”
Significantly, the highest support for his sacking comes from respondents that would definitely or probably vote in a General Election tomorrow, suggesting that May’s cabinet choices are crucial to the electability of the Conservative Party. Gove proves to be more unpopular than Osborne among those that would definitely vote, with almost 3 in every 4 respondents saying that they thought May was right to sack him, compared to 67% of definite voters who agreed with Osborne’s sacking.
Older voters approve, younger ones just don’t know
The polling finds a clear correlation between age and approval of Mrs May’s decision: three-quarters (76%) of over 65s felt that she was right to sack Mr Gove compared to less than 4 in 10 (37%) of 18-24s. Similar results are revealed when the same question is asked about George Osborne’s dismissal: 68% of over 65s believe that his sacking was the correct decision compared to 40% of the youngest age bracket. It should also be noted that there is also a strong relationship between respondent’s age and not knowing, with around half (50%) of 18-24s saying that they don’t know if Mrs May was right or wrong to do so, whereas just one sixth (17%) of those aged 65+ responded the same.
Many new ministers are relatively unknown
The other big name sacking from the Cabinet was former Education secretary Nicky Morgan, which received far less public support. However, this comparison isn’t necessarily equitable as many respondents (53%) said that they didn’t know who Mrs Morgan was. So it isn’t necessarily a signal of public confidence in her performance as a Minister. Her sacking was supported by 38%, with 9% against the dismissal.
Of Mrs May’s new Cabinet, many are relative unknown outside of the Westminster bubble, with more than a third saying that they ‘don’t know’ who the new Culture Secretary Karen Bradley (34%) and new Business Secretary Greg Clark (34%) are. Three out of ten (30%) gave the same answer for Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green, as did more than a quarter for Home Secretary Amber Rudd (28%). Clearly these figures may change in the coming weeks and months.
By far the most recognisable figure is Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson with a 99% recognition score, but this does not necessarily translate into confidence in his ability to complete the role of Foreign Secretary, with 50% saying that they were not confident in him.
An article based on these polling results, released by The Evening Standard, can be found here.
Fieldwork dates and methodology can be found here.
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 visit our website or get in touch by email or phone.
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Jemma Conner – Junior Research Executive – BMG Research
Dr Michael Turner – Research Director – BMG Research