In an exclusive poll for HuffPost UK, BMG Research asked respondents a series of questions about Brexit, how long Theresa May should stay on as PM, as well as Boris Johnson’s recent comments on May’s Chequers deal.
On balance most Britons don’t think that EU migrants should get preferential treatment over non-EU migrants. 40% disagree with the statement “we should give EU migrants ‘preferential treatment’ compared with other migrants from other non-EU countries, if that is what the EU requires to complete a trade deal”. Just 27% agree, and 33% said that they neither agree nor disagree.
On balance, more Conservative supporters disagree (47%) with the statement than agree (30% – 23% neither). Likewise, slightly more Labour supporters (35%) disagree than agree (30%- 35% neither). A clear majority of Leave voters also disagree (57%) that EU migrants should be given preferential treatment (19% disagree – 24% neither). Remainers however, are more split, with 38% agreeing that EU migrants should be given preferential treatment with 29% disagreeing (33% neither agree nor disagree).
Respondents were also asked two questions about whether to leave the EU and improve the deal or to extend the UK’s membership till a trading deal is achieved. The results paint a mixed picture, but on balance Remain voters tend to favour options that are more likely to delay leaving, and Leave voters tend to favour options that mean that the UK leaves sooner.
When asked “If it meant that the UK could achieve a trading deal with the European Union (EU), would you support, or oppose, extending the UK’s exit from the EU beyond March 2019 for an unspecified amount of time”, the results show a split, but on-balance people more likely to support the idea of extending the UK’s exit from the EU than oppose, with 2 in 5 (41%) stating that they support the statement. Around a third (33%) oppose an extension, and just over a quarter (26%) said that they neither support nor oppose it.
As already detailed, Remain voters are more likely to support an extension (66%) whilst the majority of Leave voters would oppose an extension (59%).
On the other hand, when asked “It is better to leave the EU on 29th March 2019 and improve the deal later, than delay Brexit and stay in the EU longer”, more respondents agreed (38%) that it is better to leave the EU and improve the deal later than delay Brexit and stay in the EU longer, than disagreed (33%).
Should she stay or should she go?
Following on from polling BMG conducted earlier in the year (February), respondents were asked a series of questions about how long Theresa May should remain as Prime Minister. Once again, the nation appears to be split on whether May should continue on as Prime Minister beyond the end of the year, with 43% saying that she should continue and 39% saying that she should not. Interestingly, there is no Brexit divide, with some 49% of Leave voters and 51% of Remain voters indicating that she should continue on as PM beyond the end of the year.
This divide has narrowed also on whether May should see through the Brexit negotiations, with 42% stating that she should remain in post at least till after Brexit, and 40% indicating she should not, up 6 points on February. Once again, there doesn’t appear to be any Brexit division, as a similar proportion of Leave and Remain voters think that she should see through Brexit (49% of both Leave and Remain voters).
However, after Brexit, there is a big drop in support, among both Leavers AND Remainers, with a majority now indicating that they do not want her to stay on for the next General Election. Just over a quarter (26%) of respondents say that she should stay on till the election, whilst a majority (51%) say she should stand down beforehand. These data suggest that Brexit could be May’s last political act, perhaps both Leavers and Remainers feel that, on-balance, she is most likely to deliver their preferred outcome, but after that she’s no longer any use to them.
If Theresa May was to step down as Prime Minister tomorrow, Boris Johnson is by far the most popular choice to replace her. Around 1 in 5 respondents (20%) selected Boris as their preferred choice to replace May, with Jacob Rees Mogg second favourite on just 7%. Ruth Davidson and Sajid Javid trail on 6% and 5% respectively.
It is worth noting that 21% said that they didn’t know and 26% said none.
The poll also asked respondents whether Johnson’s recent remarks; on how May’s Brexit plan had “wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution and handed the detonator to Brussels” had changed the way they see him.
Although a majority of people say that their views are unchanged, the polling suggests that the net impact may have been on-balance negative for Boris. More respondents thought he had become less likeable (28%), less Prime Ministerial (35%) and less trustworthy (29%) than more likeable (18%), Prime Ministerial (15%) or more trustworthy (17%).
Interestingly, his comments don’t appear to have gone down too well with Conservative supporters, with just over a third (34%) indicating that he was less likeable as a result. The same proportion (34%) say that they thought he was less trustworthy and 42% that he is less Prime Ministerial.
Respondents were also asked who they would prefer to be Prime Minister, Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn. Around 1 in 4 (25%) stated that Boris Johnson was their preferred choice, 4 percentage points fewer than the proportion who selected Jeremy Corbyn (29%). However, people should also note that the most popular response was neither of them, chosen by well over a third (36%) of respondents.
However, when Theresa May was pitted against Corbyn, on balance she was preferred to Corbyn, though neither was selected still more likely to be selected (37%) than either leader.
Divided we stand?
It’s probably not surprising that a majority of people feel that both Labour and the Conservatives are more divided than united, some 51% say that Labour (17% say united) and 59% say that they think the Conservatives are divided (11% say united), but it is interesting that a majority of Tories feel that their own party is divided.
More than six in ten Conservative supporters (61%) say that they feel their own party is divided, whereas just 21% say the party is united. Comparatively, around a third of Labour supporters say that they feel their party is divided (33%) and a similar proportion say that the party is united (36%).
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.
0121 333 6006
Dr Michael Turner – Head of Polling
Andrew Price – Research Executive