As Theresa May battles to deal with the resignations of her Foreign and Brexit Secretaries, and other ministers since then, BMG’s latest poll for the Independent reveals that a majority of the public back holding a General Election should the Prime Minister be forced to resign.
Conducted between the 3rd and 5th July, the poll finds that just over half (51%) of Brits said that, in the event that the Prime Minister were to resign, the Conservative party “should replace Theresa May with a General Election being held immediately afterward”. Less than a third, some 29%, said the Conservatives should “replace Theresa May without a General Election being held”. 20% said that they were unsure.
As the main party of Government, the Conservatives are not obliged to go to the country should the sitting Prime Minister resign. Despite calls in each of their respective parties to call an election, Gordon Brown and Theresa May took the reins from their predecessors without seeking a so-called ‘mandate’ from voters.
However, the result of this poll suggests that – in principle at least – the public believe a new Prime Minister should go to the country once they have been installed in the top job. This may come as a surprise to some readers: despite high turnouts in the EU referendum and the 2017 General Election, some commentators have suggested that voters may be suffering from “election fatigue”.
Indeed, it is worth stressing that it is an open question whether Brits would continue backing the idea of an election when faced with the prospect of their fourth national vote in as many years, and with the potential knock-on consequences such an election would have on the Brexit timetable.
As the reality of another election bites, we could well find more opposing the contest than say they do now. The fieldwork for this poll was concluded just prior to the Cabinet meeting at Chequers last week, so before the ensuing resignations the Brexit and Foreign Secretaries. Now that we find ourselves in a situation where a fresh election is a real possibility, it will be interesting to see how, if at all, opinion shifts.
Labour voters are much more likely to back an election, whilst Conservative voters are divided
Labour voters overwhelmingly back an election being held. Some 72% of those that backed Labour in the election last year favour an immediate contest, with just 17% against. These results perhaps point to an underlying sense of optimism among Labour voters about Labour’s prospects in a hypothetical future contest following their better than expected performance last year.
By contrast, Conservative voters are more divided on the issue. Half (49%) say that the Conservatives should continue without calling an election, with a significant minority saying that they support an immediate contest (36%).
Most say May should be replaced if she cannot find Cabinet consensus
The poll also asked whether Theresa May should be replaced if she can’t find a Brexit deal that her Cabinet can agree on. Again, just days prior to Davis and Johnson’s resignations in protest at May’s plan, the poll found considerable support for Theresa May being deposed in such circumstances. Almost half – some 46% – said she should be replaced, 27% said she should not, with 27% unsure.
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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Robert Struthers – Senior Research Executive