We are now entering the closing stages of the Brexit negotiations, with Theresa May describing the deal as 95% settled despite a “considerable sticking point” remaining over the issue of the Irish border. At BMG we decided to poll the nation to understand the extent to which the British public feel each side has “played fairly” thus far.
Conducted between 2nd and 5th October, the poll of 1503 GB adults asked respondents: “Thinking about the ongoing Brexit negotiations, do you think the EU leaders have treated Theresa May and the UK Government with respect?”
A majority, some 53%, said that the EU side had not treated Theresa May and the UK Government with respect. Just one in five (20%) said that the EU had behaved respectfully, with 27% answering don’t know.
Unsurprisingly, there was a large split on this question by how respondents had voted in the EU referendum in 2016. 79% of Leave votes said that EU leaders had not treated Theresa May and the UK Government with respect, with fewer than one in ten (8%) stating that the EU had acted respectfully. Meanwhile, Remian voters were much more likely to say that they felt EU leaders had shown respect towards the UK side (38%), slightly more were still of the opposite view (40%).
Respondents to the poll were also asked whether they felt Theresa May had conducted the negotiations fairly. Results were almost exactly the inverse of the previous. Half of the respondents said that Theresa May and the UK Government had behaved respectfully (51%), with just 22% of the opposite view.
Again, we see a sizeable leave-remain split on this question, but as before we still find a plurality of Remian voters willing to state that Theresa May and the UK Government have treated the EU leaders with respect (45%), compared to one in three that said they had not (33%).
The results present an interesting picture and reveal how our partisan leanings can sometimes come into conflict. The poll presents a particularly interesting dilemma for Remian voters in terms of which partisan “team” they identify with: their preference for remaining (and thus the degree which they align themselves with the EU side) or their “support” for their own government in the negotiations of which many will disapprove their handling. What is clear that while Remian voters are more likely to feel that EU leaders have shown respect the UK, a significant proportion are of the opposite view.
Moreover, while the vast majority of Leave voters say that Theresa May and the Government have treated the EU side with respect, this cannot simply be taken as an endorsement of the Government’s negotiating strategy. Many Leave voters may indeed prefer a less respectful strategy with less of willingness to make compromises on key issues.
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
Robert Struthers – Senior Research Executive
Michael Turner – Head of Polling