No deal is better than May’s deal

New survey of Conservative Party members and voters offers little hope that they’ll help the PM persuade her MPs to support her Withdrawal Agreement

If Theresa May is hoping that her MPs will return to Westminster having been persuaded by their Constituency Associations to back her Brexit deal, she’s going to be disappointed.  Our ESRC-sponsored Party Members Project, run out of Queen Mary University of London and Sussex University, has just surveyed 1215 ordinary Conservative Party members, together with a representative sample of 1675 voters.  It appears that those members are in no mood for compromise.

Some 72% of grassroots Tory members, compared to 68% of current Tory voters, voted Leave in 2016 – testimony to David Cameron’s crucial failure in the run up to the EU referendum to convince even his own activists, let alone the country, to back his stance.  Where he was then, Theresa May is today.

It would be fair to say that the Tory grassroots are, if not obsessed, then consumed by Brexit.  We asked all voters to list the three most important issues facing the country, and 60% of them ranked Brexit number one.  That figure rises to 68% among Tory voters and a whopping 75% among Tory members.  And they haven’t changed their minds on the merits of leaving the EU.  Some 79% of Conservative Party members think voters made the right decision in the 2016 referendum – and that includes a quarter (26%) of the (23%) minority of them who voted Remain two-and-a-half years ago; 97% of those who themselves voted Leave maintain the country made the right call. Continue reading

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Love Corbyn. HATE Brexit.

New survey of Labour members shows overwhelming support for another referendum and for staying in the EU

If Jeremy Corbyn genuinely believes, as he has repeatedly claimed, that the Labour Party’s policy should reflect the wishes of its members rather than just its leaders, then he arguably has a funny way of showing it – at least when it comes to Brexit.

LoveCorbynHateBrexit Our ESRC-sponsored Party Members Project has just surveyed 1034 Labour Party members together with a representative sample of 1675 voters.  Our survey of Labour’s grassroots clearly shows that Corbyn’s apparent willingness to see the UK leave the EU – a stance he has recently reiterated – is seriously at odds with what the overwhelming majority of Labour’s members want, and it doesn’t reflect the views of most Labour voters either.

Some 83% of Labour members we surveyed voted Remain in 2016 – a much higher proportion, incidentally, than the 60% of 2017 Labour voters who did the same.  And it is clear, firstly, that the vast majority of those members have no regrets about doing so and, secondly, that they would do so again in another referendum – something that they want the party and its leader, Mr Corbyn, to endorse.  It’s also clear that if he doesn’t, then a fair few of them would consider leaving the party. Continue reading

Cameron and Tebbit are both wrong: Tory activists are not as set on leaving the EU as many imagine

By Tim Bale, Monica Poletti, Paul Webb

 

David Cameron has run into trouble for warning Tory backbenchers not to make up their minds on whether to campaign for Leave or Remain “because of what your constituency association might say”. The reaction to his remarks was swift and damning, particularly from those who want out, all of whom assume, to quote venerable Thatcherite veteran Norman Tebbit, that “activist Tories are deeply Eurosceptic”.

It’s an easy assumption to make, but it’s wrong. For one thing the Tory grassroots, like Tory MPs, have by no means made up their minds which way to vote in the referendum. For another, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between those who actually turn up and do things for the party at election time and those who don’t.

As part of our project on UK party membership in the 21st Century (PMP), we surveyed nearly 1200 grassroots members of the Conservative Party just after last year’s general election. As well as asking them how they thought they would vote when it came to the European referendum, we also asked them what they’d done for the party during the election campaign.

Continue reading