New poll confirms Canada-Plus, the WTO option or No Deal as public’s favoured Brexit outcome

New poll confirms Canada-Plus, the WTO option or No Deal as public’s favoured Brexit outcome

New polling by Global Britain conducted after the party conference season had finished confirms previous findings that the Prime Minister’s Chequers Plan is deeply unpopular and that either a No Deal/WTO option or a Canada-style trade deal are by far the most popular outcomes for Brexit.

In a telephone survey conducted by IQR for Global Britain between 8th and 10th October, voters continued to say that Brexit remained the most important issue facing the country, with 40% feeling this way, while healthcare received only 12% support and the economy just 9%. The importance of Brexit for Conservative voters was little different at 38%, above health (8%) and the economy (13%).

When asked what their preferred option was for Brexit, of those who expressed a preferred outcome, 26% opted for a Canada-style trade deal, rising to 33% amongst Conservative voters. The WTO option attracted 24% support (25% for Conservatives) and No Deal attracted 17% (17%). The Chequers Plan polled worst at 6% (with 9% for Conservatives) against 11% (10%) for a Norway-style EEA/EFTA membership and 15% (6%) for a second referendum on EU membership.

More details were then provided about the various scenarios and the questions asked again.

This time the ratings for the preferred options were 31% of voters chose a Canada-style trade deal (up 5%), rising to 35% amongst Conservative voters. The WTO option fell slightly to 22% support (24% for Conservatives) while No Deal rose to 21% (and 23%). The Chequers Plan still polled worst, falling to 4% (with 6% for Conservatives) against 11% (8%) for a Norway-style EEA/EFTA membership and a lowly 10% (4%) for a second referendum on EU membership.

The polling suggests that the more information provided strengthens the case for Canada-style, WTO and No Deal but weakens the case for Chequers and a further referendum.

With the scenarios discussed, evaluated and prioritised, the respondents were then asked how they would vote if different outcomes materialised. Again the Conservatives achieved their highest public vote share if a Canada-style deal or WTO rules were the outcome – obtaining 45% support, while No Deal still won them 43% support – all higher than the 42.4% the party managed at the General Election of 2017.

Conservative support fell to below the General Election benchmark if the Chequers Plan was the outcome, reaching only 39%, while EEA/EFTA left it at 37%. For Labour support the variation was a fairly even spread within the 3.5% margin of error, with a high of 35% if the UK stayed in the EU falling to 32% for No Deal, with Canada-style, WTO and Chequers all on 33% and EEA/EFTA and a second referendum on 34%. The even spread might reflect the lack of clear leadership for any one option coming from Jeremy Corbyn and his team – but whatever the reason, the poor showing would suggest the Conservatives would remain the largest party.

It is not all good news for the Conservatives, however, since Theresa May is not pushing a Canada-style deal – indeed she continues to rule it out while she perseveres with a deal based on her Chequers Plan – what we should call “Chequers-minus”. Were that scenario to become real, then a fall in her party’s vote share to only 39% would see her lose more seats, while UKIP’s 8% might not be enough to win seats, but it could hand Conservative marginals over to Labour. The previous poll conducted by Global Britain across the top 44 Conservative marginals showed that persevering with the Chequers Plan could cost every one of those marginals to Labour and the SNP. A deal that would put a Labour minority government in power – in return for a second independence referendum – would then be back on the table. Rather than help save the United Kingdom from breaking up, Chequers could actually endanger it.

Voters were also asked at the end of the survey, having been presented with the options in the course of the interview and being able to consider them against each other, if they might change their mind on their preferred option. Amongst Conservatives here was some marginal change, with the Canada-style deal (34%) and Chequers Plan (10%) each gaining a point, WTO (18%) and No Deal (24%) swapping places, and EEA/EFTA (6%) dropping four points. The changes in all voters mirrored these minor shifts, suggesting that voters at the moment are not inclined to move a great deal between the favoured options.

Finally, the survey asked all respondents what they considered a satisfactory Brexit. Leaving the EU with control of borders, laws, money and no oversight from EU institutions came top with 39% (reaching 57% amongst Conservative voters). Leaving the EU under WTO rules and then negotiating a trade deal attracted 24% support (33% amongst Conservatives). Failing to negotiate a deal with the EU and then opting to remain a member attracted 33% – but only 7% support amongst Conservatives; while joining EEA/EFTA as rule takers attracted 3% (3%) – while the Chequers Plan of leaving the EU with some oversight of laws and paying £39bn attracted a derisory 1% (1%) of support.

The survey of 805 respondents weighted for the UK, conducted after the issues were aired fully at the party conferences, gives broadly the same answer as the survey of 22,000 respondents interviewed in the 44 Conservative marginals last month: namely, Chequers is deeply unpopular, is not considered to be a satisfactory Brexit and the No Deal/WTO option is not an electoral threat, especially if it then leads to a Canada-style trade deal at a later date. But will Theresa May’s government listen?

The full details of the poll are available at the Global Britain website.