Poll finds a shocking proportion of voters think MPs put the EU’s interests ahead of Britain’s

Poll finds a shocking proportion of voters think MPs put the EU’s interests ahead of Britain’s

Writing in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, leading Brexiteers, Tory MP Steve Baker and DUP MP Nigel Dodds, wrote of their concerns about the state of Brexit.

The Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement is widely expected to be voted down by between 80 and 100 votes or more tomorrow, according to informed sources in Westminster. And on Wednesday the vote to take a “no deal” off the table is expected to pass.

This leaves Thursday’s vote on extending Article 50 for an, as yet unknown period of time and for an as yet unknown point – subject to EU approval.

The primary concern of Messrs Baker and Dodds is that the great British public may lose faith in the political establishment due to the chaos surrounding Brexit. Specifically, their concern that “the harm done to public trust in politics and democracy itself would be incalculable. For some, democracy would be effectively dead”.

Sad to say, their fear of what may happen as a consequence of the chaos surrounding Brexit may, in fact, have already happened. And as far as their assertion that the harm done would be “incalculable”, again, sad to say, it is calculable.

I have been an active political campaigner in politics for 15 years and writing about it for almost as long. My secret, if I have one, is that I listen more than I talk. During the 2016 EU referendum I gained valuable skills and experience in polling which I have continued developing to date. Last week I ran a poll and the results left me stunned.

I commissioned BMG Research to do the polling and the field work was conducted between 4th and 8th March, with a sample of 1,510 adults across Great Britain. The proposition was:

“[Do] British MPs put the EU’s interests before the interests of Britain”?

The “headline” figures were:

  • Agree – 39%
  • Not Sure – 35%
  • Disagree – 25%

First off, given that British MPs take an oath of allegiance to HM the Queen, that’s over a third – 35% – of British voters who are not entirely sure where their MPs’ allegiances lie. And if we remove those who are not sure, then 61% of British voters agree that British MPs put the EU’s interests above the interests of Britain.

In 2017, the size of the electoral register was put at 46.8 million voters. This means that there are just 11.7 million voters out of 46.8 million who think British MPs’ first loyalty is to Britain. Of the remainder, 18.2 million think MPs’ first loyalty is to the EU, with the remaining 16.9 million not quite sure where their MPs’ loyalty lies.

As you go around the British regions the figures are painfully consistent. In terms of those who do not know where their MPs’ loyalty lies, it ranges from a low of 27% in London to a high of 42% in the North West.

Removing those who are not sure, the agrees range from a high in the North East with 50% agree and 47% in the South West. The corresponding disagree for these areas are 19% for the North East and 22% for the South West. The corresponding ratio is 72% agree in the North East and 68% agree in the South West. The region with the highest disagree is the East Midlands at 31% disagree versus 37% agree. Again, removing those not sure gives a ratio of 54% agree.

I would say again. Not a single region of Great Britain disagrees with the proposition. The same is true for nearly every socio-economic group in Britain. Those with a university degree agree 32% and 34% disagree giving a ratio of 52% disagree.

Now we get to the really unpleasant parts of the polling, with respect to the political establishment.

Of those who voted in the EU referendum, Leave voters agree 61% to 14% disagreeing. Removing those who are not sure gives a ratio of 81% of Leave voters agreeing that British MPs’ loyalty is to the EU.

For Remain voters, just 24% agree against 41% who disagree. Removing those who are not sure gives a ratio of 63% of Remain voters agreeing that British MPs’ loyalty is to the UK.

Leave voters think MPs are loyal to the EU, while Remain voters think MPs are loyal to the UK.

Even a casual observer will ponder this logic – or is it irony? This data is obviously open to interpretation. But, as I cast my mind back over the years and consider the countless conversations with voters, I have to ask myself the now obvious question: was the EU referendum about “a deal” or “no deal”.

Or was the referendum actually about where the loyalty of British MPs lies?

Field work was conducted by BMG Research between 4-8 March, sample of 1,510 adults, 18+, in Great Britain.