The Conservatives are harnessing the Leave vote far better than Labour are doing with Remainers

The Conservatives are harnessing the Leave vote far better than Labour are doing with Remainers

Over the past week, the Conservatives averaged a 10-point lead in the opinion polls. The latest polling by Ipsos MORI puts Boris Johnson and his party on 44%, Labour on 32%, the Lib Dems on 13% and Brexit Party on just 2%. Considering that the Conservatives need to have at least a 6-point lead on election day if they are to gain a majority, this is a fairly solid position as the party moves into the final stretch. There are also some pretty good numbers for them in Scotland.

Along with last week’s YouGov MRP poll estimating a 68-seat majority, the current betting odds are 64% for a Conservative majority, 34% for a hung parliament and only a 4% chance of a Labour majority. This means that the chance of a hung parliament is broadly similar to what we had for Brexit and Trump ahead of those shocks in 2016. My line remains: a Conservative majority is still the most likely outcome but a hung parliament is plausible.

One reason why the Conservatives are heading towards a majority is because Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings and their campaign have successfully retained 83% of the Conservative Party’s 2017 voters and 72% of the Leave vote. Both of these numbers have improved considerably since the start of the campaign. Labour, in contrast, is in a weaker position: while the party has gained ground in recent days, it is holding 71% of its 2017 vote, 48% of the Remain vote and 14% of the Leave vote. This reflects how Remain is still fragmented and Corbyn has struggled to win back the full loyalty of the people who turned out for him and/or his party two years ago.

Will Labour pick up some more points in this final week? Quite possibly. Remember: there are still a lot of Liberal Democrats, Greens and Undecided voters up for grabs. And some Lib Dems are already on the move. Go back to the start of the election campaign and 16% of Labour’s 2017 voters had jumped ship to the Lib Dems. But that is now down to 11%. Meanwhile, at the start of the campaign only 7% of 2017 Lib Dems had flipped to Labour. But that’s now up to 22%. Over the past month the share of Remainers going to Labour has jumped by about seven points to reach 48%. There is also still about 13% of voters who are Undecided. Labour has picked up a little bit of momentum but – so far – not enough.

The voting intentions of both Leavers and Remainers are largely unchanged; 72% of Leavers plan on voting Conservative while Remainers break 48% Labour, 21% Lib Dem and 16% Conservative. If Labour are to gain more votes then they could start by searching for votes among those Remainers who are currently sitting with the Lib Dems or the Conservatives, although Corbyn’s ‘neutral’ position on Brexit really will not help with that. I do find the 16-18% of Remainers who are sticking with the Conservatives interesting. As I have pointed out, Conservative Remainers may yet be one of the most important aspects of this election. Despite much talk about our new Brexit identities, political party loyalties and the left-right divide still pack a powerful punch.

Another fascinating aspect is social class; while 40% of upper and middle-class ‘ABC1’ voters plan on voting Conservative and 33% Labour, Johnson and his party now hold a 10-point lead for the Conservatives among the working-class ‘C2DE’ voters; 44% plan on voting Conservative and 34% Labour. That Labour is trailing the Conservatives to this extent amongst the one group that the Labour Party was founded to represent should be a serious cause for concern. If Corbyn loses again next week there will be some tough questions for his party. Much of this marks a continuation of trends in British politics that I pointed to in the book Revolt on the Right.

Finally, this week we saw four Brexit Party MEPs announce their backing for the Conservatives, with Annunziata Rees-Mogg saying “We need a strong Leave-supporting government to deliver the Brexit 17.4 million voted for… The Conservatives are the only option for Brexit supporters and democrats alike”. However, with the proportion of Conservative voters planning on voting for the Brexit Party at only 3%, this may confirm what Conservative voters already believe.