14 January 2019 – Labour will lose significant support across the South West, if it helps Brexit over the line, according to a new YouGov poll of more than 2,500 voters across the region.
At the 2017 General Election the Conservatives won 47 seats across the South West, with 51% of the vote, Labour won 7 seats with 29% of the vote, and the Liberal Democrats took 1 seat, with a 15% share of the vote across the South West.
This YouGov poll shows that 47% of voters across the region intend to support the Conservatives at the next election, while Labour remains on about 29%. The Liberal Democrats are on 14% with 9% of voters intending to support other parties.
But the poll has found that if Brexit happens with the support of Labour MPs, then the party would lose considerably more support across the region. Labour would will slip to just 20% at the next General Election, with the Conservatives on 49% and the Liberal Democrats being the main beneficiaries – up to 22% across the region.
And if Labour tried to avoid the issue, by not instructing its MPs to vote against Brexit, them it would fare no better – still getting only 22% support across the region, with the Conservatives on 50% and the Lib Dems on 20%.
The poll, conducted independently by YouGov for the People’s Vote campaign, shows a clear reason for Labour’s loss in support – 78% of Labour supporters across the South West would now vote to stay in the EU.
Labour has pledged to oppose Theresa May’s Brexit plan in Parliament this week. But the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that he would want to try and renegotiate a Brexit deal and, in a recent interview, suggested that Brexit would still go ahead even if he won a snap General Election.
The YouGov poll shows that excluding don’t-knows, 66% of all voters across the region are against the deal negotiated by Theresa May.
In the 2016 EU Referendum, voters across the South West backed Brexit by a margin of 53% to 47%.
But if a referendum was held now – a People’s Vote – with a choice between staying in the EU or the government’s proposed Brexit deal, voters in the region would prefer to remain in the EU by a clear majority of 59% to 41%.
And if It was a choice between staying in the EU or leaving without any deal, remain would win by 56% to 44%.
Philip Cole, who is Chair of Cheltenham for Europe and a spokesperson for the People’s Vote Campaign in the South West, said:
“Brexit will be a disaster for our country, and an increasing number of voters across the South West now recognise that. Brexit already means our household bills are going up, companies are closing, jobs are at risk and the NHS is suffering a funding and recruitment crisis.
“This poll is real wake-up call for the Labour Party in the region. It shows that if the party doesn’t stand up to Brexit, then it’s likely to be punished at the ballot box.
“The vast majority of Labour members and supporters not only want a People’s Vote, but also overwhelmingly want to stay in the EU.
“The deep causes and issues that led to the Brexit vote will be made worse by a damaging and divisive Brexit that doesn’t deliver any the promises of those who supported it, and only divides us further.
“There is no form of Brexit that would be a better deal than the one that we already have inside the EU. That’s why Parliament must quickly hand this decision over Brexit back to the public with a People’s Vote – because only the public can sort this mess out.”
The YouGov poll shows that nationally, Labour would crash to a worse defeat than it suffered under Michael Foot if the party enables Brexit, in what is the most extensive survey of voters’ attitudes on the issue conducted since the 2016 referendum.
The huge poll of more than 25,000 people across the country shows the party risks losing millions of supporters in two scenarios: if it either votes through some form of compromise deal or fails to order MPs to oppose Brexit.
Peter Kellner, a past president of YouGov and one of Britain’s leading pollsters, said:
“If Labour is seen to facilitate Brexit in any form, YouGov’s results indicate that the party would be deserted by millions of Remain voters – without gaining any extra support from Leave voters. Thus, Labour risks losing Remain seats where the party did well in 2017 – most famously Kensington and Canterbury, but also a host of other constituencies in and around London, and others with a large student population – while failing to recoup any of the ground it lost in the party’s traditional heartlands in the North and Midlands.”
“In 2016, Labour voters divided two-to-one in favour of staying in the EU. Today, Labour voters divide 83-17 per cent if the choice is Remain versus the Withdrawal Agreement, and 80-20 per cent in a Remain-No Deal contest. There are huge and obvious risks in being seen to thwart such huge majorities – either by resisting a referendum or, if one is held, failing to campaign against Brexit.”
YouGov conducted the fieldwork for this poll for the People’s Vote campaign between December 21, 2108 and January 4, 2019 among 25,537 adults across the UK, including 2515 people across the South West.