Poll suggests if Labour backs Brexit it could fall behind Lib Dems

Ok, so get your pinches of salt out, because you’ll need them, but a story in The Sunday Times (£) suggests that Labour could lose its place as the official opposition to the Lib Dems if Labour backs any sort of Brexit deal.

The YouGov survey of 5,000 voters, commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign, shows that support for Labour could fall from 36% to 22% if they helped the Tories to pass a compromise deal with Brussels like the one advocated by Theresa May.

Under those circumstances, the Lib Dems would soar from 10% to 26% — their highest rating in any poll since they entered coalition government with the Tories in 2010.

The poll shows that Labour’s supporters want a People’s Vote by a margin of almost three to one — and an even bigger proportion would stay in the European Union if they were given the chance.

Alex Cole-Hamilton urged Labour to think again:


When will Labour stop helping the Tories? They need to get their act together and slap down a no-confidence motion this week, even if they lose. But they don’t want to do that because they will then have to get off the fence and back the People’s Vote. Corbyn really doesn’t want to do that but he needs to stop faffing about and do what his members and supporters want. Time is running out. This poll is an indication that they won’t be forgiven if they act as midwives to a damaging Tory Brexit that stands to leave us all worse off.

The potential gains for the Liberal Democrats are clear. The party stands to gain support from the sorts of people who are motivated by the types of things Corbyn says about the need to tackle poverty and inequality, so we need to dispense with the centrist mush. We have to articulate ourselves as the bold, radical, insurgent left leaning party that we always have been. The time for hiding our radicalism under a bushel has long gone.

This poll doesn’t mean that we’re going to be the opposition at the next election or anything like it, but the door to our comeback is opening for us. It’s up to us to push our way through.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Are we ready for a referendum, possibly to be followed by a general election. We need the facts about the EU out there. When are we going to make it clear that the EU provides a protection against driving down the rights of employees? When are we going to make it clear that the U.K. government has agreed things like the enlargement of the EU? There are no bureaucrats in Brussels telling us what to do. When the Prime Min9ster says that the agreement is the best we can get she is right. She has got what she asked for. Why do we accept the story that the EU is humiliating us?
    We have no time to change people’s minds.

  • jayne mansfield 16th Dec '18 - 7:10pm

    Caron. People’s vote is a stupid name given that it puts the backs up of leavers who respond that the people have already had a vote.

    Now that we know the best deal that Mrs May can achieve, the electorate are in a better position to make a decision on whether the promises made by the leave campaigners could ever be met or whether they were pie in the sky. Promises were made that were clearly undeliverable.

    If one looks at the demographics of those who have made the biggest shift from leave to remain, it is clear that whilst some remainer politicians were talking to the already converted, a lot of work has been going on speaking to, for example the white working class , BME’s for example Hindus and Muslims who make up these groups who are making the greatest shift.

    Timing is important. For example, a lot of people found the idea of a ‘People’s vote when they had just had one, deeply disrespectful of them and their choices. It has been just another unnecessary hurdle to get over when explaining to people how they personally will be negatively affected by Brexit.

    There is no point in doing something unless one has a reasonable chance of success otherwise it is just a gesture and one that is potentially harmful to one’s long term aim.

    I take the poll results with a very large pinch of salt. Liberal Democrats have had two years to convert the 48% into Liberal Democrat voters, and it didn’t happen. It is about time the Liberal Democrats stopped demonising Labour and Corbyn, and recognises that it is Labour that will ultimately decide whether we remain or leave the EU.

  • I’ll be watching the night sky foy a bright star and heavenly messengers. After all, it is the season for saviors.
    May I suggest that we leave the straws (for clutching) in the manger.

  • Personally, I do believe this opinion poll. It’s a huge sample, but more importantly it complies with the general trend in other polls. There’s no doubt that support for Remain is going up as the other options become clear. And support for a PV is also rising. BUT we’re not there yet, so that means ALL of us need to keep up the momentum.
    So, please all write to your MP (again). And when the subject of Brexit comes up with friends and family over Christmas, the messages to put out there are clear:
    1. Brexit is not inevitable. We can stop it.
    2. In a democracy, don’t you think people have a right to change their minds?
    2. In 2016 we didn’t know the facts. Now we do, and there’s no good Brexit.
    4. They LIED to us in 2016. They lied, and they lied and they broke the law!
    5. You agree we need another vote? Great. Here’s how to write to your MP….

  • David Warren 16th Dec '18 - 9:02pm

    Corbyn won’t back Brexit he is going to remain sitting on the fence he has been on for some time now.

  • jayne mansfield 16th Dec ’18 – 7:10pm…………….I take the poll results with a very large pinch of salt. Liberal Democrats have had two years to convert the 48% into Liberal Democrat voters, and it didn’t happen. It is about time the Liberal Democrats stopped demonising Labour and Corbyn, and recognises that it is Labour that will ultimately decide whether we remain or leave the EU………….


    BTW; Considering who commissioned the survey (and I agree that calling it ‘The Peoples’ Vote implies that the last one wasn’t and is rather insultin) I looked at the questions asked….It seems that the survey result was ‘conditional’ on “IF Jeremy Corbyn helps Theresa May secure a Brexit deal”….

    A rather big ‘IF’ as Labour has repeatedly said that it WILL NOT support either ‘May’s deal’ or her alternative ‘no deal’…

    When looking at the ‘small print’ of the survey it seems that all is not as the headline implies. As always, ‘the devil is in the detail’.

  • On the subject of Polls, an average of the last 50 gives us 9%, assuming that we are still going up that probably means that we are around 9.5% now. If all we do is is compare that with Labour & The Tories then we are not a major player in Brexit. However, we are united & they are both split from top to bottom.
    One, little noticed development is that Momentum is now campaigning for another Referendum & Corbyn is increasingly isolated, even on The Labour Left.
    We are winning the argument.

  • Some points on this thread:

    I appreciate the points about the term “a people’s vote”. But there will be… probably…. a vote on May’s deal if she ever gets round to it – just it will be confined to 650 fellow citizens – MPs. Expand that to the people! And it is then a people’s vote not an MP’s vote. If 48/52 was unfinished business for Farage it is certainly unfinished business for me.

    Our opinion poll rating will stay at around 10% until we win a parliamentary by-election. It has never moved from low levels in the past until we have won a by-election. Or just possibly… “events, dear boy, events”.

    Polls do what they on the tin – no more, no less. Obviously People’s Vote campaign commission questions that are helpful to their side as do Leave. But there is no doubt that Labour should fear losing support to us over Brexit and this poll clearly shows that.

    As important as writing to your MP (or may be more) to get a People Vote is to become an electoral threat in their constituencies. “Once you have them by the …… their hearts and minds follow!”

    Harness the support, help, donations of Remainers in your constituency to do well – especially in next May’s local elections – we won’t have left by then – and to boost our opinion poll rating – see above.

    BTW Layla Moran is writing to herself! I hope she takes notice!


  • People (well Remainers) might want to retweet etc.


    A video drawing the analogy that people might want to change their mind if moving house without a survey etc. and won’t move house until they have had a survey done and know the details.

  • Peter Watson 17th Dec '18 - 5:41pm

    Despite the way this poll and this result is presented in the article, it looks like a pretty depressing statistic for Lib Dems and for the People’s Vote Campaign.
    It suggests that when asked to choose in a hypothetical general election between voting for Labour and Conservative Parties which “supported going ahead with Brexit”, or Lib Dems / SNP / Plaid Cymru which “supported a public vote on whether or not to go ahead with Brexit”, 64% stuck with “Brexit supporting” Lab + Con and only 31% went with those “People’s Vote” parties.

  • @Peter Watson. But only last year 85% voted for the Brexit parties, and just 15% for the non-Brexit ones. So a switch to 64/31 in just 18 months is a very significant change. It also does not mean that 64% support Brexit; we know that many Labour voters (and some Tories) would vote Reman in a PV, even if they stick with their party in a GE.
    On any objective reading, it’s hard to paint this poll as anything other than very encouraging. But yes, more work to be done (…see my earlier post above).

  • Peter Watson 18th Dec '18 - 8:31am

    @TonyH “But only last year 85% voted for the Brexit parties”
    But they didn’t really: they voted for two very divided parties, and in the case of Labour one that manages that by sitting on the fence and watching the Tory government meltdown. This poll is offering the hypothetical option of Labour and the Conservative parties which support going ahead with Brexit and yet 64% of the voters are sticking with them. It also demonstrates why fence-sitting is Labour’s best strategy (reserving the right to support a second referendum if they can first force a general election).
    It perhaps also shows what I think has been a problem with Lib Dem strategy: the party appears to have concentrated more on poaching Remain supporters from the other parties rather than attracting Brexit supporters to reconsider the benefits of EU membership, focusing solely on the 48% for party political advantage. Any small shift in support for Brexit is probably driven far more by changing demographics and this Government’s ineptitude than by anything that Lib Dems have done or said. This poll suggests that this approach could deliver votes for Lib Dems (but only if Labour comes off the fence on the pro-Brexit side) and a Tory Brexit for everybody 🙁

  • Peter Watson.
    No they did. All the Remain Parties actually lost voters, even the SNP. The electorate had a clear cut choice to vote for the Greens, the Lib Dems and the SNP. They opted against it. The result has mostly been accepted, which is why, despite the constant campaigning on this single issue, there is virtually no significant swing away from the big two.
    Also this poll shows that backing May’s Brexit Plan would lose Labour votes. But Labour are not backing May’s Brexit Plan. They are going to vote it down. What they are not going to do is offer the Lib Dems a life line so that Lib Dem spokes-people can say “We got the our Lib Dem People’s vote, despite Left wing Labour tacitly backing the Tories”. All Labour have to do is put obstacles in the way of a minority government until it collapses and not anger Labour voters by actively supporting the Conservative party.

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