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For whom are London Remainers voting?
16 May, 2019

40%* choose pro-Brexit parties. Why?

* 42% of those choosing one of the main parties choose a pro-Brexit party

 

London4Europe Committee member Michael Romberg looks at the first London poll.

We have a London poll – courtesy of YouGov and the Mile End Institute of Queen Mary College University of London (1,015 people, fieldwork 7-10 May 2019).

That allows a more detailed look at how Londoners are planning to cast their vote in the European Parliament elections. (The other polls have been national. So the published London voting intention numbers had not been analysed further and the sample was too small to be reliable for more subdividing.) All the usual caveats about polls apply (snapshot, margin of error).

 

By 2016 referendum choice

Leavers are more likely to give these elections a miss than Remainers are: 15% would not vote, rather than 5%.

Remainers are also twice as likely to vote for a micro-party: 6%R as opposed to 3%L. No opinion poll suggests the micro-parties will win a seat. No-one is going to bother adding in their votes when asking whether Brexit or Remain won most votes. When parties are scrabbling for 8thplace the votes that went on micro-parties would make a difference to who got the last seat. So voters planning to support a micro-party could actually affect the election if they switched.

Of those choosing a main party, 89% of Leave voters choose a Leave party while only 58% of Remain voters choose a Remain party. More London Remainers are voting for pro-Brexit Labour than for any of the Remain parties. So why is that?

 

Party choice for 2019 European Parliament

2016 Remain

2016 Leave

Brexit Party

2

38

UKIP

0

2

Conservative

6

10

Labour

22

7

TOTAL PRO-BREXIT

30

57

Change UK

8

2

Green

16

2

Liberal Democrat

18

3

TOTAL PRO-REMAIN

42

7

Animal Welfare Party

1

1

UK EU Party

1

0

Women’s Equality Party

2

1

Other

2

1

TOTAL MICRO PARTIES

6

3

Would not vote

5

15

Don’t know

18

16

Did not answer

1

1

TOTAL DO NOT GIVE A PARTY

24

32

TOTAL (do not sum to 100% due to rounding)

102

99

 

 

By present attitude to EU

It is not that 2016 Remainers have stopped wishing to Remain. In a referendum, 88% of 2016 Remainers would vote Remain against 5% for the deal.

2016 Leavers still wish to Leave. Those making a choice prefer No-Deal to the Deal by 2:1. But even so in a Remain-or-Deal referendum, 55% would back the Deal, only 11% Remain.

  

By other factors

One can see that Labour does a bit better than most other parties at attracting women, voters aged 25-49 (but not younger or older voters), ethnic minority voters, lower socio-economic groups, inner London residents – and people who oppose the public transport drinking ban. But none of that really helps.

 

By Westminster voting intention

First, both main parties have lost support since GE2017. In a hypothetical GE today, the Conservatives would hold on to two thirds of their support and lose a quarter to the Brexit Party. Labour would hold on to 62% of its support and lose a third to the Liberal Democrats and Greens. The Liberal Democrats would keep 79% of their support.

So that suggests that GE2017 voters see the Conservatives as not Brexit enough and Labour as not Remain enough.

Then, how does that translate into the European elections. For the three parties that are cross-referenced we can see a difference (table excludes don’t know &c).

 

European Parliament Voting Intention

Vote in 2017 general election

Vote in next Westminster general election

Con

Lab

LD

Con

Lab

LD

Number (weighted sample)

258

424

68

155

240

145

Brexit

55

5

3

36

1

1

UKIP

1

1

1

1

1

1

Con

30

1

1

54

0

1

Lab

1

44

6

1

77

2

Change

5

8

14

6

4

8

Green

2

21

8

1

10

12

LD

5

16

64

0

6

73

Other

2

4

3

2

2

2

TOTAL *

101

100

100

101

101

100

 

% do not add to 100 due to rounding

 

 

For the Conservatives, we see support for the Brexit Party from a third of those who would vote Conservative in a general election. That is, many Conservatives are treating the European Elections differently from a hypothetical Westminster election with only 54% backing their own party.

But 77% of those voters who mean to back Labour in the hypothetical general election also mean to vote Labour in the European Parliament election. Almost all those deserting Labour would vote for Remain parties. But it is not the case that all those still backing Labour are pro-Brexit. Of those backing Labour, 2016 Remainers outnumber 2016 Leavers by almost 4:1.

  

Are the European elections different from Westminster?

Yes. Partly the voting system means that votes for smaller (but not micro-) parties are more likely to bring results – so it makes sense that 93% of those who mean to vote Liberal Democrat in the next Westminster election would vote for them (73%), Green (12%) or Change UK (8%) – all Remain parties.

But it is what happens at Westminster that will determine whether MEPs take up their seats.

It does not matter how pro-European an MEP is: if their Westminster Party takes the UK out of the EU then the MEP will be out of a job.

Similarly it is reasonable for a Remainer to vote in Westminster for a pro-Brexit party on the ground that the party’s other policies are more important. But that argument does not apply in the European Parliament elections because no matter how good the policies of the Party of European Socialists the intention of the Labour Party leadership is to ensure that Labour MEPs do not hang around in Brussels to support it.

So Conservatives lending their vote to the Brexit party for the European elections are behaving rationally: they wish Brexit but do not particularly wish to see Farage as Prime Minister.

But Labour Remainers who back Labour in the European Parliament elections are letting something triumph over rational analysis. Perhaps that is tribal loyalty; it could be a forecast or hope that Labour’s policy will change to back Remain; or it could be ignorance of what that policy is (35% of Labour voters think the party is anti-Brexit).

 

Conclusion

It is striking that more pro-Remain Londoners are choosing to support the pro-Brexit Labour Party rather than any one Remain party.

Of course, many voices in Labour are calling for a change of tack. While we know what Labour’s policy is, no-one knows where the party is going to end up after its continuing debates.

But Labour Remainers who stick with the party for the European Parliament elections need to ask themselves what message will be received by the Party’s Leadership from a high Labour vote.

 

 

 

 

The London4Europe blogs page is edited by Nick Hopkinson, Vice-Chair. Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe.