Lib Dems' second Brexit referendum pledge failing to attract hardcore Remainers, poll suggests

Exclusive Remainers backing Labour despite party's policy on second vote

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Sunday 04 June 2017 16:09 BST
Many predicted that Tim Farron’s party would benefit greatly from its firm anti-Brexit stance; this appears not to be happening
Many predicted that Tim Farron’s party would benefit greatly from its firm anti-Brexit stance; this appears not to be happening (PA)

The Liberal Democrats’ are only managing to attract a small minority of votes from “hardcore Remainers” despite their strongly pro-European manifesto, new polling suggests

The analysis, published by the pollster BritainThinks, show the party gaining just 15 per cent of the votes of ardent pro-EU supporters, despite their pledge to hold a second referendum on the terms of leaving the bloc.

Meanwhile 55 per cent of those “devastated” about leaving the EU are expected to vote Labour despite the party’s limited opposition to Brexit following the referendum.

The figures also suggest that the significant uplift in the Conservatives’ vote share is coming from “die-hard” supporters of leaving the EU, who previously voted for Ukip.

The poll shows 55 per cent of strong Remainers are backing Labour, 15 per cent the Lib Dems, and 11 per cent the Conservatives.

Meanwhile “accepting pragmatists” who do not support Brexit but do accept the result are 40 per cent backing Labour, 38 per cent the Conservatives, and 8 per cent the Lib Dems.

So-called “cautious optimists” who are broadly supportive of leaving the EU split 39 per cent Tory and 36 per cent Labour, with 2 per cent backing the Lib Dems and 7 per cent Ukip.

Of “die-hard” Leave supporters, 64 per cent backing the Conservatives, 16 per cent Labour, 10 per cent Ukip, and 2 per cent Lib Dems, the analysis suggests.

Deborah Mattinson, the founder of BritainThinks, was a former pollster to Gordon Brown. She said the polling showed that the votes gained by the Tories since announcing the election would likely be located in marginal seats – where they would count towards the final result.

“As well as revealing the Lib Dems’ failures, revisiting our Brexit diaries points to the flaws in much of the current polling analysis,” she told The Independent. “The uplift in the Tory vote is coming from our die-hards – many ex UKIP voters – who will tend to cluster in the key marginal seats that will be decisive on 8 June.”

Tom Clarkson, associate director at BritainThinks said: “This poll reminds us why the Conservatives wanted to frame this as the ‘Brexit election’. Their own vote correlates strongly with our die-hard segment – people who are pleased with the referendum result and can see no significant downside to leaving the EU.

"We can also see how the Liberal Democrats have failed to win support of Remain voters – and how the task for Labour is complex as their vote is drawn across the Brexit divide.

"Although their message discipline has weakened in the past fortnight, the Conservatives’ aim will be to get back to this core strategy in the final days of the campaign.”

A spokesperson for the Lib Dems said: “In the biggest fight in a generation, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour voted to give Theresa May a blank cheque to pursue her extreme Brexit.

“In our target seats, that message is getting across and those who want a strong voice to stand up against Theresa May’s Brexit are voting for the Liberal Democrats.

“We are offering a brighter future with a chance to reject a disastrous Brexit deal and stay in the EU.

“This week, you can elect a strong team of Liberal Democrat MPs to stand up for you on the NHS, on schools and on Brexit.”

BritainThinks surveyed 2,038 GB adults, aged 18 or over, online between 31 May and 1 June 2017. The survey was weighted to be representative of all GB adults by factors including age, gender, region and socio-economic grade.

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