Over the European elections I surveyed over 10,000 voters who took part to ask how they voted, why they chose the party they did, and – at least as of this weekend – what they see themselves doing at the next general election.
Who voted for whom?
More than half (53 per cent) of 2017 Conservative voters who took part in the European elections voted for the Brexit Party. Only just over one in five (21 per cent) stayed with the Tories. Around one in eight (12 per cent) switched to the Liberal Democrats. Labour voters from 2017 were more likely to stay with their party, but only a minority (38 per cent) did so. More than one in five (22 per cent) went to the Lib Dems, 17 per cent switched to the Greens, and 13 per cent went to the Brexit Party.
For all the success of the Lib Dems in these elections, only 69 per cent of their 2017 voters stuck with them: 13 per cent switched to the Green Party and seven per cent backed the Brexit Party. Nearly seven in ten 2017 UKIP voters (68 per cent) switched to the Brexit Party, with just under a quarter (24 per cent) staying put.
Overall, nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of 2016 Leave voters backed the Brexit Party, with nine per cent voting Tory and eight per cent Labour. The Remain vote was split more evenly, with 36 per cent going to the Lib Dems and 19 per cent each going to Labour and the Greens. The Conservatives also received nine per cent of the Remain vote.
To look at the question from the other end of the telescope, two thirds (67 per cent) of the Brexit Party’s vote came from 2017 Tories, 14 per cent from 2017 Labour voters and one in ten from former UKIP voters. The biggest single chunk of Lib Dem support in the European elections came from 2017 Labour voters (37 per cent), with 31 per cent coming from previous Lib Dems and 24 per cent coming from 2017 Conservatives.
When did they decide?
Nearly half (45 per cent) of Brexit Party voters said they had decided how to vote within the last month, with only 17 per cent saying they decided on the day. Those who voted Conservative were more likely to say they did not make up their minds until polling day (37 per cent). Labour voters were the most likely to say their voting decision had not been in question since the campaign got underway.
Why did you choose that party?
Not at all surprisingly, three quarters (76 per cent) of Brexit Party voters said having the best policy on Brexit was one of the top three reasons they voted as they did – but even more (84 per cent) said they wanted to show their dissatisfaction with the UK Government’s current negotiating position. More than half – including 60 per cent of those who switched to Nigel Farage’s party from the Tories – said they wanted to show they were not happy with the party they usually voted for.
Lib Dem voters named having the best policy on Brexit as the main reason for backing the party (76 per cent), with more than half (58 per cent) saying they wanted to show dissatisfaction with the Government’s negotiating position and nearly four in ten (38 per cent) expressing dissatisfaction with their usual party. Nearly as many (38 per cent) said they seemed the most competent party on offer.
Those who stuck with Labour and the Tories were much less likely to do so for Brexit-related reasons. Fewer than one in three (28 per cent) Conservatives said the party having the best policy on Brexit was one of their reasons for backing them; 60 per cent said they always voted Tory, 54 per cent said they seemed the most competent party on offer, and 37 per cent said they had the best policy on issues other than Brexit. Those who stuck with Labour gave the same top three reasons.
What should happen about Brexit?
Two thirds (67 per cent) of Brexit Party voters said the best outcome from the Brexit process would be for the UK to leave the EU without a deal. A further 23 per cent wanted to leave with a deal different from the one negotiated by Theresa May. These proportions were almost identical among Brexit Party voters who had switched from the Conservatives. Among those who stayed with the Tories, 36 per cent backed May’s deal, while 17 per cent wanted a different deal and 14 per cent wanted no deal; 28 per cent said they wanted the UK to remain in the EU. Nine in ten of those who voted Lib Dem wanted to remain, while three in ten Labour voters want to leave – most of those (18 per cent) with a deal different from May’s.
So while Leavers and Remainers have gravitated to parties who are unambiguous about Brexit, those who have stuck with the main parties are also polarised: two thirds (67 per cent) of Tory Euro-voters want to leave the EU, while nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of Labour Euro-voters want to remain.
Overall, 89 per cent of Euro-election voters who voted Leave still want Brexit to happen – 55 per cent of them with no deal – and seven per cent now say they want to remain. Meanwhile, 81 per cent of Remainers who voted last week say they still want to remain, with 15 per cent now saying the best outcome would be to leave. Among all those voting in the European elections, 50 per cent said they had voted to Remain in the referendum and 45 per cent to Leave; now, 50 per cent said they wanted to leave, 46 per cent said they wanted to remain, and 4 per cent didn’t know.
And at the next general election…
Only one in three (32 per cent) of 2017 Tories who switched to the Brexit Party said they would come home at the next general election; 52 per cent currently say they will stay with the Brexit Party. Conservatives who switched to the Lib Dems say they are even more likely to stay put: 61 per cent now say they will vote Lib Dem again at the general election, with only 22 per cent saying they expect to return to the Tories. Overall, only 43 per cent of 2017 Conservative voters who turned out in the European elections say they will vote Tory at the next general election.
Half of Labour-Brexit Party switchers said they expected to stay with their new party at the next general election, with only just a quarter saying they expect to go back to Labour. Just over half (51 per cent) of Labour-Lib Dem switchers currently say they will stay with the Lib Dems. Just over half (56 per cent) of 2017 Labour voters say they will back Jeremy Corbyn’s party for Westminster.
> For more information on my polls and research, please visit LordAshcroftPolls.com