In our last monthly survey, we asked about five issues that will arise during Theresa May’s coming Brexit negotiation.  These were –

  • Single Market access.
  • Future payments to the EU.
  • The jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ)
  • Immigration.
  • The future in Britain of EU nationals.

Our final survey on how Party members would vote in last June’s referendum found 61 per cent definitely for Leave and 22 per cent firmly for Remain.

So will begin our reports on the returns of our latest one by examining views on three issues perhaps especially important to Leave voters: future payments, immigration and the ECJ.

Here is the result on future payments.

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 20.32.14So roughly one in four of our Party member respondents want all payments to the EU to stop, period.  Approximately one in six really don’t care very much about the issue – presumably including a big slice of that 22 per cent who declared in our survey late last May that they would vote Remain, plus another five per cent who said that they were leaning that way.

The biggest slice by far are the pragmatists – the three in five who say that they are content to see Britain pay some money to the EU for some purposes as part of a deal.

The figures for respondents to the survey as a whole showed 17 per cent opposed to contributing any money, 44 being content under some circumstances and 38 per cent indicating that they don’t care much about the issue.  It is worth noting that Lord Ashcroft’s recent polling found that Leave voters gave the highest score to no longer paying into the EU budget (85/100).

Now for immigration.

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Almost two in five Party member respondents want immigration to start to come down as soon as we leave.  One in three would prefer this outcome, but are content to wait if such an outcome is part of a transitional deal.  And under one in three really don’t care very much about the issue.  That last will be a mix of the 22 per cent and five per cent Remain or Remain-leaning voters, plus a slice of the so-called “liberal leavers”, who backed Leave but have a relaxed attitude to present levels of EU migration.

It would be an exaggeration to say that these Party members divided a third, a third and a third on the issue – but not by all that much.

The figures for respondents to the survey as a whole showed 26 per cent wanting immigration to come down as soon as we leave, 20 per cent being content to wait as part of a transitional deal, and 53 per cent – over half – saying that they don’t care much about the issue.  Lord Ashcroft’s polling found 66 per cent of Leave voters who support all parties and none willing to prioritise Single Market access over border control.

Finally, we have ECJ jurisdiction.

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Between one in four and one in three of our Party member respondents are willing to see ECJ jurisdiction extended as part of a transitional deal.  Only one in ten really don’t care very much about the issue.  One might have thought that this total would be higher, since 27 per cent of our survey respondents last May either said that they would definitely vote Remain or that they might.

None the less, there can be no doubt about it.  An emphatic three out of five of these Party member respondents want ECJ jurisdiction to end as soon as we leave the EU.  Now that we’re going to leave, they want self-government back fast.

The figures for respondents to the survey as a whole showed 39 per cent wanting ECJ authority to end as soon as we leave, 18 per cent being willing to put up with a temporary extension – and 52 per cent, over half again, indicating that they don’t care much about the issue.Lord Ashcroft’s polling found that 80 out of 100 Leave voters support no longer being subject to the ECJ.

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Some conclusions.

  • Theresa May, David Davis and other Ministers are cautiously pushing towards a transitional deal that would entail making some payments to the EU, delay a starting-date for EU immigration to come down, and temporarily extend ECJ jurisdiction.
  • If our survey finding is accurate, the Prime Minister will find it relatively easy to carry Party members with her over continued payments to the EU, harder to do so with a delayed starting date for cutting EU migration…and most difficult of all if she seeks to delay “taking back control”.  In a nutshell, Party members’ top priority isn’t cutting immigration, it’s restoring self-government.
  • Those who know Party members well won’t be surprised at all by that final snapshot.  What is perhaps more eyebrow-raising is the general tenor of our non-Party member respondents.  These once swung more Leave than the Tory Leavers.  Their colouration now looks more Remain.

As readers will see, over 900 Party member respondents replied to the survey.  That’s a very healthy total.  You may or may not like our priorities for questions, or the questions themselves.  But the shape of the thinking of those members is unmistakable.  Will they keep quiet on the ECJ issue especially – since Brexiteering Conservative MPs are doing so?  Or are they, and some of those MPs for that matter, biding their time?