May: there be signs of a strengthening Theresa?
Last week saw the news dominated by the poisoning of a Russian former double agent in Salisbury involving a nerve agent. In the latest ICM/Guardian poll we asked the British public how well they thought May and Corbyn responded to this attack in their capacities as Prime Minister and leader of the opposition respectively.
On this issue of national security, our results show a large gulf between the public’s perceptions of the two main party leaders.
A majority (51%) of the British public think Theresa May has responded well. This is in stark contrast to Jeremy Corbyn’s ratings, with only 23% thinking he responded well in his capacity as leader of the opposition. Two in five (42%) think he responded badly to the attack, approximately double the one in five (22%) who think May responded badly.
Even when looking at Labour voters in isolation, Corbyn cannot claim a majority who think he responded well to the attack (46%). On the other hands, Conservative voters are highly supportive of May’s response, with more than four in five (83%) thinking May responded well in her role as Prime Minster.
Maybe – just maybe – this has resulted in a slight boost for Theresa May’s Conservatives in our vote intention polling. We see the trend from our previous poll continuing, with the Conservatives gaining 1% at the expense of Labour.
Conservatives: 44% (+1)
Labour: 41% (-1)
LibDems: 8% (+1)
SNP: 3% (nc)
We shouldn’t speak too soon, as these are still small shifts in our results. Nevertheless, in the context of recent deadlock in our regular ICM/Guardian vote intention polling, it is possible that this could be showing the start of a small shift away from Labour and towards the Conservatives. We’ll be watching the next few polls closely, to see if this develops into anything more than a small blip in an otherwise unprecedented period of far-too-close-to-call polls.
To top off a poll that may add a small dose of positivity to those around Theresa May, there is evidence that some of the public’s negativity surrounding Brexit may be easing. We re-asked a question on how well or badly the Brexit process is going, with results shown below. Crucially, the vast majority of our fieldwork was carried out in advance of yesterday’s big announcement on Brexit transition, and so we can take these results as indicative of public opinion before the announcement.
|Overall, how do you think the Brexit process of the UK leaving the EU is going?||December 2017||February 2018||March 2018|
Since we last asked the question at the beginning of February, the proportion of the British public who think Brexit is going badly has dropped by 6 percentage points, from 53% to 47%. This is the lowest proportion we’ve seen for Brexit going badly since we’ve started asking this question, and means we can no longer claim that a majority of the British public think the Brexit process is going badly. Nevertheless, Brexiteers should keep the sparkling wine on ice for the time being, as still fewer than one in five (19%) Brits think Brexit is going well. There’s still a very long way to go before the British public are ready to hold up Brexit as a success.
ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative online sample of 2,013 adults aged 18+, between 16th – 19th March 2018. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.