Most Brits uncertain on Labour’s Brexit policy

Tanya AbrahamResearch Director of Political and Social Research
November 05, 2019, 12:00 PM GMT+0

Britons are less certain about Labour’s policy than the Conservative’s on all issues except the NHS

YouGov’s latest polling shows that 70% of Britons see Brexit as the most important issue facing the country. Given this, it’s vital that parties make their policy crystal clear approaching the general election. But have they?

Our latest research shows that two thirds of Britons (65%) are unclear about Labour’s Brexit position, with only 21% thinking it has been clear. Most 2017 Labour voters (57%) find the party’s stance unclear, as do almost 65% of Remainers. Corbyn’s persistent non-committal stance on the issue seems to have done little to clarify Labour’s intentions.

In comparison, just 29% are unclear on Conservative Brexit policy. Most Britons (57%) think that Conservatives have been clear about their stance and this is even higher among Leavers (71%).

The Brexit Party is, unsurprisingly, viewed as having a clear Brexit policy (68%). This view is also shared by the majority of Remainers and Leavers (74% each). Nearly three in five (56%) Brits also think that there is an overall clear Liberal Democrat Brexit policy.

Confusion about Labour policy not confined to Brexit

As well as Brexit, clarity about Labour policy also falls short of the Conservatives in all other policy areas we asked about.

Nearly half of Brits think Labour are, on balance, more unclear than clear when it comes to: the environment (48% not clear, 22% clear); immigration (48% not clear, 26% clear); education (39% not clear, 28% clear) and the economy (46% not clear, 27% clear).

Healthcare is typically an area where the public think Labour fares better than other parties, but even here our results indicate that the public is confused about the party’s policy stance. Nearly half (45%) think Labour NHS policy is unclear, compared to just 20% who believe they have a handle on it.

In contrast, just a third see a lack of clarity in Conservative immigration (33%), NHS (39%), education (36%) and economic (32%) policies. One area where Conservative messaging seems to have failed to cut through is the environment, about which 45% of the public is unclear on policy. This generally reflects YouGov polling on which party is best able to handle different issues.

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Of all the areas surveyed, between 42% and 51% of people identified ambiguity in environmental policy across all parties with the exception of the Greens. Given that a quarter of Brits (26%) and two-fifths of 18 to 24-year-olds (41%) consider it an important issue when deciding how to vote, parties may want to focus on this area.

So where is the clarity in party policy?

Many have said Europe is the issue of this election and these findings indicate that, with the exception of Labour’s Brexit and Green’s environmental policy, people are most clear about this area compared to the others that were asked about.

After Brexit, around two in five consider Conservative’s immigration (44%) and economic (42%) policies clear whereas just under three in ten think Labour’s clearest policies relate to education (28%) and the economy (27%).

Whilst immigration is considered the Brexit Party’s second clearest policy area (45%), around a fifth feel the same about Labour (26%), Lib Dem (21%), SNP (18%) and Green’s (16%) equivalent strategy.

Evidently, more needs to be done by Lib Dems, SNP, Brexit Party and Greens to de-mystify their NHS, education and the economic policies; just a fifth or less are clear on the party stances of these areas.

In addition to the haziness of Labour policies, YouGov research shows that, when asked how the parties are shaping up for December’s election more generally, nearly half (47%) don’t think Labour is prepared. Even amongst 2017 Labour voters, 39% do not consider them as electorally ready.

In contrast, over half the public (54%) view the Conservatives as prepared; half of Remainers (50%) back this party as well as the majority of Leavers (68%).

Photo: Getty

See the full results here