Jeremy Corbyn faces increasing pressure to shift Labour’s stance on Brexit. Many Remainers believe this would spark a revival of Labour fortunes. But are they correct? YouGov’s latest survey explores the results of various policy shifts.
What happens if Corbyn maintains ‘alternative Brexit’ policy?
In this scenario, Labour retains 38% of its 2017 voters, but slightly more would move to the Lib Dems (39%). In essence, sticking to its current position results in Labour losing half (51%) of its post-2017 defectors to the Lib Dems.
The Lib Dems hypothetical victory in this scenario could be driven by the fact that 52% of people who voted Remain in 2016 would vote for the Lib Dems, while just 21% would vote for Labour.
As for Labour Leavers, roughly one in five of those who voted Labour in 2017 but would not vote for them in a General Election tomorrow, i.e. lost Labour voters, would move to the Conservatives or the Brexit Party instead. It should be noted that under all scenarios this pro-Brexit Labour defectors group remains roughly the same.
What happens if Corbyn opposes Brexit and supports a new referendum?
The Lib Dems’ fall and Labour’s rise could be driven by a split in the Remain vote. In this scenario, the proportion of Remainers who said they would vote Lib Dem falls to 40%, while the proportion who would vote Labour rises to 33%.
What’s more, whilst Labour retains 50% of its 2017 voters in this scenario, one in four would still move to the Lib Dems (25%).
Among the lost Labour voters, most would not move back to Labour even if Corbyn opposed Brexit: 41% would still move to the Lib Dems. However, one in five (19%) would return to Labour.
As we can see, it’s not as easy as Remainers might hope to say that a shift to Brexit opposition automatically brings back Labour’s post-2017 defectors. Indeed, such a shift could lead to the Remain vote being split equally between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, with the result that the Conservatives would enjoy their strongest showing.
What would it take for Labour to win a General Election?
Possibly a more enthusiastically Remain leader, such as Sir Keir Starmer, opposing Brexit and supporting a second referendum. But it’s worth noting that this leads to a win only by the narrowest of margins - just one percent.
In this scenario, the majority of Labour’s 2017 voters say they would remain loyal (58%, as well as pulling in 20% of Lib Dem voters and 6% of Green).
Where under Corbyn, Remain voters were still more likely to vote Lib Dem even if Labour stood against Brexit and for a new referendum, under Starmer, Remainers are more likely to say they would vote Labour than Lib Dem (42% Labour, 33% Lib Dem).
What’s more, this is the only scenario in which a plurality of lost Labour voters would return to the party (35%), while 31% would still vote for the Lib Dems instead.
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