Why Do People Support Boris Johnson's Brexit Deal?

12 November 2019

With exactly one month until the UK's General Election on 12 December, how does the British public feel about Brexit, and how are those feelings likely to play out in the election?

This is a question addressed in polling data analysed by Trinity College Tutorial Fellow Stephen Fisher and Dphil student Eilidh MacFarlane, along with Tim Bale from Queen Mary, University of London.

Looking at YouGov polling data from October 27 and 28, their analysis concludes that Boris Johnson’s deal with the EU may not have majority support among the public but more people support it than don’t. And it seems likely that the Tory tagline, 'get Brexit done' – or at least the sentiment it expresses – is resonating with voters. A representative sample of 1,689 adults in Britain found that 39% said they supported Johnson’s deal, while some 32% opposed the deal, leaving 30% who didn’t know. When asked to give their reasons for supporting or opposing the deal in their own words, there is just one dominant reason people give for supporting the deal: getting Brexit done.

No other identifiable category accounted for even 10% of supporters’ main reasons. An interesting feature of the analysis is the finding that the call to get Brexit done appeals almost as much to Remain voters who support the deal (52%) as it does to their Leave counterparts (54%).  And those supporters of the deal who voted Labour in 2017 are actually more likely (56%) to be motivated by getting it done than those who voted Conservative (53%).

The authors note: 'The paucity of references to features of the deal shows that support for Johnson’s deal is barely, if at all, based on evaluations of the deal. Instead most people who want Johnson’s deal just want any Brexit settlement, and they want it now.'