Poll: Voters pour cold water on ‘Brexit pacts’ at next General Election

Posted on the 28th October 2019

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release

Voters are not keen for ‘Brexit pacts’ between parties at the next election, polling for the Electoral Reform Society shows.

In analysis that pours cold water on calls for parties to ‘stand aside’ for each other in different seats, the survey by BMG Research found that 44% percent of voters (up 3 points from when the poll was last conducted in August) believe “all political parties should stand in all areas …even if this means there might be a lower chance of electing an MP who shares my view on Brexit.” [1]

Only 31% of people say parties should form deals to stand aside for each other, increasing the chance of one Brexit side triumphing over the other. One in four (25%) say they don’t know – down from 31% in August.

Both Conservatives and Brexit Party supporters are against parties forming Brexit pacts, while Liberal Democrats are evenly split.

The results come amid growing talk of Brexit pacts at the next GE from Remainers, alongside calls for a pact between the Brexit Party and Conservatives at the next election [3].

Polling for the ERS this week also showed that one in four are planning to vote ‘tactically’ at the next General Election – more than the one in five estimated to have voted tactically in 2017 [4].

The ERS say the results show Westminster’s voting system ‘risks denying voters real choice, with parties trying to game the system’.

Willie Sullivan, senior director of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“Voters are rightly pouring cold water on the idea of ‘Brexit pacts’ at the next election. It is an absurd feature of Westminster’s rotten voting system that parties are urged to stand aside to avoid ‘splitting the vote’ – when under a proportional system this wouldn’t be an issue.

“These kinds of anti-choice stitch ups don’t provide a solution to our fragmented politics. Instead they show up Westminster’s voting system for the undemocratic affair it is. Voters don’t just want a Leave vs Remain party, or Left vs Right: they want real choice and to be fairly represented.

“Rather than forcing parties into two camps, in a desperate bid to rein in our multi-party politics, we should move to a fair, proportional system that renders these pointless debates unnecessary. From back-room deals to minority government, first-past-the-post has now adopted all of its own criticisms against proportional representation for itself – but without any element of fair representation or voter choice.

“People should always be able to vote for the candidates that reflect their views. It’s time to scrap this reverse arms race of parties being urged to stand aside – and instead back a fair electoral system, where choice is valued and citizens’ voices are actually heard.”


Notes to Editors

[1] Sample: 1503 GB adults aged 18+. Fieldwork dates: 8th-11th October. Fieldwork was conducted online. Invitations to participate were sent to members of online panels. Non-response from different demographic groups was taken into account during the fieldwork phase and post-fieldwork adjustments. Results were weighted to reflect the British public.

Q: Recently, there have been suggestions that parties should agree deals with each other, so they do not ‘split the vote’ of their side of the Brexit debate (Leave or Remain) at a future general election. This would mean that not every party would stand in every area, with the aim of increasing the number of MPs elected who support one side of the Brexit divide or the other. Which of the following best describes your opinion of such deals…

  • All political parties should stand in all areas. I want to be able to choose from all parties, even if this means there might be a lower chance of electing an MP who shares my view on Brexit
  • Political parties should form deals, meaning not all parties would stand in all areas. I want to increase the chance of electing an MP that shares my view on Brexit, even if it means I am not able to choose from all political parties

[2] Following the ‘success’ in the Brecon by-election https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/05/pro-emain-parties-strike-brecon-and-radnorshire-byelection-pact-to-fight-conservatives. See also: https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/17885176.pro-remain-electoral-pact-needed-stop-hard-brexit/ and ‘Unite to Remain’ https://twitter.com/unitetoremain

[3] See e.g. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7442149/Sajid-Javid-refuses-FIVE-TIMES-rule-election-pact-Nigel-Farages-Brexit-Party.html and https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9865282/nigel-farage-brexit-party-tories-pact/

[4] https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/new-bmg-poll-finds-almost-a-quarter-of-voters-planning-to-vote-tactically-in-general-election/

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