Labour would make net gain of 1.5 million votes if it backed a People's Vote - People's Vote

Labour would make net gain of 1.5 million votes if it backed a People's Vote

Labour stands to gain at least 60 seats if it campaigns for a People’s Vote on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, according to a new YouGov poll of more than 10,000 people.

The survey shows a shift to a stronger policy on Brexit would put Labour in a position win an additional 1.7 million votes. The party would lose the support of around 200,000 voters – a far smaller trade-off than previously thought – leaving it with a net gain of 1.55 million voters that would take Labour to the brink of power without the loss of any existing seats.

Overall, the poll shows that 26 per cent of the electorate would be more likely to vote Labour if it campaigned for a People’s Vote, against just 6 per cent who say they would be less likely to support the party.

But the size of this poll, commissioned by the People's Vote campaign, means YouGov has been able to identity voters who say that Brexit is the single biggest issue facing Parliament this autumn. Excluding those who either say they are already likely to back Labour or those who probably will not, the poll was able to drill down into data on those willing to consider supporting the party – the key target voters it needs to win.

The poll shows a large group of non-Labour voters – 1.75 million people - who said they “would seriously” or “might” vote Labour and also told YouGov that supporting a referendum on the Brexit deal would increase their chances of supporting for the party.

This increase in Labour’s vote translates into an average gain of 2,400 votes in each seat. On those figures, on a uniform swing, Labour would win 50 target seats from the Conservatives and up to 16 from the SNP which has also so far failed to give its full backing to a new public vote on Brexit.

The poll of 10,215 voters shows that the looming prospect of Brexit has the potential to transform UK politics.

  • Support for a People’s Vote – which is particularly strong among left-of-centre voters is now running at 55 per cent against 45 per cent who are opposed (when don’t knows are excluded).
  • A total of 50 per cent of voters say leaving the EU is the biggest issue facing parliament – more than three times the number who cite the next highest issue, the NHS, and 10 times more than the economy.
  • By a margin of 84 to 6 per cent, voters agree that the process of negotiations has so far been a mess.
  • Voters split 63 to 17 per cent between those expecting a bad deal against those who still think Britain will get a good deal.


David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham who will be one of the speakers at the People’s Vote March for the Many in Liverpool on the first day of the party conference on Sunday, said:

“Labour should be backing a People’s Vote on the outcome of Brexit negotiations. It is the right thing for the party to do if it is to stand up for the communities, public services and young people who will be hit first and worst by the kind of Brexit that people like Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson want to impose on us. But what these figures show is that supporting a People’s Vote is also the right thing for the party to do if we it wants to win a General Election. This should concentrate some minds at our conference in Liverpool next week.”

Michael Chessum, the national organiser of Another Europe is Possible, said: 

“Grassroots Labour activists have submitted more than 100 resolutions to party conference demanding a People’s Vote. It is our last, best chance of stopping a vicious Tory Brexit and giving a radical Labour government the room it needs to transform society. Tory Brexit is an attack on the rights and prosperity of working class people. It just the next chapter of the elite betraying the communities Labour is supposed to represent. Fighting to stop it isn't just the right thing to do - it is also a path to winning over the voters we need to make Jeremy Corbyn the Prime Minister. The people are demanding that they, not the Brexit elite, have the final say on whether we should leave Europe. Labour should stand with them.” 

Commentary from Peter Kellner, one of Britain’s most respected pollsters and an ex-president of  YouGov.

“Labour could gain 60 seats by campaigning for a public vote on the outcome of Brexit negotiations. This is how the number stacks up.

“YouGov questioned an exceptionally large sample of 10,215 people between August 28 and September 4. Half the sample said that the EU will be the single biggest issue facing Parliament this autumn. This group was then asked: At present, the UK is negotiating with the rest of the EU about Brexit. Would you be more likely or less likely to vote Labour if it supported a public vote on the outcome of those negotiations?

“Of these, 37 per cent, equivalent to 7.4 million voters, said they would ‘definitely’ vote Labour or be ‘more likely’ to do. However, 4.1 million of them are already Labour supporters. Campaigning for a referendum may strengthen their support, but not add extra votes to the Labour Party.

“This leaves 3.3 million non-Labour voters who might be attracted to the party. However, in answer to another question, almost half these are people who would ‘probably not’ or ‘definitely not’ vote Labour at the next general election. We have omitted these from our calculation: they would welcome Labour support for a people’s vote, but for other reasons look likely to resist switching their vote.

“We have counted only those non-Labour voters who said, in general, that ‘would seriously’ or ‘might’ vote Labour, and also told YouGov that Labour support for a new referendum would increase their chances of voting Labour. This reduces the total to 1.75 million.

“What about voters who might desert Labour? A substantial minority of Labour supporters voted Leave in 2016. Many Labour MPs fear that support for a referendum could cost them votes at the next election.

“YouGov’s figures do not bear this out. Of the YouGov respondents who currently support Labour and voted Leave in the Brexit referendum, only six per cent put Brexit at the top of their concerns and say they would not, or be less likely to, vote Labour if the party backed a popular vote. This is just two per cent of all Labour supporters, or just over 200,000 voters in all.

“In other words, the non-Labour voters that the party could win over outnumber the Labour voters that the party risks losing by almost nine-to-one.

“When we subtract the 200,000 voters at risk from the 1,750,000 that the party stands to gain, the net gain is 1,550,000. That works out at 2,400 voters per seat. On those figures, Labour stands to gain around 50 seats from the Conservatives and up to 16 from the SNP.

“Like all such hypothetical exercises, different ways of asking the questions and doing the sums will yield different results. But the nine-to-one gulf between the non-Labour target voters and the at-risk Labour supporters leaves no doubt that by backing a popular vote on Brexit, the party would end up making significant gains in votes and seats. In a tight general election, it could make the difference between returning to government and remaining in opposition.”


Notes to editors:

  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 10,215 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th August - 4th September 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

    2. The full fieldwork can be found here: