Moving on from Brexit

February 13, 2020
UK Elections

We are roughly a little more than two months into a five-year parliamentary cycle, and the Prime Minister’s signature, winning policy is already behind us. What’s next?

The past General Election in December was dubbed ‘The Brexit Election.’ Indeed, the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, won a landslide majority with the simple and effective slogan, ‘Get Brexit Done.’ But after the passing of the Withdrawal Agreement in January, Brexit is now done. The United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union.

While the details of the future relationship with the European Union still need to be sorted out during the present transition period, the country is largely moving on from this latest chapter in its political history. The next election in 2024 will almost certainly not be about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union. As the Government and the various opposition parties look to this future, they must consider what the new priorities for their voters will be.

With this in mind, in a nationally representative poll of 1,086 recent voters conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, we asked those voters two straightforward questions:

  1. What was the key policy issue that determined how you voted in December
  2. Now that Brexit is done, what is the key policy that will determine whether you will vote for the same party again next time?

As we expected, a large majority of respondents reported Brexit as the determining issue for their vote in December. Conservatives voters were, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most likely to cite Brexit as the key reason for their vote. Meanwhile, Labour voters, after Green voters, were the least likely to cite Brexit as the most important reason for their votes. In fact, between the major parties, Labour was the only party to have a plurality of their voters to cite another issue––healthcare––as the key issue determining their vote in December.

What was the key policy issue that determined how you voted in December?

Even so, it will not be easy for Labour and the Liberal Democrats to move on from Brexit. When asked what the key issue for them going forward, many voters for these two parties still selected the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union. For the Conservatives, the economy, immigration, and healthcare all came before the UK’s relationship with the EU.

In fact, between the top four issues for voters, Conservatives have a decisive advantage on the economy and immigrationThree quarters of those who selected immigration as the most important issue determining how they will vote in the future voted Conservative in December. More than half of those who selected the economy as their most important issue going forward also voted Conservative two months ago. It is clear that the opposition parties must begin to develop a more robust response on these two key issues where Conservatives do particularly well.

Now that Brexit is done, what is the key policy that will determine whether you will vote for the same party again next time?

Altogether, while the population is more split on what issues will define their votes in the future, healthcare appears to be the most significant. Of the entire 2019 voting pool, a plurality of voters (24.0%) chose healthcare as the issue that will determine their votes in the future. Moving forward, it is most likely that all the major parties will aim to distinguish themselves clearly on their abilities to provide the best healthcare program for the entire country.

Data tables for this research can be found here. To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.