Welsh Westminster, Senedd & Independence Referendum Voting Intention (14-16 July 2023)

July 19, 2023
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | GB Politics | GB Public Figures | UK Elections | UK Politics | Voting Intention

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As one of the four nations that comprise the United Kingdom and with its own devolved Government, Wales holds a unique and important place in British politics. With the next General Election likely to be about a year away, we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies in April launched our Welsh tracker poll.

Wales has been a political stronghold for the Labour Party, which has won a plurality of the vote in Wales in every General or Senedd Election for the last hundred years (since the 1922 General Election). In the 2019 General Election, the Conservative Party did manage to come just 5% behind Labour in Wales, but Labour’s historically strong performance in Wales looks set to continue at the next election.

In our latest Welsh Westminster Voting Intention Poll, we find Labour leading the Conservatives in Wales by 22%, up one point from last month. Altogether, the results (with changes from 17-18 June in parentheses) are as follows:

Labour 46% (+3)
Conservatives 24% (+2)
Plaid Cymru 10% (–)
Reform UK 10% (-2)
Liberal Democrat 7% (–)
Green 3% (-1)
Other 1% (–)

63% of Welsh voters cite the economy as one of the three most important issues that would determine how they would vote in a General Election, with the same number of voters also selecting the NHS (63%). Other frequently selected issues include immigration (34%), housing (21%), and the environment (19%). 

Overall, the Labour Party is the most favourably viewed party in Wales, with a net favourability rating of +3%. 40% (+1) of Welsh voters hold a favourable view of the party against 37% (+3) who have an unfavourable view.

Plaid Cymru is the second most favourably viewed party in Wales, although it’s rating remains in net negative territory on -2% (+1). All other parties also hold negative net favourability ratings, while a majority (54%) of Welsh voters have an unfavourable view of the Conservative Party

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak receives a net approval rating of -26%, down nine points from his rating in Wales last month. Our poll finds 50% (+5) of Welsh voters disapprove of his overall job performance against 24% (-4) who approve. 

Sunak’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, sees his approval rating fall ten points from last month to now stand at -28%. 45% (+5) disapprove of Hunt’s performance as Chancellor, compared to just 17% (-5) who approve. 

Asked their view on the UK Government, a majority of Welsh voters (60%, +3) say the current UK Government is incompetent. Only 17% (-1) view the UK Government as competent, resulting in an overall net competency rating of -43% (-4).

On its policy performance, Welsh voters give the UK Government negative net approval ratings on every policy issue listed, including on the key issues of the NHS (-55%), immigration (-54%), and the economy (-44%).

When asked which would be a better Prime Minister between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, 40% (+1) of Welsh voters say Keir Starmer against 31% (–) who say Rishi Sunak. 29% (-1) say they don’t know.

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s net approval rating in Wales stands at -5% (-4). 38% (+6) of Welsh voters disapprove of Starmer’s job performance, against 33% (+2) who approve. 

The next Welsh Senedd Election is currently a distant prospect, not being due until May 2026. Nevertheless, when voters are asked how they would vote if a Senedd Election were held tomorrow, the Labour Party has extended its leads from last month in both our constituency and regional list voting intention polls

Altogether the results of our Senedd Constituency Voting Intention poll (with changes from 17-18 June in parentheses) are as follows:

Labour 42% (+6)
Conservative 22% (–)
Plaid Cymru 16% (-3)
Reform UK 7% (-3)
Liberal Democrat 6% (-1)
Green 3% (–)
Other 3% (–)

The Labour Party also leads when voters are asked who they would vote for on their regional list ballot. Labour is on 33% (+3), with the Conservatives in second on 20% (-2), and Plaid Cymru in third on 19% (-1).

Welsh voters narrowly voted in favour of establishing the devolved Welsh Senedd in 1997, with the Yes side victorious by a margin of just 6,721 votes. Since then, a vocal minority has continued campaigning for abolishing the Senedd, with the single issue Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party winning almost 4% of the regional list vote in the 2021 Senedd Election.

Welsh voters currently remain overwhelmingly in favour of keeping a devolved Welsh Assembly, however. When asked how they would vote in a referendum with the question ‘Should there be a Welsh Parliament?’ 66% (+5) of Welsh voters answer yes, 27% (-3) no, while a further 8% (-1) don’t know.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford receives a net approval rating of -1% (-3), the first time he has held a negative net approval rating in our monthly Welsh political tracker. Our poll finds 36% (–) of voters approve of his overall job performance as First Minister of Wales against 37% (+3) who disapprove. 

Among other party leaders in the Senedd, the Conservatives leader, Andrew RT Davies, holds a net approval rating of -17% (-6). Rhun ap Iorwerth—who last month was elected as the new leader of Plaid Cymru—holds a net approval rating of -9% (-2), although 39% (-1) of Welsh voters say they neither approve nor disapprove of his performance.

A plurality (34%, -1) say the current Welsh Government is competent, compared to 31% (+2) who say it is incompetent. 

While earning favourable approval ratings for its handling of coronavirus (+18%) and cultural issues (+1%), the Welsh Government earns negative ratings for its policy performance on all other policy issues listed, including for its handling of housing (-26%), transportation (-21%), and the NHS (-19%).  

Pluralities of Welsh voters say Mark Drakeford would be a better First Minister for Wales than either Andrew RT Davies (who he leads 42% to 28%) or Rhun ap Iorwerth (who he leads 41% to 21%). 

In a hypothetical referendum on Welsh independence, our Welsh independence referendum voting intention poll finds ‘no’ leading by 26%.

Altogether, 58% (+1) of Welsh respondents say they would vote ‘no’ and 32% (+2) say they would vote ‘yes’ if there were to be a referendum tomorrow on the question ‘Should Wales be an independent country?’. 10% (-3) don’t know how they would vote. 

Notably, majorities of those aged 18 to 24 (53%) and 25 to 34 (52%) would vote ‘yes’ to independence, while majorities of those aged 35 to 44 (55%), 45 to 54 (66%), 55 to 64 (55%), and 65+ (70%) would vote ‘no’ in such a referendum. 

On the question of whether an independence referendum should take place—and if so, when—39% (–) would oppose a referendum on Welsh independence being held in the next year, while 33% (+3) would support one being held in this timeframe.

Given a broader timeframe of between one and five years, an equal number of Welsh voters would support (36%, +3) and oppose (36%, +1) a referendum on Welsh independence being held in that period. 

On the possible conditions for holding an independence referendum, a plurality of Welsh voters (35%, -1) agree that such a referendum should only be held if the UK Government agrees to it.  34% (+2) disagree with this condition.

If a referendum were to be held in Wales in the next six months, 50% (+1) of Welsh voters say they would expect the ‘no, against independence’ side would win, whereas 28% (+3) think the ‘yes, for independence’ side would win. 22% (-4) of respondents say they don’t know who would win if a referendum were held in the next six months. 

47% of Welsh voters say adopting the Euro would make them less likely to support Welsh independence, while 48% say creating a new currency would also make them less likely to support independence. 

24% say if Rishi Sunak were Prime Minister at the time of a referendum it would make them more likely to support independence, although 47% say it would make them neither more nor less likely either way. Likewise, 50% say if Keir Starmer was Prime Minister at the time of a referendum it would also make them neither more nor less likely to support independence, although 23% also say it would make them less likely.

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. Follow us on Twitter

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