Welsh Westminster, Senedd & Independence Referendum Voting Intention (15-17 April 2023)

April 20, 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 have launched our Welsh tracker poll.

Wales is 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 inaugural Welsh Westminster Voting Intention Poll, we find Labour leading the Conservatives in Wales by 20%. Altogether, the results (with changes from the 2019 General Election in parentheses) are as follows:

Labour 44% (+3)
Conservatives 24% (-12)
Plaid Cymru 12% (+2)
Reform UK 9% (+4)
Liberal Democrat 7% (+1)
Green 4% (+3)
Other 0% (-1)

62% of Welsh voters cite the economy and the NHS as among the three most important issues that would determine how they would vote in a General Election. Other commonly selected issues include immigration (28%), the Environment (21%), and Housing (18%). 

Only 5% of respondents cite Welsh Independence/The Union as one of the three issues that would most determine their vote if a General Election was held tomorrow.

Overall, the Labour Party is the most favourably viewed party in Wales, with 39% of Welsh voters holding a favourable view of the party against 35% who have an unfavourable view (+4%).

Plaid Cymru is the only other party to hold a net positive favourability rating (+1%) and is the second most favourably viewed party. All other parties hold negative net favourability ratings, with an outright majority having an unfavourable view of the Conservative Party (52%). 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak receives a net approval rating of -15% in Wales. Our poll finds 43% of Welsh voters disapprove of his overall job performance against 28% who approve. 

Sunak’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, is viewed even more negatively. 41% disapprove of Hunt’s performance as Chancellor, compared to just 20% who approve, giving him a net approval rating of -21%. 

Asked their view on the UK Government, a majority of Welsh voters (61%) say the current UK Government is incompetent. Only 17% view the UK Government as competent, resulting in an overall net competency rating of -44%.

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 (-53%), the economy (-42%), and immigration (-40%).

When asked which would be a better Prime Minister between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, 39% of Welsh voters say Keir Starmer against 29% who say Rishi Sunak. 31% say they don’t know.

That said, Labour leader Keir Starmer’s net approval rating in Wales stands at -7%. 38% of Welsh voters disapprove of Starmer’s job performance, against 31% 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 leads by double digits in both constituency and regional list voting intention polls

Altogether the results of our Senedd Constituency Voting Intention poll (with changes from the 2021 Senedd Election in parentheses) are as follows:

Labour 41% (+1)
Conservative 21% (-5)
Plaid Cymru 20% (–)
Reform UK 8% (+6)
Liberal Democrat 5% (–)
Green 4% (+2)
Other 2% (-2)

The Labour Party also leads when voters are asked who they would vote for on their regional list ballot. Labour is on 32%, with Plaid Cymru in second on 23%, and the Conservatives in third on 22%.

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. When asked how they would vote in a referendum with the question ‘Should there be a Welsh Parliament?’ 63% of Welsh voters answer yes, 25% no, while a further 12% don’t know.

At the same time, only 23% of Welsh voters currently say devolution has so far been a success. A plurality of Welsh voters say devolution has been neither a success nor a failure (38%), while just over a quarter (26%) say devolution has been a failure.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford receives a net approval rating of +2%. Our poll finds 37% of voters approve of his overall job performance as First Minister of Wales against 35% who disapprove. 

Among other party leaders in the Senedd, the Conservatives leader, Andrew RT Davies, holds a net approval rating of -16%, while the Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price, has a neutral rating, with equal numbers of Welsh voters approving and disapproving of his job performance (24% each).

A plurality (33%) say the current Welsh Government is competent, compared to 30% who say it is incompetent. 

While earning a favourable approval rating for its handling of coronavirus (+25%), the Welsh Government earns negative ratings for its policy performance on all other policy issues listed, including for its handling of housing (-21%), the NHS (-21%), and transportation (-14%).  

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 25%) or Adam Price (who he leads 39% to 24%). 

In a hypothetical referendum on Welsh independence, our first Welsh independence referendum voting intention poll finds ‘no’ leading by 31%.

Altogether, 60% of Welsh respondents say they would vote ‘no’ and 29% say they would vote ‘yes’ if there were to be a referendum tomorrow on the question ‘Should Wales be an independent country?’ 11% don’t know how they would vote. 

Notably, those who voted for Plaid Cymru (54%) in the 2019 General Election are significantly more likely than those who voted Conservative (13%) or Labour (38%) to say they would vote ‘yes.’

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% would support one being held in this timeframe.

Given a broader timeframe of between one and five years, a narrow plurality (35%) of Welsh voters would support—against 33% who would oppose—a referendum on Welsh independence being held in that period. 

On the possible conditions for holding an independence referendum, a plurality of Welsh voters (36%) agree that such a referendum should only be held if the UK Government agrees to it.  34% disagree with this condition.

If a referendum were to be held in Wales in the next six months, 51% of Welsh voters say they would expect the ‘no, against independence’ side would win, whereas 24% think the ‘yes, for independence’ side would win. 25% of respondents say they don’t know who would win if a referendum were held in the next six months. 

Pluralities of Welsh voters say adopting the Euro (49%) or creating a new currency post-independence (44%) would make them less likely to support Welsh independence. 

23% say if Rishi Sunak were Prime Minister at the time of a referendum it would make them more likely to support independence, although 45% still say it would make them neither more nor less likely either way. Likewise, 45% 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 27% 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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