September 13, 2019 | By Jack Benjamin

Plurality of Brits Do Not Support Suspension of Parliament, but Age and Party Divides Remain

On August 28th, Queen Elizabeth approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament, increasing Parliament’s scheduled suspension period by more than a week, and truncating the remaining timetable until the deadline. Johnson’s controversial decision received significant backlash from British politicians across the political spectrum, resulting in resignations of protest from multiple high profile right-leaning politicians, including the PM’s own brother. As the legality of the suspension remains up in the air amid court appeals, Members of Parliament scrambled to pass legislation that would require the UK to reach a deal with Brussels before withdrawing from the European Union. Nonetheless, Parliament closed for suspension on September 10th amid a fractured chamber.

With the October 31st deadline for Brexit looming, the British public remains split on the nation’s best course of action. In a YouGov survey of adults in Great Britain fielded on August 28th, Britons were broadly critical of Johnson’s move, with nearly half of respondents (47%) thinking that it is unacceptable to suspend Parliament while just 27 percent think it is acceptable. Opinion is, however, noticeably split along party and ideological lines. A majority of Labour (68%) and 2016 Remain voters (73%) are critical of the move, whereas a majority of Conservative (52%) and 2016 Leave voters (51%) are approving. Beyond the divisions along the political spectrum, a quarter (26%) of the general public responded “don’t know” regarding the Parliamentary suspension.

Moreover, generational gaps have played an important role in the divisions in opinion surrounding Brexit. Breaking down the survey results by age group, a majority of British citizens aged 18-24 (51%) and a plurality of citizens aged 25-49 (49%) and 50-65 (48%) found the move unacceptable. Meanwhile, seniors were evenly divided, but most likely of all the age groups to consider the suspension acceptable.

The age differences echo the divide in how Britons voted in the 2016 EU Referendum. YouGov’s exit polls from 2016 noted that respondents aged 65 or older (64%) were more than twice as likely as the 18 to 24-year-old group (29%) to vote for the UK to leave the EU. Thus, recent events have done little to change minds among older age groups.

After three years of negotiations, the United Kingdom remains divided on several facets of Brexit planning. With less than two months left until the deadline, Parliament will need to decide one way or another. And despite a host of early losses for Johnson, it remains to be seen whether MPs will find a way to outmaneuver the Prime Minister on Brexit.

For more on Brexit, read Chicago Council President Ivo Daalder’s August 29th commentary.

 

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs highlights critical shifts in American public thinking on US foreign policy through public opinion surveys and research conducted under the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. 

The annual Chicago Council Survey, first conducted in 1974, is a valuable resource for policymakers, academics, media, and the general public. The Council also surveys American leaders in government, business, academia, think tanks, and religious organizations biennially to compare trends in their thinking with overall trends. And collaborating with partner organizations, the survey team periodically conducts parallel surveys of public opinion in other regions of the world to compare with US public opinion. 

The Running Numbers blog features regular commentary and analysis from the Council’s public opinion and US foreign policy research team, including a series of flash polls of a select group of foreign policy experts to assess their opinions on critical foreign policy topics driving the news.

Archive


| By Dina Smeltz, Karl Friedhoff, Craig Kafura

Republicans Back Trump, but Not All of his Policies

If the general election were held today, a solid majority of Republicans (including self-described Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents) say they would vote for Mr. Trump in the presidential contest against Secretary Clinton. But Donald Trump was not the top choice for many Republicans among the full field of primary candidates. While eventually deciding to back Trump, those who were hoping for a different nominee are not endorsing some of Trump’s key positions.


| By Karl Friedhoff

Flare-ups in Taiwan-China Relations Here to Stay

The China-Taiwan relationship may be due for flare-ups in the coming years, and China's recent decision to suspend diplomatic contact with Taiwan could set the tone for the short-term direction of cross-strait relations. But polling suggests that the Taiwanese public prefers a pragmatic approach to relations with China, limiting the publicly palatable options facing Taiwan's President Tsai, Karl Friedhoff writes.


Nuclear Energy: Americans Favor Stagnation

How do Americans feel about nuclear energy? From Chernobyl to Homer Simpson, nuclear energy doesn’t have a stunning reputation, but until recently polls showed a majority of Americans favor its use for energy. In fact it appears that support for nuclear energy is linked with energy availability and that Americans would rather develop other energy sources.






The British Debate on Nuclear Disarmament

Last month the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a UK group founded in 1958, held its largest rally since 1983. Yet disarmament remains unpopular amongst the general public. 



| By Karl Friedhoff

NYPD Union Takes to the Polls

Karl Friedhoff looks at a survey conducted by the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which finds high levels of dissatisfaction among its members. But publicly available surveys of officers appear to be rare.

| By Craig Kafura

O Canada! Public Opinion and the US-Canada Relationship

Canada’s newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau, recently enjoyed a successful state visit to the United States. While Canadian prime ministers don’t visit the United States as frequently as they used to, that doesn’t mean American enthusiasm for Canada has flagged.

| By Dina Smeltz

Iran Is Holding Elections, Too

Iran is holding parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections tomorrow. A recent University of Maryland survey of the Iranian public found that six in ten Iranians prefer that most of the parliament to be composed of the supporters of President Hassan Rouhani.