EXCL Brexit Party voters feel shut out by Westminster system, new poll warns

Posted On: 
30th May 2019

The majority of Brexit Party voters feel powerless to shape political decision-making in Britain, stark new polling has found.

The newly-formed Brexit Party surged ahead in the European elections.
Credit: 
PA

A fresh survey carried out for the Electoral Reform Society - shared with PoliticsHome - shows that 85% of those backing Nigel Farage's new party believe they have few or no opportunities "to inform and influence the decisions made by MPs at Westminster".

Meanwhile three-quarters (75%) of those supporting the hard Brexit outfit say that their views are either "not at all represented" or "not very represented" in Parliament.

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The polling forms part of a major new study by campaigners from the ERS, which is calling for a string of changes at Westminster in a bid to restore faith in Britain's political system.

According to the campaign group's research, few voters from across the parties believe the current set up at Westminster encourages cooperation - despite an apparently strong appetite for politicians to work together amid Britain's Brexit deadlock.

More than two-thirds (64%) of the 1,541 voters surveyed said the UK's political system should either "strongly" or "somewhat" encourage parties to work together.

But just 19% said the system as it stands encourages that, with the survey revealing a sharp divide between Brexit Party voters and those who back Labour and the Conservatives on whether politicians should be willing to compromise to solve national problems.

'DEEPLY DIVIDED'

Data shared with PoliticsHome shows that more than half (55%) of Tory voters and 48% of Labour voters believe MPs from across the political divide "should try to work together to find a solution to problems, even if this requires parties to break promises made at the previous election".

But just 26% of Brexit Party voters agreed - with 62% instead saying parties should "never break promises made at the previous election", even if meant cross-party solutions to problems "are not found".

Seizing on the findings, Labour MP Stephen Kinnock told PoliticsHome: “The Leave slogan ‘take back control’ was about more than Brexit.

"It illustrated a feeling of disconnect between people and power, and a sense that people no longer feel in control of their own lives."

He added: “It is time to reunite our deeply divided country. Democratic reform must be an integral part of this mission."

'UNFINISHED BUSINESS'

In a bid to address the problem, the Electoral Reform Society is demanding that a UK-wide "constitutional convention" be set up by the next Prime Minister to try thrash out plans for a greater devolution of power across the country.

And it is calling for a much more "systematic" use of local "citizens' assemblies" to give the public a stronger say in "complex and contested issues", as well as urging ministers to revisit the "unfinished business" of reforming the House of Lords.

Electoral Reform Society chief executive Darren Hughes said: “The need for an overhaul of the centralised, adversarial politics we witness in Westminster is becoming more urgent by the day.

"There are real dangers in failing to reform Westminster’s struggling system - with more and more people feeling left on the sidelines."

He added: "It is a travesty that the European elections last Thursday were the first time many people felt their voice was heard and their vote was counted... It is time to turn that energy into something positive: an agenda for genuinely empowering voters and dealing with the dire democratic deficit we have in this country.”

Lib Dem constitutional affairs spokesperson Lord Tyler meanwhile told PoliticsHome: "With so many usually loyal Conservative and Labour supporters trapped in their parties by the now totally obsolete electoral system it is no wonder so many break out when they get the chance. That’s the big lesson of last week’s vote."