Sat 23 October 2021

In an exclusive poll commissioned by Byline Times, voters revealed their views about the current HGV crisis, Brexit, the Government’s flagship ‘levelling up’ policy, Boris Johnson, and tax rises

The vast majority of people believe that Brexit has contributed to shortages of lorry drivers in the UK, an exclusive poll commissioned by Byline Times can reveal.

Some 74% of those surveyed believe that Brexit is to blame for a lack of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers in the country – an issue that is causing petrol and food shortages. 36% of respondents said that Brexit has contributed “a lot” to HGV driver shortages, 38% said that it has contributed “somewhat”, 13% were unsure, and 13% said that Brexit has not contributed.

The poll wasconducted by Omnisis using a nationally representative sample of the voting population.

A majority of all age groups agreed that Brexit has contributed to the shortages, including 66% in the 65+ age group. Some 77% of the people surveyed in the north and 66% of those surveyed in the Midlands also blamed Brexit, along with 64% of participants who intend to vote Conservative at the next general election, and even 59% of people who voted Leave in the 2016 EU Referendum.

Do you think that Brexit has contributed to the current shortage of lorry drivers in the UK?

Contributed a lot – 36%
Contributed somewhat – 38%
Unsure – 13%
Has not contributed – 13%

A majority of respondents also said that Boris Johnson is not trustworthy – by a margin of 62% to 38%. Women are less likely to see Johnson as trustworthy (64% to 36%), as are people in Scotland, Wales, and those in the 25-54 age cohorts. Leave voters were split 50:50 on whether the Prime Minister is trustworthy, while 75% of Remain voters didn’t think that he is.

The Conservative Party’s flagship policy of ‘levelling up’ is ostensibly designed to ensure the rebalancing of wealth and opportunity across all areas of the UK. However, the details of what this actually entails have been hazy for the past two years. According to Byline Times‘ polling, voters aren’t clear about what the phrase means either.

Some 59% of respondents said that they don’t understand what the levelling up slogan means. Ironically,56% of respondents in the north, 61% of those asked in the Midlands, 66% in Wales, and 71% in Scotland said that they did not understand the phrase. The polling also shows that people in higher socio-economic groups were far more likely to say that they understood what it means.

Percentage of respondents who don’t understand Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling-up’ slogan

Scotland – 71%
Wales – 66%
Midlands – 61%
North – 56%
South – 56%
Northern Ireland – 29%

A fierce debate has raged over immigration for a number of years, leading to the Conservatives choosing to scrap freedom of movement with the EU, while implementing a number of tough policies to deter asylum seekers.

According to the poll, more people believe that the Conservative Party’s immigration policies are unfair (35%) than fair (31%), while 34% of those surveyed were unsure.

The proportion of people who think that the Conservative Party’s immigration policies are unfair falls with age – from 50% among 18-24 year olds to 23% among the over-65s. Meanwhile, contrary to some media tropes, the north is more likely to say that the Conservative Party’s immigration policies are unfair (36% of the poll’s respondents) than the south (33%).

Do you think that the Conservative Party’s immigration policies are fair or unfair?

Fair – 31%
Unfair – 35%
Unsure – 34%

The Government has recently announced a rise in national insurance contributions, in order to fund increased spending on health (and eventually) social care. Various experts have criticised the policy, since national insurance rises disproportionately saddle lower earners. It appears as though the country is broadly opposed to the policy.

48% of the poll’s respondents said that they disagreed with the move, 38% said that they were in favour of the policy, and 14% were unsure. There was a notable gender divide in the responses, with 43% of the men surveyed saying that they were in favour of the policy, compared to 33% of women. Overall, every age group aside from those aged over 65 were more opposed to the policy than in favour, and it was unpopular among every socio-economic group.

Proportion of respondents who disagree with the Government’s policy to increase national insurance, as a means of paying for increased health/social care spending

16-24 – 47%
25-34 – 60%
35-44 – 56%
45-54 – 50%
55-64 – 47%
65+ – 31%

The poll also asked voters whether the Government was right to suspend the ‘triple-lock’ on pensions, which ensures that pensions rise every year either in line with inflation, average wages or 2.5%, depending on which rises the most. Given that wages are predicted to rise disproportionately this year, recovering after the Coronavirus pandemic, the Government has decided to suspend the triple-lock, instead ensuring that pensions rise in line with inflation or 2.5%.

Perhaps surprisingly, 51% of respondents said that they disagreed with the decision to suspend the triple-lock, while 19% agreed with the policy, and 31% were unsure. Among every age group, more people disagreed with the policy than agreed with it.

Despite these findings, however, Boris Johnson is still the favoured choice of voters to be Prime Minister, the poll suggests. Asked to rank their preferred Prime Minister, offering the choice of Boris Johnson, Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak and Andy Burnham, 31% of respondents selected Johnson as their first-choice, 27% Starmer, 24% Burnham, and 19% Sunak.

That said, Johnson was a polarising choice. 41% of people selected the current Prime Minister as their last choice, compared to just 13% for Sunak, and 18% for Burnham. Taking into account first and second preferences, 44% of those surveyed chose Johnson and 52% of people chose Starmer.

The full tables and the methodology used can be found here.


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