General Election Prediction

Current Prediction: Conservative short 1 of majority

Party2015 Votes2015 SeatsPred VotesPred Seats
CON 37.8%331 36.5%325
LAB 31.2%232 30.5%236
LIB 8.1%8 6.9%8
UKIP 12.9%1 16.0%2
Green 3.8%1 4.4%1
SNP 4.9%56 4.9%56
PlaidC 0.6%3 0.6%4
Minor 0.8%0 0.3%0
N.Ire 18 18

Prediction based on opinion polls from 11 May 2016 to 19 May 2016, sampling 8,103 people.

Probability of possible outcomes

Conservative majority
Con/Nat coalition
Con choice of Lib/Nat
Nat choice of Con/Lab
Lab/Nat coalition
Labour majority
Lab choice of Lib/Nat

The future is never certain. But using our advanced modelling techniques, we can estimate the probability of the various possible outcomes at the next general election. ('Nat' means SNP+PlaidC)

It's the Democracy, Stupid

According to a ComRes poll for the Sunday Mirror (26 June 2016), the most important issue for Leave voters was the ability of Britain to make its own laws. Over half of Leave voters (53pc) gave that response, compared with only a third (34pc) who said immigration. The Remain campaign had suggested that sovereignty was not a very pressing issue for most voters, but it turned out to have a strong effect when re-branded as "taking back control".

But the decision to leave the EU can be achieved in different ways, and this further decision will be as important as the original vote to leave. Our new democratic control is going to be very important very soon. Because different types of Brexit are available. One version is liberal Brexit (or "leave lite") which stresses free trade, relatively open immigration and an international outlook. Under this model, we may also keep farily close links to the EU, such as retaining membership of the single market or something similar.

Against that, is populist (or economically illiberal) Brexit which is keener on trade protection, such as steel tariffs, restricted immigration and keeping a clear distance from the EU.

Leave voters were not a homogeneous group, and some of them will lean towards the liberal model while others are attracted by the populist themes. It may not be possible to satisfy all their agendas and the Leave campaign may divide into opposing groups as the negotiation process starts.

The vote to Leave on 23 June only decided the fact of exit, but not the details. The style of exit and the numerous associated decisions still need to be chosen. But one thing is known: control is now back with Westminster. So Parliament and the UK political parties become crucial in determining the outcome. How will or should each party behave?

Boris Johnson, Vote Leave Rally 19 June 2016
The liberal wing of the Brexit campaign?
(from L to R) Steve Hilton, Lance Forman, Priti Patel, Kate Hoey, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson

The Conservatives are naturally liberal Brexiters. This will appeal to the Remain wing as it is closest to the EU status quo. Many prominent Conservative Leavers also have similar views, such as Boris Johnson's Daily Telegraph article (27 June 2016) which gave a very clear statement of the liberal Brexit manifesto. It is very plausible to see a Conservative platform based around these ideas. The new Conservative leader might also be tempted to call a General Election to endorse this view, which could play well in the South and the middle-classes, including with many Remainers.

Although UKIP has both liberal and populist strands, it is possible that its populist wing will win out. This would position UKIP for gains in working-class areas against both Labour and the Conservatives, especially in Northern England. This could ultimately lead to UKIP replacing Labour as the official opposition party at Westminster. But to realise this, UKIP will have to re-focus their message and leadership team.

Labour has a difficult strategic decision to make, which is more important than their short-term leadership crisis. They have three options, but none of them are trouble-free. They can fight the fight to Remain - which would be popular mostly in London, but might lose them the North and the Midlands. Or they could switch to support one style of Brexit or another. A liberal Brexit choice would be attractive to London and the middle classes, but Labour would be fighting there for the same ground as the Conservatives, whilst handing swathes of Northern England to UKIP. Taking the populist anti-immigration stance would be difficult for many Labour MPs, and play badly with their supporters in London and the middle classes. But it is crucial for Labour to make the correct choice. This is a literally existential question for Labour, where failure means they may cease to exist as a significant political force.

The vote on 23 June is not the end of the matter. The political battle has only just begun.