General election: Voters identify with Leave or Remain – not political parties

General election 2019 UK

Many voters used to affiliate themselves with a political party – but these days they are more likely to identify as Leave or Remain, according to new research.

The 2016 EU referendum has left the country deeply polarised, resulting in people defining their politics by the way they voted on Europe more than party allegiance, academics at King’s College London say.

According to the university’s Policy Institute, 55% of British voters aged 18 to 75 said they “very strongly” identify with their Leave or Remain affiliation – up from 44% last year.

In contrast, just over 20% polled said they very strongly identify with a political party.

Professor Bobby Duff, director of the Policy Institute, said the results showed views on Brexit are continuing to “trump” party affiliation.

Boris Johnson is hoping to harness those feelings ahead of Thursday’s general election as he campaigns to take down Labour’s so-called “red wall” constituencies across the Midlands and the North.

He is targeting traditional Labour supporters in Leave-voting seats such as Great Grimsby and West Bromwich East.

King’s College data also suggests there is not much love lost between Labour and Conservative supporters.

When asked on a scale of 0 to 100 how they regard a rival party – with zero being cold and 100 warm – Labour supporters gave Conservatives 15 out of 100, while Tories gave Labour a score of 18.

Prof Duffy said: “These findings provide more evidence for the idea that British politics has changed dramatically in recent years.

“People’s Brexit identities have got stronger and continue to trump party affiliations, while our views of people on the ‘other side’ of political debates have become very negative.”

More than 2,000 adults took part in the survey between 27 and 29 November.