The statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston falls into the water after protesters pulled it down in Bristol last summer (Image: KEIR GRAVIL via REUTERS)

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Boris Johnson is pursuing ‘culture wars’ in a bid to keep Brexit-backers’ votes, one of Britain’s most respected pollsters has claimed.

Prof Sir John Curtice suggested the Prime Minister’s so-called ‘war on woke’ has begun because the Conservatives “recognise” Brexit support taps into a “wider set of values” than simply leaving the EU.

The professor of politics at Strathclyde University told a panel event: “The fact people who are pro-Brexit are willing to support the Conservative Party – yes it’s to do with Brexit in particular, but it’s also to do with immigration.

“It’s also now, as the Conservative Party realises, Brexit is also tapping into a wider set of more socially conservative values.

“And that’s why you can see why the Conservative Party are pursuing this anti-woke agenda – [it is] finding other ways of continuing to connect with the views of Leave voters.”

Boris Johnson has pursued a so-called 'war on woke'
(Image: PA)

Prof Curtice told the UK in a Changing Europe event that despite Keir Starmer ’s efforts, “there really hasn’t been evidence” of Labour “disproportionately reconnecting” with Leave voters compared to the Tories.

Instead, he said, the pattern which felled Red Wall seats in 2019 “is still with us” and Britain “is still significantly divided” over whether Brexit was the right decision.

Prof Curtice predicted the Scottish independence debate “is probably going to be the next chapter” in Brexit – saying support for independence surged among those who voted Remain.

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Brexit has changed “the character and level of support for independence in Scotland” since 2016, he said, with independence support now much higher among Scottish Europhiles than among eurosceptics.

But he added: “There isn’t any evidence that the Brexit divide, at the moment at least, is increasing support for independence beyond what it achieved in 2019…

“Neither side are where they would want to be – it’s an enormous gamble for both sides.”

Prof Curtice predicted the Scottish independence debate “is probably going to be the next chapter” in Brexit
(Image: Dumfries And Galloway Standard)

The Prime Minister has announced a strong of so-called ‘anti-woke’ policies, including a law to stop statues of slave traders and racists being removed.

Far-right speakers could also claim compensation if they are “cancelled” from events on university campuses under plans announced in the Queen’s Speech.

And he has launched a review of the courts’ powers to rule against government policy after a string of humiliating defeats, including over Brexit.