The regular poll from Opinium for the Observer came out this weekend. Topline figures are CON 43%(+3), LAB 39%(-1), LDEM 6%(-1). Fieldwork was on Tuesday and Wednesday and changes are since last month. This is the largest Conservative lead Opinium have shown since the election, following the trend we’ve seen from other pollsters of a modest improvement in the government’s position in the polls.

The rest of the survey had a numnber of questions on Brexit. More of the public disapprove (44%) than approve (32%) of Theresa May’s handling of Brexit, but it’s less negative than their perception of how Jeremy Corbyn has handled it (19% approve, 48% disapprove) and they would trust the Conservatives more than Labour to handle Brexit negotiations by 33% to 20% (though a chunky 32% say either none or don’t know).

In a forced choice question between the staying in the single market and ending free movement of Labour, 40% would prefer the single market, 34% would prefer ending free movement, 26% don’t know. As you’d expect, this break is overwhelmingly down Remain/Leave lines – by 70% to 8%, remainers would prefer to stay in the single market; by 60% to 14% leavers would prefer to limit freedom of movement. A more interesting question asks what people think the position of the political parties is, underlying that a large proportion of the public don’t know what the parties stand for – 38% don’t know if the Conservatives prefer the single market or ending freedom of movement, 44% don’t know what Labour think, 48% don’t know what the Lib Dems think (and some that do get it wrong – 21% of people think the Conservative’s favour staying in the single market.

On a second referendum, 37% of people said there should be a second referendum on whether to accept the terms agreed or remain in the EU after all, 49% think there should not (as regular readers will know, this is one of those questions that produce quite varied responses depending on how the question is worded – other polling questions show a narrower split, probably because this question is quite explict about the referendum containing the option of staying in the EU after all, resulting in overwhelming opposition from Leavers).

Full tables are here.

344 Responses to “Opinium/Observer – CON 43, LAB 39, LDEM 6”

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  1. Full employment comes with a price

    “The total number of workers in poverty has gone up over the last 20 years from 2.3 million workers in 1996/97 to 3.7 million workers in 2015/16. Of these 3.7 million workers in poverty, 1.7 million are full-time employees, 1.1 million are part-time employees and 0.9 million are self-employed workers. Just under half of workers in poverty in 2015/16 are full-time employees.

    Despite improvements in pay for those on the lowest wages, low pay remains endemic in the UK’s economy. Once in a low-paid job it is difficult for many workers to move to a better paid one. Poverty and low pay do not always go together – the vast majority of low-paid workers live in households where the income of the people they live with (such as a partner or parents) mean they are not in poverty.”

  2. @ Colin

    Out of interest (and no political point intended), with the capital budget do they just say we’ve built a road, hospital, school and that’s the end of it or do they start the equivalent of depreciating it elsewhere in the current account as they would do with companies?

  3. Crofty


    I suppose having Scottish water in public ownership, and not having to buy it from a private monopoly, as in E& W, could be a factor.

    The ONS statistician’s comment –

    “An important aspect of our work is to shed light on inequalities in society to better support who is struggling in different aspects of life. For example, over this period we have seen some differences between countries, with Scotland driving improvements in personal well-being in the UK.”

    does suggest that government action to reduce societal inequality may be an important factor.

  4. Sam

    It all depends what the standard of living was for someone on the poverty threshold line 20 years ago and the standard of living for someone on the poverty line now.

    As people like to use relative poverty, what is considered poverty now wouldn’t be considered poverty generations ago.

    If 96% of people 16-24 own a smartphone, I find it very difficult to relate that to the poverty levels reported. Anyone who owns a smartphone surely cannot be considered to be in poverty (apart from using a technical definition rather than the common use of the word)?

  5. More fighting in the Cabinet reported tonight in the DTel:

    “”Michael Gove has accused Philip Hammond of being “short-sighted” over Brexit and helping to inflict a “damaging blow” to the Conservative Party’s “environmental credentials”.

    In a letter to Cabinet colleagues, seen by the Telegraph, the Environment Secretary blames the Treasury for a defeat in the House of Lords last week which could force the Government to retain all EU environmental protections after Brexit.

    It is understood that the Chancellor blocked plans to give a new post-Brexit environmental watchdog the power to fine the Government and local authorities if they fail to increase recycling and cut pollution.

    Mr Hammond believes that the proposal risks saddling the country with more regulation..””.

    I cannot see the point of fining the Government – who would collect the fine, and would it then go to increase recycling?

    Much better if Michael Gove would commit to keeping the UK within the EU Habitats Directive, and honour our commitments on slowing climate change. I didn`t read about the HoL debate, but I suspect MG was backing out on these aspects.

  6. Income inequality comes down in recessions, while yield on shares goes up in recessions.

    It tells you that both are wrong measures.

  7. @Alan

    I am doubtful whether there is any point in attempting to refine election models beyond the median prediction (i.e. CMJ’s) although Chris Hanretty and Electoral Calculus do this. If you look at Chris Hanretty’s (UEA) forecasts at, his 95% (Lo-Hi) range at the end of the 2017 campaign was:

    Party Lo Seats Hi Swing
    Tories 318 366 412 36
    Labour 162 207 257 -25
    LibDems 2 7 14 -1
    SNP 35 46 54 -10
    Plaid C 1 3 4 0
    Greens 0 1 2 0
    UKIP 0 1 5 0
    Other 1 1 1 0

    If you use the Wayback Machine, you can check that this is indeed the data for the 9th June capture and the data for the previous capture on 6th June is slightly different.

  8. There was an excellent talk on climate change by Prof John Lawton on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

    He told of good evidence on how global warming is affecting many species, some badly such as seabirds including puffins (due to sand eel moves to cooler water), and lesser spotted woodpeckers, now gone from much of England. This includes Leyland where JL studied them when still at school, before launching into his ecological career.

    But there also gainer species, e.g. little egrets, that can now survive through our warmer UK winters, and have rapidly colonised England.

    John also talked of a successful rewilding project near Horsham, that after 20 years of an estate ceasing intensive agriculture has had some tree and shrub colonisation and now boasts secure populations of nightingales, turtle doves and purple emperors. Colin can probably add facts, or correct my from-afar take.

  9. Alan

    Are you suggesting that the ability of owning a smartphone as a cultural-historical artefact is not part of the expected ability of the average person in the UK?

    While the numeric metrics of poverty is bad, anyone who cannot take the normal tools of satisfaction of his or her or their needs is in poverty. So, not being able to have a 3-week holiday is poverty. Not being able to buy a couple of books a month is poverty, not being able to have a summer frock or outfit is poverty, and so on. It is poverty not because the individual or the family is starving (although there are many – even if overestimated – who starve in this country, but because they cannot reproduce their (and their children’s) life at the standards expected. If it was a commodity, you would call it shabby – in the case of people you call it poverty.

  10. @Lazslo

    Not necessarily. If shares fall in price they do so because people think 1) they will be worth less in future and/or 2) the return on the shares will be less in future. It is quite possible in a recession for profits to fall and the dividend to be cut, while the yield rises because the value of the shares falls by more than the dividend does. So both reduced income inequality and increased yield on shares can, and do, occur in recessions.

    Recessions also lead to reduced wealth inequality because those holding shares are disproportionately in the top few percentiles of the wealth distribution.

    I don’t think that the amount of space available for comments here is anywhere near sufficient for a reasoned discussion on what measure(s) of inequality we should be using.

  11. oldnat

    I was more thinking of Irn Bru.

    [and Tunnocks caramel wafers of course]

  12. Crofty

    I believe both of those products are available in other parts of the UK (as well as other parts of the world)
    but, as far as I know, there is no evidential basis for suggesting that the consumption of particular brands of carbonated drinks or chocolate biscuits increases ratings in the happiness index.

    However, as always, thanks for your thoughtful contribution to the debate as to why the ONS statistics display geographic divergence.

  13. If any more evidence was needed to demonstrate the evil way in which Russia exploits sanctions to damage the preparations of their greatest rival for World Cup glory, then this puts all their other devious stratagems to shame

    Russia’s sanctions, however, are not restricted to items of clothing and equipment. What they affect the most, instead, is the import of food, which is strictly banned. This means that while during the European Cup in France the Icelandic football team travelled with their own produce, this time the Smiters will have to rely on Russian products for all their dietary needs.

  14. @Alan

    In his seminal work over a century ago, Rowntree identified two kinds of poverty.

    Firstly, not being able to afford enough food to meet your daily calorific needs, and secondly, having enough food, but not being able to afford the basic things that allow you to network and be a part of society.

    Things like being able to afford to communicate, travel to meet people, afford to socialise, buy gifts and so on. You need these things so you don’t become isolated from people who can help you, because if you fall ill, or a family member falls ill, or work goes badly, and numerous other crises, you need to be able to call on others to help.

    For many people now, especially young people on zero hours, self-employed etc., a smartphone is not a luxury, it’s an essential just to be able to work.

  15. Leftieliberal

    I thought my argument was the same (actually I can also add that the spikes in yield on shares during recessions is keep on falling every recession for the last 100 years).

    And yes, the right metrics are beyond the comments here – unfortunately it was said in an academic conference in February too … There are discussions, but they are more partisan than the Brexit thing.

  16. @Alan,

    Smartphones can be bought new for less than £50 so they’re not really a luxury item these days.

    I take your point though, that if relative poverty is always the measure, we might one day be classing people as poverty stricken because they can only afford a total body rejuvenation once every ten years, whereas the rich can do it once a year.

    I also take Carfrew’s point. People’s wellbeing tends to be negatively affected once they cease to be able to do the things “normal people do”. The fact that once upon a time it was luxurious to live in a brick-built building and eat meat every week, doesn’t mean that this is remains our baseline for a decent standard of living.

    I think the truth is somewhere in between. Relative poverty is a bit of a unicorn, unless you’re a red-blooded socialist and equality of outcome is your driving goal. But even for the bluest of Tories, there will always be a point below the bottom of society should never be allowed to fall, and that point will rise over time.

  17. @ Alan

    “Anyone who owns a smartphone surely cannot be considered to be in poverty ”

    A smartphone is practically essential these days. It is a penalty to not have one. Eg some bus operators only offer the cheapest tickets within their mobile app.

    Not to mention it can be someone’s main form of internet access which again is pretty much essential now given how many services are online.

    Even some of the construction labourers in the middle east have them, most would probably consider them to be in poverty still.

  18. @Neil A

    Yes, it doesn’t have to be about relative poverty. There are many ways the rich spend money that the rest of us can do without.

    The important thing, and interesting thing, is what things do actually make a real difference to life chances and outcomes.

    And things which can seem relatively superficial, can make more difference than one might think.

    This has become somewhat disguised when we had governments trying to reduce the vulnerability, with full employment and good pensions etc.

    But now things are becoming more insecure again, people are needing to network more.

    Lots of young people need a network now just to let them know if any hours are going at a bar, shop, cafe to whatever.

    In some respects, modern life has made things even more difficult. It used to be that even if poor, you might still live in a community you grew up in, with a big extended family to draw on if hitting hard times. Nowadays people moving elsewhere a lot more have to more assiduously build a network.

  19. @Neil A

    I should add, it’s a bit contentious, but there’s an argument that relative poverty, or increasing income inequality, can harm us all.

    The argument being that it increases division and stress, with knock on health impacts.

  20. Oldnat,

    “Does suggest that government action to reduce societal inequality may be an important factor.”

    True, but so too could also be about affordability.

    The income squeeze associated with higher Housing Costs or rising Rail Fares will put more pressure on people in the South, earning more money but having to work longer hours and spend more time commuting, so they then have less cash after the bills are paid.

    Then they could be a lot less happy just due to the pressures of making ends meet rather than the direct actions of Government.

    One way to test it would be to look at regional happiness in England to see which areas were happiest. The welsh example is interesting because economically it is worse off than Scotland with much of the population in the south where things are harder than along the border with England.

    Equally I suspect happiness for want of a better word will be higher in Rural Perthshire than in the East End of Glasgow.

    Overall I expect it is probably not a good idea to put to much stock in figures for the four nations because they probably mask as much as they tell and variations with each of the four are probably as great as the differences between them.


  21. “My idea for cricket is the 66 ball system: each player has one over against one opposing player whilst the other twenty watch [to boost the crowd a bit].“


    We only got four overs each at boarding school then had to let someone else have a go. On the plus side* if you were out first ball you got to stay and still got your four overs.

    * (obviously this wasn’t a plus if you wanted the ordeal to be over quick so you could go and have a jam in the music room…)

  22. TURK

    I suppose the difference is the polling companies have updated there models since then and Corbyn is much more of a known quantity to the voters.

    To some extent. But both your points need qualifying. Firstly the changes in methodology that the pollsters have done since last June would only (at best) have worked to match their final polls to the actual result. What they can’t do is take into account the narrowing that happened in their polls before the election date and forecast whether that would happen again (or not).

    Furthermore while some pollsters did show that movement with Labour putting on about 10 points during May (15 points in the case of YouGov until they decided to ‘fix’ their final poll because they couldn’t believe the figures), others such as ICM, moved less:,_2017#2017

    (You can sort on Polling Organisation to better see this). So it’s difficult to know how much adjustment in other areas (such as sampling) was needed. And what looked like a consensus around what went wrong with the polls in 2017 (too much down-weighting of the ‘youth’ vote) has been undermined by later studies such as BES suggesting that underestimating the turnout among younger voters was not the reason after all. It’s a mistake to treat BES as infallible, but clearly there is more work to be done before 2017 is fully explained and there’s nothing to suggest there isn’t a large chance that the polls might still be wrong.

    As to Corbyn being “more of a known quantity”, it’s what is known (and to whom) that is important. At the start of the election campaign he certainly was known – only 16% said they didn’t know if he was doing well or badly:

    pretty similar to May’s 15% and rather different to Farron’s 50% DKs. Corbyn and May’s DK percentages only fell a little during the campaign but Corbyn’s approval soared from -58 to -2 while May’s dropped from +24 to -5[1]

    So it’s how people perceived Corbyn was doing that changed dramatically. That’s not surprising given that over the previous two years he received what was probably the most unified and hostile attack from the media that any domestic politician has had in decades[2], mostly based on the repetition of nonsense. Then the campaign came along and people changed their views – as they did for May, though not so dramatically. It’s partly because the broadcasters were obliged to be more even-handed, but an awful lot was simply that most people began paying politics a bit more detailed attention and making up their own minds more rather than just taking a superficial glance at the headlines.

    [1] Farron in contrast became a bit better known (DK 35%) but his approval remained in a ratio of roughly 2 to 1 disapproval.

    [2] The most telling example of this was the way that every single paper supported Owen Smith in his leadership challenge despite the fact that (a) even many of his supporters admitted he was a poor candidate and (b) it was clear from the polling that he would lose. But reality didn’t matter because for the media groupthink what mattered was that Corbyn must be destroyed because he wasn’t One Of Us.

  23. @Turk

    “Don’t misunderstand me I believe politics effect most aspects of everyday life and I wish people would pay more attention to it but having spent many years as a party activist it is possible to find the politically aware but the vast majority have little or no interest in politics and consider politicians of any party along with car salesmen and solicitors people that they have to deal with but would rather not.“


    Well, they might consider activists in much in same way as politicians.

    Activists go out, hoping to change the minds of others to vote the way the activist would like. But how many activists are themselves open to having their mind changed in their chats on the doorstep?

    How many activists return back to HQ and say to their comrades “You know what guys, after all I’ve been hearing in the doorstep, it’s clear we’re backing the wrong party. Let’s back our rivals instead!”

    Since activists are among the less swayable, some may feel there’s little point engaging properly. People may reserve their political conversations for with others, and feign disinterest with activists.

    That said, people can have an interest in politics and yet hardly talk about it with most, because people want to avoid flash points. Same reason they don’t discuss religion much. I lived at boarding school with the offspring of Tory MPs and MEPs and in one case I didn’t know until I saw one getting up early to see how his dad did in the election, and another I didn’t know his mum was an MEP until I’d left school and stayed at his house.

  24. trevor warne,
    “Consumers borrowing money to buy imported depreciating assets is probably not what Keyne’s had in mind with ‘paradox of thrift’!”

    I’m not sure what keynes had in mind for a flight of industry from your country. He did propose that any nation with a trade surplus should be obliged to simply give it back. The US turned him down. In the absence of world agreement to do this, what do you suggest? Maybe create a smaller trading group we could belong to where the members economies were relatively matched, and then trade within this walled garden? Maybe integrate the market to ensure there would be a balance?

    Now where might there be such a thing we could belong to?

    ” Certainly HMG could do a lot to encourage investment as BCC pointed out today. As Carney and even yourself have admitted – HMG can affect the outcome”

    If they can do this? Why have they not? Why have successive governments since Thatcher had a policy of non intervention? Are you sure it isnt just bluster to try to move sentiment?

    “Rabobank has done its own calculation of costs of different scenarios of Brexit.”

    That report must now be out of date 6 months, and it hasnt been six months of good news. But reading their blurb I dont see how much they have allowed for companies relocating to the EU. Its all about poorer trading conditions slicing a little off everyone’s profitability, not about wholesale closures. Which is why i think their estimates of 2 years recessions are gross understimates, and long term declines underestimated.

    I have posted this observation several times, with no takers to comment on it. I can see it is difficult to estimate an effect for company closures, but I havn’t seen any reasoned accounts arguing its magnitude. Obviously there will be such an effect, it is already happening. The so called transition period was largely a device to assure companies they had time and didnt need to leave immediately. (although it is quite clear the government itself would be unable to implement a hard Brexit by the departure timetable)

  25. SHEVII

    What an excellent question.

    Public Finances are stated in terms of Expenditure & Revenue only.
    So far as I am aware there is no Balance Sheet.

    So the Accounting Principles used by the Private Sector, in which Capital Spend goes the the Balance Sheet as Assets, which value is reduced annually by a ( depreciation) charge against Profits; is not employed.

    Perhaps the “owners ” of State Assets-like NHS Trusts -have more conventional accounts recording depreciated Asset Values?

    One caveat to this SHEVII:- The line items for Current Spending in Public Finances Statements include one marked “Depreciation”. And the Capital Expenditure Line is called “Net Investment”. I have never understood this & can’t find an explanation-but it looks as though Capex is split into a “Depreciation” element-shown as Current Spending; and an “Investment” element shown as Net Investment.

    Weird !!

    For FY 17/18 the Depreciation number was £18.1 bn -therefore I assume what we could call “Gross Investment” was £59.9 bn.

  26. catmanjeff,
    “I’ve run the new poll through my model…..Conservatives 4 short of a majority.”

    I know the point of polling is to make estimates, but realistically how accurate do you think any of this is right now? Sure, it might accurately affect what people think today, but we just had an example why what they would do in a month’s time if an election was called today would be rather different. The exact same circumstances seem to be building up.

    Brexit is the most important decider, and policy is wholly unclear from both parties.

    Labour will produce a gently redistrubutive manifesto, whose policies in themselves are popular.

    Tories might jump on that bandwagon, or do what they did last time and stick to their long term anti- redistributive approach. It isnt at all clear they have decided to change tack rather than give lip service. It isnt clear how well they could simply tear up 7 years of austerity without conceding it had been a mistake.

    It isnt clear to me how the ‘youth vote’ thing is settling down. But the divide lab/con was more like age 50 than 25. The post Thatcher consensus on policy has led to this group losing out, and they have started to notice and demand change.

    Attacks on Corbyn melted away last time in face of the big issues which mattered to people. It seems to be somewhat overlooked, but a big advantage for him was that both labour and tory establishment opposed him. So Blair sniping at the edges might in fact help again to establish him as the non-establishment candidate.

    There is a trap in the popularity figures, that it doesnt matter if those who never conceivably vote for you do not like you. Trump was thoroughly disliked yet was elected. People have discussed how leader popularity has been a resonable historic indicator of the winner, but if we are moving to a more antagonistic rather than consensual two party system, that might cease to apply. Issues matter more than the personality of the leader.

    “However, I think it broadly shows the weak areas for Labour that it really needs to get cracking on,”

    That sounds sensible. I worry though to what extent it is possible to compomise if different geographic groups want incompatible things.

  27. On income inequality: this debate is always focused on the poor end of the spectrum, but there is solid evidence to demonstrate that excessive wealth is not good for the wealthy either.

    Measures of happiness are generally not correlated with levels of wealth at the top end, and there is growing research to show that the greater one’s wealth, the less pleasant one becomes. It affects their characters and ways of interactions and turns them into distorted characters.

    The Guardian ran a good story recently focusing on the experiences of the private tutors to the very wealthy. Hair raising tales of 14 year old stealing their father’s guns and threatening a tutor for a laugh, with the tutor unable to discipline the child in any way as he was the son of a global billionaire. No action was taken against the child, who is busy growing up as a twisted and unpleasant character.

    The other side of this is the fear. If you want to be super rich, or even a little rich, in a society with deep extremes, you’re going to end up having to defend your lifestyle, both politically and physically. Living under constant security isn’t so much fun, and I really do wonder sometimes why some people bother to horde such immense wealth.

  28. DAVWEL

    The Knep Estate “rewilding” has had extraordinary results.

    It is based on a return to free roaming grazing herbivores to produce the mosaic of habitats.

    We shouldn’t get too starry eyed-this is a commercial enterprise-wild camping/safaris etc. BUT it does seem to work & as a model for conservation married to commercial use of land, it looks terrific to me. Mind you-you need to have inherited a few thousand acres to do this sort of thing :-)

  29. @Davwell – interested in your comments re Gove and the environment protection proposals.

    My take on the idea of a watchdog fining the government; barking mad.

    If parliament is supreme, how can a watchdog command anything? The government could just say no and pass a new law.

    Another point is that this neatly slides the blame for environmental failures onto the state – it’s the private sector that is producing all the waste, so why should the state fine itself if the industry fails?

    I suspect this is why Gove invented such a crass policy – it fits in with the idea that nothing should be done to impede or regulate business, but that the state picks up the mess.

    The sensible approach would be to levy costs on packaging produced by industry at source, with the scale of the tax set to cover the costs of recycling and disposal. This tax is then hypothocated, formally or unofficially, and given to local authorities to cover the cost of free to use recycling networks. This both creates an incentive to reduce waste and become more resource efficient, while also paying for disposal and reducing fly tipping.

  30. Alan/Laszlo

    Inequality and poverty matter. One way of exploring this is to read about the Westminster studies led by Marmot.

    Two longitudinal studies looked at the health inequalities among Westminster civil servants from the highest grade to the lowest. It was found that there was a “social gradient” from the lowest grade to the top. Each grade showing differences in life expectancy. If you are not persuaded that socioeconomic status affects life expectancy perhaps you might attempt an explanation for the fact that middle ranked civil servants will die earlier than the highest ranked.

    Also, the social gradient can be found when classifying groups by education or income.

    “We hypothesized that the social gradient in disease occurrence could be attributed to psychosocial factors. In order to test this hypothesis, we set up the Whitehall II study: a longitudinal study of 10,308 men and women working in the British Civil Service ages 35-55 at baseline in 1985. Participants were recruited from the entire range of occupational grades, from senior civil servants responsible for large government programs to clerical workers, porters, and messengers.

    In the biomedical world, the idea of social causation sounds mystical. How, a biomedical scientist wants to know, can someone’s socioeconomic position get “under the skin” to cause disease (Adler and Ostrove, 1999)? Or, as a senior medical colleague put it to us, you will never convince medical scientists that people’s social circumstances, and particularly psychosocial factors, influence health unless you have a biological pathway. An important part of the research agenda for Whitehall II is therefore to show how social and psychosocial factors influence biological pathways to cause social inequalities in disease.”

    I invite you to read this explanation of how the work was done to try to tease out the causal routes.

  31. SAM

    @”Inequality and poverty matter.”

    I can’t see poverty being a factor in a study of Civil Servants. Relative poverty perhaps-but that is a very different metric.

    Marmot’s studies were interesting-thanks for the tip.

    Not without criticism though:-

  32. Colin @ 8.37 am

    Thanks for the links and confirming the Knepp success.

    I like your wording – “not to get too starry eyed… a commercial venture”. But meantime when so much wildlife is being lost in the agricultural English lowlands, this is a welcome enterprise and saving numerous species.

    At the other end of the UK, Paul Lister`s plans for Alladale are similar, but more far-reaching:

    I can`t say I fully approve, without knowing more detail. But it`s certainly a better plan than mass planting of Sitka spruce and Lodgepole pine.

    Chillingham in Northumberland are also keeping their ancient cattle conserved by bringing in some visitors.

  33. @ HAL – Can you highlight the section in HM Treasury analysis that stated your belief:
    “They assumed an immediate A50 and conclusions are over the two-year A50 period”

    I can see where they say:
    “The analysis in this HM Treasury document quantifies the impact of that adjustment over the immediate period of two years following a vote to leave.”
    (that was on p5, para 4)

    “The effect of this would start to be felt immediately. Businesses would start to reduce investment spending and cut jobs in the short term”
    (a half point, businesses have indeed reduced investment spending but UK has added over 600,000 jobs not lost the 500,000 predicted)

    There is a little bit of mumble in the uncertainty effect section but note that starts with:
    “While the referendum would settle the issue of EU membership once and for all”
    Prolonging the uncertainty therefore increases the duration of this effect.

    Any references to Article50 are linked to:
    “UK’s long-term economic policies”
    eg 1.38 Process 1 mentions the WA

    There is only one small mention of the triggering of A50 (1.42) which references to a DC speech:
    “Prime Minister’s Statement on the European Council, Hansard (22 February 2016)”
    However, the analysis is based on effects that should have kicked in immediately (e.g. the currency did immediately drop by about the predicted amount – the only thing they got right was the one good thing!)

  34. Danny: I dont see how much they have allowed for companies relocating to the EU. Its all about poorer trading conditions slicing a little off everyone’s profitability, not about wholesale closures. Which is why i think their estimates of 2 years recessions are gross understimates, and long term declines underestimated.

    I have posted this observation several times, with no takers to comment on it.

    I share your view and I’ve alluded to this a couple of times. Firstly, by highlighting the collapse in foreign direct investment (down by 90% in 2017, albeit after a record in 2016), which I suspect reflects mostly a drop in productive investments (ie new factories, equipment etc) rather than the simple acquisition of assets, which seems to be going on apace as foreign companies hoover up UK rivals, property etc.

    Secondly, I feel that while there will indeed be spectacular closures and relocations, along the lines you suggest, it will be the less obvious lack of new investment, and failure to expand existing facilities, that has the greater long-term effect.

    But your point remains a good one: not many economists seem to be taking into account a run-down in UK productive capacity if a hard brexit makes the UK a relatively less attractive place to do business.

  35. Alec @ 8.42 am

    We may not have heard the proper details of this Gove v Hammond battle from the DTel, and it could be that their rivalry over Brexit has pushed both into different shaky positions on environmental policies.

    I feel Gove can jump rapidly from good intentions, when he realises the drawbacks for business and individuals.

    With Brexit nearing, Gove ought really to be spelling out now on his ideas for keeping going the Habitats Directive. Maybe he has and I`ve missed it, though for long-term planning it is a greater priority to have certainty now on recycling.

  36. @ DANNY – “I’m not sure what keynes had in mind for a flight of industry from your country.”
    He’s died in 1946 but I’d agree he would probably have objected to UK joining the EEC and would certainly have objected to signing up to the Maastricht Treaty

    “He did propose that any nation with a trade surplus should be obliged to simply give it back”
    He certainly was aware that surpluses created a mirror image problem to deficits (just look at Japan!). Keynes died well before full fiat money that allowed those balances to get out of control as they have today.

    As for what do I suggest we’ll I’ll be brief:
    1/ Leave the EU, in full
    2/ Impose protective tariffs on nations with excessive and exploitative trade surpluses (reciprocal of course). Work with other nations at the WTO to encourage surplus nations to foster domestic growth and open up their markets to imports.
    3/ Implement most of the growth stimulus measures suggested by BCC, many of which will be easier outside of EU regulations and ECJ jurisdiction

    Mervyn King suggested a cumbersome way of tackling trade surpluses but genuinely free floating exchange rates and use of tariffs/TRQs when imbalances stay out of whack for prolonged periods should do the trick IMHO.
    NB the aim should be to minimise NTBs (global standards) and reduce tariffs to near zero over time but keep the threat of tariffs to encourage nations not to exploit a trade surplus situation (tariffs could and should be the ‘nuclear’ deterrent, certainly not something we should unilaterally disarm from!)

  37. @ DANNY / SJ – P.S. and absolutely do not enter into CU or FoM with countries that have significantly different wage levels.

    CU sucks the semi-skilled jobs out
    FoM reduces the potential wage growth for domestic jobs and reduces the incentive for companies to invest in more productive measures.

    Small tangent but did you read this:

  38. Poverty is not a factor in the Westminster studies. It is a factor affecting health.

  39. DAVWEL


    I agree that Knep is a “Welcome Enterprise”. I much prefer dedicated conservation where possible a la Wildlife Trusts Etc-but even there visitors are needed to help funding.

    Thanks for the Alladale link. Not sure about reintroduction of top predators like wolves. It all seems a bit Zoo like. Old Breeds of cattle & other herbivores seem much more “natural” in the landscape as at Knep. But its a complex subject I guess.

    Any conservation effort is worthwhile isn’t it , when we are busy destroying so much of the natural world.

    The Times reports a finding this morning that most of the endangered sperm whales that have been found dead in the eastern Mediterranean since 2001 were killed by plastic debris.

  40. Gove wants Hammonds job. I’m not a fan of Gove myself but he’d be better than Hammond (with/without May).

  41. ““My impression of UK business is that they’re looking for certainty. And given the state of their balance sheets, once they [get] greater certainty, they will look to put that money to work. There should be a pick-up in investment in 2019.
    “A disorderly Brexit, not a likely scenario at all, [is] less likely than at the time we did the assessment in the fall.”

    Mark Carney.

  42. This link is to talk about the effects of income inequality in the UK and how public perceptions of it have changed over time.

  43. @Colin

    Regarding the efficacy of free roaming animals, there’s Savory’s work on reversing desertification.

    Not sure if I posted it before. Some of the transformations in the pics are pretty stunning.

    And it’s a bit sobering, the impact on carbon and climate change.

  44. @trevor Warne – re the Brexit forecasts, my original comments on this were based on the OBR pre referendum analysis, and when I originally posted these some time I also posted their assumptions. I can’t find their original document at this stage, but they based their work explicitly on immediate triggering of A50, a strict 2 year timetable, and no transition period.

    I’m assuming that this is what the HMG analysis is based on, although it doesn’t appear that they make these assumptions explicit.

    I personally believe that their results were a very fair assumption of substantial economic disruption if those circumstances had been met.

    Indeed, put into context, we would now be 31 days away from leaving the EU. Given the fact that HMG is still unable to agree on a basic idea of post Brexit life, even after the delay in triggering and the agreement for a 2 year, or possibly 3 year transition, I think everyone should be able to agree in a completely non partisan manner that had we kept to the OBR’s stated scenario, then we would have seen a far, far greater economic hit.

    In light of this, I believe it is simply unfair and illogical to continually suggest the forecasts were wrong.

  45. Perter Cairns

    The points you raise are all perfectly valid – but don’t explain why, over the 7 years of this index, ONS say that Scotland has generated more positive responses than rUK.

    Not that I can see the pattern in the data tables myself! but the ONS statisticians are better placed than me to make such judgments.

    Figures for LA areas are already there for previous surveys, and will be published, in due course, for this one.

  46. @ ALEC – Your going with “I can’t find their original document at this stage…” :-) :-)

    I do remember you go at some length to justify the 3.6% hit to GDP (which was HM Treasury’s central case).

  47. Confidence ranges on seat predictions are IMHO very important.

    The three approaches out there are:
    1/ YouGov’s model (multi-level regression and post stratification analysis based with massive amount of data)
    2/ Chris Hanretty’s approach (relying on smaller amount of data then applying simulation analysis)
    3/ Lord Ashcroft (scenario analysis)

    Taking CON seats the confidence ranges were:
    1/ 269-334
    2/ 318-412
    3/ 349-377

    Only a large polling company will have the data to do 1/. Regular folks can do 2/ or 3/

    Lord Ashcroft’s numbers were way off as IMHO the scenarios he tested were too narrow. His lowest estimate (#5) was from a ‘Turnout crash amongst the Old’ but he also proposed ‘Social renters turnout more’ (#3), ‘Young surge” (#7) and ‘Remain surge’

  48. @ ALEC – 30secs on Google and found the OBR March’16 analysis for you:

    Feel free to do you own research but my memory was that OBR didn’t speculate on the GDP impact of Brexit as it was ‘out of scope’ for their remit. But let’s hear what they had to say:
    “Parliament has told us to prepare our forecasts on the basis of the current policy of the current Government and not to consider alternatives. So it is not for us to judge at this stage what the impact of ‘Brexit’ might be on the economy and the public finances.”

  49. Carfrew @ 11 am

    I was a bit wary of spending 20 min on the Allan Savory talk on desertification for which you gave a link. But glad I did, so thanks.

    I agree with much of what AS preaches, but feel he can be a little over-confident, and that holistic managed grazing won`t solve the problem alone in some areas.

    Range ecology is pretty complex, and studying successions needs years and can be muddied by the occurrence of just one climate extreme from drought, frost to heatwave. .

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