If I could teach people one thing about public opinion it would be how little most of the political soap-opera actually matters. Lots of the stories that obsess the Westminster media hardly break through to the public at all. Those people who do notice it tend to be the most political, meaning they view stories and scandals through the prism of their pre-existing political support. They believe accusations against politicians from opposing parties and think their misdeeds are awful, but doubt accusations about their own party and give their own party’s politicians the benefit of the doubt. The result is that most political stories don’t actually have that much impact on political support.

The row over Jeremy Corbyn and whether or not he laid a wreath to commemmorate people connected to the Munich Olympic Massacre is a classic example of this. It has been the main political story for the last four days, yet YouGov polling today suggests it will have little impact. Only 6% of people say they are following the story closely, 20% fairly closely. Over half of the public say they aren’t following the story at all all (27%) or are completely unaware of it (26%).

Amongst the three-quarters of respondents who were at least aware of the story people think, by 44% to 21%, that Corbyn has not given an honest account of his attendence, and by 44% to 25% people think he probably did take part in a wreath laying ceremony for some of those responsible for organising the Munich Olympic massacre. However, this does not necessarily mean it has actually damaged Labour, as most of those who have reacted negatively to Corbyn are people who were opposed to him to begin with; most Labour supporters have given him the benefit of the doubt.

Overall, 16% of those who were aware of the story (that’s 16% of 74%, so about 12%) say it has made them think worse of Corbyn, but 68% say it has made no difference (21% because they had a good impression of Corbyn and still do, 47% because they had a negative impression of Corbyn and still do). Even that 16% is mostly made up of Conservative and Lib Dem supporters, who presumably were not Corbyn admirers to begin with. So while this affair may entrench existing negative views of Corbyn among those who already held them, it seems unlikely to do much to reduce his support. Full tabs for the YouGov polling are here.

Meanwhile there are two new voting intention polls from the last couple of days (note they were both conducted mostly or wholly before the wreath controversy).

BMG for the Independent have topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 5% (tabs here)
NumberCruncherPolitics have topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 40%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 5% (tabs here.

1,293 Responses to “YouGov on why the wreath controversy probably won’t have a polling impact”

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  1. The EU, M Barnier, is holding out for resolution of the NI backstop

    “It’s a matter of some urgency. We have to work on drafting an operational backstop, and for that I’ve asked Dominic and his team to give us a certain amount of data which is necessary for the technical work which we need now on the nature, the place, where and how the necessary controls and checks take place.

    “This backstop is critical. It’s essential to conclude negotiations, because – as I’ve said – with no backstop, there can be no agreement.”,

  2. http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2018/08/31/week-in-review-the-corbyn-edifice-finally-cracks

    “Field’s behaviour is less interesting for his incentives than it is for an instruction in how other concerns about Corbyn are refracted through the requirements of the Brexit timeline. This is how a Corbyn critic behaves when they don’t need to stick around for the final vote. Soon enough, everyone will be in that boat. And then Corbyn might really be in trouble.”


    “And a 5 point lead (47:42) for ‘wrong to leave the EU’.”

    I really don’t understand why the pollsters have settled on this format of question, although I appreciate that now they have taken to asking it they might be stuck with it if they want to show trends.

    Well quite. Presumably they felt it was too soon to ask about another referendum when they started asking five weeks after the first one:


    and then the the wind changed and they were stuck with it. As with so much surrounding Brexit, I think the political ‘experts’ believed the myths, in this case that Leavers were more passionate about Brexit than Remainers[1]. So they didn’t expect the Remainers to be so stubborn and vociferous from so early on – that was supposed to be the reaction of the stroppy Leavers[2]. Remainers were just supposed to soppily give up and there was no need to ask about a possible rerun that seemed far away.

    That said, what looks like an irrelevant question does seem to produce pretty good results if you compare them to actual rerun questions:


    with most recent polling on both questions showing a 3-7 point lead for Wrong/Remain. In particular two YouGov polls from late July which were 44-40 and 45-42 for Remain[3] were the same week as 46/42 for Wrong. There doesn’t seem much difference within MoE.

    [1]Polling actually suggested the opposite. Generally speaking, Remainers expected things to get a lot worse if the UK left the EU, while Leavers merely expected things to stay about the same. So Remainers were always going to be more restive if they lost because they feared the consequences more.

    [2] Famously Farage said that if Leave lost 52-48 he would continue campaigning as hard.

    [3] One of the annoying things about some of these YouGov trackers for the Times is that they sometimes seem to stopped being asked just as they get ‘interesting’. So the question on whether people want a new referendum hasn’t appeared since it flipped over to support. Whether the paper suddenly ‘lost interest’ or it’s the effect of August we don’t know.


    @” what are you expecting to happen between Raab and Barnier and more importantly when?”

    An Agreement.

    Possibly by Oct-possible a bit later.

  5. Davwel

    I was going to comment on that list (or rather lists) but Roger Mexico got there first!

    I’ll just add that if you are “shocked” by obvious mistakes seen on the internet your stress levels are going to be heightened, as well as suffering the consequent physiological consequences that Harry Burns explained in that excellent 2011 lecture (thanks Sam).

  6. It does look like the EU is not going to give up on the NI backstop. The talks are going into detail now apparently.
    The EU only needs to check goods going in to NI, not out of. Plus NI needs to apply single market regulations to businesses, which will not apply to the rest of the UK.

    This is going to be very hard for the current government to swallow.

    There is a detailed write-up of today’s press conference:

  7. With a one hour gap on a Friday night, I wondered if this thread had timed out like a few have recently. But I think it’s still got a day to run. On past records, I think the thread stops accepting posts after 16 days. So we’ve got less than 24 hours for more earth-shattering thoughts, unless AW opens up a new thread.

  8. Trigguy

    Friday night is (or used to be) Anthony’s night off. Now that he’s a Dad, he has probably found he has no nights on UKPR!

    Next thread should be easy to write – “Polldrums”

  9. I wonder why Donald Trump has decided to visit the Republic of Ireland in November.

    Is he going to support RoI against the UK in the Brexit arguments.

    Or is that DT just can`t resist the chance for being in the spotlight, and he knows Ireland will be high in the news then.

    Maybe Sam will have his usual wise insights.

  10. @Sam

    “Yes, but it is not just education that counts. The chance to reach your full potential may be lost before education starts.“


    But as with Alec’s point, this doesn’t automatically invalidate Polltroll’s argument. Because he might nonetheless argue that ok, even if we ensure there isn’t an impoverished background, family environment etc., there may still be that genetic ceiling.

    Making sure that there aren’t other ceilings, doesn’t automatically solve the problem he has posed.

  11. Does anyone ever reach their full potential? Very few, I’d say. And why should they? Happiness is more important.

    People vary in all sorts of ways – intelligence, health, mental health, height, gender, race, personality, religion etc etc. That is reality. The world would be pretty boring if we were all the same. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to help those less fortunate than ourselves of course.

  12. Why would full potential and happiness be mutually exclusive?

  13. Epigenetic changes as a result of poverty are addressed in the talk by Sir Harry Burns. The subject is covered here also.


    “In a new paper in the journal, Molecular Psychiatry, scientists from Duke University in the US described how this might help explain why depression appears to run in some of the poorest families

    Deprivation was associated with “a host of negative outcomes including poorer general health and increased risk for mental illness including depression, anxiety, and addiction”, they wrote.

    “Low socio-economic status may confer risk through a variety of mechanisms, including higher levels of perceived and objective stress and cumulative environmental risk such as poor housing quality, noise pollution, and exposure to violence,” the researchers added.

    The study’s lead researcher, Dr Johnna Swartz, said their work had shown how these kinds of problems were affecting the genes of the people concerned.

    “This is some of the first research to demonstrating that low socio-economic status can lead to changes in the way genes are expressed, and it maps this out through brain development to the future experience of depression symptoms,” she said.

    “These small daily hassles of scraping by are evident in changes that build up and affect children’s development.””

  14. Pete B

    “try to help those less fortunate than ourselves”

    “Fortune” can mean ” chance or luck as an arbitrary force affecting human affairs.” But of course it is not chance or luck that affects the lives of people. It is political decisions that has the most effect.

  15. Davwel

    Not so wise! I have no idea why Trump is going to Ireland. Nor does the Irish government.


    By the way, after looking at the reasons for ambulance call outs just over the last two days it seems that there are about 170- 180 daily call outs for immediately life threatening reasons. there are over 2000 daily booked call outs to run patients with mobility problems to and from routine appointments. if something could be done to take up those tasks locally outside the SAS there might be fewer time delays?

  16. @ COLIN – Sorry to push this but “what agreement”.

    Consider the spectrum of outcomes with extremes at:
    1/ Chequers as it stands being accepted (May’s best hope)
    2/ May accepts further concessions and we end up with EEA+CU dressed up with some friendly sounding fudge which can’t be ratified until we are a 3rd country and is then removed by Macron or the EP (Barnier and EC’s desire all along)

    It might be somewhere in between but I expect most folks believe it will end up being closer to 2/ than 1/. The NI issue is the stick with which Barnier continues to beat May into repeated concessions and the maths in HoC means Barnier probably expects HoC to eventually “choose” 2/ by itself (with all the collateral damage of that process falling on the political party that had the audacity to hold a ref on leaving – a sharp lesson to other political parties in EU27!)

    In short Barnier has no reason to offer any meaningful concessions on anything and this has been the case since the GE and our agreement to sequential negotiations.

    Regarding “agreement” though, I do expect they’ve been able to discuss a vast amount of the detail on important areas that could become a future “association agreement” which could be bolted onto a thinned down WA as part of the “negotiated” component of “strongly mitigating” a smooth transition to WTO (see my posts y’day).

    The “negotiated” component involves a game theory analysis of “tit-4-tat” (CARFREW will know what I’m talking about). UK can improve the outcome by making first move with some modest unilateral concessions on areas of mutual benefit (we’ve already done this to some extent but it won’t be reciprocated until we’ve broken off sequential talks and restarted from trying to improve on “no deal”)

  17. @TW
    “Barnier probably expects HoC to eventually “choose” 2/ by itself”

    This is a constitutional impossibility. The HoC cannot conclude an agreement with the EU. Only the UK government can do that.

    Your HoC maths needs to deal with the two scenarios that are possible if your proposed deal [2] is what the EU leaves on the table at the end:
    that May accepts it and seeks to push it through;
    that May rejects it and seeks to push through no deal.

    That these do not necessarily produce the same result in the HoC because of the different consequences.

    Supporting the first produces a compromise that satisfies nobody but avoids either more extreme alternative (by which I mean in this context, remain or WTO leave). Opposing it arguably leaves either extreme on the table but each side keeps theirs on the table at the risk of the other happening too. So a precautionary principle might push those in the middle to accept the deal for fear of something worse.

    In particular those who lean to remain but fear no deal above all may accept the deal to take no deal off the table.

    Whereas with the latter vote, no deal is the outcome sought by May. So those who fear no deal have no reason not to reject it.

    So they are in terms of practical consequences very different votes.

  18. Mr Frank Field has a resigns the Labour Whip due to the attitude of the Leadership to antisemitism and racism…

    Cough, cough….


  19. Fascinating to read Britain’s richest person and major Brexit supporter has decided to leave the UK for Monaco.

    @R&D – “Why would full potential and happiness be mutually exclusive?”

    My thoughts precisely. Personally, I found it telling that someone could equate potential as being different to happiness.

  20. Correction

    Mr Frank Field has resigned the Labour Whip due to the attitude of the Leadership to antisemitism and racism…

    Cough, cough….


  21. Help Please

    I am sure I have read on this site that evidence suggested that over 80’s were less Euro-sceptic than Babyboomers.

    Did I dream this? I have tried searching everywhere for evidence but with no luck.

    Any help would be much appreciated.

  22. @Trevor Warne – I think there is the nub of understanding contained in your recent posts, albeit wrapped up in a bit of unnecessarily complex theoretical showing off.

    I suspect ‘Colin is talking in really rather simple terms. I certainly am. Barnier and Raab will reach an agreement, which will ratify the already agreed Joint Report from last December and transpose this into a formal WA (not a ‘thinned down’ version – I have no idea what this means). Added to this, probably as an appendix, but possibly as a separate document, will be a political declaration on the future trading arrangement which is likely to be pretty thin on detail and will not be legally binding. We then leave, via a transition period, during which time we agree the details contains in the political declaration, after having taken on board all the legal commitments of the WA.

    Tit for tat game theory is all very nice, and a lot more people that just @carfrew know exactly what this means (a good many of them will know much better than you, I suspect), but the dynamic here is brutally simply and you don’t need to be a theoretical genius to see this.

    Both sides want a withdrawal agreement, with the UK being significantly more desperate than the EU. both sides also want a future trade agreement, again with the balance of need on the UK’s side. We will almost certainly get the WA, with the proviso that we’ll stop Brexit if we can’t, and then the EU will offer us reasonable terms on trade, which aren’t as good as we have now.

    I really don’t think it’s all that complex.

  23. @Colin – having pondered our exchange on terrorism for a couple of days, I have come to a conclusion that you were correct in holding out regarding the numbers and statistics, and that I had been somewhat muddled in my thinking regarding what my concerns were.

    My considered response is as follows. We can agree that all terrorism we currently face is dreadful, but you are correct with regards the current relative level of risk from islamist and far right violence.

    My fears l!e more with the future. I am content that no western country will ever be overwhelmed by islamist terror or islamist ways of thinking. This just won’t happen, even on a scale of centuries.

    However, I can readily foresee circumstances where western nations – possibly even our own – become mired in the violent dogma of the far right. In simple terms, it is far easier for the far right to hijack our political processes and social structures and impose their violent creed on nation states. Indeed, this has already been done, and is already underway in some central European states and even regions of Germany, with the US arguably also falling under the spell of right wing demagoguery.

    Today I agree that the main threat from bombs, knives and vehicles comes from islamists, but they will never win. The current threat from the far right is relatively substantially smaller, but I can envisage circumstances where they could be victorious in achieving their aims.

    In these terms, I would therefore argue that this makes them a greater threat to our society in the longer term, and for this reason I would argue that we should give greater prominence to how we approach this threat.

  24. @ ROGER MEXICO – Cognitive consistency v dissonance.

    “hindsight” mapping almost exactly to “new” on a “do-over” style question can easily be explained by cognitive consistency.

    The cognitive dissonance aspects only crop up on more specific polls that look into the future. A future that will very soon become the present!

    A recent ICM poll highlights where the cognitive dissonance issue is soon going to need to be resolved. The info graphic for that poll:

    ICM split out CON and LAB by Leave and Remain and these are even more interesting. Asked what they think is best for the Country:

    CON-Leave (roughly 2/3 of CON):
    No Deal: 31%
    Harder than Chequers: 42%
    Total Hard-Extreme Brexit: 73%

    CON-Remain (roughly 1/3 of CON):
    Stay in EU after 2nd ref: 39%
    Softer than Chequers: 11%
    Delay/unresolved: 11%
    Chequers 17%
    Total No-Soft-Unresolved: 78%

    For LAB the totals are LAB-Leave (1/3) 47% (Hard-Extreme) and LAB-Remain (2/3) a whopping 91% that think No-Soft-Unresolved.

    Suffice to say the next few months are likely to have a material impact on the polls and the trickle of CON-Leave moving to UKIP and/or the even smaller trickle of LAB-Remain on net moving to LDEM might reverse or become a flood for one/both of the main parties! (Of course CON-Remain moving to LDEM is also possible!)

    What is interesting but when asked what is more likely you do see a big drop between what people want and what they expect (e.g. CON-Leave drop from 73% of what they want to 50% of what they think is most likely, LAB-Remain drop from 91% to 69%) but it still leaves room for some folks about to become very disappointed – which set of folks is TBC!

    P.S. With regards to a future vote by the electorate an excellent analysis of the wording issue is here:

    Depending on the wording of the future scenario of a public vote the support range is +25 to -10!

    (@ ALEC – above can cover a reply to you. You’ve been so wrong on the timing issue of the WA but keep going with that by all means)

  25. Alec: We will almost certainly get the WA

    I’m intrigued by your confidence.

    You’ve almost certainly explained the basis for this confidence at least once before, so forgive me for not having absorbed your reasoning.

    On a basic level, it seems to me that we can only “get the WA” if we:

    (a) Agree the backstop as currently proposed, ie accept Irish Sea customs and to hell with the DUP, or

    (b) Persuade the EU and RoI to sign a WA with no effective backstop (including Chequers magical measures) or

    (c) Obviate need for backstop by avoiding any new tariff or non-tariff barriers to trade between EU27 and UK, ie agreeing to continue CU & SM membership (possibly dressed up with a different name).

    Have I missed another possibility? And if not, which of the above do you see happening?

  26. Peterw,
    “This is a constitutional impossibility. The HoC cannot conclude an agreement with the EU. Only the UK government can do that.”

    Surely the recent court case on how to give notice to leave the eU demonstrated you have that exactly the wrong way round. Only parliament and monarch in unison can ratify or revoke a treaty. Government ministers are simply crown servants and cannot make treaties.

    Parliament has the power to appoint someone responsible to negotiate and ratify a treaty on its behalf independant of the government. Or perhaps that should be independent of the rest of the government, because they are all chosen by parliament one way or another.

  27. @ PETERW – I agree with your reply. The issue, ultimately, will be which UK govt is “choosing”

    Several bills are in various stages of progress through both houses. It would need a longer post to go into the details but one/several of them will be a chance for CON-Remain to start “choosing” an even softer Brexit than Chequers. We know Barnier has had several meetings with Starmer and likes of Soubs but Barnier is no fool – he wants us to “choose” BINO, he does not want to offer that as a “take it or leave it” option (although I do respect some in EU27 might be getting nervous on the time and might get him to accept something close to Chequers)

    IMHO Chequers as it stands wouldn’t win a vote in HoC, let alone an even softer version. May’s days of can kicking and fudge cannot go on forever. Whether it is a vote on a specific piece of legislation (Sep-Oct) or the eventual meaningful vote (Nov perhaps?) at some point CON’s internal battle will have to be resolved.

    I am very confident 48+ MPs are ready to kick May out based on Chequers as it stands but the total is nowhere near 159 and they don’t want her to then stay on for an extra year before they can try again. However, if she doesn’t change course or resign at some point then I expect in due course they will work with Corbyn to take her out – the numbers to remove her via a confidence vote in HoC is much lower than a confidence vote within CON!

    ERG have never been properly tested in HoC, I have no doubt that enough of them would very much put country (in their eyes) before party. Unless May changes course i expect we will get a GE, of course even if she does change course we might – but the “blame” for that will fall on CON-Remain who so far have backed down when tested in HoC.

    The various scenarios and flows between them with quite a lot of detail on resolving “stalemate” was covered in this IfG piece which I’ll repost.

  28. I don’t know why asking a retrospective opinion about a referendum two years ago is held to be equivalent to asking “if there was an EU referendum today…” (the default GE opinion poll question).

    Is such a question really worth asking? Nobody asks about past elections.

  29. London remains adamant that controls on the Irish Sea are not acceptable and it continues to push its version of the backstop, that all-UK standards continue to match EU standards, and so obviate the need for any borders in or between Ireland and the UK. The EU says that it is willing to make special arrangements for Northern Ireland, but not for the whole of the UK.

    Mr Raab insisted that the UK remains committed to the full implementation of the joint agreement made in December – containing the pledge of a backstop – but warned that any solution to the backstop issue “must be workable for people in Northern Ireland”.

    [Code for DUP?]

    “Despite progress on other issues, the talks over the past two weeks are understood to have gone nowhere on the backstop, although British sources were again promising the imminent publication of the document “mapping” the 49 areas of joint cross-Border projects which are seen as essential underpinnings of the Belfast Agreement.

    After the talks, Mr Raab characterised his own attitude as “stubborn optimism”.


  30. @TW – “You’ve been so wrong on the timing issue of the WA but keep going with that by all means”

    Really? News to me.

    @Somerjohn – given that May has already agreed a backstop in theory anyway, I suspect there will be an agreement on this basis. It will probably mean ignoring the DUP and having help from Labour, but your option c) could still come into play, as this is what may really wants, but for the ERG.

    Either way, one or other group within the government coalition will be ignored, IMHO, as they say.

  31. At last, a reasonable and sane voice in relation to antisemitism comes to the fore from within in the Labour Party. Ivor Caplin, former MP and Defence Minister and chair of Labour’s Jewish affiliate party: –


    Some pointed messages here for the Labour leadership here, but also a sense of balance and proportion too. Critical friends like Caplin are what Corbyn needs right now, not the equivocation of sycophants nor the hypocritical cant of political enemies.

  32. Alec etc

    Just for the record, in my post last night I didn’t intend to imply that achieving potential and happiness were opposites, but merely that happiness is a more important objective (IMHO).

  33. KeithP,

    For elections there is always the next election to ask about. But a lot of people are not expecting there to be another referendum.

    I think the idea of the question is to find out what people think about leaving the EU without muddying the issue by the prospect of another referendum. Some particular biases asking “How would you vote in another referendum?”:

    1) Some people are against leaving but think it has to be done because the decision has been made

    2) Some people don’t want another referendum at all because they think the campaign would be divisive

  34. @ ALEC – Well you never admit your wrong.

    Do we need to go back to the time you told us all that if we didn’t sign the WA then when the 2yrs elapsed we’d stay in the EU on exact same terms since that was the default?
    OLDNAT put you right about that!

    How about when you said Barnier would never allow us to move beyond WA until we signed it (ie we’d never discuss transition which is now sat there ready to go as a POTENTIAL mini-deal).
    Oops, seems we did manage to fudge phase1!

    TOH and myself have, from the very beginning, stuck with the view that May will not sign the WA (or be allowed to sign it) unless and until she has a fairly strong commitment on the future relationship. I’d add to that the need for that future relationship to be something HoC will accept (also EP of course)

    The issue with “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” is that UK is playing it like a “tit”.

    The benefit of stopping playing by EU rules, using Barnier’s non acceptance of Chequers as the excuse and ASKING to restart talks from “no deal” up is that we might finally get some “tat” for the enormous amount of “tits” we’d made of ourselves up until now.

    Unfort Raab seems to have been sucked into EU’s rules and we’re back to the same old same old over NI.

    NB I say ASKING as I expect they will refuse it.
    NB2 As I mentioned in the post to COLIN the one and only benefit of current talks is that we are covering a lot of the technical areas that MIGHT provide other mini-deals that can be wrapped up into an “association agreement” (Verhofstadt mentioned that a long time ago but I don’t think it has received much interest recently).

  35. @DANNY

    you have the Miller case backwards. Parliamentary consent was required not because it was revoking Treaty but because it wasn’t just doing so.

    The UKSC was unequivocal that the government, and only the government, has a prerogative power to change treaties – but it cannot exercise that power alone if it will affect people’s rights in domestic law such as to be tantamount to a legislative act.

    ALEC linked a HoC briefing note last week that explained this well if you want to scroll back.

    The Withdrawal Agreement, unusually, needs Parliamentary consent to ratification because the legislation says so, but the act of making the Treaty in the first place is a prerogative act which under our current system means Theresa not Liz, but unambiguously means not the HoC.

  36. ALEC

    @” 11.11am


    re @”I am content that no western country will ever be overwhelmed by islamist terror or islamist ways of thinking. ”

    “Overwhelmed” is a very high bar , taken literally. So I would probably agree with you on that basis.

    But imo the word is indicative of a false dichotomy on this topic.

    What is relevant politically ( and that is what we are talking about ) is the perception of ordinary people. So we need to ask questions about the level of mortality which would cause serious concern in the public.-remembering that the modus operandi indicated in the stats I referenced results in multiple deaths for a single attack. I don’t know what the answer to such a question would be in UK.

    In Germany, RW demonstrations are taking place because the deaths of innocents are perceived to result from mass uncontrolled immigration , so we can ask that question & try to find an answer.
    The riots are in Saxony -which did not bear the brunt of Merkel’s open door. So why in Saxony, rather than Bavaria?

    And when you dig into that you confront what I believe to be the central problem -If you ignore that people have concerns about the effects of large scale immigration without their consent ; if you ignore that people feel comparatively economically disadvantaged in their country , if you just call them racists & say they have no right to heard-then the real Racists will step forward to fill the political vacuum. And it won’t really matter how many have been killed by an immigrant’s bomb.


  37. Brexiteers as protectionists.

    Matt Singh has done a few interesting polls recently for CapX (they generally have a Leave bias but I think Matt Singh’s write-up is impartial)

    The most recent one well worth a read as it backs up something I’ve banged on about from time to time.

    Brexiteers dilemma/hypocrisy can be solved by ensuring future trade deals with EU and beyond are based on comparative advantage and not ne0-liberal beggar thy neighbour, especially if those beggar thy neighbour countries have a fetish for twin surpluses or have massively different wage levels but we share a CU with them!!!

    With this is mind it is easy to see why Brexiteers want tariffs on goods where we have a massive trade deficit but no comparative disadvantage. Instead we want trade deals based on lower tariffs for goods where we do have a comparative disadvantage and where increased trade and more competition makes sense because it will lower prices without risking UK jobs (e.g. food imports of citrus fruit, cheap clothing, etc)

    The difficult part will be not dropping too many tariffs on products like food, clothing too much or too quickly for nothing in return (back to not too much “tit” before we get some “tat’).

    Fortunately I understand we have a number of consultants working in DexEU who have looked into this and have “optimised” a new set of tariff schedules that comes in below CET (as it needs to) but doesn’t give away all our cards in future trade talks (with EU or beyond). Hopefully we’ll all get to see the details on that soon – shortly after LAB conf [1] but before CON conf or Oct EU Council meeting would seem to make sense if I was in May’s position ;)

    [1] Amongst the disaster of Mayb0t’s negotiating skills let’s at least ensure Corbyn is boxed into BINO and/or a 2nd ref before we run the risk of confidence votes inside of CON or in HoC!

  38. Trevor,

    Tariffs are not the most important factor in trade policy.

    Harmonising and recognising product standards is much more important. No amount of tinkering with tariff levels can make up for leaving the Single Market. And there is no prosperous trading future for the UK making its own unique product standards.

    So I don’t see what Matt Singh’s polling demonstrates. It doesn’t help with the choice the UK is facing.

  39. @ HAL – NTBs are often far higher than tariffs for sure but we come from the position of currently being 100% aligned to EU.

    HMT’s analysis discuss NTBs at length as it is by far the biggest component of their 15y forecasts (approx 70% of the total)

    As you’ll see on p9 they base their NTB numbers not on an honest view of what they would be from leaving a trade bloc with whom we are currently 100% aligned but from inversing the benefits of joining a bloc (with whom we would not currently be aligned) – with a “modest” reduction!

    You’d almost think they were deliberately trying to make the -ve numbers as high as possible?

    In a “Strongly Mitigated” No Deal (see p4, not yet modelled) then the assumption should be that we unilaterally recognise all EU standards on goods, particularly foods. This would have the effect of dropping the NTBs to close to EEA levels[1].

    Also the tariffs on some products are actually quite high, particularly foods! Reducing, but not eliminating, these tariffs in “no deal” means we’d have to provide that same lower tariff with rWorld. Since we will always have a comparative disadvantage in food (due to climate, population density, higher wages) this isn’t going to upset UK farmers provided we adopt a sensible policy on tariff reduction (that considers what we can and do produce at home and what we don’t) and also ensure we replace EU CAP with a sensible UK replacement[2]. We would also have room to drop NTBs with rWorld (not modelled by HMT!) with/without new trade deals.

    [1] We can’t control what the EU do and for sure they might chose to gridlock Calais and have Dutch exports rot in Rottendam, with resulting knock-on traffic jam impacts on our side. I strongly suggest UK supply chains look to switch to buy more products from UK or rWorld just in case! Anticipating and ideally soon knowing that we’ll have lower tariffs with rWorld should help motivate that process! We can also unilaterally sort out the TRQ issue if EU don’t want to sort that out multi-laterally.

    [2] Separately I do think we should be less reliant on food imports and take a leaf (pun intended) from the Netherlands but that is a long-term aim.

  40. @Catmanjeff

    Good grief, I’ve just read that 2012 Spectator article that Frank Field wrote on Enoch Powell that you brought to our attention. It’s a hagiography that borders on nauseating sycophancy in parts, but it’s his comments on the Rivers of Blood speech that are truly unbelievable, coming as they do from a Labour politician. He justifies the speech on the basis that Powell was merely voicing peoples widely held concerns about immigration. He castigates Heath for throwing him out of the shadow cabinet.

    His weasel words are utterly disgraceful. Did he not understand the fear that Powell invoked amongst the immigrant population in the West Midlands, many of whom were what we now call the Windrush generation, when the malicious old bully talked of the “black man having the whip hand”, “watermelon smiles” and “picaninnies”? Did he not read or get that part of the hate-filled rant? Powell, in the Johnson mould, was punching down, pandering to the worst and darkest forms of prejudice and picking on a vulnerable minority who were trying to make their way in a largely hostile and unwelcoming world that we’d asked them to join.

    I always thought that Field was a “look-at-me” exhibitionist sort of politician, and too self-knowingly “maverick” for my liking, but, until I read this article, I didn’t know that he was a complete and utter fool.

    I wonder what Jonathan Sacks’ take on it would be??

  41. @Trevor Warne – I’m more than happy to admit when I’m wrong, but there a bit of revisionism here, I think. I did mistakenly write one post where I said we would stay in the EU if the WA wasn’t signed, and then immediately corrected myself. That was never my settled position – more of a single rushed post which wasn’t checked before submitted.[*]

    I also always accepted that the transition negotiations had to take place as part of the WA talks. You may be confusing this with my long held view that we wouldn’t get the transition unless we signed the WA, which remains the only viable interpretation. Your memory is incorrect here.

    You then say – “TOH and myself have, from the very beginning, stuck with the view that May will not sign the WA (or be allowed to sign it) unless and until she has a fairly strong commitment on the future relationship…..”

    This is quite staggering revisionism, and again displays your poor memory. You and @TOH used to say that we wouldn’t sign the WA unless we had a trade deal, @TOH said we wouldn’t even talk about payments until trade talks started, you said that even after signing the WA this didn’t mean that we would be legally obliged to pay the sums involved, claiming that ‘triggers and timings’ would mean we could stop paying if we didn’t get a trade deal, you both said that May would never sign a WA without a legally binding trade deal etc etc.

    The idea that you only said we would need a ‘fairly strong commitment on the future relationship…’ is in itself particularly risible. There was a time when you argued that the ‘future relationship’ clause contained in A50 meant a trade deal, so far off the ball were you.

    I’m aware that picking up on your factual and historcial inaccuracies is like nailing a jelly to a wall, but I’ll leave other posters to judge whether or not I admit to being wrong, and I’ll trust their memories to delve back into the origins of our past debates.

  42. @Trevor Warne – I’m really not sure that you understand all this. NTB’s really aren’t about whether we are currently aligned – it’s about where the checks on that alignment are made.

    Unless we agree legally binding rules that keep us aligned with the EU, there will be NTBs. That’s the bottom line.

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