While there hasn’t been a lot of voting intention polling in recent weeks, there has been quite a lot of Brexit polling – those organisations campaigning for or against it used the summer holidays to get a good bite of publicity. This included some large polls from YouGov for Hope Not Hate and the People’s Vote campaign showing Remain at 53% and Leave at 47% if there was a referendum now. Today there was a new NatCen poll that showed Remain at 59%, Leave at 41% (though do check the important caveat from John Curtice’s report that the sample itself had too many 2016 Remain voters, so it actually implied a position along the lines of Remain 53/54%, Leave 46/47%) and a Survation poll showing Remain at 50%, Leave at 50%.

In terms of what to make of this, I’d give the same advice on support or opposition to Brexit as I do on voting intention. There are an awful lot of polls asking about support for Brexit, and a lot of people inclined to cherry-pick those which they agree with. Don’t pay too much attention to individual polls (especially not “interesting” outliers), watch the broad trend instead.

There are four regular tracking polls that people should look to to judge whether or not the public have changed their minds (the data is all nicely collected on John Curtice’s WhatUKThinks website here. First there are polls that ask how pople would vote in a referendum now – regularly asked by both BMG Research and Survation using the original referendum question, and using a more generic version by YouGov in their Eurotrack series of polls. BMG have been asking this since late 2016, and where early polls tended to still show more people would still vote Leave, that has gradually changed and since 2017 they have consistently shown more people would now vote to stay. Their EU referendum polls this year have averaged at Remain 49%, Leave 44% (Remain 53%, Leave 47% without don’t knows)


The Survation series didn’t start until 2017 – since then their polls have varied between neck-and-neck and small leads for Remain. On average this year their referendum polls have shown Remain 48%, Leave 46% (51% Remain, 49% Leave without don’t knows). Unlike the other two referendum polls Survation weight their referendum question by likelihood to vote which, given that previous non-voters tend to split in favour of remain, probably explains the slightly lower remain lead.

The YouGov Eurotrack poll is part of a regular poll across several EU countries on how people would vote in a referendum on their country’s membership of the EU, so doesn’t use the British referendum wording. Nevertheless, the results show a similar pattern to the BMG polling – results late in 2016 continued to show Leave ahead, but since then Remain has been fairly consistently ahead. The average across their five polls in 2018 is Remain 45%, Leave 41% (52% Remain, 48% Leave without don’t knows)

The most regular comparable poll isn’t asked as referendum VI, but is YouGov’s tracker for the Times asking if people think Britain was right or wrong to vote to Leave the EU, normally asked weekly. The pattern should be familiar – in late 2016 the poll consistently showed people thought Britain was right to leave, in early 2017 it began to flip over, and it now consistently finds more people think Britain was wrong to vote to Leave. On average this year 46% of people have said Brexit was the wrong decision, 42% the right decision (without don’t knows, it would be 52% wrong, 48% right).

So while the movement across the polls has not been massive (was are generally talking about a swing of 3 to 5 points from the referendum result), given the closeness of the 2016 result that is enough to mean polls are consistently showing slightly more people opposed to Brexit than in support of it. There is one important caveat to add to this. If you look at the breakdown by 2016 referendum vote you will often find the number of Leave voters switching to Remain is that that much larger than the number of Remain voters switching to Leave (if it is larger at all!), this is because polls generally find those people who did not vote in the 2016 referendum tend to split in favour of Remain.

270 Responses to “Bregret – an update”

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  1. @ Neil A

    “My advice would be to wait and see. Don’t jump to conclusions, or else as new evidence emerges we won’t be able to assess it dispassionately because we will see it through the prism of what we’ve already decided.”

    Sounds like what Corbyn has said to be honest with you.

    Also for all the hot air I’d also suggest (without knowing the full effect of any sanctions imposed) that it is very unlikely that the world is going to do much that stops Putin carrying on as before.

  2. Alec

    Sounds like my decision to not apply to UK institutions is justified. I certainly don’t see the UK as being a place to have a secure future in research which seems born out by your experience.


    For reasons possibly known by yourself, you have only been looking at the only public voting in the Island of Ireland which uses the undemocratic plurality system and so has little to do with popular choice.

    Both Wiki and the BBC have full details of the assembly and council elections in NI which, like the RoI use STV. Look at the data there, and you will find less extreme choices.

  4. @ BZ – I did clearly say Stormont was different. I did quickly look at that and it is more complicated to run analysis and folks hate long posts! My post relates to Bradley’s comments.

    FPTP has it faults but to call it “undemocratic” is a bit OTT.

    We’re probably about to see Sweden provide an example of why a more “democratic” system doesn’t always give the best outcome. Many rEU countries have had major issues over the years with PR type systems resulting in weak coalitions. That simply hands more power to EC – a true bastion of representative democracy!!

    A minor add-on to my post previous though. Belfast South is the best place where “paper” or “pulled” candidates could make a difference and the seat has had some to/fro in the past. DUP have just under a 2,000 majority and won the seat from SDLP in 2017 due chiefly to UUP collapse.

    DUP hold Belfast South with a 30.4% vote share and is where my model shows a possible DUP -1 in next GE with some “tactical voting” (I mistakenly assigned this to SF +1 rather than SDLP +1 in a previous post so thought I’d better correct that)!

    We’ll have to see if tactical voting does see that seat change in next GE with proviso that we’ll never be able to say it was tactical voting for sure.

  5. STV was almost certainly one of the reasons why the more “extreme” Parties in N Ireland suddenly became less extreme (by no longer tacitly supporting the armed struggle). FPTP on the other hand tends to cement extremes in place.

  6. Belfast South is a big hope for the SDLP; that party has a good track record there, and they are likely to have a new “progressive” (for want of a better word) candidate there, who is generally well liked outside of the usual SDLP voting electorate, who could continue that SDLP South Belfast tradition of attracting moderate centre ground people.

  7. Brits prefer single party govt v coalition govt

    This was from back in 2015 going in to the GE

    Only 29% now prefer coalition to single party government, down from 45% before the Coalition was formed

    Something else LDEM PR folks can thank Clegg for!


    Slightly related is a good write-up going into 2017 about “Progressive Alliance” tactical voting. I don’t think they did one on what I called CONKIP Alliance at the time but Mayb0tched that one for sure – Arron Banks trying to bring it back perhaps?

  8. Neil,

    I do not doubt your expertise and I am very glad there are people like you protecting people like me from criminals. In this case the police seem to have done their job and given the evidence of Novichok in the hotel room it would probably be enough to convict these two individuals of attempted murder. This evidence has been presented in a transparent way and seems convincing.

    The real question is who told or paid them to do it, which from the point of view of international relations and the possibility of future wars is the important bit. Here we are expected to take everything on trust

    You say: “I have worked on investigations where it was necessary to try and defeat the efforts of criminals to avoid detection (Dark Web, false identities, encryption etc).”

    Do you agree that these two suspects seem to have made very little attempt to hide their tracks?

  9. @Carfrew: If people had not read your posts trying to pretend Corbyn did not say he would “deal with graduate debt”, they might take your other posts more seriously!!


    FPTP has it faults but to call it “undemocratic” is a bit OTT.

    It is certainly the least democratic system in use in the EU28 and results in the Punch and Judy politics we see every Wednesday when the Westminster parliament is sitting.

    If DANNY is right, the Cons will survive. If not, then the disaster of a no deal exit may well destroy them.


    Quite so.

  11. OLDNAT @

    “focused laser-like on the priorities of the British people”

    If “the British people” had a single set of priorities then that comment might make some sense – but they don’t, and it doesn’t.

    [etc etc etc etc etc etc etc……………………….etc]

    1/ That was not my quote, it was a Labour MP’s.

    2/ I realise that late at night you enjoy random solo quibble with various posts.

    However it did seem pretty clear that the MP in question was comparing the typical priorities of the electorate at large [as demonstrated quite regularly in OPINION POLLS] as against the Labour party discussing how rude they can be about Israel and the minutiae of various procedural stuff, rule changes and so on – which seemed a fair point to me.

  12. @Andrew,

    There is a difference between going unnoticed and going undetected. Some of the things one might do to try and remain undetected are the sort of things that, if you made a mistake or were unlucky would very much get you noticed.

    One simple example. Car headlights. When I was in uniform 250 million years ago, you would sometimes come across burglars in cars in back streets driving with their lights off. Clearly an effort to go undetected. But what is the consequence of driving with your lights off when the police come around the corner? You get stopped and questioned, and they probably search your car, find your tools and swag and arrest you.

    So is it hiding your tracks to leave your lights on? Or hiding your tracks to leave your lights off? I’d say neither is right or wrong, just difference approaches.

    Sometimes in my job I need to put arrange observations on an address. You know how I work out the best places to watch it from? I walk right past the front door and look up, to see what windows etc I can see. Am I undetected? Nope. If the subject walks out of the house, or comes home, he’ll bump right into me. But will he notice? There are probably guys walking past his door all the time.

    In a similar vein, we will sometimes ask uniformed officers to do fieldwork. Dodgy areas are quite used to seeing patrolling officers. They’ll detect them, but discount them. But if an out of place, middle aged white guy is wandering around their estate? Tongues will wag.

    So consider this – in 21st century Britain, how noteworthy is it that two Eastern European men in their 40s are walking down the road? And how useful is it to pretend to look like someone else? They could dress in drag, or put on a hat and fake beard and pretty to be Hasidic Jews. But actually the best disguise for two Slavs in Britain is probably to look like two Slavs in Britain.

    And if you want to travel undetected, is it better to travel on a busy train in broad daylight? Or in a car in the middle of the night on an empty road?

    I am not an expert, but if I was planning to kill someone in a foreign country, I would prioritise speed and simplicity. Stay the minimum length of time. Interact with the minimum number of people. The only thing I might do is stay at a cheap hotel out of the way that will take cash up front and doesn’t insist on a credit card from the guest.

    I am not sure I would do anything different to what they did.

  13. R&D

    I didn’t think for a moment that the Lab MP’s “laser-like” comments were yours.

    Politicians frequently talk in meaningless generalities like she did, but it was the contrast between her vacuous comments and her description of a strategy with laser precision that attracted my attention.

  14. Neil A

    I know you must be correct about unnoticed/undetected as your comments mirror the ones that le Carre puts into the mouth of Toby Esterhazy in Smiley’s People! :-)

  15. OLDNAT

    Agreed re Toby. Sadly, Bernard Hepton, who played Toby in both the BBC Smiley series, passed away on 2018-07-27.

    Both series are downloadable as torrents.

  16. “Murray is using smoke and mirrors to convince people who really, really want to be convinced. Don’t be fooled.”
    @Neil A September 8th, 2018 at 1:47 am

    Thanks for your considered opinion. I do not doubt anything you say. Indeed, novichock is supposed to be extraordinary toxic. From what I have read these sorts of poisons are normally transported as two or more components, and only combined at the target site to produce the desired poison.

    With a product so potent I am absolutely convinced that the people dispatched to deliver it would be nothing but the best that could be used. I am not convinced this crime has been sponsored by Russia, although that does not mean these were not Russians, and of course that does not mean it wasn’t sponsored by Russia. I do not think that the poison’s handlers would be so stupid as to leave clues aimlessly around. A product so toxic must be handled carefully, and no doubt these people were rigorously trained prior to entering the UK.

    Indeed I would expect them to plan everything they were going to do meticulously. From the comments you have made about how people could be tracked I would be flabbergasted if this was not known and taken into account. Everyone leaves some footprint or other; and I expect that would have been controlled and built in.

    But the key question that has still not yet been addressed — why use such an extreme poison to perform an execution? Whether successful or not its use was presumably designed to send a message. But from whom and to whom? That is most worrying of all.

  17. Re Bregret. As the 2017 GE showed, it’s easy to be misled by opinion polls. The current Brexit polling is posing a hypothetical question without reference to the context in which the question would be asked. In reality, any second referendum would have a highly toxic character which would be dominated by the assertion that the referendum itself was a betrayal of democracy and tantamount to an attempted coup by the ruling classes. Leave campaigners would make it abundantly clear that they would never be reconcilled to a Remain victory, and the hurt and fury of Leave voters would be on full display, destroying for ever the illusion that it would be possible to return to the status quo ante without cost. Under the circumstances I would expect Leave to win by an increased margin, not least because Remain’s arguments (“project fear”, “project smear” & “feel the warmth of our cuddly Euro-friends”) have all weakend substantially since 2016. Remain voters should be careful what they wish for: an increased win for Leave would mandate (and guarantee) a no-deal Brexit.

  18. MOOMO, ‘coup by the ruling classes’. I can never quiet get my head around the thought process behind this. Can you explain? I mean it’s like Boris, Rees-Mogg are not part of the ruling classes…or is it different if there on your side?

    As for ‘remains arguments have all weakened’, I’d say it was the opposite.

  19. I’ve a real worry about civil disobedience. I can see people getting seriously hurt if as a country we’re not careful. This is the time the government should be recruiting more police, there’s a chance we’re going to need them.



    Sorry for the delay – no electricity this AM!

    If you used Napster in the nineties or noughties, the process of torrenting should be pretty straightforward. If not, try this idiot’s guide and get back to me if necessary.

    Torrenting is a peer to peer process for which you need software and adequate space for downloads. I find Tixati pretty good, but there are many others.

    Once you have that, you’ll need to download some torrents. kitcr.com have both the Smiley torrents and lots more including the House of Cards series from both sides of the pond. torrentking.to are another good site which has many movies but not UK TV series, where rareshare.me is better.

    That’s about it, but bear in mind that the first few downloads may be pretty slow because you won’t have any material to offer in return. The software displays it automatically once you have anything to offer visitors, and you may find that even while you’re downloading a movie, other users will appear downloading sections you already have.

    If you already have a VPN, keep it running as there are potential intellectual property issues. If not, don’t run it 24×7.

    If you have an Android or Apple device, you can also get many movies and US series for free via an app called Cartoon HD, whence I got Churchill (2017) and Darkest Hour (2017). They can easily be transferred to Windows and played on modern TVs.

    Hope this helps.

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