A brief update on the state of the polls as we head towards Christmas. First let look at voting intention. The six voting intention polls we’ve seen published so far in December have all shown the two main parties essentially neck and neck – two have shown tiny Labour leads, two have shown tiny Conservative leads, two have had them equal (the YouGov poll for the People’s Vote campaign in the Sunday papers today may have had a slighter larger lead, but it shouldn’t upset the average).

Opinium (14th Dec) – CON 38%, LAB 39%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 6%
YouGov (7th Dec) – CON 38%, LAB 37%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 3%
Kantar (6th Dec) – CON 38%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 5%
Ipsos MORI (5th Dec) – CON 38%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 4%
YouGov (4th Dec) – CON 40%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 4%
ComRes (2nd Dec) – CON 37%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 6%

Despite the incredibly turbulent situation in British politics, there has been relatively little change in voting intention since the general election. Through late 2017 there was a very small Labour lead, for most of 2018 there was a very small Conservative lead (with a few periods of Labour ahead – most significantly the weeks following the Johnson/Davis resignations). At no point has either party really pulled away. Politics may have been chaos, but voting intention have been steady.

This itself is remarkable given the state of the government at present. If you look at any other measure, they are in a dire situation. The government’s net satisfaction rating in the MORI poll last week was minus 45 (24% satisfied, 69% dissatisfaction). That is comparable to the sort of figures that the Brown government was getting in 2008 or the Thatcher government in 1990… both periods when the opposition had a clear lead in voting intention. Any question asking about the government’s main policy – the delivery of Brexit – shows that a solid majority of people think they are doing badly at implementing it. Today’s poll from Opinium found people thought the party was divided by 69% to 18% (and quite what those 18% of people were thinking I do not know!). And yet, the Conservatives remain pretty much neck-and-neck in the polls.

I can think of three potential explanations (and they are by no means exclusive to one another). The first is that people have simply switched off. The ongoing chaos isn’t impacting people’s voting intention because they are not paying attention. The second is that voting intentions may still be being largely driven by Brexit and, regardless of how well the Conservatives are delivering Brexit, they are the main party that claims it is committed to doing so, and while support for Brexit has fallen, the split in the country is still normally around 47%-53%.

The third potential reason is that Labour are not a particularly attractive option to many voters either – one of the few clear changes in the polls this year is a sharp drop in Jeremy Corbyn’s approval ratings. At the end of last year his approval rating from MORI was minus 7, in the MORI poll last week it was minus 32. On YouGov’s Best Prime Minister question he continues to trail well behind Theresa May (and often both of them trail behind “Not sure”).

While it is interesting to ponder why the voting intention figures remain stable, it’s not necessary particularly meaningful. In the next four months Brexit will either go ahead with a deal that many will dislike, go ahead without any deal with whatever short or long term consequences that may bring, or be delayed or cancelled. Any of these has the potential to have massive impact on support for the parties.

On Brexit itself, public opinion on what should come next is not necessarily much clearer than opinion in Westminster. Throughout 2018 opinion has continued to drift slowly against Brexit – asked if we should remain or leave polls tend to find a modest lead for Remain – typically showing a swing of around 5 points since the referendum (They are helpfully collated by John Curtice here – his average of the last six polls to ask how people would vote now currently shows a Remain lead of 53% to 47%).

While the majority of people don’t support Brexit any longer, that does not necessarily translate into clear
support for stopping it, or indeed for most other courses of action. Poll after poll asks what the government should do next, and there is little clear support for anything. Theresa May’s proposed deal certainly does not have majority support (YouGov’s Sunday Times poll last week found 22% supported it, 51% opposed. MORI’s poll found 62% thought it was a bad thing, 25% good). When Opinium asked what should happen if the deal was defeated, 19% wanted to re-open negotiations, 20% said leave with no deal, 10% said have an election, 30% have a referendum, 11% cancel Brexit altogether. When MORI asked a similar question with slightly different options 16% said renegotiate, 25% said no deal, 10% an election and 30% a referendum.

When polls ask directly about a referendum they tend to find support (although, to be fair, most polls asking about referendums normally find support for then – it is essentially a question asking whether the respondent would like a say, or whether politicians should decide for them). However, a new referendum is obviously a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

And therein lies the problem – there is scant support for most plausible leave outcomes, but reversing Brexit in some way risks a significant minority of voters (and a majority of the government’s supporters) reacting extremely negatively indeed. In the YouGov Sunday Times poll last week they asked what people’s emotional response would be to the most plausible outcomes (current deal, no deal, soft Brexit, referendum and no Brexit). Would people feel delighted, pleased, relived, disappointed, angry, betrayed, or wouldn’t mind either way?

If Britain ended up leaving without a deal 23% would react positively, 53% negatively.
If Britain ended up leaving with the proposed deal, 20% would react positively, 51% negatively.
If Britain ended up with a softer Brexit, staying in the customs union and single market, 27% would react positively, 35% negatively.

Finally, if there was a referendum and Britain voted to stay, 42% would react positively, 39% would react negatively. This is the outcome that would have a positive reaction from the largest proportion of people, but it would also be by far the most divisive. When asked about their reaction to the deal or a soft Brexit, most people gave people towards the middle of the scale – they’d be disappointed, or relieved, or wouldn’t mind. Asked about reversing the decision to Leave, answers tended to the extremes – 26% would be delighted, but 23% would feel betrayed, including 51% of people who voted Brexit back in 2016.


1,579 Responses to “Where public opinion stands”

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  1. @TW
    The idea that there are only ’20ish CON anti- no deal MPs’ sounds total fanciful to me; gut feel for me this would be 80-100 minimum. Whether you could peel a few off by putting in place enough mitigations I don’t know, but I doubt it.

    The Tories have been the ‘Party of Business’ since the 1930’s – it is a hell of a stretch to assume that the great majority of Tory MPs will just abdicate this position, with its associated support and funding, overnight and adopt a long-term business-disruptive strategy…

  2. DANNY
    “But if conservative MPs do not think it is possible to have a harm free brexit, then carrying it out will create an electoral disaster for them. ”

    It is possible to carry out a policy that is popular but economically catastrophic without being electorally finished by it. The most extreme example of this is surely provided by the prosecution of the Second World War [1].

    As that example also proves, all you need to do is convince your electorate that the economic catastrophe was a price worth paying for the “gains achieved elsewhere”. Looks a tough call on Brexit I’ll admit. But if they could manage to spin “victiory” out of taking Poland out of the control of one of the two most bloodthirsty dictators the world has seen just to give it to the other one [2], they can spin anything.

    It can be noted that it is those who created that economic catastrophe for the UK to no real effect that are now feted as heroes, and those who knew its futility and tried above all to avoid that catastrophe that are now condemned as appeasers.

    Who knows how the future might view Brexit should it ever happen. History is always written by those who end the process in power, and they shall always be able to pretend to be “the victors” however negative the consequences of their actions.

    [1] True it is that the Conservatives lost the 1945 election of course, and at the time no doubt it felt disasterously so, But a hindsight view seems different.

    [2] An entirely predictable outcome of the process, as Seán Lemass had noted in 1939.

  3. Danny,

    I recall the 2015 GE when the Tories were very successful it seemed to me at getting anti-Labour people in to audiences as undecided voters, one such was exposed afterwards as a Tory party member but it got little coverage.

    In 2017, I thought, Labour (or at least anti-Tory) seemed to be over-represented, perhaps broadcasters were adjusting for 2015 and over did things and/or Labour adopted similar approaches.

    Many years or go (90s) I think I was asked by the party to call a Radio 5 phone in during a GE to ask a specific question of a Tory politician and not state any allegiance, I did but did not get on as it happens. Ever since, though, I have always been sceptical about the ‘change of mind’ caller and have listened on occasions to people clearly lying imo about previous votes or view. Anecdote is not evidence applied and can be extended to personal testaments or not evidence. Both can be genuine of course and valuable as part of a discourse.

  4. @PETERW

    I am not sure that Airbus, Nissan, Siemens, Toyota and the liem cause the financial crash.

    it was our own and US bankers that did that and I have not seen people fetign them indeed, one of the issues has been that UK rules for financial engineering are deemed equivalent, yet thing such as Bonds cannot be haircut if they are issued in the UK. One of the benefits of the UK leaving teh EU is that something like Greece would basically ht the banker much harder. Of all the bondholder which were haircut, all the bonds were issued under London rules for a specific reason.

    it was why the EuroCommision and the ECB took the UK to court trying to limit access to eurobond market. They lost because we have to be treated equally as full members.

  5. I wonder if anyone can clarify this:

    May’s ‘deal’ is not a trade deal, but the withdrawal agreement that has been on the table for over a year. It leaves most options for a trade deal still open.

    So if MPs want to remain in the EU, or don’t want to pay the money we owe them, or are ideologically opposed to the NI ‘backstop’, fair enough to vote against it. But if they support Norway + as a sensible solution, then why not support this WA? Norway + (or whatever), which would make the backstop arguments redundant anyway, is surely still there to be negociated, isn’t it?

  6. @PTRP
    To be clear, under UK law bondholders cannot be FORCED to accept a haircut, unless the terms under which their bonds were issued allow for such a course.

    Bondholders in a default situation often AGREE a haircut, if it offers a chance of achieving a better rate of recovery.

    Remember that borrowers seeking to force a haircut through are effectively seeking to retrospectively alter the terms on which they borrowed without the consent of the lender – I do struggle to see why this is so wrong? Certainly interest rates will be higher if haircuts can be imposed on bondholders without consent.

    In recent years the situation has been made more complicated by the rise of specialist hedge funds that buy up bonds in default and try to force a better recovery amount by refusing to accept proposed haircut terms. This makes getting sensible agreement amongst bondholders more difficult to achieve, and was – I believe – prominent in the recent Argentine default situation.

  7. DANNY

    It was at Leeds University. Perhaps he should have stayed closer to home. :)

    Anyway, I wasn’t the only one who noticed, here are two comments on Jon Snows Twitter:

    ·
    16h
    Replying to
    @jonsnowC4
    It was a car crash . C4news tells us young vote Remain around UK by 87% ..C4 managed to find an audience exactly the opposite of that figure .

    ·
    17h
    Replying to
    @jonsnowC4
    Hugely disappointed with this. You said in your opening speech that young people had voted “overwhelmingly” to remain, yet @Channel4News seemingly couldn’t find any of them for this debate. It was so pro-leave there were times I thought I was watching the BBC.

  8. @ DANNY – You continue to miss the point that “Managed No Deal” or whatever else you want to call it is the default. If MPs want to stop “No Deal” they need to enable something else (May’s deal, revoke, extend, etc). Very happy for you/MPs to think they can block it, think Remain are “winning” etc but to change the law you need to… well… change the law (EU Withdrawal Act to be specific)

    @ BFR – We just had some very weak votes on amendments that do little more than inconvenience HMG but supposedly were “anti No Deal”. That is where the 20ish CON MPs number comes from. Of course kicking May out, repealing the EU Withdrawal Act, etc is a huge step up from there so in practise its a lot less than 20 IMHO. (Maybe DANNY is right though and any day now May will revoke A50! Maybe!)

    As for “adopt a long-term business-disruptive strategy” then as we’ll continue to pay 10bn/yr for a 95bn trade deficit in goods with EU then I want the current ne0-liberal EU-centric “strategy” disrupted – that is the main reason I voted Leave!

    CEOs of VW, Airbus, etc and the very vocal lobby groups like CBI/SMMT will be upset and as I repeatedly say we need a major package of “incentives” for business to encourage jobs to stay/move to UK.

    We need a Brexit for the many (UK workers) not the few (CEOs of multinationals)

    @ PATRICKBRIAN – The WIthdrawal Agreement is not a Trade Deal. The current 26pages of waffle in the non-legally binding Political Declaration (PD) could offer most of the spectrum of Trade Deals that folks want (Canada+, Norway+, Turkey+, etc).

    However, the EC’s “trap” is set in the legally binding backstop of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA). Those of Remain bias will probably be more “trusting” of EC-EU27 to be “nice” but EC-EU27 need to give us a “bad deal” so you won’t find many Leavers “trusting” the EC-EU27 not to use the backstop to keep us hostage, hence the fuss over the backstop.

    Unfort the phrase “No Deal” has stuck but if we do not sign the WA then we immediately get a trade deal – WTO+(++).

    The major benefit being it will end the uncertainty aspect of years of ongoing negotiations with EU, tied to the “hostage” backstop clauses in the WA, unable to negotiate trade deals with other countries, CPTPP, unable to increase state aid to protect jobs, etc

    Some temporary +s already in place (eg EC didn’t want to kick start the next Euro crisis so will allow EU27 businesses to access London, most countries have agreed to continue citizen’s rights, planes will fly, UK side will “wave through” goods and EU ports highlighting they want to keep trade flowing, extra “capacity” in trade routes, stockpiling, etc, etc). Some of those might end up “permanent” and hopefully as we approach 29Mar’19 we’ll get more +s in place.

    I highly recommend reading the LAB Leave myth buster on No Deal I posted a day or two ago. Some cake and TBC in there but a lot of detail on issues that the Remain press are obviously never going to admit.

  9. Patrickbrian: … if they support Norway + as a sensible solution, then why not support this WA? Norway + (or whatever), which would make the backstop arguments redundant anyway, is surely still there to be negociated, isn’t it?

    Well, yes, but. The withdrawal agreement was negotiated over a year ago [December 2017] and the final positioning of the UK could have been negotiated to be Norway within the remaining year. However, all that has been achieved since December 2017 has been to agree a transition or implementation period and to wrangle pointlessly over the backstop which was effectively agreed in December 2017.

    Safe to say that if any specifics had been agreed, such as Norway, the head bangers would have rejected it, much as they reject May’s deal now. May would not have been allowed to negotiate anything by the headbangers that could get even grudging support from Parliament.

    All that May’s deal achieves in terms of future options is to take Remain off the table. It leaves the option of Norway as just one option amongst a number to be internally negotiated within the UK in ferrets-in-a-sack mode. Under May’s deal, the fighting continues for years to come and would probably outlast the transition period substantially. So at the moment, there is no reasonably sure route to Norway via May’s deal.

    Given that for many MP’s, Norway is 2nd best to Remain anyway and given that voting for May’s deal only strengthens the head bangers in their fight for no deal brexit, there is very little point in a vote for May’s deal, because May’s deal is an unlikely route to a Norway deal.

  10. TCO,

    Yes, indeed. Norway is dead because it requires May’s withdrawal agreement, which the HoC is about to reject.

  11. @TW
    You’re missing the point – you are describing a business-disruptive strategy that you want and assuming that Tory MPs want it too – but many of them are strongly supportive of and are supported by the same big business leaders that you want to disrupt. Put simply, they don’t agree with you.

    You are also ignoring the reality that only backbench MPs can vote against the government whip – the 200+ payroll vote Tory MPs can only vote against ‘No Deal’ at the point at which they are prepared to leave the government, and that is only once May’s deal has been clearly defeated and she embraces ‘no deal’ rather than ‘Remain’, ‘Ref2’ or ‘extend’, all of which options have their Tory supporters in government.

    We’ve already had cabinet level ministers making it clear that they will vote to prevent ‘no deal’ – given the preponderance of more moderate Tories in the payroll vote (not many ‘headbangers’ are on the front benches) I’d be pretty confident of 60-80 of the 200-odd falling into that category, rather than the zero that you are assuming.

  12. [email protected]: Yes, indeed. Norway is dead because it requires May’s withdrawal agreement, which the HoC is about to reject.

    And the HoC is about to reject it because it does not offer much of a path to Norway. To get Norway, the executive have to concede red lines. Norway gets rid of the backstop at the price of FoM. The executive will not concede this.

    If MP’s want Norway, they are better off taking this chance to kick the government out and place a new government with a HoC mandate for Norway – without a GE. And if they want Remain with Norway as second preference, they are still better off letting the HoC decide and taking Norway if that is the outcome.

    A vote for May’s deal is a vote to let the arguments continue for another 3 or 4 years, because even now, there is no real decision on what brexit should look like

  13. peterw,
    “It is possible to carry out a policy that is popular but economically catastrophic without being electorally finished by it.”

    Yes indeed, if the nation was wholeheartedly committed to brexit then I’m sure it would pay any cost. The problem is that it isnt. May tried appealing to a brexit and never mind the consequences spirit in the election…and it failed.

    I really dont think anything has changed since the first analyses of the referendum vote: most leavers believe there will be no economic negatives. A minority have always wanted brexit despite the cost, but I have argued before that the difference between the majority of leavers and remainers is whether they believe there will be a cost to brexit. If you do, then you voted remain because of this. If you didnt you voted leave because there was no point belonging to an organisation which wasnt creating economic gains for the UK.

    The leave campaign understood the need to persuade voters there would be no cost to brexit, hence the bus. Even if their arguments about gains were ridiculed, the debate was focussed around the amount of the gain and away from any suggestion of an actual cost. An impression in voters minds of splitting the difference and ending with neutral cost was perfectly fine for their purposes.

  14. Jim Jam,
    “I recall the 2015 GE when the Tories were very successful it seemed to me at getting anti-Labour people in to audiences as undecided voters,”

    It an obvious thing to do. I’m sure the victorians would have been doing the same.

    Patrickbrian,
    “It leaves most options for a trade deal still open.”
    That is my impression too. Although the backstop plus other small print seems directed at the UK essentially staying in the whole market system, and hard brexiteers might find that unacceptable. But equally, everyone might find this open endedness unacceptable because no final outcome is guaranteed.

    It is a mistake to assume the outcome aimed at is a brexit plan the UK parliament can accept, rather than a deliberate attempt to make any compromise impossible. The latter seems just as consistent with events.

    Trevor Warne,
    “to change the law you need to… well… change the law (EU Withdrawal Act to be specific)”

    No, you dont. article 50 can be halted unilaterally by the UK government. brexit leaving day as defined in statute can be altered by a minister of the crown. Its does not need an act if parliament, I am not clear to what extent it might or might not need parliamentary agreement.

    “A Minister of the Crown may by regulations—
    (a)amend the definition of “exit day” in subsection (1) to ensure that the day and time specified in the definition are the day and time that theTreaties are to cease to apply to the United Kingdom, and
    (b)amend subsection (2) in consequence of any such amendment.”
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/16/pdfs/ukpga_20180016_en.pdf page 22.

  15. @HAL

    “Yes, indeed. Norway is dead because it requires May’s withdrawal agreement, which the HoC is about to reject”

    Which assumes that no deal is inevitable?

    I suspect a Government collapse and General Election are highly likely now. I expect Labour to present Customs Union with SM access as their Brexit offering.

    Whether the Tories could even agree what to present in their manifesto is debatable!

  16. John McDonnell on C4 news came as close as he can at this stage to saying that the Labour offer in the event of a GE would be a referendum to approve Labours’ deal with remain as an option.

    My guess is that the numbers in the HOC votes this week plus statements from cabinet ministers are reducing the fear of enough Labour MPs voting for a variant of May’s deal to compensate for Tory rebels.

    Otherwise he would not have sent this signal as some Labour MPs may ease towards passing a Tory Deal of some sort to avoid a second ref and remain possibility.

    Corbyn of course will play a straighter bat in Public but make no mistake the signal from McDonnell is real and deliberate.

    NB) Neither will breech conference policy in the comments of course.

  17. Trevors

    I don’t think you understood my question. You certainly didn’t address it. But thanks anyway.

    Technicolour october

    Thanks for that analysis. But I still don’t quite see why Norway-ers shouldn’t vote vote May’s WA , and then organise cross-party support for a well-integrated trade deal.

    “A vote for May’s deal is a vote to let the arguments continue for another 3 or 4 years, ” – well, that’s going to happen in every scenario, and 3 or 4 years sounds pretty conservative to me!

    I’m always tempted by Danny’s argument that agreement / compromise is not what the government want anyway… trouble is, I just don’t think they’re that clever!

  18. JIB,

    As Donald Tusk said in October 2016 (oh such a long time ago!):

    “The only real alternative to a hard Brexit is no Brexit, even if today hardly anyone believes in such a possibility.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/13/its-hard-brexit-or-no-brexit-at-all-says-eu-council-president

  19. [email protected] october: But I still don’t quite see why Norway-ers shouldn’t vote vote May’s WA , and then organise cross-party support for a well-integrated trade deal.

    I would look at it this way: It is an interplay between the strategic and the tactical.

    Strategy at the moment has to be avoiding worst outcomes, with tactics being used to select from the available outcomes after the worst has been thwarted.

    So, Strategically, most MP’s wish to avoid No Deal. That means voting down No Deal, explicitly, but also voting down May’s deal. May’s deal has to be voted down because it offers further potential to relapse to No Deal. Tactically, the loss of the best prospect of a Norway deal is the price to be paid. Plus there is always the likelihood that if May’s deal is voted down, something will have to give or break and there will be a possibility of Norway out of that.

  20. @Hal

    That will be a very sad outcome in my view.

    But it may have been a very wise analysis of how it would play out. We must all remember that it was the Conservative Party that dug up the corpse.

  21. DANNY

    The revocation of Art 50 must be decided following a democratic process in accordance with national constitutional requirements, the ECJ court states. Such an ‘unequivocal and unconditional’ decision must be communicated in writing to the European Council. That would have to be done by Mrs May.

  22. Sam,

    However, revoking A50 would not change any domestic laws. So it could be done by the PM alone, as is usual for international treaties.

    Parliament would have to give effect to it in UK law by repealing the Withdrawal Act, but that is logically a separate matter.

    To make sure the two are in sync, a PM would probably want to get the repeal bill through Parliament first and then bring both into effect at the same time.

  23. Not sure how to take the big YG poll. Very big, so MoE should be small, but taken over a lengthy holiday period and showing parties at the margins of their recent ranges (and Lab a bit beyond). Hopefully there will be some up-to-date polls in the Sunday papers to show if it was the start of a trend or just normal variation. The shenanigans over the last few weeks must be having some effect.

  24. @bazinwales – It was extraordinary in light of government turmoil and the VoC in TM before Christmas. Whether it is the start of things to come, who knows, but I would see it difficult to see a way JC could win a GE on anything other than a remain/2nd ref ticket which comes with its own issues, namely a 180 degree turn on the previous manifesto. He can either thwart democracy or thwart his chances of becoming PM.

    Having gained an idea of the electoral suicide that delivering Brexit would lead to, it would be interesting to see cross-breaks on VI if Corbyn comes down firmly on the side of remain or indeed, continues trying to fool everyone.

  25. “Unfort the phrase “No Deal” has stuck but if we do not sign the WA then we immediately get a trade deal – WTO+(++).”

    Unfort the Trevors have started 2019 in the same vein as 2018.

    The above is total nonsense, of course. WTO terms, with as many pluses as you like, is _not_ a trade deal. It is simply trading on the worst available terms.

    Leavers might be able to convince themselves that this is a trade deal, but it should be borne in mind that they find it remarkably easy to convince themselves of all manner of ridicuous statements. The term “No Deal” has stuck, because if we leave without signing the WA, we get “No Deal”. It’s very simple, really.

    “I highly recommend reading the LAB Leave myth buster on No Deal I posted a day or two ago.”

    I don’t. It’s garbage.

    On serious matters:

    The legal issue of the Withdrawal Act is an interesting one. Not sure if @WB61 is lurking to give some legal guidance, but the oft repeated view amongst Brexiters is that UK law says we are leaving the EU on March 29th, so we have to leave.

    However, if A50 is extended or revoked, does that apply? Here lies an interesting point. Under the Lisbon Treaty, the UK is subject to EU law, and in circumstances where A50 is extended or revoked, we would still be under EU jurisdiction.

    In such circumstances, Parliament will have passed the Withdrawal Act, but the UK then not withdrawn from the EU – under EU law – so which law do we count? My guess is that in such circumstances the domestic law would be overturned by EU law – in other words, a PM could revoke A50 and the WA would not be legally actionable, as it contradicts accepted EU law.

    I suppose the question would be how the issue is resolved. If A50 was revoked and the UK started to ignore EU law because of the Withdrawal Act, then all manner of actions could be taken against the UK by the EU, EU citizens, UK citizens, companies etc. I can’t see any legal case coming out and saying that the domestic law trumps EU law, because it doesn’t, so presumably the WA would effectively be struck down as unconstitutional in such circumstances.

    Indeed, having Brexiters saying that UK law commits us to leave on March 29th and would need to be changed if we don’t want to do this is odd, as it inherently suggests that UK law trumps EU law – even though they’ve been complaining for 44 years that the UK is now subject to EU law.

  26. Perhaps I’m stretching this a bit, but there is some symmetry in political events in the UK and US at present.

    In the US, Trump is facing a block from mainly Democrat opponents over his wall, while here, May is being block by Labour – and others – over her deal.

    The symmetrical dynamic is that the people blocking Trump and May are simply asking them to deliver what they promised.

    Democrats are cheerfully pointing out that they are helping Trump keep his election promises, one of which was that Mexico would pay for the wall. They are not stopping the wall being built – only stopping Trump charge the US taxpayer for it.

    In the UK, Labour’s six tests are based on what May and the leave campaigns promised – no disruption or difficulties for traders and citizens after Brexit. They are not stopping Brexit – only asking for the Brexit we were promised.

    Probably best not to stretch the analogies too far, but perhaps this is ultimately the way that rabble rousing right wing populism gets defeated – by just sitting back and holding them to their impossible and illogical promises?

  27. Alec: … In such circumstances, Parliament will have passed the Withdrawal Act, but the UK then not withdrawn from the EU – under EU law – so which law do we count? My guess is that in such circumstances the domestic law would be overturned by EU law – in other words, a PM could revoke A50 and the WA would not be legally actionable, as it contradicts accepted EU law.

    I think that the matter would be made moot.

    The EU will be cognizant of the UK legal situation and I expect that they would demand that the UK gov’t put the matter to Parliament for a revocation of the offending clause before they take any notice – if Art.50 is revoked or extended now. And if the revocation or extension were done tight to the wire, acceptance would be conditional upon putting the legislation right within an agreed timetable.

    I cannot see the EU allowing this to turn into anything which goes before a court.

  28. Survation Poll has appeared tonight.

    Lab 41%
    Con 38%
    LD 10%
    UKIP 4%

    Source: Daily Mail

  29. Alec, TCO

    The point is that EU law is brought into effect in the UK by domestic legislation, the EC Act 1972 and subsequent acts. These are all repealed by the Withdrawal Act on 29th March, so EU law will have no effect in the UK regardless of whether A50 runs its course or is revoked.

    So if the PM revokes A50 but Parliament then fails to repeal the Withdrawal Act, the UK would be in breach of its treaty obligations to the EU. Which is why it would be foolhardy for a PM to revoke before repealing, though it would be legally possible.

  30. Survation poll:

    Lab 41%
    Con 38%
    LD 10%
    UKIP 4%

    There is YouGov opinion and then there is Survation opinion. Personally, I find this Survation poll much the more interesting of the two.

    :-):-):-)

  31. [email protected], TCO: So if the PM revokes A50 but Parliament then fails to repeal the Withdrawal Act, the UK would be in breach of its treaty obligations to the EU. Which is why it would be foolhardy for a PM to revoke before repealing, though it would be legally possible.

    Well exactly. Which is why I can only see the EU accepting a UK revocation or extension request if the repeal has been executed or conditional on that happening on an agreed timescale.

  32. Andrew

    So Survation and YouGov are some way adrift on Labour’s current polling. Perhaps some YouGov don’t knows are translated into Lab voters with Survation.

    On balance it looks like Lab and Con are still neck and neck. It seems very little has changed over the past 18 months.

  33. https://blogs.ec.europa.eu/ECintheUK/euromyths-a-z-index/

    Above link gives various stories that have been put out about the EU and which are said to be false. It is very long. Would any Brexiteer with a concern for the truth like to check a random selection?

    The problem is that things that are believed to be real are real in their consequences.

  34. The Survation poll shows some fairly significant movement towards mrs may’s deal.
    Too late?

  35. @TCO – “The EU will be cognizant of the UK legal situation and I expect that they would demand that the UK gov’t put the matter to Parliament for a revocation of the offending clause before they take any notice – if Art.50 is revoked or extended now. ”

    Not sure, to be honest. Remember that the EU has no business deciding whether to accept the tabling or revocation of A50 – the ECJ made clear that it isn’t a matter for them to decide, but purely a matter for the constitution of the member state whether or not the actions around A50 are valid. If the revocation is constitutionally valid under UK law, the EU has no business or legal authority to judge whether or not they should accept it.

    Having said that, I think the issue is largely moot. I don’t think anyone expects an A50 revocation/extension without amendment to the WA. I just suspect that technically this may not be required, although this would only be confirmed after lengthy legal action, quite possible, so hence best avoided.

  36. @CHARLES
    I have been told many times, by UK officials, that I had to do certain things because of EU rules which either did not exist or had been misinterpreted.
    For some reason the UK decided that some used of by products in agriculture required an exemption certificate, when all the EU rules said was that it was exempt.

  37. @ALEC

    The symmetry you talk about point to a couple of things. the first is that Leave and Trump base at their heart were more interested in the disruption they were causing rather than a solution to any problem.

    The second problem was that they either never thought they were going to be in a position to deliver said promises or really felt that said promises did not matter

    I always thought that the “build the wall” was actually a rather good political ploy. it was the “and Mexico is going to pay” which really lit up the crowd.

    What has really been a problem for Trump is that when he had 2 years of all three branches of government executive under his belt he could not get his wall built because Mexico wouldn’t pay and the GOP refused to allocate taxes for it.

    Leaves problems are more subtle, they kind of failed at the first hurdle (I personally think deliberately) They for want of a better word denying power to themselves either by incompetence or cowardice. it is why They can continue to come up with campaign slogans as policy and have no real fear of implementing them

    The major difference is May is caught in a vice that is essentially controlled by electorate but exacerbated by her attempt to crush the opposition rather than work with them. Trump predicament is essentially on of hubris, He thought he could get away with a policy without anyone noticing. I suspect if the house was conmtrolled by GOP he would have let it slide after the GOP gave him another Billion for border security (there is already money baked in to the budget)

  38. Sam,
    “The revocation of Art 50 must be decided following a democratic process in accordance with national constitutional requirements, the ECJ court states.”

    But what are those, exactly? The process followed to give notice would appear to be Mrs May deciding to do so? So she decides to undo it? The referendum was purely advisory, and while many MPs had announced their support for leaving, I dont recall any actual process. If MPs now express their support for not leaving, presumably that would be more than enough.

    Hal,
    “Parliament would have to give effect to it in UK law by repealing the Withdrawal Act, but that is logically a separate matter.”

    No. I dont really see why the withdrawal act needs to be repealed at all. All it needs is for the date to be changed with a form of words to make it be the same as the article 50 leaving date. The act says this can be done by a minister. Untill it is triggered, the act is simply a means to leave the EU in an orderly fashion, and it could remain on the statutue book indefinitely.

    Alec,
    “. If A50 was revoked and the UK started to ignore EU law because of the Withdrawal Act, then all manner of actions could be taken against the UK by the EU,”

    I just mentioned, there seems to be a simple way to deal with the WA problem. However, i think you might be right that even if nothing were done about the WA, by revoking article 50 the Uk might continue to be a member of the EU in the eyes of the EU. So while total chaos might result, we would still be members.

    Hal,
    “EU law will have no effect in the UK regardless of whether A50 runs its course or is revoked.”

    But under international law the Uk would still be a signatory to the EU treaties because it had not gone through any formal process to leave. While inside the UK, Uk law would rule and we have always been able to do what we want, in international terms the EU would still see us as members and presumably so would all other countries.

  39. @BIGFATRON

    That was my point about Bonds issued in the UK……I must admit in writing this I was going back to another argument.

    I completely agree with the statements you made indeed it is why when the Greek bondholder agreed to a haircut they asked for the new bonds to be issued in the UK

    ;-)

    The EZ countries took the UK to court because without a lender of last resort basically you need to treat Government Bonds like shares they can be devalued directly rather than by inflation

    And the reason that the UK won the case well it was because they are member primarily and the rules such as they are were agreed to be equivalent by all parties.

    I hope that clear that up. Essentially if you issue bonds in the UK there is no ability to default. The rules are the same in the US which is why Argentina whilst they defaulted on their debt still owe on Bonds in the US. basically be careful where you lend money from and also be careful who you lend money to.

  40. well, at least YG and Survation agree on LD and UKIP.

  41. ALEC
    “WTO terms, with as many pluses as you like, is _not_ a trade deal. It is simply trading on the worst available terms.”

    I admire your fortitude in arguing with the Trevors, but I think that’s an overreach.

    It might arguably be truer to say that the WTO encompasses a trade deal, rather than that it merely is one (and it is undoubtedly true that it came into being by subsuming one, the GATT), but a trade deal is unarguably at its heart and is its central effect.

    Nor is it the worst available terms. For that, we could always leave the WTO as well. It’s perhaps the worst terms available of those that are seriously being discussed. That’s only if you really believe its seriously being discussed of course.

  42. Survation poll provides some evidence that Labour fighting an election promising a second referendum on EU does not impact adversely on their VI

    Of course all usual caveats, only one poll, a lot of undecideds, etc etc.

    There have been posts on here arguing that Labour VI might collapse if they did the above. It’s only one poll, but this poll weakens those arguments.

    Interesting that the question asking about a party offering a 2nd ref with Labour opposing it shows a small dent in VI for Labour but not too large. Again, a lot of undecideds. The movement mainly appears in the 18-24 age range. Intuitively, this is what we might expect.

    The problem might be that the loss of VI might be in the southern marginals that they need to win. E.G., I can’t see them holding Canterbury if they are opposing people’s vote.

  43. DANNY
    “The process followed to give notice would appear to be Mrs May deciding to do so?”

    If you’re going to argue we merely parallel the process followed to give notice, then your logic is flawed. That was a two stage process, requiring her first to get statutory authority to do so, and then exercising that authority.

    The whole point of Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union was that May couldn’t just decide. She couldn’t use the prerogative alone.

    The parallel is not exact. The key point in Miller was that Parliamentary authority was required to exercise the prerogative power in respect of the Treaties because giving notice was tantamount to being a legislative Act, as it made leaving the EU inevitable [1]..

    In this case we’d have the reverse problem. We’d leave the legislation intact and the Treaties in force and so put UK law in breach of the UK treaty obligations. There’s room to argue a difference. But I’m certain it will need to be argued, and probably to the UKSC just as the last one was.

    [1] You might recall that both parties in the Miller case presented on the basis that the notice was irrevocable, which the CJEU has now stated is not correct law of course.

  44. DANNY

    HAL

    A referendum is likely to be enough to meet the constitutional requirements. I do not think one will happen.

    A parliamentary decision to revoke is also likely to be enough.I don’t think Mrs May would be in any hurry to send a letter to the EU to conclude the matter. in the event of such a decision.

    Mrs May is likely, on past form to kick the can down the road. She will not, I think, accept a first parliamentary defeat of the ratifying of the WA as an end to the matter.

    A parliamentary recess is scheduled to take place from 14 to 25 February. That might suit Mrs May fine

  45. ALEC
    Theoretically, after being defeated, May could offer the parliament a vote to revoke article 50 and immediately re-trigger it thereby obtaining an automatic two year extension without even having to got back to Brussels. (since invoking and revoking are both unilateral powers.)

    She could say that intransigence IN BOTH WESTMINSTER AND BRUSSELS had left her no choice.

    Remainers and leavers might actually vote for that since limbo gives them both a chance.

    She then turns the UK element of the European Parliamentary elections into a defacto in/out referendum and bases her next moves on the outcome.

    Annoyingly brilliant?

  46. @peterw

    Re the WTO. WTO terms are simply agreeing to play by some general rules ( eg most favoured nation rules) in setting trade policy and they are not in any substantive sense a trade deal. Hence the need to add +’s ( in and out of brackets).

  47. @peterw

    Re the WTO. WTO terms are simply agreeing to play by some general rules ( eg most favoured nation rules) in setting trade policy and they are not in any substantive sense a trade deal. Hence the need to add +’s ( in and out of brackets).

  48. As ALEC says though, this is all angels on the head of a pin stuff.

    If the PM moves to revoke the notice, the present remain-inclined Parliament would push through all the instruments and repeals that might even be merely arguably necessary in a wet afternoon.

  49. @DAVID COLBY
    That was considered in the CJEU ruling on the question put by the Court of Session. It is clear that a second notice given that quickly and in such apparent bad faith as a mere delaying tactic would have no legal effect.

  50. PeterW,

    The reason for the Miller case was that leaving the EU would automatically extinguish rights established by UK statutes (e.g. the 1972 EC Act). Therefore some legislation was required to allow this.

    This would not apply in the case of revoking A50, or indeed signing a treaty to rejoin the EU. That’s because these actions would have no effect in UK law without an Act of Parliament (either repealing the Withdrawal Act, passing a new version of EC 1972 or indeed Danny’s solution of changing the date on the WA – which action has already been authorised by statute).

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