There were two polls in the Sunday papers. ComRes had a poll conducted for BrexitExpress (a pro-Brexit pressure group) prominently but poorly reported in the Sunday Telegraph. The voting intention question included The Independent Group as an option, producing topline figures of CON 36%(-2), LAB 34%(-3), LDEM 8%(-2), TIG 8%(+8), UKIP 6%(nc). Most polling companies are not, at present, including the Independent Group in polls – something that will presumably change as they take steps towards actually forming a party and clarifying their future intentions. The tables for the poll are here.

The Sunday Telegraph headlined on a finding that 44% of people agreed with a statement that “If the EU refuses to make any more concessions, the UK should leave without a deal”, suggesting rather more support for no deal than almost all other polls. I would advise a lot of scepticism here – agree/disagree statements are a rather suboptimal approach towards asking polling questions (I’ve written about them before here) that tend to produce a bias in the direction of the statement. The problem is they give only a single side of the argument – the question only asked people if they agreed with a statement supporting leaving with no deal in those circumstances. It did not offer people alternative options like a delay, or accepting the deal, or having a referendum. One can imagine that a poll asking “In the event that the EU does not agree to further changes to the deal, what do you think should happen?” would have produced rather different answers. Indeed, later on the survey asked which outcomes people thought would be best for the UK economy and best for UK democracy, which produced rather more typical results.

Note also that the Sunday Telegraph’s claim that the poll showed an increase in support for No Deal is not accurate – the poll back in January asked a differently worded question (it was structured as support/oppose, rather than an agree/disagree statement, and was in a grid along with other options) so they are not directly comparable.

As well as the ComRes poll there was a BMG poll hidden away in the Independent. The figures were unusually reported without excluding don’t knows or won’t votes, with the Conservatives on 31%, Labour on 27% and 8% for the Liberal Democrats. According to the Independent the Conservative lead is five points once don’t knows are excluded – that implies something along the lines of Con 40%, Lab 35% and Lib Dem 10% – though the full figures are yet to appear on the BMG website.


869 Responses to “Catching up on the weekend polls”

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  1. First?

  2. So we the effect on the Tory lead of the TIG seems not to be the same as that of the SDP in the 80’s.

    My guess is that the LibDem’s might be the big winners gaining seats in the south west, producing a totally hung Parliament

  3. Good to see Anthony Wells’ criticism of the misleading Sunday Telegraph headline from yesterday.

  4. The rationale for a TIG/LD vote (I assume they would form an electoral pact, to save money, if nothing else) would be somewhat different if the next UK GE was to be held primarily to choose who negotiates the future relationship.

    I suspect that current polling on them will be wholly irrelevant in an actual future campaign.

  5. Irish Cabinet meeting adjourned for the moment but it will resume later tonight (RTE)

    Presumably once they see how these odd folk in HoC react to May’s “unilateral statement” on what the Deal wording means.

    It’s a very odd “deal” in which one side is allowed to state its own interpretation of the wording, to convince its own lawyer.

  6. Apparently, unilateral declarations aren’t unusual.

    https://twitter.com/StevePeers/status/1105208398524702720

  7. Separate UK interpretative statement on temporary nature of NI backstop to be lodged at the UN, which will apparently give it legal standing as long as its not contradicted by EU (BBC)

    What a strange situation.

  8. @ Old Nat

    Absolutely true, I decided unilaterally tonight to have an extra chocolate digestive after tea, my wife tutted but then turned a blind eye. There’s your precedent :)

  9. David Lidington speaking from the despatch box right now, 232 on Freeview.

  10. Lidington`s statement is shown to contain little by Starmer.

    This is a big charade to try to persuade some gullible voters that TM is fighting to the end.

    Why aren`t we being told the cost of this brinksmanship. Who will pay for the Irish cabinet having to sit late into the evening. It should be the Tory party, but we know it won`t be..

  11. Bantams

    I note that you continued your digestive eating policy, regardless of the greater numbers voting against you.

    In this house at least, Mrs Nat and I each have one vote, but she also deploys 2 proxy votes for the kids that long departed this house.

    From what I have seen of Lidington’s statement and the responses, it’s hard to see that many MPs will change their votes from MV1.

  12. Laura Kuenssberg tweeting:

    “If test for this is whether Attorney General will change legal advice – which some ministers believe – govt might have trouble – hearing tonight (and sure not the only one) that Cox is ‘agonising’. “

  13. Listening to Radio Five about the new agreement.

    It seems it gives the Government the right to take a case to independent arbitration, if the UK is locked in the backstop.

    It doesn’t sound too convincing to me.

    I can’t see it swinging the vote enough to allow TM to win the vote.

  14. @OldNat

    It’s legally irrelevant whatever the UK may want to claim. Crucially, it doesn’t give the UK the right to unilaterally exit the backstop. It does of course help politically, and also in the event of a later dispute provide some clarity of the UK’s interpretation of the WA & PD. But that is all.

    The only question the UK government really wants to know at this stage is have they done enough to convince the ERG, DUP and some Labour MPs that the new spin changes the overall tone of the Brexit deal?

  15. Liddington struggling to convince his own backbenchers. Starmer carefully dismantled the legal confection. Steve Baker of the ERG has said on R4 it falls short of what had been expected.

  16. RAF

    I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment.

  17. @CMJ

    “istening to Radio Five about the new agreement.

    It seems it gives the Government the right to take a case to independent arbitration, if the UK is locked in the backstop.

    It doesn’t sound too convincing to me.

    I can’t see it swinging the vote enough to allow TM to win the vote.”

    That is in the WA. This isn’t really new. In fact the WA goes into quite a lot of detail on the Arbitration mechanism for backstop disputes. Some bits have been added but nothing really substantive.

  18. It looks like a somewhat overplayed hand. More theatricals than substantive changes.

    It sounds like the EU has agreed to give a legally binding statement that they won’t act in bad faith. That’s a nothing for them – they were never going to act in bad faith anyway, and want to avoid using the backstop at all if at all possible.

    There seems to be a restatement of the EU’s ‘offer’ to allow a partial (GB) withdrawal from the backstop, possibly this time linked to a unilateral right should there be a dispute about the negotiations, bu the backstop itself remains, inviolate.

    There may be more to this than meets the eye, but I rather think that if there was we would have heard it now already. The question will be whether the fig leaf is big enough for some MPs to hide behind, and so far, it desn’t sound like it is.

  19. “BANTAMS
    Laura Kuenssberg tweeting:

    “ – hearing tonight (and sure not the only one) that Cox is ‘agonising’.”

    I’ve thought that for ages.

    The most bizarre thing about all these cunning new plans is that anybody with any responsibility and power felt they could succeed.

    Wotta load of duffers.

  20. @ON

    “Separate UK interpretative statement on temporary nature of NI backstop to be lodged at the UN, which will apparently give it legal standing as long as its not contradicted by EU (BBC)

    What a strange situation.”

    General legal opinion appears to be while such statements happen (there are something like 15 on the lisbon treaty apparently), the legal weight of them is very weak. ‘Legal standing’ is perhaps overselling it.

  21. Looks like this whole pantomime has produced nothing – not even a sprinkle of fairy dust.

  22. Juncker – joint legal instrument complements withdrawal agreement, ensures UK can’t be trapped in backstop – Ireland backs this approach he says, Juncker will ask EU27 Council to endorse if Commons votes for it. No third chance, no further assurances if meaningful vote fails (Kirsty Hughes)

  23. Sounds like Juncker has also revealed the EU’s response to an A50 extension – either limited to May 23rd of we hold EP elections.

    They are prepared to wait for the UK process to roll on to it’s ultimate conclusion, it seems.

  24. From May tonight – “”Today we have agreed legally binding changes that will guarantee that the EU cannot enforce the backstop indefinitely,”…”

    Interesting.

  25. It’s going to come down to whether that is a true reflection of the actual documents agreed, or whether May is doing what she often does – repeating things she wants us to believe that are simply untrue.

  26. View from Dublin:
    1. Withdrawal Agreement is unchanged
    2. Joint statement is a legal interpretations of what’s in the WA (agreed by both sides)
    3. Unilateral statement is UK talking to themselves.

    Mood in Gov Buildings described as “calm”. (Irish Independent)

  27. New Survation out today:

    Lab 44
    Con 37
    Lib Dem 9
    SNP 3
    UKIP 3
    Green 2

    What do you guys make of that? Outlier or silently representative of the current mood given that TIG aren’t an official party yet?

  28. Scanning tonight’s new documents, right to withdraw unilaterally is if the other side fails persistently to comply with arbitration panel ruling, and does not give the right to withdraw from the agreement on citizens’ rights (part 2 of the WA). (Douglas Fraser BBC)

    As some MPs noted – there seem to be no substantive changes from the WA.

  29. @ Aaron

    Wrong year old bean;) You’ve quoted a 2018 poll!

  30. Worth noting that I gave the link to the text of the Unilateral Declaration before Lidington was aware that it had been released!

    Not surprising that UKPR readers can be better informed than the DPM.

  31. @Alec

    “It’s going to come down to whether that is a true reflection of the actual documents agreed, or whether May is doing what she often does – repeating things she wants us to believe that are simply untrue.”

    It is likely to be arguable rather than untrue, per se. Both parties have agreed to use best endeavours to find alternative arrangements to the backstop, so in theory if a reasonable alternative solution can be found they would be bound to implement it. However, if no such solution can be found (and no-one has come up with one to date) then the backstop remains in place, potentially indefinitely.

    This is the conundrum for the Attorney General. There isn’t a unilateral exit mechanism but both parties have agreed to use best endeavours to find a solution.

  32. Interesting tweet from Laura Kuenssberg:

    “Govt motion does now include the ‘unilateral declaration’ – ie something the UK can spell out on its own, – it’s not a unilateral exit, but it’s in the agreement now it seems, when it wasn’t a few hours ago – ‘big win for the PM’ – one Cabinet minister texts to say.”

  33. Well there I was – watching Parliament on a PC screen while at the same time watching the May-Junker press conference live on my phone.

    Parliament was a bit boring other than Soubry doing her usual pissed-up pub landlady routine, but then again Parliament hasn’t seen the paperwork yet so they were really only re-stating their individual positions.

    The May-Junker press conference was far more illuminating. May looked very unhappy and a bit angry. Of interest was Junker saying that thats it – no more talks after tonight. Later expanded by EU bag carriers as no matter what parliament does tomorrow, no more negotiations, no more clarifications, no more confirmations. And crucially, any extension to Article 50 will only be considered in the context of implementing the deal and only for a matter of weeks. That Parliament rejecting the deal and thus opting for No Deal by default does not require an extension. And any Application will not be considered until March 21st in any event.

    Personally I think May knows the game is up for her deal. Tomorrow her deal will be binned again and Parliament -irrespective of how it votes on Wednesday and Thursday will have effectively opted for No Deal by default on the 29 March unless the weasels can find some way of circumventing Parliamentary procedure and stopping it altogether.

    There is a good chance May will resign tomorrow night I would have though if she loses badly again (as I suspect she will). She will have no credibility at all.

    Parliament can vote however it likes but it cant demand the EU grant an Article 50 extension, it cant demand the EU continues to negotiate, it cant change March 29 unilaterally and it can’t force May to withdaw Article 50 completely.

  34. So if the EU insists on the backstop we can now complain about it!!!!!

    Strangely haven’t felt the Earth shift on this news!

    Peter.

  35. Newsnight tonight showed clip of May talking about her Unilateral Declaration (of Indep…?). The look on Juncker’s face in reaction could not have been more expressive: from stern disbelief to head-leaning-back, semi-smiling disbelief (I assume) that anyone could be so self-delusional and so self-evidently arrogant. I presume if she had one May would happily sell her grandmother to get her ‘deal’ ratified.

  36. @ ADW

    “There is a good chance May will resign tomorrow night I would have though if she loses badly again (as I suspect she will). She will have no credibility at all.”

    You got me thinking about levels of credibility in Prime Ministers. Name a PM that 51% or more would have said was a credible PM?

    Maybe Blair or Thatcher in their most electable days (presumably around the time of wars). So maybe 10 out of 40 years at best. Not a very good record. Cameron had one year in six with an overall majority and threw it away. Teresa has had one year in three with an OM, albeit someone else’s, and did likewise.

    They’re not very good at sniffing the electoral air, these politicians. They tend to be better at knowing when to leave, although I imagine they had to cut the power to Brown’s telephone to force him out. Teresa will have to stay beyond May 27th to beat Brown’s term in office.

    I wonder what betting shops are offering on that?

  37. basically Government now hinges on whether its own Attorney General will unilaterally declare that Government’s unilateral declaration that it can unilaterally trigger an exit process from the backstop (subject to arbitration) now means the backstop will not “endure indefinitely” (Faisal Islam)

    Of course, May could always fire Cox. That would be nicely reminiscent of Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” in 1973.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Massacre

  38. Read the instrument and joint statement. It seems to me the bottom line is that the Uk will honour the backstop unless an alternative can be found which is either agreed, or can be proven to be equivalent to arbitrators. The EU agrees to comprehensively assess all possible alternatives, so we should get lots of academic invstigation of pros and cons. In the end this really comes down to whether there is an actual alternative, or not.

    However, the irish peace settlement remains in force regardless, and in that the Uk is committed to closer cooperation N and S anyway, and an open border.

    If the EU is found not to be proceeding with best efforts to find an alternative, then the punishment is that the Uk can suspend the WA if it wishes. This smacks of cutting off your nose to spite your face! The reason the Uk has agreed to the backstop is because the EU made it a condition of a deal. This will still be true in the future. If the EU is not satisified by the outcome, there will be no deal.

    The instrument starts by saying the parties aim for a better trade arrangement than would be provided simply by the backstop…which sounds like both sides are setting out essentially to be in something more like CU and SM….and so the backstop is utterly irrelevant because the aim is something more binding anyay.

  39. @Aaron – re: the survation poll. Have seen it mentioned too but it looks very unlikely – looking back there was a survation poll with those figures taken on the same days (7/8 March) in 2018 so i think that it is a poll from a year ago rather than a new one.

    https://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Final-GMB-Tables-070317NFCH-1C0D3H8-1.0.pdf

  40. Anthony Wells, (Anyone interestd in polling points, and maybe the Trevors)

    “There were two polls in the Sunday papers. ComRes had a poll conducted for BrexitExpress (a pro-Brexit pressure group) prominently but poorly reported in the Sunday Telegraph.”

    No idea if you read this stuff nowadays, what with the website having rather been taken over by brexit and this now being potentially remote from your day job, but will repeat my comment from the last thread.

    The comres poll seemed to have approximately the right number of 2017 lab/con and approximately the right number of remain/leave from the referendum. However, it appeared to have rather a lot of conservative remainers, counterbalanced by a lot of labour referendum abstainers.

    The effect seemed to be to make it top heavy in conservative remainers, who presumably would react differently to labour remainers, when polled over brexit. And of course heavy in labour supporters who dont care about brexit.

    If I had been seeking to get a more government friendly brexit polling response, this might be one way to do it. I hadnt noticed before it was funded by a pro brexit pressure group!

    Anyone have a view if I am right?

  41. Not about Brexit, and not about polling, but the news about the boeing 737 crash might be a bit disturbing for the company.

    IF the new crash is due to the same problem as the first one, or maybe even if it is a different programming fault, then its a major problem where a plane which cannot operate without computer intervention, cannot operate because the computer is unreliable. Just how do you fix that?

    The first plane seems to have crashed because the computer overruled the pilots and took emergency measures to recover from a stall which wasnt actually happening. It therefore fell out of the sky. The initial reports from this one suggest it did just the same. The computer crashed it!

    That is bad enough, but if boeing are in denial about the problem the final bill could be very big for them. The most likely reason Boeing would be in denial, is if they cannot see how to solve the problem.

    Dieselgate in the sky?

  42. Try this for a summary of the new documents May has brought back:

    The Uk commits to uphold the terms of the irish peace treaty, which requires an open border and ever closer legal and economic cooperation within ireland. Subject only to the will of the Irish, north and south.

    The Uk commits to retain all existing EU measure on social and employment rights, to adopt amendments to existing rights and to consider adopting any new rights the EU might introduce.

    The Uk commits to a closer trade relationship to the EU than is outlined in the backstop.

    Th UK undertakes to guarantee the integrity of the EU internal market (ie no smuggling, but obviously subject to the irish peace agreement, so without a closed land border)

    The Uk agrees to maintain a customs union with the EU indefinitely unless an equivalent alternative can be found. It seems highly unlikely that such a thing can be found, because from basic principles smuggling will take place if there are two different tax regimes and no physical measures to prevent smuggling.

    If the Uk fails to do any of this, then the EU can take them to arbitraion for failing to use its best endeavours to achieve the above. The EU would then be entitled to suspend the UK-EU trade relationship until such time as the Uk accepted its commitments. This would be catastrophic for the Uk economy.

    The UK could of course seek to sanction the EU if it failed to honour its own commitments. This would be catastrophic for the Uk economy.

  43. Disclosed in a meeting first thing this morning, major banks have moved their stance from ‘most likely No Deal’ to ‘most likely May’s deal passed today’.

    I’m not sure what info this is based on, but they employ people to do nothing else but try to work out what is most likely to happen so I thought it was interesting on that basis if nothing else…

  44. The unilateral declaration is a complete red herring and is in all intents meaningless.

    Looking at the text, it sets out a reasonably arguable legal case – namely that the WA is expressly not intended as a permanent arrangement and signals both parties desires to conclude a permanent agreement. Furthermore, it states that in certain circumstances, if it became effectively apparent that the backstop was turning into a permanent settlement, the UK would claim the backstop element was void as it would be counter to the agreed intentions of the WA.

    So far so good. However, the declaration is specifically restricted in terms of the circumstances that it can be applied. It states –

    “The United Kingdom wishes to record its understanding of the effect of this provision if, contrary to the intentions of the parties, it is not possible for them to conclude an agreement which supersedes the Protocol in whole or in part due to a breach of Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement by the Union.”

    So the declaration can only be relevant if Article 5 of the WA is breached. There are no other circumstances where this can be argued to take effect, as this sentence is completely specific regarding the circumstances under which the UK believes it can activate the declaration and unilaterally leave.

    Article 5 WA is reproduced here, in full:

    “Good faith –
    The Union and the United Kingdom shall, in full mutual respect and good faith, assist each other in
    carrying out tasks which flow from this Agreement.

    They shall take all appropriate measures, whether general or particular, to ensure fulfilment of the obligations arising from this Agreement and shall refrain from any measures which could jeopardise the attainment of the objectives of this Agreement.This Article is without prejudice to the application of Union law pursuant to this Agreement, in particular the principle of sincere cooperation.”

    So this is very clear indeed – the UK is only claiming a right to unilaterally withdraw from the backstop in the circumstances where the EU has shown bad faith in the negotiations. A simple inability to come up with a working solution for the border to meet the terms laid out in the WA would not be covered by this declaration, as the UK would have to prove bad faith on behalf of the EU.

    Furthermore, the phrase in the last sentence of Article 5 “… is without prejudice to the application of Union law pursuant to this Agreement,…” probably means that interpreting whether or not bad faith has occurred will fall to the ECJ for a final judgement.

    My view on this is that it a pointless exercise. Bad faith was already written into the WA, so the declaration adds absolutely nothing at all. It merely catalogues what was already in the WA.

    However, it more than clear than many of the ERG and DUP are simply desperate to get themselves off the hook they have hung themselves on, and will grasp at any straw that allows them to walk way from no deal while pretending they have secured something. That is what this is all about. They know both that a no deal would be a disaster if it did happen, but more that parliament won’t let it happen, and that would probably end up with no Brexit after ref 2. They need a lifebelt to cling onto to stop themselves drowning, and some will see this as that lifebelt.

    Whether Cox turns up in a lifeboat to rescue them is the big question. I suspect he will do whatever he can, without actually saying precisely what they want to hear. It will probably be a bit like the lifeboat turning up and then shouting at the drowning people to keep swimming.

    Apologies for the long post, but detail is needed here.

  45. BFR, and £ reached 2 year ish high I think.

    Danny – that would be Labour’s policy pretty much with the SM access stuff being ‘closer than outlined in the back-stop’

    Also Labour want permanence for CU not ‘indefinitely unless an equivalent alternative can be found’

  46. danny: Not about Brexit, and not about polling, but the news about the boeing 737 crash might be a bit disturbing for the company.

    IF the new crash is due to the same problem as the first one, or maybe even if it is a different programming fault, then its a major problem where a plane which cannot operate without computer intervention, cannot operate because the computer is unreliable. Just how do you fix that?

    AIUI, the problem is not so much a ‘program fault’ as a basic flaw in the system concept. There are 2 detectors for stall. Now the reason for more than 1 detector is that you don’t believe that 1 on its own is reliable. But if you have 2 and 1 fails, which one do you believe?

    It seems that Boeing took the ‘obvious safe’ choice of believing the one which says there is a stall. But it seems that it is equally unsafe to react to a stall when there isn’t one as to fail to react to a stall when there is one.

    The fix is not to have 2 sensors. This may mean a substantial redesign of the system to take 3 sensors. Or it may be to triplicate the existing system [doubling is not good enough with the argument against 2 sensors transferred against 2 systems] and construct a voting system which can degrade to trusting 2 out of 3 systems.

    A third sensor may require a lot of software design testing and possibly delay. Triplicating systems may be quicker since the testing only has to be done for a voting system, with the existing system being accepted in its entirety with its known flaw mitigated by triplication.

  47. ADW

    “Parliament can vote however it likes but it can’t demand the EU grant an Article 50 extension, it can’t demand the EU continues to negotiate, it can’t change March 29 unilaterally and it can’t force May to withdraw Article 50 completely.”

    That is my understanding as well. I am not a constitutional lawyer but I have not seen any legal arguments against your view.

    I will be very surprised if the DUP accept the changes as adequate so it looks as though we leave without a deal unless the PM reneges on her commitment to the Referendum result.

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