ICM put out their weekly EU online poll today. Topline figures were REMAIN 45%, LEAVE 45%, DON’T KNOW 10% and tabs are here. ICM have tended to produce some of the most leave figures and the neck-and-neck result actually follows on from a series of polls showing a small leave lead, but this is due to a change in methodology.

As is often the case, ICM’s poll is actually less interesting than Martin Boon’s commentary that accompanies it – Martin’s response to the polling errors of last year has been one of the most candid and interesting of the pollsters, if occasionally one of the most pessimistic. In his article today he writes about what he considers to be the bleak future for phone polling given how people use the telephone these days, but also writes about the problems ICM have encountered moving most of their EU referendum polling to online.

Specifically Martin writes about how when ICM set online surveys live on Friday nights they get a rush of fast respondents that are skewed towards Leave. These entirely fill some of the demographic quotas set for the poll, meaning there is no room for the slower responding Remain respondents. To tackle this ICM have made two changes – one is to their sampling (they will spread it across the whole weekend, rather than opening it fully on Friday), the other is to weight respondents by how quickly they respond. According to Martin’s commentary the overall effect of this is to improve Remain’s relative position by four points.

I should point out (as Martin does in his article) that this is very much an issue to do with the way ICM carry out their online polls. Other online companies won’t necessarily do things the same way or face the same issues. I can only speak confidently about YouGov’s systems, but I know YouGov’s don’t invite respondents to specific surveys, they have a system that sends invites to respondents automatically, ensuring a constant flow of respondents into YouGov’s system. This means when people click on their invite (be it immediately, after a few hours, or days later) they are sent into whatever YouGov surveys are open at the time and need someone matching their demographics – hence when YouGov surveys go live they get a mixture of both fast respondents and slower respondents, who may have actually been invited before the survey was even written.

There was also a new contribution to the ongoing mystery of the gap between online and telephone polls on the EU referendum, this time from Prof Pat Sturgis (the Chair of the recent BPC/MRS inquiry into the polling error) and Prof Will Jennings (who served on the inquiry). It can be read in full here, but Pat and Will conclude that “While there are of course many caveats required here, this comparison suggests that the true picture may lie somewhere between the two modes, possibly somewhat closer to online. At the very least it suggests a good deal of caution is needed before concluding that one method is right and the other wrong. That will only be known for sure on June 24.”

439 Responses to “ICM – Remain and Leave level pegging, and dealing with fast respondents”

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  1. @ Colin

    “showed voters were “uniformly uncertain” about whether Labour was campaigning to stay in the EU”

    I mean voters are confused? imagine the Labour leaders!

    But there is an interesting point here – not unusual confusion by the named newspaper. Because it is one thing what the voters think of the Labour Party stance – who cares in the given context (I don’t know actually what they stand for, and I’m a bit all over the place because McDonnell gave an excellent speech – actually the best from UK politicians for some years, yet I think he is still a drawback – but of course he can change). The other is whether Labour voters care at all about the Labour view about the vote on this issue.

    So it’s just the usual G liberal nonsense. Unless they are right, but then what the heck happened last May?

    I actually think that the whole palaver is an internal Conservative Party issue, that can draw in people simply because of its emotional implications – this is from someone, who, if he had the voting right would vote Leave (simply because of Hungary, Slovakia and Poland).

    Actually the EU in reality doesn’t affect everyday life in the UK. Every single item on the Leave list is framed as an EU one when they are not, and every single item on the list on the Remain is likewise. This is why the debate (?) is utterly boring. I doubt that by leaving the EU the uk would return to the Factory Acto of 1834 (I don’t have the time to check the year), and I I don’t think that by leaving the EU the nature of the U.K. labour market would change.

  2. @Alun

    “It would make sense if you stick to the subject. We’re talking about Turkey’s non-chance of joining the EU. If you want to talk about the fact that citizens of EXISTING EU countries have the right to move to the UK, then fine, there’s no dispute from me about that. But that’s a separate subject.”


    Well, actually you are wasting more time trying to divert here. Sure, we are discussing Turkey, but within that context you made the claim about giving the government more power and I just showed what was wrong with that.

    Your mentioning Turkey again doesn’t alter the fact your logic was off.

    Meanwhile, reiterating the treaty does nothing to deal with the concern that the rules get broken. You ignored the question as to how you can ensure they won’t get broken again.

    Regarding Schengen etc., so are you saying Alec’s concerns are without merit?

  3. “This is part of the worrying trend of ignorance about the EU. We can’t remove them (they are at least as removable as Westminster people).”


    Hilarious. We only get to vote our own MEPs out, we don’t get to vote out all the others.

    Earlier you were saying how brilliant it is we are in a minority in the EU, because we have to persuade dozens of other countries to get summat changed.

    But we don’t tend to have to do that in Westminster.

    Bottom line, outside the EU,if we don’t like immigration policy we can vote against it and change the government.

    Within the EU, where’s your mechanism for making it just as easy?

  4. Laszlo

    “Actually the EU in reality doesn’t affect everyday life in the UK”

    Come on! It makes Ian Botham’s life “cluttered” (he claims). :-)

    The self-obsessed nature of the campaigning even appears to be dominating the MSM coverage, according to the Loughborough University team


    Top issue was “Referendum conduct” (32% London TV 34% London Press), then “Business/economy/trade” (both 21%) and “Immigration/border controls” (11% each).

    When the campaigns are both so up their own backsides that they make themselves the main (negative) issue suggests that both are concerned with a petty political bubble in-fight which is nothing to do with the countries of the UK.

    “Actually the EU in reality doesn’t affect everyday life in the UK”

    I’d disagree with that, however. While Brexit wouldn’t lead to Apocalypse, from my perspective it would lead to Scotland (plus Wales, NI and North of England) being at severe risk, from the kind of government preferred by the majority of the MPs chosen by the larger population in the South of England, of a significant reduction in human/worker rights.

    Hungary etc are certainly far less “caring” than the South of England – but (in or out of the EU) they won’ significantly affect the legislation.

    Under the current undemocratic processes of the UK, the Tories (with 37% of the vote – and much ignoring of electoral law) – get an absolute majority to reduce these rights.

  5. Much as I despise the Project Fear of the Remain camp, I will vote Rmain for two reasons
    1. So we are not at the complete mercy of the Tory government and we can retain H&S, workers rights, etc
    2. Free movement – my brother works in France, my son is soon going to Spain to work and one of my best friends moved to Italy.

  6. @Carfew

    Maybe you will sympathise with Scottish Independence. ‘We only get to vote out our MPs we don’t get to vote out the others’

    And any country that tolerates the House of Lords can hardly complain the EU is undemocratic

  7. You’re not doing it for cheap booze or to stop WW3 then?

  8. @Coups

    As I have said before, I do have some sympathies with the Indy thing.

    I just don’t like some of the nonsense arguments. But just becoz there are issues with indy arguments on currency or oil price etc., doesn’t mean I think these add up to an argument against Indepenrence, because I don’t think they do.

    Indeed one can justify independence enough on grounds of autonomy as far as I’m concerned.

  9. @Coups

    Obviously there’s an issue with the House of Lords, but it can perhaps be over-egged a bit. It’s a revising chamber, the main business is done in the Commons.

  10. Carfrew

    “It’s a revising chamber”

    Packed full of people who failed their (electoral) exam, and continuing to demonstrate that they still know bugger all!

  11. @oldnat

    Loads have issues with what they know, or don’t know, look at the Indy oil price claims!! At least the Lords are restrained in their power…

  12. LASZLO

    @”Actually the EU in reality doesn’t affect everyday life in the UK”

    OK-I might vote Leave then if there’s nothing in this Project Fear business.

  13. LASZLO
    @”Actually the EU in reality doesn’t affect everyday life in the UK”
    OK-I might vote Leave then if there’s nothing in this Project Fear business

    Ahem. It doesn’t affect us on a daily basis because we are members. Becoming non members will have repercussions, a point that is very simple to understand.

  14. “And any country that tolerates the House of Lords can hardly complain the EU is undemocratic”

    Oh yes they can!

    The House of Lords is not a legislature merely an oversight body, and anyone who can’t see through the argument of the government to change it to an elected house hasn’t the sense they were born with!

    Politicians want an elected chamber so they can get their business through unopposed, or alternatively to prevent the other side passing theirs. An unelected house allowed experts in the field to advise peers on the pros & cons. An elected house does as its told by the whips.

    The real undemocratic issue in the UK is in fact our judiciary, who are able to make new laws without any accountability at all. Just look at the super injunctions and privacy laws which were never enacted by parliament or the EU.

  15. “That still doesn’t detract from the fact that the resources the rich part of the world have need [of] sharing a great deal better.

    There simply aren’t enough resources in the world for us just to remain the same, and the poor parts of the world to get more to draw level. That would lead to an environmental catastrophe” Catmanjeff 30 May 9;47

    I caught part of a conversation yesterday just before I did some long computer updates so could not reply at the time.

    If the quote above is the case, this is pretty devastating. Certainly countries in the third world seem to be seeking growth, and have every moral right to do so.

    Is it an open position of major UK political parties that we keep our economy at the same level, or lower the standard of living? (I know it sometimes happens by accident or mismanagement anyway!) Does the electorate know about this?

    That would be a change from what most political parties usually seem to say. I would have thought that redistribution of wealth is a lot easier if there can be an absolute increase in wealth, albeit a small one, even for the losing groups.

    People need hope don’t they, and isn’t reducing the economy rather hard cheese for those who might now live in damp houses, attend poor schools and experience poor health.

    I had hoped that the environment might be preserved along with some growth. If not the outlook seems a bit bleak and could lead to some rather authoritarian governments?

    I hope I have misunderstood somewhere along the line.

  16. ALISTER1948

    I have some sympathy with what you have just posted, but in a way what you are reflecting is the fact that human population growth is by far the most serious problem facing mankind. It’s a problem which I can see no solution to, although nature will probably eventually take a hand with a new untreatable plague.

  17. Carfrew

    “Indeed one can justify independence enough on grounds of autonomy as far as I’m concerned.”

    Nice to be agreeing with you on something other than cricket.

  18. CARFREW:
    “You ignored the question as to how you can ensure they won’t get broken again.
    Regarding Schengen etc., so are you saying Alec’s concerns are without merit?”

    You’re asking about what happens if one party unilaterally breaks a treaty? Well, we wouldn’t be under any obligation to honour our side. Likely we would threaten to withdraw entirely from the EU, and in those circumstances even I would support it. But then multiple countries would all leave. But all this is pie in the sky. Who exactly would try to enforce Turkish membership at the expense of multiple existing members?

    As for Alec’s visa concerns, I posed the question earlier about whether that really matched to 50 million people changing our country. If that is now the hypothesis then yes, those concerns are without merit in my opinion.

  19. @ Thoughtful:

    In respect of privacy and super-injunctions: the decisions that were made by the courts were simply an application of the right to privacy in the European Convention on Human rights: once the Human Rights Act was passed incorporating the convention into UK law the Judiciary was required to consider the principles that have been developed in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. So far from the UK Judiciary making law they were applying it.
    You might do well to recognise that the independence of the judiciary is one of the principles of the separation of powers and is interfered with at the peril of all our rights. Habeas Corpus was developed by the judiciary out of the common law: Super Injunctions were not.

  20. @Alister1948
    “People need hope don’t they, and isn’t reducing the economy rather hard cheese for those who might now live in damp houses, attend poor schools and experience poor health.”

    It would be, if it were true, but I increasingly question whether it has to be so.
    We have ample resources to provide dry houses, good schools and good healthcare but our choice at present is to divert resources into pointless financial services (£14.99 per month to track your credit score!) and largely imported luxury goods of minimal utility. And of course into the usually offshore bank accounts of rentiers.
    Am I turning green in my old age?

    “Politicians want an elected chamber”

    Either you are confused about the will of politicians to replace the unelected Lords or I am. My understanding was that HoL reform was not something that was a priority for many politicians.

    Personally I’m in favour of some reform. I understand that there are dangers of having an elected second chamber, and I have some creative ideas to work around those difficulties, but it’s a long and complex plan and I won’t go through it all here.

    The idea, though, that politicians would think it easier to get a place in the upper chamber through elections than through appointments seems very dubious. You do know that many failed politicians end up there now, right? It’s almost a fallback option for many politicians when they lose. Lost your seat? Have a peerage! How would having the electorate involved in saying yay or nay make it easier for them? Surely it would be harder for the unelectable to have a nice cushy post-defeat job for life?

    “We have ample resources to provide dry houses, good schools and good healthcare”

    Yes, we do. And we fail to do so. No wonder the like of Ukip have hitched their Brexit wagon to the very real gripes that people have about life in Britain now.

    My worry is that Brexit wins and then the people who voted for it on the basis of better use of national resources discover that actually, housing do not suddenly become higher priorities. I mean, why would they? We know it isn’t the EU making us spend £200,000,000,000 on Trident rather than on social housing. The power to change this already lies with the British people. But we keep electing governments who prioritise house price growth, a policy which is partially (largely?) antogonistic to the goal of building more homes.

  23. @” But we keep electing governments who…”……………….. do things I like………..so lets vote Remain so the EU can force them to stop.

    The Labour case for voting to stay in the EU *

    * The Labour case-not the Corbyn case, which is a little more complicated.

  24. ……………..do things I DON’T like …………

    Doh !

  25. TOH
    I agree with you about the importance of the issue of world population, though the thought of an eventual ‘untreatable plague’ is not exactly cheery.

    Yes, there is plenty of money around. How to get hold of it without infnnging the rights of others is a big political question. For example, the coalition attempted to cap the level of donations to charity that could receive tax relief and this was lobbied against and withdrawn, so the tax increase on the wealthy did not happen. However that is probably for another forum.

    What I am concerned about here is whether people would be right to believe (if they do) that the various parties would at least try to improve their lot, even if they do not succeed.

  26. RE: population, one of the curiosities of developed economies is that populations tend to shrink (families have fewer children) in advanced economies; on that basis economic growth in developed countries levels might actually lead to reduced consumption eventually.
    However there are now thoughts that robots/computers will be able to do most work in the near future. If that turns out to be true, without some form of distributing wealth there will be no market for the work/goods that are produced (i.e. if people are not earning they cannot spend) that might lead to developed countries increasing family size as the reasons for doing so are said to be similar to why you might save for a pension, children will care for you in old age.
    The truth is that it is impossible to predict population growth with such potential economic factors being so important. Forecasting economics in the absence of previous index evidence is unreliable.
    That latter sentence would apply equally to the economics debate surrounding the referendum ( as Vourafakis put it so eloquently on Marr).

  27. COLIN:
    “The Labour case for voting to stay in the EU”

    For clarity, I’m no Labour supporter. And yes, on its own it’s a weak case for staying in the EU. But my point was to illustrate that we already have the power to build houses and yet we don’t. The idea that leaving the EU will change anything on that front is erroneous. That’s because it’s a domestic policy. To change it, we need a change of (attitude in) government.

    Furthermore, I was careful to state “governments” rather than “Tories”. That’s because I also hold Labour responsible for not building houses. Note than I’m not saying “blame”. Some people rather like high house prices. Which brings me back to my original point people do vote for it, and leaving the EU is not likely to change their impulse.

  28. Alun
    We won’t need to build so many houses if we leave the EU, because we will eventually be able to stop unrestricted immigration. It doesn’t require any commitment from any government, demand will simply stop rising so fast.

  29. ALUN009

    @”we already have the power to build houses and yet we don’t. ”

    I think you will find that we do “build houses”-certainly in my little village we do !!!

    The question is -how many do we need to build ? That is a function of population growth , which is , to a significant extent, a function of net immigration.

    It is claimed, as you will know, that the latter can be better controlled if we leave EU.

  30. PETE B:
    “We won’t need to build so many houses”

    Possibly true, but supply is already below demand even discounting immigration. In other words, even if you stopped all immigration, you’re still stuck with supply that’s too low.

    In reality, of course, few on the Leave side are talking about stopping all immigration, meaning that *even in the event of a Brexit*, action on supply is needed *unless* you are comfortable with the supply-demand equation favouring current owners.

    The summary is that we already have the power to “fix” this situation, we have collectively chosen not to fix it, leaving the EU will not fix it and nor does it seem likely to prompt some people to change their minds about wanting to fix it.

  31. A claim made brexiters and Britain first.
    A claim only.

  32. MARK W

    Yep-just one of the many “claims” made by both sides in this appalling campaign.

  33. COLIN:
    “It is claimed [migration] can be better controlled if we leave EU”

    It is certain that migration CAN be better decided if we left the EU. The idea that this leads to lowered demand for housing deserves more scrutiny. I can see why one would be tempted to jump to that conclusion, but there are a few steps in between.

    1. We leave the EU (we’ll assume this for sake of argument), THEN:
    2. We enter a trade deal with the EU that does NOT require us to accept free movement (this is dubious, and much discussed so I won’t add more on this just now), THEN:
    3. We then use the powers we have to restrict immigration to actually reduce immigration (I find this claim very dubious: remember, the UK has always had the opportunity to reduce immigration by limiting non-EU migrants. Non-EU migration currently stands near the 70,000 mark), THEN:
    4. The reduced immigration translates to reduced demand. Well, that’s obvious, right? Not so. If the relative wealth and income of migrants shifts upwards, the reduction in housing demand might not flow. To illustrate this, imagine you have four Poles move to London and buy a house because they have an expectation to share living space. Four people, one house. If instead you have a wealthy Australian couple moving in instead, they might buy the same house. Fewer immigrants, no reduction in housing demand. I don’t know whether there have been studies done to determine the extent of this this kind of effect, if it even exists at all, but it certainly seems imaginable.
    5. The market / government then doesn’t respond by reducing supply in response to the reduced demand. This is a matter of profitability of new-builds for building firms, mortgage availability, and political pressure. Some people want their property prices protected, and will exert a pressure on local and national government to not do too much to damage them.

    So you see, it’s not quite so simple. Some of the above steps seem obvious, some seem pretty sketchy. Reality is a lot more complicated than a simple idea of “Leave EU, more houses for us Brits”.

    Of course, that’s completely ignoring the idea that supply will be unaffected by a reduction in immigration. I’m not sure exactly how the building trade will respond to a reduced labour pool. Perhaps it’ll make no difference, perhaps it’ll make building houses a lot more difficult and expensive. I’ll let others expand on that. I’ve made my point, I hope.

  34. Reviewing my first sentence, I retract it.

    “It is certain that migration CAN be better decided if we left the EU.”

    This should read

    “Migration COULD be decided unilaterally by the UK if we left the EU.”

    When I typed it, I was thinking ahead to the later arguments, forgetting that we might end up accepting free movement.

  35. ALUN009

    Sure have !-looks like the country will be one big housing estate soon-come what may.

  36. @Thoughtful –

    “Alec, why is it that the internet spawns such a propensity to insult in what was a polite discussion?

    We are not discussing gross contributions, but NET i.e., the difference between the money paid in tax, and the money claimed in benefits, be that cash or services such as NHS, schools, etc etc.”

    Wasn’t aware that I had insulted anyone, but I’m sorry if you took offence at a vaguely humorous play on your online name.

    I was indeed discussing net contributions, making the point that immigrants on average have a greater net contribution than the UK host populace. Not quite sure how that point got lost along the way.

  37. @Alun009 –

    “it is highly likely that the EU will liberalise restrictions of Turkish citizens within the EU.”
    Are we still talking about Turks “chang[ing] the UK into something unrecognisable within a generation”? That’s the dog-whistle phrase that triggered this whole thing off. Is it your contention that if and when Turkish citizens get the ability to go on holiday to Schengen (not the UK) without a visa, this will “change the UK” and make it “unrecognisable”? It’s not an opinion I would share, but I just want to check that that is what you’re really saying.”

    That’s a little naughty. At no stage have I used such expressions, nor have I even stated whether large (or small) scale Turkish migration would be a good thing. I am only pointing out that your assertion that Turkish accession is decades away is nothing more than a guess, and not a very sound one at that. I did point out that geopolitical factors suggest that it would be reasonable to assume that Turkey will develop greater rights of access to the EU, and even full membership, sooner rather than later, as not admitting them could create more problems that it solves, as we found last summer.

    Make up your own minds whether this is a good or bad thing, but please don’t place your own prejudices onto my words and make assumptions about things I haven’t said.

    I will, however, point out that the visa free travel deal already signed is expected (by the EU itself) to increase the EU security risk, with significant numbers of potential terrorists expected to make use of the facility, and a former head of MI5 described the deal as “perverse” and used the phrase comparing it to “storing gasoline next to the fire”.

    I raise these points to back up my assertion that your insistence that Turkish entry is a distant prospect displays a misplaced confidence in the willingness of EU leaders (including our own) not to take decisions to fix short term crises at the expense of creating new long term problems.

  38. COLIN (quoting the Guardian)

    “A campaign memo from Britain Stronger In Europe leaked to the Guardian shows that only about half of Labour voters have realised their party is in favour of staying in the EU, with the rest thinking it is split or believing it is a party of Brexit.”

    Of course (as your longer quote made clear) this is part of the obsession of the Establishment wing of Guardian (ie most of them) that all the ills of the universe are the personal responsibility of Jeremy Corbyn[1]. Only his immediate removal and replacement with someone they knew doing PPE at Oxford will avert Armageddon.

    Like most such scare pieces it seems to be unsourced but appears to be linked with polling that went up on the Archive this morning with f/w 24-25 May [2]:


    While this nominally asks From what you have seen or heard, what do you think the LABOUR party’s position is on the European Union? the actual options offered are all about what Labour MPs want – which is rather different. Given that there don’t seem to have been any comprehensive surveys of them “Don’t know” is a perfectly respectable response and 36% gave it. It’s down from 43% in March however.

    Otherwise the strongest option by far was “Most Labour MPs want to stay in the European Union, but a minority want to leave” with 33%. Only 9% though they backed Leave in any way.

    Similarly, when the question was asked of the Conservatives 26% said DK, while the most popular option was” Conservative MPs are evenly split between wanting to leave the European Union and wanting to stay” (35%).

    A lot of this depends on what leeway people give about the terms used such as ‘evenly split’, ‘a minority’ or ‘all or almost all’. Do the 7 or so Labour MPs for Leave[3] count as ‘a minority’ or imply the rest are ‘almost all’?

    [1] I think my favourite one so far was Nick Cohen claiming that the floods in Cumbria were all his fault.

    [2] YouGov asked the same questions back 2-3 Mar (see tables) and the Guardian’s remarks may be based on that as the Leave + DK is over 50%. Using something nearly three months old would be typical. But our media-political elite tends to believe in the primacy of assertion over evidence (especially anything with numbers in it).

    [3] The only reliable piece I could find giving any numbers was here:

    ht tp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35616946

    but it’s not complete and is over two months old.

  39. ALEC:
    If you look to page 6 of these comments, May 29th 6:07pm, you can see where Robert Newark said exactly those words I am quoting. That is what I responding to. I am aware that you didn’t say it, but my question stands: is that the vision that one has for a Europe where Turkish citizens have the right to go on holiday in Schengen. I strongly suspect you do not believe that, and if that’s the case then I say that we are more or less on the same side.

    I was angry at the comments from Robert Newark, not just because they were laced with a sense of anti-Turkish poison just below the surface, but also that the facts of the case were markedly detatched from reality.

    In asking you to clarify about the results of Turkish visa-free travel to Schengen, I was hoping that you’d explicitly or implicitly distance yourself from those incendiary comments I reacted to. I think you have, and I thank you for it.

    I am ready to acknowledge that you sense problems with such an arrangement, and I think an interesting discussion could be had about that, but this whole conversation started from a comment that was so outrageous my focus has been on shutting that off from the more sensible and honourable aspects of the Leave campaign. As it is, I haven’t formed a firm opinion on Turkey’s visa free travel so I’m open to arguments for and against it.

  40. Turkey made an application to join the E.U. in 1987, nearly 30 years ago. I suggest their membership is farther away than ever now with the current Turkish Government and I cannot see them joining any time soon.
    Germany and France are big obstacles, as are many of the eastern European nations, that is before we get onto Greece and Cyprus.
    It seems silly to me for any one to suggest that they will get agreement from the 28 member states within any foreseable time span.

  41. @Alun

    “You’re asking about what happens if one party unilaterally breaks a treaty?”


    Well, if you phrase it like that, then it seems a bit of a big deal. But as others have pointed out, various things already agreed to tend to get broken, e.g. Alec’s example of the current account surplus. Maybe they might relax accession criteria a bit, or find some creative new way to interpret the rules etc.

    Whereupon your remedy is that we could justifiably leave, which you say you would support. But therein lies another problem. Because if we happen to have a government KEEN to ensure more immigration etc. then they may well go along with all the moves to increase immigration and not seek to leave.

    And crucially if we then vote them out, we are then stuck with the outcome regardless. We’d have to leave the EU to sort it.

    Given that successive governments of whatever stripe have been keen on immigration, you can see why some would just decide to cut to the chase and just leave anyway.

    I think it’s worth looking at the bigger picture here, and realising just how much
    our governments have been committed to immigration, It scratches many politicians’ itches. Hence some will not unnaturally see a reason to remove the EU as a convenient mechanism.

  42. @Neilj

    “It seems silly to me for any one to suggest that they will get agreement from the 28 member states within any foreseable time span.”


    Well, strange, surprising things often happen. Or maybe they’ll find a way to bypass the need for agreement. Or as Alec suggests, to at least facilitate free movement without full accession etc. etc.

    But Turkey is a proxy anyway for the more general point about a
    a lack of control… maybe some other concern may crop up we might wish to act on but are constrained in our response. No one was expecting what happened to Italy and Greece.

    More generally, there are dangers of a cake-and-eat it approach to all this.

    If we take Finkelstein’s argument, that the trend is to trade freedom for the benefits of co-operation, that’s one thing.

    But perhaps some, who want the benefits of the European Union, are being a bit too keen to believe that there’s no loss of freedom entailed, that we retain as much autonomy as if outside the EU…

  43. It’s like, on a number of occasions before now, it’s been pointed out that Westminster could, in principle, have revoked devolution.* Now, it might have been the case this was unlikely, but it’s fair to consider the possibility all the same.

    It makes sense to consider worst case scenarios etc. Some may consider it virtually impossible, others disagree, but regardless it’s useful to consider what happens when the EU does stuff we really don’t care for, especially if government is complicit.

    * I think Oldnat or someone indicated recently this may be changing, but nonetheless it works as an example.

  44. EU referendum poll:
    Remain: 44% (-1)
    Leave: 47% (+2)
    (via ICM, online)

    EU referendum poll:
    Remain: 42% (-5)
    Leave: 45% (+6)
    (via ICM, phone)

    Very interesting

  45. CARFREW:
    “Maybe they might relax accession criteria a bit”

    They cannot do that without the agreement of every member state. It’s written into the Lisbon Treaty. Treaty changes require ratification. Again, the buck stops with our government, which is exactly where most people seem to want to keep it.

    Your dead right that successive governments have been keen on immigration. That does make me wonder where the electorate is at on it. I suspect that most people aren’t as bothered by it as anti-immigration folk like to suggest.
    Remember Cameron’s promise from before the 2010 election? Bring net immigration down to the tens of thousands. It’s universally acknowledged that he failed (or perhaps didn’t even try). And was the result that he was punished at the ballot box? Not really. The Tories won in 2015 an increased share of the vote, and an overall majority.

    It seems that in past elections, stopping immigration hasn’t factored as highly as some people might suspect. Perhaps that trend will change? I don’t know. All I know is that it’s all very well if anti-immigration folk bemoan the fact that successive governments have been too pro-immigration, but the question then becomes — why do we keep voting those people in? *One* possible explanation is that we, on the whole, really don’t mind immigration, and the admittedly noisy group of people who really do mind simply don’t represent the wider public.

    If you have a better theory, I’m all ears. I can imagine there being a range of reasons that people might choose to believe.

  46. Carfrew
    I’m in complete agreement with your last few posts. Well put.

  47. “It makes sense to consider worst case scenarios”

    Do you mean like, for instance, Turkey joining the EU?
    There’s a crucial difference here. Turkey cannot join the EU without the UK giving explicit consent, and that consent cannot be removed from the UK without the UK given consent!

    As I understand the current situation (and forgive me if I’m behind the times on this issue), Holyrood could be theoretically shut down against the explicit or even unanimous consent of Holyrood. The power for that lies with Westminster. I don’t find it at all likely that this would happen, so it’s deeply theoretical, but on the basis of the rules alone, it could.

    So as I see it, that’s a qualititative difference, not just an analysis of probabilities.

  48. Good afternoon all from a damp wet rural Hampshire. amazingly the weather up in Scotland was fantastic over the past couple of days when I was up visiting my folks.
    COLIN (quoting the Guardian)
    “A campaign memo from Britain Stronger In Europe leaked to the Guardian shows that only about half of Labour voters have realised their party is in favour of staying in the EU, with the rest thinking it is split or believing it is a party of Brexit.”

    That’s probably because the remain campaign has been hijacked by David Cameron and his sidekick at number 11. Far too much exposure of those two are probably sending out the wrong signals and might prove counterproductive for remain among Labour supporters who may end up voting leave.

    No that I’m complaining of course….the more Brxiters the better.

  49. @Pete B

    Thanks muchly.


    I’m sure we’d agree on many things. Esp. ‘cos of the science background. I’ve even been eyeing up allotments…

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