Following the FT story about hedge funds and exit polls, it’s probably worth setting out some facts about exit polling and the referendum. I have not a clue whether the FT story is correct, but for those interested here’s what we can say about exit polls at the referendum.

There will not be an official exit poll for the referendum. At general elections the BBC, ITN and Sky normally jointly fund an exit poll. The fieldwork is normally conducted by Gfk and Ipsos MORI, and then John Curtice, Steve Fisher and the rest of their team use the data to project seat numbers. This did not happen for the Scottish referendum or the AV referendum, and it won’t be happening for the EU referendum either.

The way exit polls are done at general elections can’t be done for a referendum. I’m not privy to the BBC’s discussions, but my guess is that the reason they are not doing an exit poll is for technical reasons: the method the exit poll team use for general elections would not and cannot work for a referendum. Here’s why. At general elections the team try to revisit the same polling stations at each election (obviously some are added as electoral battlegrounds change, but the core remains the same) the projection is then done by looking at the changes in support in those polling stations since the exit poll five years before. Curtice, Fisher and colleagues will look at patterns of change (e.g, are there bigger or smaller changes in different regions, or where there are different parties in contention) and use that to project the swing across different types of seat. While the overall swing can be used to come up with national shares of the vote, that’s very much a by-product, at its heart the exit poll is all about change since the last election.

For obvious reasons this is not an option at a referendum: there was not a previous EU referendum a few years back that we can draw changes from. This means the exit poll method that has been so successful at the last three general elections cannot be used for referendums, and presumably as a result of this, the BBC, ITN and Sky have chosen not to have an exit poll at all.

Someone could still do an exit poll in theory, but who knows whether it would be accurate or not. It is possible to do exit polls in other ways. Instead of looking at swing, one could try and sample from a random selection of polling stations and work out national shares of the vote. This used to be how exit polls were done in this country before the current method was developed. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it would necessarily be as accurate as the recent BBC exit polls though: back in 1992 the exit poll was conducted this way, and was almost as inaccurate as that year’s pre-election polls.

It is illegal to publish an exit poll until the polls have closed. Exit polls are the only type of poll that has specific laws around their publication. Under the Representation of the People Act it is illegal to publish any poll based on the responses of people who have already voted until the polls close at 10pm. There is no legal restraint on carrying them out (after all, Gfk and MORI do it at every general election), the legal bar is on publishing them while people are still voting.

Any results from much before 10pm would be of questionable use anyway. Anyone with any experience of elections knows that voting is not uniform throughout the day, there are ebbs and flows and different types of people vote at different times. Exit poll data from only the morning or only the early afternoon could be wildly misleading.

So when will we know the result? In the absence of any exit polls, we will have to wait for actual counts to take place. The Electoral Commission already has estimated result times up here. The earliest results are expected to be Sunderland, Wandsworth and Foyle, all around half twelve. Swindon, Oldham, Newcastle and Hartlepool are expected at about one. Lots of results are expected about two-ish, the bulk around three or four in the morning. Obviously how soon those results actually allow us to be confident of the overall picture depends how close it is – if all the early results show a heavy lead one way or the other we will know quite early, if they are extremely close we won’t be certain till most places have counted.

On other matters YouGov had their regular EU poll for the Times this morning. Topline figures were REMAIN 41%, LEAVE 41%, Don’t know/Won’t vote 17%… exactly the same as a week ago. There is no obvious sign of any movement towards Leave there. Full tabs are here.


344 Responses to “Exit polls on the EU referendum”

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  1. I agree with much of what Charles says.

    It seems to me that the main argument for Brexit is the blank cheque it provides. We know what we’ve got at the moment and, not unreasonably, a lot of people are dissatisfied in one way or another with it. We are currently in the EU so that’s where we are and we know what we have.

    However, if we leave the EU we can imagine what it will be like and everything will be better. Want less immigration? Leave the EU. Want more funding for the NHS? Leave the EU. Want brilliant trade deals with all and sundry? Leave the EU. Want Britain to be great again? Leave the EU. Want cucumbers any shape you like? Leave the EU. Don’t want unelected bureaucrats writing British laws? Leave the EU. Want to prevent terrorism? Leave the EU. Fed up with being ruled by a faceless elite? Leave the EU.

    It’s all a fantasy world that you can project anything you want to on to it. And that’s the real difficulty “remainers” have. We don’t know what will happen after Brexit so we can make up what we like.

  2. @Mark W – “Only 2.27% of uk land is built on.”

    That is an extremely misleading figure. More relevant would be to look at the CPRE’s tranquility mapping (see http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/countryside/tranquil-places ). This gives a much better definition of the disturbance caused by development, which goes way beyond the actual bricks and cement of buildings and structures.

    @Alun009 – “ALEC
    “Taking ‘we’ as the UK”

    It seems you’ve missed the thread of the conversation. Easily done. We were talking about how systems work.”

    Thank you. I didn’t. You may have been talking about how systems work. We were talking about how easily UK voters could rid themselves of politicians and parties they didn’t like. Collectively, we can do what we like in Westminster. In Brussels we could get rid of 12% of the MEPs and none of the commissioners.

    A simple misunderstanding, easily done.

  3. I’m a ‘Green Leaves’ person (yes a minority part of a minority party – crowded it is not).

    I want the blank page. That is what really appeals to me. The EU is fundamentally flawed in my view, and Mr Cameron’s negotiations did not even begin to address my concerns. I am quite happy with immigration as it is now. I have massive issues with the way the EU works democratically. I have massive issues with the expansion into parts of Eastern Europe where fascists are a significant element. I have concerns about a long term desire to bring Turkey into the fold, when it’s Government has so many values that are just incompatible with what I consider a decent and open society.

    The financial structure of Euro is chronically bad, and the only fix is to either ditch it, or move to fiscal union and further undermining the democratic rights in sovereign nations. The Euro as currently figured will never work that well, and be a constant weakness that could drag down the European economy again. I know we are not in the Euro, but if it goes bad, we would still be affected.

    Leaving the EU would mean we could define the blank page ourselves. I have faith that a post Brexit UK could be built on progressive values, but of course it is up to the parties that espouse those to fight for them. I am a democrat first and foremost, and if the values I like are not supported by the electorate by winning an election, democratically speaking those values don’t deserve to be implemented.

    A big issue is that the left hasn’t challenged the EU much when clearly disenchantment has been building in our country, and this has meant the running has been made by the those on right. The left has simply not engaged the electorate on this, where it could be a force for positive change.

    My view hasn’t changed in several years, and the current debate by the main campaigns doesn’t begin to address my concerns, so I have mostly ignored them.

    Of course, leaving would be a risk, but unless we aspire to something better we will never will get it.

  4. Alec

    1. The tranquility mapping only applies to England – roughly 50% of the UK’s land mass – so is not going to be particularly helpful in assessing the situation in the whole of the UK.

    2. Regarding politicians we can get rid of: you are wrong. I can only vote to get rid of the MP who represents my consitituency. I have no control over what people in other parts of the UK do, It’s exactly the same with the EU, only on a larger scale. The electorate is EU wide for EU elections, just as the electorate is UK wide for UK elections. In either case, I only have one vote.

  5. @John B – I know it only covers England, but the nub of my point is that parts of the UK are overcrowded, not most of Scotland.

    Also, yes, I appreciate you can only vote for one MP, but I was referring to ‘we’ collectively. I don’t think UK residents generally feel they are European, and the EU is too big an administrative area to function under a single democratic structure, in my view.

  6. NORBOLD.
    Hello to you. Long Time.

    I would say yes to most of those ‘wants’ in your recent posts; especially being able to vote for and to remove lawmakers.

  7. My neighbour’s dogs are always barking throughout the day. I find that very intrusive but I can’t really object to him living there.

  8. Opinium has a 2 point lead for Remain, 43 to 41. Without weighting it would be a slight Leave lead.

  9. BANTAMS
    “Opinium has a 2 point lead for Remain, 43 to 41. Without weighting it would be a slight Leave lead”
    I thought it was under the old methodology, Leave would be slightly ahead.

  10. “Personally I feel I have more in common with people from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and the USA than I do with most Europeans.”

    A sentiment that I respect. And that may well inform your vote which is fine. You vote as you see fit for whichever reasons you choose. All I wanted to do was to talk about the systems then govern us, and compare them with each other. So when someone is concerned with democratic representation, it’s totally relevant to examine the systems for representation. If your concern is with kinship, there’s no argument I can make against your feelings. If your argument was, say, that the EU is “less democratic” than Westminster, then there are ways to approach deciding which parts of that opinion are based on fact, opinion, or fiction.

  11. @ Petra

    Yes, you’re right, I received a duff text which has just been corrected. Squeaky bum time for Remain, Leave need to keep gently applying the pressure. I wonder if any aces are left up any sleeves which might swing things either way.

  12. @Alec I think you are interested in climate change, tax havens, and other global issues. You are also a democrat. You perceive, rightly in my view, that big entities (the world, the EU and so on) are somehow too big for anyone to feel that they have a democratic say in them. So we have to work out a way of managing these big cross country issues which allows as much local democracy as possible while also enabling deals to be struck which are between elected politicians but not directly endorsed by the people themselves. To me the EU is (an admittedly imperfect) way of doing this.

  13. I wonder if any aces are left up any sleeves which might swing things either way.

    Isn’t there an IMF report due a few days before the vote? No guesses for what that will say…..

  14. Alec
    I have voted in every General Election since 1976, but never once has my vote helped elect an MP, but several times it has helped elect an MEP. The reality is that I have almost no influence on the result of a General Election, and proportionately somewhat less influence on the result of a European Election, but both numbers are so vanishingly small that comparing them is pointless.

    I appreciate that most Brexiteers are instinctive Little Englanders who divide the world into “us” on this side of the Channel and “them” on the other side. Paradoxically they also think that “we” somehow have superior judgement to “them”, despite the lack of any objective evidence for that. Personally I think there are not big differences in the judgement of voters on the two sides of the Channel

    Some people have said they fear for their grandchildren’s future if we remain, while I have the same fears if we leave.. But I just hope that all these grandparents take the trouble to ASK their children and grandchildren what they want, and respect the wishes of those who will have to live with this decision for longest, because if they do then Remain will win 65-35

  15. Isn’t there an IMF report due a few days before the vote? No guesses for what that will say…

    Might be too late by then. These reports seem to be discounted anyway.

  16. Opinium’s polls are Online, and they’ve done just three previous EU Ref polls. These were:

    1 Apr 39:43 for Leave
    29 Apr 42:41 for Remain
    19 May 44:40 for Remain

    This one might be considered as an advance for Leave, but only in relation to the most recent of these three. On balance, I’d say this latest one looks rather typical of all the Online polls we’ve had for the past 4 months – during which time it seems that neither side has advanced much at all.

  17. Is there any way of knowing or ‘guesstimating’ the total of registered voters after Tuesday’s deadline?

  18. @Bantams

    I remember the lyrics from a song by Fish, from his solo album. The song was ‘Big Wedge’

    The IMF, the CIA, it makes no difference, they are all the same, it all depends on what’s your point of view.

  19. Here is the whole song:

    I found a new religion yesterday, I’d just cleared immigration JFK
    a priest got in a cadillac, the shoe shine boy sang gospel
    as God and his accountants drove away.
    You’ll see him coast to coast on live tv, in a stadium
    rocked by Satan just the night before
    the collection from the faithful is tax free
    it’ll pay for his presidential campaign and his yacht
    And we all bow down, we bow down to the big wedge
    and we’ll buy ourselves some heaven on earth
    we sell our souls, sell our souls for big wedge
    are we selling out tomorrow for today?
    A surgeon checks your plastic on the telephone
    a casio concerto entertains you while you hold
    your credit rating’s good for a Madonna or a Bardot
    a Dali or a Picasso for his wall.
    You’re looking good, looking good with big wedge
    are you holding back tomorrow for today?
    they’re driving in, driving in with big wedge
    are we selling out tomorrow for today?
    You’ll sell the ground beneath your feet
    you’ll sell your oil, you’ll sell your trees
    you ideals and integrity your culture and your history
    your children into slavery to labour in their factories
    your mother and your family
    you’ll sell the world eventually.
    The IMF and CIA; there’s just no difference they’re all the same!
    It just depends on what’s your point of view
    America, America the big wedge
    and they’re buying up your tomorrow with promises
    the promises of big wedge and they’ll break them
    like your hearts another day
    when you find out that you’ve left it just too late
    and find that you’re the only one to blame
    that you sold out your tomorrow for Big Wedge

  20. ALEC:
    “We were talking about how easily UK voters could rid themselves of politicians and parties they didn’t like.”

    But it seems your starting point is treating the UK as something of a unit. Nothing could be further from the truth. I personally would like to rid Europe of the likes of the the European Conservatives and Reformists MEPs. There are some pretty awful people in that party, and I don’t trust them. But they are democratically elected, and some British people support them in elections. So at what point would you say British people “don’t like” a party? Most people I know don’t like ECR politicians, but I know places in the UK where they’d get good support. Most Danes I know don’t like ECR folk, but some Danes do.

    Your point is predicated on the idea that there is something specially United Kingdomish that a neat line can be drawn around and all within act as a whole, as a single entity. But whichever group you choose to conjure, moderate or extremist, left, right, liberal, conservative… I could easily find you a person from these islands who would wholeheartedly support their agenda.

    So “we” will never want to rid ourselves of any particular European party, because some of “us” will support them. Your argument seems to be that we should leave the EU on account of how we are different. And in the end, you might choose to remain in that belief despite the fact that to me, to many, such a thing is simply not obvious. And that’s fine. But if we are to discuss seriously the idea that “we” cannot get rid of a politician because “we” only make up 12%, you first have to assume that “we” are really a unit (we aren’t) and that such a problem isn’t an inevitable part of any system at all where multiple people make collective decisions. Westminster, Holyrood, the shareholders of a company, a family. All share the potential issue that you describe. The idea that “we” cannot decide wholly for “our”selves is no evidence of a systemic problem, it’s evidence of your own opinion about what “we” are and evidence that any system at all that has more than one person having any power at all is bound to exhibit such features.

    So again, the challenge is to say why the features of one system are better or worse than the features of another, OR admit that your opinion is based on the idea that nationality, as you see it, transcends such discussions.

  21. @ James E

    We need to see more polls but the last week has seen a shift IMO. Emily on Newsnight last night intimated this when discussing the issue.

  22. BANTAMS:
    “These reports seem to be discounted anyway.”

    Reports are often discarded by those who disagree with them. I point no fingers here even though we can expect which particular side will likeliest reject any such 11th-hour publication.

  23. @ Bantams

    It’s an advance for Leave against Opinium’s most recent poll, which showed a 4 point Remain lead, but is pretty much in line with the average of their previous polling as a whole. The same is also true of the second-most-recent poll we’ve had, which was YouGov’s at 41:41.

    I think that the Opinium and YouGov together suggest that the movement shown in the ICM polls over last week-end was probably a blip.

  24. @ Alun009

    Instructions have gone out in Brussels to keep away from any controversial comments where Brexit is concerned, an announcement on a European army has apparently been postponed until just after the referendum. Problem is, everyone knows about it.

    I haven’t made up my mind yet but Remain aren’t learning from their mistakes.

  25. @ James E

    As I also said we need more polls to confirm.

  26. @Catmanjeff it’s interesting that I agree with you on most or perhaps all of the relevant facts but not on the conclusions to be drawn from them. Yes, there are some nasty fascist governments about but leaving the EU is not going to make them any less nasty. The EU was originally about making impossible the kind of fascist disaster that led to the last war and I still believe it has some of that ambition in its DNA. Portugal and Spain seem to me to have become less fascist in its orbit. Yes, the economic structure of the Euro is bad and if it goes wrong we will be affected. But we will be affected in or out, and in we might be able to enable an orderly withdrawal from the Euro for those countries who should never have been in it in the first place. Yes, it is not very democratic and that’s a problem but its a problem in any system. In our own last but one election we ended up with a coalition when no one had envisaged one and the whole business of international and to some extent national policy making is a matter of deals which may be negotiated by elected representatives but are not directly endorsed by the voters themselves. And yes we should be a more progressive society. It wouldn’t hurt in my view if we were a bit more like Denmark and there’s nothing to stop us.

    In short, lLike Norbold I think the ‘blank check’ is an encouragement to fantasy. If we leave we will start from where we are with a right wing government in power and a need to make our way in the world and negotiate deals with all and sundry. Boris will be triumphant and if he is crowned prime minister will scrap some of the workers rights that he sees as the dead hand of bureaucracy and he will only be restrained by an urgent need to strike deals with Brussels that will hopefully put us somewhere near where we were before.

  27. Roger Mexico
    Re leafletting. I wasn’t just getting answers from people who agreed with me, because I wasn’t wearing any identifying outfit or badges, the leaflet had ‘EU – the Facts’ on the visible side, and I just said something like ‘Excuse me, would you like a leaflet about the referendum?’. To which a typical reply was ‘”I’m voting Leave anyway, but yes (or no)”

  28. Postal vote arrived today.

    Will decide tomorrow, either way.

  29. Just returned from a short sojourn in Spain where the weather was most agreeable. Most of the ex pats I know there do not have a vote as they have been there over 15 years. There are also a number of more recent emigrants who are overwhelmingly for remain but not all of them have registered to vote and there are still some who don’t realise they can.

    The disturbing thing was the attitude of many of the visitors who were there in large numbers. I am well used to avoiding certain types of Brits abroad but the loud and rude seem to have infiltrated many previously nice places. Perhaps these people will not bother to vote, but given their hostility to all things Spanish I would guess that those that do will vote out. Unfortunately, from my point of view, there did seem to be an awful lot of them.

  30. @James E

    The three earlier Opinium polls are not strictly comparable because of methodological changes applied to the latest poll. Opinium have said that without such changes the tonight’s poll would have Leave ahead.

  31. John B – “The tranquility mapping only applies to England – roughly 50% of the UK’s land mass – so is not going to be particularly helpful in assessing the situation in the whole of the UK.”

    Everyone knows that Scotland is relatively empty. But it doesn’t solve anything – there has been nothing stopping migrants from moving to Scotland all this time, there is no border, once you are on this island you can move freely.

    Unfortunately they all want to squeeze into London and the south-east. It’s no good saying “build houses in the rest of the country” – there are already empty houses in the rest of the country. What we can’t do is squeeze more into London – it has a fixed space.

    So there are only two solutions – control the flow of people into Britain. Or make migrants move to Scotland and force them to stay there, put ankle bracelets on them with tracking devices or something. The first is a more humane solution than the second. And before you suggest it, trying to squeeze 20 million people into London isn’t a humane solution either. It will turn the place into Mexico City, complete with water shortages.

  32. Andrew, as a lifelong Tory, I completely agree with you.

    If Leave do win, the Tories will have lost me for ever (and I voted for Maggie in my first election). I will probably switch to LibDem, or whoever promises another referendum to take us back into the EU asap. Sure, the Tories will gain lots of UKIP I suspect, but they will lose a significant number of moderates like me and become a haven of right wingers.

    I know a bit about economics and business myself and like you, I really, really fear for the UK and our children if we leave.

  33. @ Graham

    “The three earlier Opinium polls are not strictly comparable because of methodological changes applied to the latest poll. Opinium have said that without such changes the tonight’s poll would have Leave ahead”

    Yes, I’d understood that, but when you do a like-for-like comparison, the outcome is only 1 point better for Leave than the average of their three previous polls over April & May.

  34. Like the discussion. UKPR at its best.

    The polls seem very close. Predicting turnout is hard. Will the older Leavers turn out in numbers as older people usually do, or perhaps vote less as they include fewer of the higher educated social groups compared with younger age-groups?

    Will the anger of many Brexiteers prove a stronger motivation to vote than the fear of the unknown among Remainers? I don’t know.

    All I know is that it looks very close indeed and UKIP (who I do not support) won the last UK european election, and this election after all is about Europe, or perhaps the identity of the UK.

    There could be a quiet army of cautious marginal/suburban Remainers for all I know, but I am not in the right part of the country to come across them.

    Opinions could change, but as it is I think Leave could just edge it.

  35. I’ve just been reviewing the 2016 EU Referendum data via EWMA.

    Due to the number of polls of a similar nature, I looked at You Gov online and ICM online.

    They seem to be saying different things, YG shows statistically changes to remain or leave. Leave is slightly improving, but very weakly.

    ICM show a significant change in the last five polls for leave (polls since late April-early May). The last five polls have breached the upper limit, with an uptick since early March. Remain has been improving, but not significantly as no boundary has been breached.

    ICM show (I think) that people have been coming off the fence to both remain and leave, but leave have been catching more.

    For some reason You Gov have been much more static than ICM.

    Who is right?

    Probably the one that puts your side in the best light ;-)

    (Charts below)

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzTTW1ecy-NDRGkxVEt6MFhlLTQ/view?usp=sharing

  36. Correction

    I’ve just been reviewing the 2016 EU Referendum data via EWMA.

    Due to the number of polls of a similar nature, I looked at You Gov online and ICM online.

    They seem to be saying different things, YG shows no statistically changes to remain or leave. Leave is slightly improving, but very weakly.

    ICM show a significant change in the last five polls for leave (polls since late April-early May). The last five polls have breached the upper limit, with an uptick since early March. Remain has been improving, but not significantly as no boundary has been breached.

    ICM show (I think) that people have been coming off the fence to both remain and leave, but leave have been catching more.

    For some reason You Gov have been much more static than ICM.

    Who is right?

    Probably the one that puts your side in the best light ;-)

    (Charts below)

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzTTW1ecy-NDRGkxVEt6MFhlLTQ/view?usp=sharing

  37. Looking at the details of the latest Opinium Poll, it is another where the Conservative sample is in favour of Remain. So this detail is the same as for their last poll, with a 4 point Remain lead.

    The sub-samples by party are:

    Con 47-40 for Remain
    Lab 61-30 for Remain
    LibDem 66-20 for Remain
    SNP 52-35 for Remain.

    These are offset by UKIP backing Leave by 96-2.

    It seems odd that the overall result is so close with the supporters of the two largest parties apparently favouring the same side, overall, but it is the size of the Leave lead among Kippers which tilts it to near parity.

  38. @Andrew111 – “I appreciate that most Brexiteers are instinctive Little Englanders who divide the world into “us” on this side of the Channel and “them” on the other side.”

    If you do, sadly you won’t benefit from the open exchange of thoughts and ideas on this issue, and probably will lack the openmindedness to learn about others, and even yourself, during this debate. I think very many Brexiteers are genuinely torn about this very difficult choice, and few, I suspect, think much in terms of ‘we’ and ‘them’.

    Such characterizations (nutters, loons and fruitcakes, anyone?) are what led the established parties to completely miss the genuine problems within the EU and the groundswell for leaving. This meant that ways to address these issues were not found, making the problems worse.

    It was on your substantive point about voting and what practical effect that has that I really wanted to comment on. No, of course an individual vote is theoretically, and in strict numerical terms, of no consequence, unless a candidate wins by a single vote. However, that isn’t how democracy works. Parties don’t know how you are going to vote, and you vote with millions of other people. You have already exerted a genuine influence, aggregated with others, before any votes are cast, as parties uncertain of your support try to frame policies they believe will attract you.

    The smaller the democratic unit (not constituency, mind – I’m talking about the audience to which parties are playing) the more influential your own individual vote, and the demographic that you represent, becomes.

    If the EU, there is no party trying to frame an offer to all voters, so comparing UK and EU elections is missing the point. German political parties aren’t asking for my vote, so imagining that there can ever be a consistent democracy across the EU is false. For the reasons above, you therefore have very limited influence in Brussels, but far more in the UK, above and beyond your actual single vote.

  39. Here’s a link to Opinium’s figures – which are far easier to understand than those of other pollsters.

    http://ourinsight.opinium.co.uk/sites/ourinsight.opinium.co.uk/files/vi_31_05_16.pdf

    I probably should have added the Greens to those parties backing Remain (by 59-23 in their case)

  40. @Alun009 – “But it seems your starting point is treating the UK as something of a unit. Nothing could be further from the truth…….”

    Ah – sorry – I must have misunderstood. I thought the UK retained it’s own national identity, institutions, elections etc. To me, that makes it a unit, but obviously I don’t know enough about such things.

    “Your point is predicated on the idea that there is something specially United Kingdomish that a neat line can be drawn around and all within act as a whole, as a single entity.”

    No it doesn’t. I’ve no idea where you get this idea from.

    “But if we are to discuss seriously the idea that “we” cannot get rid of a politician because “we” only make up 12%, you first have to assume that “we” are really a unit (we aren’t)…..”

    Again, we are a unit, in national and administrative terms, but why you assume that to be a political entity everyone has to have the same opinion is quite beyond me. You remain, missing the point entirely. It is not in the UK electorates power to vote out the EU government. That’s all. It’s really extraordinarily simple.

    “So again, the challenge is to say why the features of one system are better or worse than the features of another,…”

    No – there is no challenge for me to address. It is a simple statement of fact the the British electorate can influence Westminster politics far more readily (completely, in fact) than it can Brussels politics. I make no claims whether one is better than the other, except I suspect my maths might be better than yours.

  41. @Charles (8.53pm)

    Fully agree. The EU has engineered some remarkable successes in many areas. One excellent example is acid rain. In the 1980’s, forests across many parts of Europe were sickening and dying, with combustion gases from coal fired power stations and industry a key culprit. Left unchecked, the results could have been disastrous. The EU collaborated on measures that have been so successful, no one mentions acid rain now. Likewise, holidaymakers can look forward to cheaper mobile phone bills if they go to an EU country this year. Not perhaps on the same scale as avoiding ecological catastrophes, but a signal of how collective actions can be beneficial.

    Personally, I think that if remain had focused simply on what the EU has done for us, they would be streets ahead. Unfortunately Cameron and Osborne learned nothing from Indyref, failing to realise they nearly lost a vote they had in the bag as they were so crass.

    I’m genuinely torn, and still have to try to balance the positives that the EU has and can achieve against the seriously flawed aspects of it’s being and the risk that it will mutate into something well beyond what we would be happy with.

    It’s a tough call.

  42. One more thought before bedtime.

    Received wisdom seems to be that a leave vote would be great news for a Boris led Tory administration. I beg to differ. I have a sneaking suspicion that it would be the revitalising of Labour.

    I know nothing of prediction, but I was trying to imagine the political impacts of telling millions of part time workers that they no longer have rights to paid holidays, or millions of RSPB members that Habitats Directives are going to be scrapped, or supermarket shoppers that food standards are to be weakened. Labour could have a field day.

    Putting aside whether or not Brexit helps or hinders the wider economy, a government with a 12 seat majority trying to unravel decades of worker and consumer protection is not something that I would like to try and deliver.

    Once you remove the bogeyman, you have no excuses. I think Boris could find life outside the EU and very chastening experience.

  43. Alec
    Well, on this forum and on many others I see the argument that “we” need to “take back control” from the “undemocratic EU” It is what Michael Gove repeats every time he speaks..

    I just reject the premises of these arguments. Sometimes I like what Westminster does and sometimes the EU, but the pattern on the Environment, employment law and many other issues favours the EU for me. Quite often the British government has blocked EU proposals that I would like to see introduced (The Financial Transaction Tax, for example). So the idea that Westminster taking back power would be a good thing does not wash with me on purely pragmatic grounds. Since Vote Leave is not a political party then despite their myriad promises they have absolutely no power to implement any of them. So we just have to assume the present government will continue and if they did have £9 billlion to spend they are just as likely to give it away in inheritance tax as spend it on the NHS.

    Regarding votes, well my point is that in the UK with FPTP it is binary. You either get the MP you want or you don’t. So far I have never succeeded so my votes have been wasted. Whereas the EU has a more democratic way of doing things and forced the British government to use PR in Euro Elections. Hence my views DO carry some weight in the European Parliament, but not in the UK, and that more than outweighs the size of unit argument for me.
    Meanwhile most European parties join larger blocks in the Parliament with similar views, so the views of British voters are (or could be, since several of our parties refuse to engage properly) carried forward into overall policy.

  44. @Alec

    Are the Tories actually proposing any of those measures?

    Even if they were, they wouldn’t be able to put them into law until 2018 at the earliest, and more likely they would be well after the next GE.

    If a bonfire of decency is what awaits a post-Brexit UK then I don’t think that would happen until after Boris had won an election, not before.

  45. Not enough polling in my opinion.
    I want more polls.
    Will Leave or Remain pledge the higher increase in polls if they win ?
    Seriously people have voted in many postal cases, it is nearly Sunday morning with most other postal votes off after the weekend – where are the new polls ?
    Is Asylum working ? Is getting rid of VAT on fuel ? Did Cameron blow it on Sky (on what is a ‘Trust me’ vote pitch to the undecided) ? More polls please.

  46. ALEC
    Yes. You’re right.

    You HAVE misunderstood. The UK doesn’t have a national identity. It does have institutions, but many are local, regional and supranational. There are elections, but there are regional and supranational ones there too. There simply isn’t anything that defines the UK in the way seem to hope.

    Everything you’ve said applies equally to Scotland in the UK not being able to vote out a UK government. Or substitute Wales, Cornwall, Shrewsbury, Acacia avenue, or John down my local. You seem to regard the fact that they are all minority parts of an electoral system as being qualitatively different from the UK in Europe having its fair share of representation. I can’t for the life of me figure out why you think this and you won’t address the reasons. You keep just restating the fact that the UK isn’t in a majority in the EU. That isn’t in dispute. You need to say why that is somehow a bad thing.

    Or perhaps admit that it isn’t a bad thing.

  47. Alec – “Boris led Tory administration.”

    I’d like to remind people that before the Labour leadership contest started, all the Lab people on UKPR said that Bunham was a shoo-in, “because the members liked him”. That all went out the window once the contest actually started and some of those Lab members actually switched to Corbyn!

    It is impossible to tell how the Tory leadership contest will pan out – not least because we don’t know who all the contestants are.

  48. @JSB

    More polls please.

    Who is going to pay for them?

  49. “But it seems your starting point is treating the UK as something of a unit. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

    —————-

    Regions and countries get treated as distinct units regardless of whether one thinks they should.

    This is a plain fact of which there are many examples. For example, Scotland were used to trial the poll tax. Meanwhile more recently the South East benefitted from QE.

    Greece got hammered with Austerity, but Germany and France get let off their obligations…

  50. @Candy

    “So there are only two solutions – control the flow of people into Britain. Or make migrants move to Scotland…”

    ———

    Well, there is a third option: don’t use economic policies that favour the south east and hamper the North. E.g. the response to the oil crisis in the late seventies/early eighties and it’s impact on industry vs. more recently all the QE focused on the South Easg along with the big infrastructure spend.

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