What sort of Brexit?

I’ll be taking a break from the blog over the next week while I have a summer rest (I may pop in if something interesting happens, but I’m going to try not to), but before I go a quick pointer to something I wrote over on the YouGov website on what the public think about Brexit.

The type of Brexit the public want is a tricky subject to poll. It will obviously be one of the dominant issues in British politics over the next few years, yet we also know so little of it. We don’t yet know with any confidence what the government’s aims or negotiating position will be, nor what other European countries will be willing to offer (or what they will want in return). Public opinion will be one of the limitations upon the government’s negotiations so it’s certainly important, but it’s hard to measure it at this stage when people have so little information about what’s on offer.

We tried to explore the issue in two ways. The first was to ask whether people thought various things would be acceptable trade-offs in exchange for continued British free trade with the EU. That suggests that the public would accept having to follow some EU trade rules, could be persuaded on immigration (33% think freedom of movement is desirable anyway, 19% a price worth paying, 33% a deal-breaker), but would object to Britain making a financial contribution to the EU (41% think it would be fine or a price worth paying, 44% think it would be a deal-breaker).

However, taking things individually risks being a little misleading. When it comes to it a deal will be a package of measures and will be judged as a whole. On that basis, I think the questions that present people with various scenarios and ask them to judge them as a whole are more enlightening.

By 44% to 32% people thought it would be bad for Britain if we simply left and had no trade deal with the remainder of the EU. A Norway-type deal, with Britain joining EFTA and maintaining free trade with EU in exchange for free-movement, a financial contribution and following trade rules is seen a little less negatively (35% good, 38% bad)… but perhaps more importantly, by 42% to 32% people would see it as not seen as honouring the result of the referendum. Finally, we asked about a Canada-type deal, where there is no freedom of movement or financial contribution, but only a limited free trade deal that excludes services. That was seen as both honouring the result of the referendum, and as positive for Britain.

Of course negotiations haven’t yet started and the actual deals that end upon on the table may very well differ from these examples. I suspect views are not very deeply held yet, and people may very well change their minds when deals start to take shape and politicians and the media start to debate them. The public’s starting point, however, seems to be that a limited trade deal is both the best solution and a solution that respects the referendum result. We shall see how that changes once the negotiations actually begin.

The full tabs are on the website here.

920 Responses to “What sort of Brexit?”

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    Well, it’s a Magic Money Tree which is due, I believe, to be fertilized by next to zero interest rates from sovereign funds available on the international money market …
    Right, so with a national debt standing at over £1.7 trillion currently, some people think it’s a good idea to increase this to over £2.2 trillion.

    When I was young and foolish I used to max out my credit cards, only to be taught a harsh lesson in economic reality.

    It seems messrs. Corbyn and McDonnell live in a parallel universe where fiscal responsibility doesn’t apply.

  2. Yes, David, that’s the question. C and McD think, along with their economic advisers, that continued economic growth should and can be based on investment credit and the continued strengthening of the labour force through immigration, the deficit being repaid more gradually than Osborne proposed under austeriy, but not far off what May now intends.

  3. John Pilgrim

    ” I desperately want the UK to save itself”


    The disaster waiting to happen which is the EU. This is old ground we have been over before.

    … the continued strengthening of the labour force through immigration …
    Next question: We currently have, according to ONS, over 1.6 million people aged over 16 who are unemployed.

    So why do we need to ‘strengthen the labour force’. either through immigration or any other method? If we have even more people chasing fewer jobs, all that’s going to do is drive down pay and conditions for those already in work – hardly consistent with LP aims and objectives.

    You actually get better pay and conditions when the boot’s on the other foot – employers chasing after scarce resources in terms of labour skills and availability.

    When we reach a situation of under-employment, that’s the time to consider bringing in immigrants.

  5. Slightly peeved with the constant presenting what’s happening to the Labour Party as democracy.

    It’s as long as you believe what we believe then it’s democracy else it isn’t. This coupled with the constant policy to industry of do what we say or else (Richard Branson, Virgin and now BT) it’s heading to a soviet style system within the Labour Party.

    The churn and loss of longstanding labour members (starting to see at local level) purged or leave before they are pushed is why I think labours policing VI is static….

    As many leave as join.

    It isn’t really democracy as such but a soviet style discussion within and allowed framework.

    I suspect that most involved don’t really realise what the discussions from the none political are like, for as many enthused by the Corybn dynamic there are as many lifelong labour voters who feel cast adrift. An often heard missive is “I don’t know who to vote for any more”

    But ultimately that’s evolution, it’s just the tea party in reverses kind of thing.

  6. @David Carrod

    “When I was young and foolish I used to max out my credit cards, only to be taught a harsh lesson in economic reality.”


    That’s cause you did it wrong. Invest it wisely and you can be quids in.

    Howard’s allotments (farms) currently look a good choice…

    Regarding the economy, we made cuts, and saw the debt grow.
    That’s why we almost always run a deficit. To ensure growth. The investment pays for itself over time…

  7. “According to Conservative Home activist, 50k have joined or re-joined the Conservative Party since the EUref. It isn’t clear if that is primarily because of the leave vote, the replacement of Cameron and acolytes or because of Mrs May’s promise to restore Grammar schools.”


    It could be undercover Corbynites, entryists trying to drag the Tories to the left. Apparently they’ve already managed to install Miliband…

  8. 2.75 cheers for the European Commission, perhaps?

    The judgement on Apple’s Irish tax affairs is pretty brutal, and it’s about time steps were taken globally to curb these practices. The sums involved is the equivalent to Ireland’s entire health spend for a year.

    There are problems with this though. The EC does not have the competence to rule on tax matters (except VAT) but have done this via their competence in states aid. I expect this means they are arguing that Apple have a special deal, as something isn’t states aid if it applies to everyone who qualifies (eg a grant available to every business etc).

    If the EC are extending their competence into tax matters via the back door, this could be a problem, running counter to many people’s desire to see a less centralised EU. However, I’ve long held that Corporation Tax, used as it is competitively by some countries, is one tax that does require coordination to avoid a race to the bottom. By contrast, VAT really should be a national concern, as it doesn’t encourage businesses to move between jurisdictions, but this just displays the anomalies of the EU.

    If this judgement stands, it may well blow a whole in the global corporate tax system, and not before time, but there are other doubts about the process, even if many of us will be happy at the result.

  9. David Carrod
    “You actually get better pay and conditions when the boot’s on the other foot – employers chasing after scarce resources in terms of labour skills and availability.”
    “When we reach a situation of under-employment, that’s the time to consider bringing in immigrants.”

    Your 1.6 million – 4.9% of the active work force overall – indicates that that is not the case. And the available research indicates that where high skilled workers come in from the EU, working skills and wages go up, with some marginal decline in wages in the elementary (agric. and processing) occupations, but that over time these will both decline as a sector of the econonomy as they are overtaken by higher skilled more automated systems, and provide higher wages. See theUK Commission for Employment and Skills – Working Futures

  10. “However, I’ve long held that Corporation Tax, used as it is competitively by some countries, is one tax that does require coordination to avoid a race to the bottom. By contrast, VAT really should be a national concern, as it doesn’t encourage businesses to move between jurisdictions, but this just displays the anomalies of the EU.”


    Well we need a race to the bottom on Storage tax to be honest…

  11. Moreovesr – the elephant roars – it is not Governments or politicos or the commentariat or the EU which decides how many immigrants come in, but the labour market, and policies of intervention into the process and changes of structure to do so are inherently contrary to a market economy in social democracies. Hence Juncker’s interesting argument that borders are the worst inventon of modern states.

  12. Some disparaging comments previously about Corbyn’s internet policy. I’m not so sure. Without being very knowledgeable in this area, I was impressed.

    My impression is that governments have allowed the internet to be taken over by giant corporations, who are actively hoovering up data, with governments seemingly keen to use the internet infrastructure for cost cutting, but with a limited grasp of the power which they are giving over by their collaborations with the giants. these usually involve allowing private corporations access to data which really should be either kept confidential within government or alternatively given open access for all to benefit from.

    Corbyn’s statement seems to touch on these issues, and seems welcome.

  13. “Mind SNP also stands for single nucleotide polymorphisms so it is very fitting.”


    It more commonly stands for Storage Needs Promoting. Or (Protecting, depending…)

  14. “Well, it’s a Magic Money Tree…”


    Worth remembering that there is also the Magic Money Pit, whereby applying household economics to the economy, it is determined that no matter how one invests in the economy, it can’t possibly earn a return greater than the costs of the investment, via, you know, investment. Instead, the money is just poured into a great big pit whereupon it disappears into a wormhole in space never to be seen again.

  15. Not sure if anyone has come across a report into political engagement by Rob Ford and Phillip Cowley?

    I heard a snippet of an item on this on R4 World at One and it sounds fascinating. The bit I heard was concluding that young people aren’t feeling excluded by the political process, and are in fact the most contented generation as far as political representation is concerned, with the report apparently concluding conclusively that they are simply apathetic on every measure used. The idea of them being interested in single issues but not finding a suitable political party to reflect their views was also trashed.

    I’d like to track down the study, to make sure that I didn’t miss something critical during the interviews, but if my understanding of what was being said is accurate, it has major implications, particularly for Corbyn’s Labour.

    Going after the young vote doesn’t seem a viable strategy against such a backdrop of higher levels of contentment and greater apathy. It bodes ill for a party targeting such sectors that they are happier and less likely to do anything political, but again, I’d like to know the details before I make any form conclusions.

  16. Not such good news on the post Brexit economy. Mortgage approvals have fallen, faster than anticipated, and consumer credit dropped quite sharply in July, the first fall since 2014.

    Again, not real idea how deep or long lasting this is, and the August data may help identify if this was an immediate Brexit response or whether there have been more fundamental changes in perceptions since June.

    This may encourage some of those proclaiming that there is no Brexit crisis to pause awhile until more data is in, but I’m still expecting a slow burn problem, rather than an out and out crisis.

  17. Alec

    It depends how you define control.

    If a search engine company provides a service without charge at the point of use, but uses the data it collects from these searches to learn insights about peoples behavior online, then that isn’t control of the internet. It’s simply a valuable service which the company has found a way of extracting value from. If the model was a “pay per search” without the data collection, I doubt it would be anywhere near as successful a business.

    Lots of people use social networks, knowing full well they are a tool for extracting personal data from people. You get access to the service without paying, the provider gets access to your data with your explicit consent. If the company can extract value from the data then it’s a viable business model. Facebook doesn’t control the internet, or has any inherent power outside of that which people choose to give it. If people want to give up their information (which has no value to them) in return for a service which does have value to them, that’s their personal choice.

    If there was some sort of rule meaning you had to sign up to Facebook or Google to use the internet, then I’d agree they would have control over the internet. You only need to sign up and give consent for them to use your data if you want to use their services, which aren’t free to provide.

  18. Btw, how is this site funded?

  19. David Carrod and John Pilgrim

    Although I am not an economist by trade, I understand that a fully functioning economy will always have an unemployment rate of around 4%, simply because of the number of people leaving scholol/college; those returning to work after illness; those looking for better work; those (perhaps temporarily) incapable of work, along with those who refuse to take work which is ‘beneath them’ or for which they are not suitable etc. etc.

    If this is the case, and if the UK has unemployment at 4.9%, then the UK is almost at the point of requiring immigrants to fill the available job vacancies. Ask the fruit farmers, for example, what they think about attempst to close the borders…..

  20. CR

    I presume through advertising revenue.

    I doubt there is much insight that can be inferred from the content of our posts, otherwise they would conclude that the UK population is interested in Storage, Allotments, Thorium and a little bit of politics!

  21. Btw, how is this site funded?
    At the top of this page right now, is an ad for the Reader’s Digest Equity Release Calculator.

    Other people will see different ads, depending on their browsing history.

    So I’m guessing it’s the revenues from click-throughs on these Google ads which fund the site.

  22. @Alan – the kinds of thing I am thinking of are the pilot schemes where NHS data is being supplied to Google for research purposes, or where Land Registry data is being privatised etc.

    The power of mega data gathering is only just being thought about, and it is potentially significant, with private companies effectively controlling far more data than governments.

  23. @ Carfew

    ‘It could be undercover Corbynites, entryists trying to drag the Tories to the left. Apparently they’ve already managed to install Miliband…’

    Worth considering… it is true that some of the comments threads read more left wing than half the ones on Labour List.

    (NB I am specifically not making any reference to a Labour MP, past or present, or John McTernan).

  24. John B

    Unemployment was below 2% for much of the 60s

  25. @ Carfew

    Well done re: Magic money trees and the NAIRU.. I don’t have the heart for the moment.

  26. And 50s and 40s

  27. Alec

    “Not sure if anyone has come across a report into political engagement by Rob Ford and Phillip Cowley?”

    Well, this is their only joint publication.

  28. Alec

    I guess it is Myth #38.

  29. Alec

    There is a very good case to be made for the analysis of bulk data in medicine. Limiting data to only those who participate in clinical trials cannot produce anything outside the scope of the clinical trial.

    I believe the first study the Google will be doing with this data is predicting kidney failure in patients and it’s only with bulk data that the big picture and the complex models can be generated so that doctors can assess the risk for an individual patient.

    If not Google, then who? The government certainly doesn’t have the specific skills and expertise to analyse this data properly, nor do the individual hospitals. If they did, I presume they wouldn’t be criticised for using their bulk data in a study that had a big impact on outcomes for patients.

    The data are anonymised so it’s not like patients will start receiving adverts related to the top 5 medical conditions Google thinks you might develop.

    I think that there will be more and more of a partnership between data analysis and medicine in the years ahead and I can’t see hospitals employing teams of data scientists for years to come. I think it would annoy doctors too much that non-doctors might be on a similar pay scale.

    I think the best solution is to have the experts analyse the data with oversight from the hospitals involved. The hospitals agreed to the use of the data in this way, I presume they felt this study was worth undertaking and it wasn’t feasible for the NHS trust to carry out this sort of research.

    It’s something to be cautious with but refusing any analysis of bulk data on the grounds of “it’s too difficult for us to analyse, so nobody should” seems a bit of a luddite attitude.


    “Btw, how is this site funded?”


    While we imagine we are contributing to the discourse on polling, actually we are jacked into Anthony’s Matrix, whereby he harnesses the energy of our posts. (Hence the modding: it makes us submit revised posts and hence expending more energy).

    It’s an entropy thing, whereby as our posts become more chaotic and tend towards more disorder, the greater is the dispersal of energy, thus allowing the energy to be more readily harvested.

  31. @Syzygy

    “(NB I am specifically not making any reference to a Labour MP, past or present, or John McTernan).”


    That’s a relief cos don’t know that many!! Hear a lot about that Corbyn chappie though…

  32. England on course to break their ODI record for an innings…

  33. @Alan – I don’t disagree with that necessarily, but this could end up being the privatization of data. The data is our personal information, which the government is sharing with others who will look to use it for profit. Do I want to donate my data to the NHS, or to Google?

    The internet raises some particularly big questions about ownership, end uses, who pays and how. I’m not convinced that these questions have been addressed, let alone answered, in some areas of public data.

  34. Alan and Alec

    What is interesting in the Google NHS relationship is that the NHS is the vendor of the data. NHS could have simply commission Google. However, Google is very seriously in the business of unrelated acquisitions, and they appear to be patient investors (even if they essentially use the Monte Carlo model).

    Experiments (e.g. with apps) with different methods of generating immediate data (that is, not only historical, or visit based) are becoming more common in the NHS, although well b hind the US, and China (in particular Shanghai). It is true for the private healthcare in the UK too.

  35. The data is our personal information, which the government is sharing with others who will look to use it for profit.
    One of the most disgraceful examples of this, is the DVLA selling registered keeper data to private parking companies at £2.50 a pop.

    These knuckle-dragging ex-clampers then use that info to pursue motorists for trivial infractions of their silly made-up ‘rules’, and use dodgy debt collectors and/or bottom-feeding law firms to try to scare people into paying up.

    This nonsense needs to be stopped.

  36. Alec

    I doubt Google will profit directly from this piece of research, just like playing Go, they get themselves into a lot of areas of research to learn more about the process of analysing data and for a good bit of PR.

    It’s not really Google per say, DeepMind is a British company that Google bought (Invested in) as they have a lot of knowledge relevant to what Google wants to do. Would you be happier if DeepMind was still a completely independent British company?

    If you restrict the bulk data to be used within the NHS, you may as well destroy the data as the NHS isn’t set up for analysing massive bulk data sets and paying for it to sit on a hard drive gathering dust is not worth it.

    I assume the NHS has a right to your data and are free to analyse it if they had the capacity? In a way having a structure like the NHS means data sharing and best practices should be happening much more often (If they had anyone to sift through the data to find useful pieces of information). Problems like Mid Staffs would be highlighted more quickly if access to bulk data was routine.

    The NHS should be developing relationships with companies like Deep Mind. In a way they are in a unique position to harness the power of bulk data. We set the laws on how the data in anonymised and handled, surely there must be some set of laws that would make the analysis of bulk data acceptable to you. If the current controls aren’t sufficient, then improve them until they are. We set the laws on how data are anonymised in this country, we have the control. Google isn’t about reverse engineering the anonymised data to sell for profit, it just want to analyse the data, save 10,000s of people a year any maybe get a shiny new algorithm out of the proceedings.

    As for the internet, who owns the data is whoever’s box you tick saying “Yes, you may use my data”. It’s fairly clear Google owns the data associated with Google searches, Youtube video plays etc. Facebook owns the data you put up on it. The controls on NHS data are far harsher.

  37. @Laszlo – “I guess it is Myth #38.”

    Don’t think so. I’ve tracked down the interview, at around 35mins here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07q2d65#play

    Ford and Cowley are discussing the second version of their book, and they were, as I thought, clear that young people are not very interested in politics. As a group, they are more likely to think that the system represents them and works well enough than older generations, and are not more interested in single issues without finding a party to represent their views. They are simply apathetic, not interested in politics and more satisfied in the system than anyone else.

    This runs completely counter to everything we are told we ‘know’, and may well be central to Labour’s insistence of chasing the young and disaffected. the truth is, they are less disaffected than the rest of us, according to Ford and Cowley.

  38. David Carrod

    The difference between anonymised data and personalised data are chalk and cheese. Your example isn’t exactly relevant to the whole DeepMind/NHS discussion. We set the rules on how the DVLA uses it’s data. You clearly think the rules aren’t adequate. It’s up to the government to change these rules if they agree with you.


    There is a lot of work into process analysis in a lot of businesses. I’d be surprised if a complex system like healthcare didn’t follow patients from when they entered to when the left the system. Watch enough patients go through the system and you can improve the process and outcomes.

  39. Alec

    I haven’t had a chance to read their book, I may find some time tomorrow.

    When I said “myth” – it was because the foreword and the chapter titles reminded me to other “50 myths in … [put the relevant science or social science discipline here] books. Anyway, chapter 38 in the book I linked: “Disengagement: Age and political engagement”.

    I couldn’t find a recent article by either author on the subject, but in political science books still carry the weight. Cowley’s books on recent elections are interesting – however, they are not based on primary research (nothing wrong with this).

    I just don’t know – there was some article that claimed that participation of the youth in the referendum was much higher than normally claimed, however, they didn’t make the raw data available.

  40. Alan

    “I’d be surprised if a complex system like healthcare didn’t follow patients from when they entered to when the left the system.”

    Well, then, and I’m really sorry, because this is the state of affairs – it is the case in both the NHS and private health care. A complex query and the database collapses. It is designed for recording and not for other purposes. There is a change, but it is slow.

    However, what I kind of had in mind are apps that work, for example, when the outpatient takes a medicine and has a test (let’s say cardiovascular patient and blood pressure, or kidney patient who fills in the questionnaire produced by the app) and the app uploads it to the database.

  41. As an amatuer IT geek, I found JC’s proposals interesting, but I have a range of questions and concerns.

    Regarding contributing to Open Source software, this model is well established and works very well as it is, so don’t need Government intervention or support directly. Of course, groups like the R Foundation do work with support from some Government funded organisations (like Universities) but at arms length. The culture of the Open Source movement is very independent and innovative, so any approach by Governments directly would go down like a lead balloon I think. I can’t imagine such groups wanting the size 13 bureaucratic, innovation-crushing boots of Government anywhere near them.

    Regarding programming in schools etc, the Raspberry Pi Foundation are there already. This year they introduced their Pi Zero, a credit card sized computer that costs £4. Again, innovation is the key here, so I’m sure the Government can’t help there.

    The most interesting thing was the part about protecting people’s digital world from snooping. I imagine the spooks won’t like that one bit. This seems counter to the direction of Government policy, and will collide, unless the protection is so weak to be meaningless.

    Overall, I am doubtful. I like the internet and digital world largely because it is mostly a wild and free place, where Governments have little power and will always be behind the curve.

    Any IT project with a Government stamp on it is something that would ensure I keep away from it.

  42. “Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to stamp out online abuse in Labour’s leadership battle – while sharing a stage with a man who said ‘Blairites’ should “shut the f**k up”.”


    Every headline a guaranteed laugh :-)

  43. @Colin

    Politics at the moment is putting satirists out of work.

    They cannot complete with the reality!

  44. Actually-for a moment I thought Corbyn had hired Tom Waits as his “Digital Guru”

    Nearly joined the Labour Party for the music :-)

    Sadly it is an imposter !.

  45. LASZLO

    Sounds like a problem with the database design and not a problem with recording the process that a patients ends up going through. The fact we have a database not fit for purpose doesn’t surprise me. At least we can record the data so when we get a database that works properly we might be able to get data out of it eventually. I have no idea who wrote the requirements for the system but it’s quite likely it’s someone who knows sod all about database design.

    It is possible to measure and analyse quite complex processes without the database falling over.



  46. @ALAN
    We set the rules on how the DVLA uses it’s data. You clearly think the rules aren’t adequate. It’s up to the government to change these rules if they agree with you.
    I and other members of my campaign group have had meetings with officials of the DCLG (now responsible for private parking issues) earlier this year, and it seems some new legislation is in the pipeline.

    Unfortunately, that has been delayed somewhat as all Govt. departments are dealing with the Brexit fallout …

  47. David Carrod

    I got the impression you were ecstatic that all Govt. departments are dealing with the Brexit fallout…

  48. @Alan

    Whenever was a database designed with the end user in mind?

    They are always specified by some chinless wonder, behind a desk, miles from the front line, who thinks they know the process they are recording.

    Age old problem!

  49. CMJ

    I suspect that’s often true, then again it’s normally coming out of the chinless wonder’s budget so when it all goes wrong… he gets to pay for a brand new one, which will work this time for certain because HE specified it.

    There’s a real shortage of managers who understand the principles of database design so they can at least communicate with the people who have to put it together. Either that or database designers who can read minds, which is probably more realistic.

  50. @ David Carrod

    ” When I was young and foolish I used to max out my credit cards, only to be taught a harsh lesson in economic reality. ”

    Well as you’re not the issuer of a sovereign fiat currency thats probably a very wise lesson.

    Not sure what relevance it has to UK Govenrment debt though.

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