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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  1. Alan,

    Correct, US athletes have to pay tax on the $600 dollar value of a gold medal. But they get given $25,000 (and pay tax on that too, of course). And are taxed on any sponsorship deals they may get… But they can deduct all training and travel expenses from it…

    I always find the right wing outrage amusing that people who are given money (or indeed inherit windfalls from property) have to then pay tax on it……

  2. I know how you all love the Guardian on here, so enjoy this!


  3. @Colin

    Thanks for the link to the ‘New Statesman’ article. Looking from the outside, Corbyn is almost certain to win again (Smith’s ISIS comment would have damaged him with many Labour supporters). Once that happens, I cannot see anything other than a purge of ‘moderate’ Labour MPs; the 2018 boundary changes will provide the excuse and the left-wing majority of Labour members will take the opportunity to punish those who did not support Corbyn.

    I am not sure that deselected MPs would force by-elections. If they stay MPs until the next GE they will get a good pay-off as all MPs who stand down or are defeated at a GE do. But there is nothing to stop deselected MPs forming a caucus and doing to Corbyn what he has done to Labour leaders in the past. The threat of losing the Whip, is no threat when you have already been deselected.



    Its going to be interesting. I don’t see how Corbyn will be able to sustain meaningfull Opposition.

    The focus of everyone will be on the divide on his own benches.

    If Corbyn should, by some fluke, lose, then I think the action will switch to the activities of Momentum & the Corbyn support alliance outside Parliament.

    I think the latter scenario will be more bloody than the former.

    I hope May uses this breathing space wisely. There will come a time when the focus will be on the Government again.

  5. ANDREW111

    It’s hardly outrage. I’m not sure where you got that idea from at all.

    It’s more mild amusement that an Olympic medal is considered to be a lump of metal as far as the IRS are concerned.

    The US is fairly strange in assessing all prizes as taxable income.

  6. “While it is not clear that Russia would have taken any golds off GB it seems likely they would have pushed a few bronze medals into 4th thus meaning we would not have surpassed London.”

    We shouldn’t take this as a reason to undercut the achievement of Team GB – rather we should point to this as one of the reasons why we underperfomred in previous years. The gradual removal of cheats from the Olympics has greatly strengthened countries who don’t have state sponsored doping activities.

    It will be interesting to watch the Chinese in future competitions, as they are next in line for a major clean up.

    On the US IRS tax on medla winners, this raises a further point of interest for Team GB.

    Under US tax law, their medal winners have received monetary remuneration for their Olympic efforts, which is clearly counter to the Olympic requirements. Therefore they should have their medals taken from them. How would this affect the tables?

  7. Very interesting polling on Brexit.

    It tends to back up @TOH’s (and others) assertions that sorting out restrictions on free movement seem to be the primary principle in most people’s minds.

    This does make the negotiations somewhat tricky. Soft Brexit wouldn’t be a great economic hindrance, but would not meet most people’s expectations of what should happen, while giving voters what they want may come with a hefty price tag.

    All eyes really muct be on the EU27 now. They may well throw a lifeline with their own reforms, with discussions on migration brakes already in the mix, in a way that protects the principle of free movement.

    This would be a typical EU fudge, which could be enough to persuade enough people the referendum result has been honoured, but it’s going to be quite tricky.

  8. One lesser-discussed issue is that restricting freedom of movement for foreginers who have already lived here for 5 years would be a bit tricky, as they are theoretically entitled to British citizenship by naturalisation if they can prove they have been self-sufficient. If they were denied residency as EU/EEA citizens post-brexit, the volume of additional applications (and the considerable work needed to process them) would be overwhelming:


    “The scale of the administrative exercise that would be required to register all EU citizens already living in the UK for permanent residence is therefore considerable. If all EEA+ citizens were to apply in the same year, this would be equivalent to approximately 140 years’ worth of permanent residence applications.”

  9. I am 80% certain that Brexit will never happen, after reading many articles from legal and constitutional experts. I was trying to find anorther word for experts, as you always get the response about what do experts know or they are always wrong.

    Article 50 will not be triggered, as the Italian who wrote this, said that it was not written in a way where he believed it would actually be used. it is not a very good way of starting a process for a country leaving the EU. Instead, i think the EU will go through some form of EU treaty negotiation, as other countries also want to see changes. The UK might be allowed a change to rights of free movement, which don’t stop the rights altogether, but will place some criteria for migrants to meet before they can reside and/or work in the UK.

    I think the EU will have a change of mind about taking a hard line against the UK and look to have a more flexible approach. Compromises will be made for the UK and other countries, leading to a new referendum. In a new referendum, it will be a choice of accepting a new EU treaty staying in or leaving the EU totally including the single market.

  10. Edge Of Seat

    At least they would stop being immigrants and instead become permanent residents so all the “problems” associated with immigration would go away.

    We’d probably need a lot of immigrants to come in and help process* the paperwork though.

    *This workload might take them more than 5 years, in which case we would enter some sort of recursion loop with the end result being that everyone on the planet ends up with permanent residency.

  11. Edge Of Seat (cntd)

    It occurred to me that this might be a very good thing in terms of our medal prospects going forward.

  12. Colin
    “You have to admire the French Left-no fannying about with Referendums-just ignore the EU rules you”

    Yes, I have always admired the French for their individualist spirit. Agree to everything, then quietly ignore what you don’t like. Occasionally they get their knuckles rapped but not often. The Germans are quite good at it too, with their purity laws.

    As a foreigner, just try getting a job in either country, ahead of a national. They always employ their own first. Quite against the free movement rules of course.

    why the uk can’t do the same is beyond me. Maybe it’s because it’s not cricket, old chap.

  13. I see YG are drip-feeding the results of a poll again. This time it’s their Olympics one.


    Over half of people (55%) said that they thought winning lots of medals at the Olympics improves the perception of the UK in the eyes of foreigners, more than twice as many as the 23% who don’t think it improves perceptions of us.

    As always, one wonders what the response would be to a question they don’t ask!

    “Do you think the Olympics does or does not improve the perception people in the UK have of foreign countries who win lots of medals?”

    UK Sport’s strategy of ruthlessly cutting elite funding from sports unlikely to win medals isn’t popular though.

    More than twice as many people (40%) explicitly said that we should not spend more on sports just because we have a higher chance of winning medals [18%]

  14. Good morning all from a wet but warm People’s (Socialist) Republic of London.

    Looking at the polling on Brexit it reminds me of the basic fact that most peoples understanding of economics, particularly when it comes to trade, is in reality limited. Most voters struggle to go beyond the basic (flawed) analogy of comparing government finance with household finance, so it should come as no surprise that polling should come out with a result that makes economic ‘experts’ shake their heads. However, this polling should be seen within the context of it being conducted at a time when the government is still formulating its opinion and the opposition is otherwise engaged, so could easily change as the government starts to develop its position and arguments. Also how the economy fares over the next 12 months is likely to be a big factor, which may see the opinion on the three different options shift if the economic situation worsens.

    One question it does raise is is Teresa May following public opinion in terms of not ‘betraying’ the results of the referendum and how that is interpreted, or has she made this rod for her own back with public opinion responding to the comments she has made since June. Either way it is limiting the government’s room for manoeuvre, and the uncertainty continues which will in turn influence investment decisions.

  15. ‘R Huckle – that is very much my view on the Brexit process, although I have no certainties in the eventual outcome.

    It’s clear that the EU27 are looking at reforms, not least as merkel wants to take the agenda away from the federalist Commission and reassert the authority of national governments. This move chimes with the general flow of EU skeptic sentiment. The mid September gathering in Bratislava is going to be a critical event in shaping this I expect.

    I don’t personally think that the UK specifically will get offered very much on free movement, but rather there will be ‘clarifications’ applying to all members about what is tolerable under the free movement principle.

    This is broadly the pattern of the now defunct agreement with Cameron. Actually reading the agreement, there was very little mention of the UK – rather, all the benefit rules applied across all member states. I may be wrong, but the only special clause relating to the UK was our exemption from ‘ever closer union’ but as we have vetoes in any new areas of competence, this clause was effectively nonsensical anyway. That the deal was portrayed as a special deal for the UK just shows how limited journalists abilities are at reading source material.

    However, in terms of Brexit, reform is a two edged sword. If the EU27 make the right moves and water down the worst of the features UK voters don’t like, then intuitively we would imagine that remaining becomes a more favourable option.

    However, if the issue for Leavers is just how much engagement we retain with the EU, if those same negatives are dealt with, they may feel happier leaving under soft Brexit terms that include retention of a reformed free movement, so I don’t necessarily think reform necessarily makes remain a certainty.

    I do however, agree that the EU27 is going to try and keep the UK in the fold. The entire development of the EU has always been in response to crises, and the response to this crises from the EC and head of the parliament has been to call for faster integration. The response from the EU27 is to put this into reverse, and if they have the prospect of retaining the UK membership as the prize for this, I suspect they will win.

    The choice would then be thrown back to UK voters, but this time, Boris would be completely compromised as far as the Leave campaign is concerned.

  16. Of course the BBC table:


    shows that on a per capita basis the Isle of Man would easily beat not just Scotland but even Grenada at the top of the table.

    Though honesty compels me to point out that the Channel Islands medal is actually for someone from Sark[1], which with a population of about 600, is going to shoot off the top of the page and onto the ceiling when it comes to averages.

    [1] Oddly enough for dressage, though I suppose, given the size of the place, getting a horse to do fancy footwork is probably the only way to stop going over a cliff. (Famously there’s no cars on Sark so presumably horses are common).

  17. Labour leadership:

    Just seen Corbyn’s campaign manager on a live BBC24 interview. Notable for a couple of things. He says this is a dry run for the General Election. I guess all politicians have to sound confident, but like @Guymonde, I have an inkling of a possible upset here, although the chance must be fairly remote.

    He also criticised Smith’s latest wheeze to commit to getting conference to back the manifesto. I think it’s true enough to say that this is a wheeze, but Tully was very disparaging, suggesting that the PLP wouldn’t allow this and it was just a ploy. Whenever opponents say things like that it’s clear that the policy bothers them, so they need to attack the integrity of the person proposing something that they themselves would actually support.

    Or would Corbyn really support this? Imagine if conference backed a manifesto that opted for Trident renewal? Corbyn tells us about the mandate of the membership every day, so how would he square that one? Perhaps he would be deselected for defying the members? Now that would be funny.

    The final point of note on Tully’s interview was his disparagement of Dugdale and SLAB in general, but when asked about Sadiq Khan’s support for Smith he couldn’t use the ‘he’s a hopeless loser’ gambit. Instead he talked about the huge London Labour membersip, and somewhat omninously said that Khan ‘might find he regrets this in the future’.

    Is this a threat against the Mayor of London? Hmmmm….

  18. Redrich

    “One question it does raise is is Teresa May following public opinion in terms of not ‘betraying’ the results of the referendum and how that is interpreted, or has she made this rod for her own back with public opinion responding to the comments she has made since June.”

    An interesting point which I hadn’t considered, the Heisenberg principle in politics. But I think the public attitudes are deeply entrenched now even if they are ill defined so I doubt that May has moved public opinion on brexit since the vote.

  19. @Alec

    The final point of note on Tully’s interview was his disparagement of Dugdale and SLAB in general, but when asked about Sadiq Khan’s support for Smith he couldn’t use the ‘he’s a hopeless loser’ gambit. Instead he talked about the huge London Labour membersip, and somewhat omninously said that Khan ‘might find he regrets this in the future’.

    Its very telling that Dugdale and Khan have come out against Corbyn whilst Andy Burnham sits on fence. Corbyn’s support in the party is weakest in Scotland (where he has had no positive effect on increasing support despite initial hopes) and London (EU ref). I actually think the selectorate in Wales may prove crucial – if Smith can get that section of the party to swing towards him then he could have a chance. ATM I am still expecting it to break 55/45 in favour of Corbyn.

  20. h ttps://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/aug/22/king-canutes-lessons-for-brexit

    Interesting link from the G, likening May to Canute (assuming it gets past teacher). Democracy cannot actually control the tides (in this case of globalisation)

  21. “…. the Heisenberg principle in politics.”

    Not quite sure what you mean by this?

    Technically, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is that the more certain you are of somethings position, the less certain you can be about it’s momentum.

    The linked but not quite the same notion of the observer effect is something now known to be common to all wave like systems, and means that you cannot measure, or observe, the system without affecting it (and this isn’t anything to do with how good the measuring equipment is).

    I’m not sure public opinion is a wave like system, nor that there is necessarily any exclusion between accurately knowing where public opinion is while also knowing where it’s going?

    Perhaps the debate is currently closer to Schrodingers Cat, where inside the unopened Brexit box, at present all possibilities exist, simultaneously.

  22. I see the Remainers are still clinging to the hope that Brexit won’t happen at all, or that it will be an EEA-type deal, or that there will be a second referendum.

    None of these is likely to happen, in my view.

    What we should now do, is to start a new members’ club for nations who wish to have free trade agreements – we could call it the New Common Market.

    It would be purely a free trade treaty, with no requirements for political integration, supranational law making, or any conditions regarding movement of people. Each member would be responsible for making its own laws, so no need for a Parliament or any of the current Brussels infrastructure. The administration could be carried out by a relatively small team of civil servants, housed in a modest building in Milton Keynes. The contribution to the cost of this by member countries would be minuscule compared to that of the EU.

    It’s likely Italy might be the first EU member to join our club, and we could probably persuade Ireland to come on board, which would neatly solve the NI border question. Once the other EU nations see how much better off they’d be with this arrangement, I would see lots more joining within 5-10 years, as the EU becomes increasingly irrelevant or disbands altogether.

  23. Alec

    The main reason Khan become the Labour candidate was because he was the only credible non blairite. Tessa “I would throw myself under a bus for Blair” Jowell was never going to be the candidate despite the support of the party structure, tellingly more that 2/3s of Diane Abbott votes went to khan rather than Jowell. Its fair to say that its slightly risky for him to throw away his non blairite credentials but it can’t be taken as a threat because neither tully or corbyn have been the power to instruct members to make life hard for Khan, if it happens then it will be an organic thing

  24. @David Carrod
    Exactly what happened in 1957 when Reg Maudling came up with EFTA which took on board those countries which wanted a trade-only relationship with the EEC.

    Didn’t quite work out as Britain hoped as the EEC had the whip hand and decided the rules which EFTA states had to abide by.

    Any free trade arrangement will need rule-making and dispute settlement bodies. Anything less would barely go beyond what the WTO currently provides for. Allowing each country to make its own rules is a non-starter. Not so sure either if Ireland would want to leave a free trade area comprising more than 500m consumers where it enjoyed a 7.8% GDP growth last year.

  25. David

    We tried that before, it was called the European free trade area!

  26. Round here every man jack of the people who do the work will be pleased with Sadiq for backing Smith.

    It’s quite funny because there are two developments – Momentum types who didn’t lift a finger for Sadiq having fits of the vapours after his ‘betrayal’ of all their hard work, and others who until 3 months ago thought Liz Kendall was a dangerous revolutionary are coming over all Trot in the hope of benefiting from deselections. If they fail to get selected they may discover their inner Tory or UKIP as so many have before.

  27. @CR

    “We tried that before, it was called the European free trade area!”

    We left EFTA in 1973, when we joined the EU. It now only has four members – Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechenstein.

  28. DC
    All 4 EFTA countries have a much closer relationship to the EU than you would like..

    There is no grouping of European countries out there that wants your dream…. Belarus perhaps?

  29. @David Carrod – I agree, this continuing belief that free movement will have to continue is strange, nothing the Government has done so far suggests anything other than a Trade Deal outside of the EU.

    It would be political madness for the Tories to even try to sell a continuation of free movement. The Tories try to avoid suicidal manifestos, they leave those for the Labour Party to run up the flag pole every few decades.

    In other news I would like to officially deny I am in favour of Owen Smith’s Campaign as reported in the Torygraph:

    Owen Smith: ‘Sea change’ in favour of my campaign

    Owen Smith believes there has been a “sea change” in the Labour leadership contest with more people flocking to his campaign.


  30. Alec,
    I think Heisenberg could be applied quite well in fact..

    For example we know where Theresa May stands (Brexit means Brexit) but we have no idea what her momentum is, since she has shown no sign of velocity in any direction so far.
    Conversely, we know that Boris is moving rapidly in some direction but have no idea where he is starting from.

    I like Schrödinger’s cat however! When the Brexiteers open the box will there even be a cat in there???

  31. Sea Change
    That is the point! Nothing the government has done so far suggests anything about our future relationship with the EU, and a cosmetic change in rules on Freedom of Movement would be entirely consistent with Theresa’s statements so far.

    This is very consistent behaviour. She said she was a Remainer some months before the referendum so she could not be accused of disloyalty to Cameron, and then said nothing whatsoever about Europe throughout the campaign. She is playing her cards close to her chest and making sure the £19 million plus of City donations to the Tory Party before the last election is not lost….

  32. ANDREW111

    I suspect the £60Bn pounds to the exchequer is higher on her list of important things to consider.

  33. Alan,
    Staying in power is always very high on the Tory agenda…

  34. Alan:
    re outrage: It was not from you, but from the websites where I looked up taxation on medals!

  35. ANDREW111

    Yes, and screwing Brexit up and losing a sizable chunk of that £60Bn would be a pretty good way to lose power once that money had to be raised in taxes elsewhere or services cut.

  36. @CA – “Its fair to say that its slightly risky for him to throw away his non blairite credentials…….”

    Ah! I understand. In your world, you either support Corbyn or are a Blairite.

    How very Soviet.

  37. Alec

    “It tends to back up @TOH’s (and others) assertions that sorting out restrictions on free movement seem to be the primary principle in most people’s minds.”

    That is not my reading of the poll results at all.
    First, the overwhelming majority think we should have some sort of special free trade arrangement with the EU (73% to 10%)

    Second, a significant majority either think freedom of movement is acceptable or think it is a price worth paying for free trade (52% to 33%). The number who think freedom of movement is “acceptable” is actually exactly the same as the number who think it is “unacceptable”

    Third, when asked specifically if they would be happy with a Norway style deal, it was a tie (38%-38%). A Norway deal with some freeze on Freedom of Movement or a contribution holiday would likely have majority support

    The other questions actually suggest that for those unhappy with a Norway deal it is more likely to be the contribution to the EU budget that sways them, rather than either freedom of movement or accepting EU regulations.

    People can draw their own conclusions about which issue out of the disputed net contribution, the fear of immigration, or the issue of sovereignty won the vote for Leave, but it is pretty clear to me..

  38. Alan,

    I think we agree on the prosperity issue, but that is further down the line than Tory Party donations… The water on economic consequences of Brexit will be muddy for many years to come…

  39. ANDREW111

    That is your opinion, and is one I don’t share.

  40. @Andrew111 – thank you for that. I’m busy today and didn’t have time to go through the detail – I shouldn’t have been so lazy in my posting.

    What you have said does tend to confirm what I personally think – that asking people about the future of the UK’s membership of the EU in a referendum without defining the leave option in detail leaves us in something of a quandary.

    As with mopst things, in democracy it very often isn’t outright support or rejection of any given course of action, but the weighing up of one against the other, with multiple options to select from. ‘Free movement’ in itself probably isn’t that popular, but balanced against other things it may still be tolerable to the majority – depending on the assessment of that balance.

    Only when we actually know what that balance might be are we in any kind of sensible place to make a choise.

  41. Alec

    My personal opinion is not really relevant, I don’t live in London. Its the members and voters in London that khan might need to worry about. What they are thinking I don’t know but the members might well be thinking that khan has just sided with folk that have been calling them loons and stormtroopers etc. We could do some polling

  42. David Carrod

    “I see the Remainers are still clinging to the hope that Brexit won’t happen at all, or that it will be an EEA-type deal, or that there will be a second referendum.
    None of these is likely to happen, in my view.”

    Totally agree with you, I think there is very little chance of any of those things happening. I think Andrew111 is totally misreading the result of the poll.

    I must say i’m happy with the way things are panning out so far.

  43. Andrew111

    “For example we know where Theresa May stands (Brexit means Brexit) but we have no idea what her momentum is, since she has shown no sign of velocity in any direction so far.”

    Well she has said immigration will be controlled and is sticking with the 10s of thousands target so I think it is quite clear she will control immigration from the EU and open borders will not remain.

  44. These polls just go to show that people haven’t got a bloody clue, so why bother even asking them? The referendum was a frigging disaster brought upon us by a rich toffee nosed idiot who lacked the testicles to handle the awkward buggers in his own party and now we have this mess to sort out. People think we can somehow pretend the EU doesn’t exist and retreat into our own dreamworld – they’ll get a rude awakening soon enough.


    As far as I’m concerned May is on probation. If she listens to the great unwashed instead of the informed and educated then she will be cause huge damage to this country. She needs to be able to stand up to the tabloid readers, not follow their commands.

  46. @R HUCKLE

    “In a new referendum, it will be a choice of accepting a new EU treaty staying in or leaving the EU totally including the single market.”

    Hmmm. I think the ‘suicide option’ of leaving the EU/EEA totally will not be on the menu. I think it will be between staying in an ‘further reformed’ EU and joining the EEA.

    I don’t think May is as stupid as Cameron.

  47. Roger Mexico

    While we’re on the topic of silly medal table comparisons ….

    Apparently there is an MP called Heather Wheeler who is a League of Empire Loyalist!


    British Empire 396 medals
    EU (post Brexit) 258 medals
    Rest of the World 320 medals

    “Now that’s what I call winning!!! Well done Team GB & all our Commonwealth friends, now for the Trade Agreements….”, she declaims.


    I note that you continue to insult 51.9% of people who voted to leave the EU. I am informed and well educated with a degree and certainly wash, and yet I voted to leave the EU and would do so again. The same goes for millions of other people. How dare you insult us as you do. This is a site for reasoned debate on polling related matters. I suggest you take you childish rants elswhere.

  49. +1 to TOH.

    And I’ll have you know that I have a wash every single month, whether I need one or not.

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