An update on the boundary review. Back in September I published notional figures for the proposed boundaries in England & Wales. I’ve now updated those to include Scotland as well (this is partly because the Scottish boundary Commission published later, but it also took much longer to do – the Scottish Commission are much happier to split wards between constituencies, which probably leads to constituencies that better follow communities… but it makes it trickier to work out notional figures.)

Notional figures for new boundaries for England, Wales and Scotland

The partisan effects in Scotland are no great surprise. The SNP won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats in 2015, so it was inevitable that most of the losses will be SNP. That aside, on the new boundaries they will be even more dominant. Orkney & Shetland is a protected seat so the sole Liberal Democrat constituency is retained, but Labour and the Conservatives will both see their single Scottish constituency disappear on the new boundaries.

Edinburgh South, the lone Labour seat in Scotland, is split between the new Edinburgh East and Edinburgh South West & Central seats. Both will notionally have an SNP majority of over 4000 – Edinburgh East will be a SNP-Lab marginal, with a SNP majority of 7.9%, Edinburgh SW&C will be a three-way marginal with the SNP in first place, the Conservatives in second place and Labour close behind them.

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, the lone Tory seat in Scotland, mostly goes into Clydesdale & Eskdale, with the rest of the seat split into several much smaller parts. The new Clydesdale & Eskdale seat will have a notional SNP majority of about 5000. On paper the best seat for the Tories will be the new Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk seat, with a notional SNP majority of only 1.3% (though that’s an increase from 2015).

Now we have notional figures for the whole of Great Britain we can work out national totals and what sort of swings would be needed for parties to win a general election on these boundaries.

The 2015 general election had results of CON 330, LAB 232, LDEM 8, SNP 56, Others 24.
On the proposed boundaries the 2015 general election would have been CON 319, LAB 203, LD 4, SNP 52, Others 22. The Conservatives lose 11 seats, Labour lose 29, the Lib Dems 4 and the SNP 4.
Note that on the boundaries proposed for the abandoned review in the last Parliament the results would have been Con 322, Lab 204, LD 4 and SNP 50 – so this new boundary review is actually marginally worse for the Tories than the one that was blocked before the election.

I should add my normal caveat that these notionals are an accounting exercise – projecting how people voted in each ward, moving them into their new seats and totting up the votes. It does not take into account that some people might have voted differently in 2015 if they’d lived in different seats, for that reason I suspect it may slightly underestimate the Liberal Democrats (and it’s possible that the Greens might actually have saved their seat).

We can also look at what difference the boundaries would make to the leads each party needs to win an election.

  • Currently the Conservatives need to have a lead of 5.7% to get an overall majority (hence the 6.5% lead they actually got translating into only a tiny majority). On the proposed boundaries the Tories would get an overall majority with a lead of only 1.9%.
  • In contrast Labour currently need a towering lead of 12.6% to win an overall majority, and the boundary changes would move that target even further away, requiring a lead of 13.5%. To even be the largest party Labour would need a lead over the Conservatives of 4.7% (up from 3.9% on the current boundaries).

(One might reasonably wonder why, if the review makes nearly all the seats the same size, it still leaves the Conservatives in a better position than Labour. This is because different seat sizes is only one part of how votes translate unevenly into seats. The crucial part in explaining the present Conservative advantage is the distribution of the vote and the impact of third parties. The collapse of the Liberal Democrats and the growth of the SNP and UKIP means the system now favours the Conservatives. The Lib Dems are primarily strong in areas that would otherwise be Tory… but now win very few seats, UKIP have largely taken votes from the Tories, but this has not translated into many seats. In contrast the SNP are now utterly dominant in an area that previously returned a large number of Labour MPs. What this means if that if there is a Lib Dem revival or a Labour revival in Scotland the skew towards the Conservatives will unwind.)

These are only provisional recommendations – the boundary commissions will revise them based on the consultation period, so much of the detail will be tweaked before the final recommendations. It’s also far from a certainty that they will actually be implemented when they are complete. Earlier this month Pat Glass MP had a Private Members Bill which if passed would tweak some of the rules of the review, requiring the Commissions to start the process again from scratch and therefore probably delaying it beyond the election. I doubt the Bill will go far – it is nigh on impossible to pass a Private Members Bill in the face of government opposition. However, second reading did highlight some opposition to the boundary changes. Firstly, the DUP spoke against the boundary changes – there had been some speculation around conference season that there had been some sort of deal and the DUP were onside. They are apparently not. Secondly two Conservative MPs (Peter Bone and Steve Double) voted in favour of the Bill. It doesn’t take many rebels to stop the boundary changes progressing…


295 Responses to “Boundary review update”

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  1. First.

    Fun fact:

    Owen Jones retweeted and direct messaged me for information regarding overhearing Paul Nuttall discussing, with friends, crossing the floor to the Conservatives.

    Must say, my phone’s never buzzed so much in an hour.
    Worrying state of journalism – though it’s absolutely true in my case, any person could have made a similar (but false) claim and had it picked up in the same way.

  2. It’s a shame for Labour Diane James didn’t retain the mantle; Nuttall is a more dangerous, ambitious and vocal man to occupy the post.

    (Will comment on the above post too, in a mo’.)

  3. In one of Nuttall’s first interviews after his election he said:

    “Because I’ll tell you what, if you’re a Remainer [MP], and it doesn’t matter what colour you are, we are coming after you.”

    Setting aside the strange racial reference, it is quite remarkable that he should say such a thing a week after the verdict that a Remain MP was assassinated because of her views.

  4. Paul Nutter doesn’t impress me. He is just a brash northerner – similar to John Prescott but on the right wing of politics. I doubt he will challenge Labour in the south – the north, perhaps.

  5. @HIRETON

    “Setting aside the strange racial reference, it is quite remarkable that he should say such a thing a week after the verdict that a Remain MP was assassinated because of her views.”

    Obviously he meant political ‘colour’. It’s just a hollow threat; UKIP is just a protest party and though he may pick up support in some parts of the north he will not be as attractive to southerners as the pinstriped Farage.

  6. Looking at the boundary changes it’s clear that Labour are a party that wants to commit suicide. They had an opportunity to bring in PR during their 13 years in government and completely missed it – now they are paying the price and will (deservedly) be out of government forever. They are well and truly screwed.

  7. From today:

    Senior Labour MP Dan Jarvis: Brexit deal must control immigration

    Ministers should “secure greater control over immigration” as they negotiate Brexit, a senior Labour MP says today.

    In a coded warning to party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Dan Jarvis says the thorny issue is “a crucial test” for Labour. …

    He adds: “Any attempt to ‘out-UKIP UKIP’ won’t work. …

    “Our task is not only to listen, but to provide the answers. That includes on immigration because the (EU) referendum result means that a further public debate on this is now inevitable.”

    The Government “must bring forward proposals to secure greater control over immigration, while securing the brightest economic future which supports jobs and investment”, he says.

    Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry told the BBC the UK has too many people coming in because Britain “has a skills shortage” and “we’re not training enough people in this country”.

    I have to say I remain unconvinced that Jeremy Corbyn shares their concerns !

  8. Anthony

    Thanks for the analysis of the SBC proposals.

    The actual likelihood of any parties (other than the SNP & LD in O&S) winning seats in Scotland depends very much on whether the Unionists can coalesce behind a particular variant in a specific constituency under FPTP.

    As I’ve pointed out before, the politics of a small country neighboured by a rather aggressive one, are strongly influenced by whether the choice is to go with the strong neighbour or create alliances with its opposing states.

    That has been true since medieval times, and I’ve seen nothing that contradicts that thesis. Protection of “the Scottish interest” is a dominant factor – the debate (and it’s a real and vibrant one) is how to best do that.

    At different times, that debate has overlapped with wider UK/European issues – Catholicism v Protestantism : Union v Independence : State control of religion v Democracy in the Kirk : Free Trade v Protectionism : Communism v Fascism : Capitalism v State Socialism etc. However, protection of what people see as the “Scottish interest” remains a strong force.

    It may be that the English polity is happy to see the likes of Tancred dismissing Nuttall as a “brash Northerner” and therefore of no account. Certainly the regularity with which Northern English constituencies have elected southern carpet-baggers with a Labour label suggests that they have hitherto been content with inferior status.

  9. TANCRED

    That was also said of the Labour party when Michael Foot took over as leader.

    It was said of the Tories when Blair won and now it’s being said again.

    It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now.

    The pendulum of public opinion swings one way and then the other. Currently it is swinging away from the left, and you can certainly hear the howls of pain, which is probably adding to the swing.

    Eventually it swing back the other way again, although how long this takes is anyones guess.

  10. Thoughtful

    “Eventually it swing back the other way again”

    Ah! the mantra of the old Liberal Party (and the current Scottish Labour Party – and many other largely defunct political groupings)

    It often doesn’t swing in the same direction – people aren’t carried on a pendulum! Sometimes going in a totally different direction (eg Brexit) captures the imagination.

  11. Re the boundary review. Though overdue, it has always struck me as odd that at a time when population is increasing rapidly, the number of MPs should decrease. I can only think it is for nefarious purposes such as having less backbench opposition.

    Nevertheless, it should go through because otherwise the boundaries will be many years out of date. The number of MPs can then be gradually built up again in future reviews.

    In terms of numbers, reducing the number of Lords is more important as that House is grossly overmanned. (Or overpersonned if that is the correct modern jargon).

  12. i am convinced that Corbyn is not as toxic as the polls suggest. I suggest that this is because the sampling is not reaching the section of the population that has been enthused by him.He has done well in local election results contradicting the polls and has recruited 500k new members.Also with uKIP somewhat disorganised and with May pressing ahead with Brexit he has more room to manoeuvre up North than pre_brexit.

    underestimate him at peril IMHO

  13. It’s a shame Nuttall didn’t state whether he still believed Poland should be partitioned between Germany and Russia and all Polish citizens expelled from the UK – would have made for an interesting day. As it was he merely sounded weird.

  14. OLDNAT

    The last time the people decided on a ‘totally different direction’ was when Labour took over as one of the two main parties from the Liberals. Since then the pendulum has swung between the Tories and Labour.

    Unless there is a party to take Labours spot as one of the two then they will always bounce back, just as they, and the Tories have in the past.

    Brexit is (obviously) not a political party, and it split the two parties. It’s a one off issue without the time to swing back again, unless you consider a second referendum a real possibility.

  15. S Thomas
    Agreed. Though most commentators think Corbyn is useless, the same people said Brexit would never happen, and Trump would never be US President. My own theory is that many voted for Brexit and Trump who are hard to contact by pollsters, and don’t usually vote. The same could apply to Corbyn. If he could motivate a third of those who don’t usually vote there could be an upset.

  16. @THOUGHTFUL

    Immigration is a giant red herring. Labour are running scared because of UKIP – they should oppose them instead of aping their policies.

  17. @WOLF

    “It’s a shame Nuttall didn’t state whether he still believed Poland should be partitioned between Germany and Russia and all Polish citizens expelled from the UK – would have made for an interesting day. As it was he merely sounded weird.”

    Did he really say that about Poland? Well, he is around 80 years out of date on the issue!

  18. Perhaps the real legacies of Thatcher and Blair is the rise of what you might call for want of a better term “Presidential Managererialism!”

    Both Lead very much in a Presidentail style often with an inner circle more than the cabinet and were seen as the great leader. Equally they both focuses on the Economy and running it better.

    Blairs triangulation meant that he really did follow in Thatchers footsteps in many ways from the Unions to right to buy and some of the other things he did like the minimum wage and tuition fees the Tories have been happy to keep.

    The result is that for all the ideological battles played out on here and Corbyns idea of a “Labour Movement” times have changed.

    We still have political Party’s nominally of the Left and Right but the focus of public concern is now not on the policy differences but on who will make the best PM and who best to run the Economy.

    Blair could adopt Tory policies and get away with it because he was seen as better than Haig, Howard or IDS and May can get Hammond to up the minimum wage and adopt Milibands policies on debt because people don’t trust Labour on the economy or rate Corbyn as a PM.

    The Tories look very likely to win in 2020 not because they will offer anything substantially better or different from Labour but because people think they will be better ar delivering the same!

    Not quite the end of ideology but pretty close.

    In Scotland it looks like for a while yet at least the SNP will do the same to Labour and pretty much everyone else.

    Peter.

  19. @Thoughtful

    “Eventually [the political pendulum] swing[s] back the other way again, although how long this takes is anyone’s guess.”

    About 15 years:

    After Attlee, the Tories were in power for 14 years
    Then Labour were the dominant force for 15 (although Heath spoiled the pattern)
    Then Con for 18
    Then Lab for 13

    So Labour won’t be in power again until around 2025. God knows what will be left of the country by then.

  20. @THOUGHTFUL

    “The pendulum of public opinion swings one way and then the other. Currently it is swinging away from the left, and you can certainly hear the howls of pain, which is probably adding to the swing.
    Eventually it swing back the other way again, although how long this takes is anyones guess.”

    A very general comment, but not accurate given the radical shift in public opinion. The Liberals never came back, did they? So why should Labour? The Liberals were displaced by Labour and now Labour will be displaced by UKIP.

    New Labour was an opportunity to position Labour in the centre ground – an opportunity that has been lost with the revival of the left. Labour cannot compete with UKIP because UKIP is offering working class voters a blend that Labour cannot offer. Unless Labour moves back to the social-democratic centre it will disappear. In the north it will lose to UKIP and in the south it will lose to the Tories and the revived Lib-Dems.

  21. I don’t believe UKIP can truly displace Labour unless it becomes a far more clearly identifiable left-wing party with union support.

    Labour replaced the Liberals because it was “the same but more so”.

  22. Peter Cairns,
    “Not quite the end of ideology but pretty close.”

    Maybe you cannot see the wood for the trees? People are crying out for an ideological cause they can believe in. That is how the SNP has swept Scotland, so many SNP trees nothing else can be seen.

    In England the ideology of Brexit just swept the land, pushed forward by just one man. The establishment first tried to trivialise and dismiss him as a crackpot, but have eventually adopted his ideas in order to beat him. They have no ideology of their own, so they grabbed for his.

    There is a huge vacuum in England for a party with a real ideology of its own. I still think the SNP are mistaken in not fielding candidates south of the border. Scots vote SNP despite not wanting devolution, and I can see English socialist nationalists supporting them too, especially in northern England. They could become the actual opposition: or would it not suit them to become the Westminster government? Sturgeon for PM? The labour party is currently torn between policies which might go down well in London and those which might work in northern traditional areas. I could see SNP taking the north and labour the south of England

  23. Tancred,
    “New Labour was an opportunity to position Labour in the centre ground – an opportunity that has been lost with the revival of the left.”

    No, New labour lost it when they invaded Iraq. This was a move to the right.

    New labour was supposd to be alternative left politics. The ‘centre ground’ killed the liberals and it will be a killing zone for labour too. A party based on pandering to every fashion in politics cannot command a heartland vote, and labour’s is dying out. Corbyn may or may not succeed, may or may not have the right policies. However, labour party members understand that a party must represent them. It is the labour MPs who have the wrong end of the argument in trying to displace Corbyn.

    Talking of polls, the importance of Corbyn’s popularity is surely not what this is nationally, but what it is amongst those who might possibly vote Labour. To what extent are popularity polls skewed by extreme views? If conservative stalwarts universally hate him, does this outweigh in the polls floating voters being neutral? Yet conservative die hards hating him (as well they might) would make no difference to his chance of becoming PM.

    Are the polls essentially wrong about Corbyn bcause they are asking the wrong question?

    Is it pephaps possible that what a leader needs to win is the sort of popularity ratings seen by Clinton and Trump in the US? 60% dislike and 40% like, but the 40% are your voters who like you as much as they detest your opponent? On that basis, with the right cit across voters, Corbyn is a winner.

  24. PeteB

    Thanks AW for the update.

    Like you I think the boundary review is long overdue and needs pushing through. Despite the odd Tory maverick I think t will go through.

    Like you I think the HoL needs a totally restructuring. Far fewer and with powers reduced so that they only delay Government legislation not stop it and only by 12 months maximum IMO

  25. TANCRED

    @”Immigration is a giant red herring.”

    The one at the top of Most Important Issues in every UK Political OP.

    I expect you think the idea of a Populist Party of The Right, led by an outspoken maverick getting any votes is a red herring too-I mean what examples of that have there been anywhere ?

  26. @Danny
    “Scots vote SNP despite not wanting devolution” ??????
    I think you meant ‘independence’.

    The SNP could field candidates south of the Border, I suppose, but the north of England was offered the choice of joining Scotland under both David I (during the 1130s and 40s) and again under Alexander II (c. 1215 – 17). I understand that under current constitutional thinking south of the Border you only get one bite of the cherry!

    @TOH

    I echo the thanks to AW. There was as lot of work involved in getting those notional figures together.

    For Scotland the sheer size of the country with its small population leads to some very difficult situations: e.g. to lump Badenoch (including Mallaig and the Small Isles?) in with Argyll and Bute means having a constituency the size of Wales north of Aberystwyth with the additional problem of including more than a dozen inhabited islands. As for the south eastern section of West Lothian (the good people of Livingston and the Calders, possibly Broxburn as well) having to cope with being linked to Edinburgh Pentlands – well, words fail me!

    As for Clydesdale and Eskdale, why not just call it ’74’ after the only major road in the whole constituency?

    :-)

  27. An early election due to Brexit might interest many MP’s who might struggle under new boundaries. You can imagine that many will have looked at their likely new seats and local election results, to assess what chances of re-election they have.

    On the subject of Brexit, can anyone shed light on the EU rule changes on QMV that apply from 1st April 2017. Apparently this is partly why Theresa May wants to trigger Article 50 by end of March. If she fails to do this, it will apparently make the process far more difficult.

  28. http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/voting-system/qualified-majority/

    QMV changes wef 31/3/17, but would the EU vote to stop the UK leaving ?

  29. @THOUGHTFUL
    UKIP has made some inroads in the North of Cambridgeshire where immigration has had some dramatic effects in a Conservative area, in Cambridge City Labour has gained power however all the areas around have remained Conservative.
    I am interested to see what happens in the County Council Elections next year.I am not a supporter of UKIP.
    I think that Labour will struggle to maintain what they have. Labour are failing to react to the concerns of working people.
    Trying to determine the result of boundary changes is like economists trying to work out the effects of Brexit. IMO

  30. Re: whether JC can cause a shock.

    Yes there may well be non-voters wanting to stick it to the establishment – indeed such people may well have swung the Brexit ref for Leave. But it is May who is the one who is trying to drive Brexit forward whereas JC is seen as trying to impede her. So the known-voters are already giving May a massive polling lead, while the non-voters who emerged to vote Leave will most likely also prefer May to JC as well. So unless there is another block of non-voters somewhere (who couldn’t even be bothered to vote in the EU ref) but who will suddenly become enthused by an anti-patriot who prefers Cuba, Venezuela & Islington to the rest of the UK, then I can only see the polls underestimating the Tory lead not overestimating it.

  31. @S Thomas – regarding Corbyn’s toxicity, I think it would be a brave person who completely dismisses the chances of the polls being wrong, after recent events of each side of the Atlantic.

    However, I think you need to be realistic – in the 2015 GE, Brexit and the US election, the polls weren’t that wrong. There was a marked deviation in the UK GE, but in both the referendum and the US GE the results were within margin of error. While the expectations were confounded, this was largely because the commentators read the polls wrongly.

    Today ICM has Cons on 44%, Lab 28%, which is their largest lead for seven years. There simply aren’t enough hidden voters for the polls to be that wrong.

    Another point to consider is that in all cases of recent polling error, the error has been away from the left wing/liberal parties. The type of hidden voters that samplers missed were the ‘angry white right’, if it is possible to combine all three of these results.

    I personally think that the polling and anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. Labour under Corbyn are on the brink of annihilation, not because people don’t necessarily like his policies (the tide is running in his direction, in many ways) but because he is a useless leader and an awful politician.

    Unless you can provide some evidence that there are polling errors, I think it’s very difficult to argue that Corbyn is doing better than polls suggest.

  32. More on that ICM poll: Cons just 1% off their highest ever score under the ICM series (going back to 1992) and leading in every age group except 18-24 and in every social grade, even leading in DE’s by 33/32. Economic confidence is at +10%, which is falling, but still positive.

    Overall, this is an awful, awful poll for Corbyn.

    If the man had any decency or loyalty to his party, he would surely, sometime fairly soon, step down and admit he isn’t the man to lead the opposition.

  33. Alec

    the only evidence that i can suggest is the local elections. Labour were going to be hammered according to the national polls but they did quite well. Looking at the local Government results in 2016 they are not as bad as would be expected. In addition they have an enthused ground force to knock on doors.

    I am not saying that they are in strong position but perhaps not a s weak as the polls suggest.I am also wary of the lib position where ther e national polling seems at odds with the local government results.

  34. Re yesterday’s discussions on EEA A127, Allen & Overy LLP published an interesting 9 page PDF on the Implications of EEA membership outside the EU in July, covering the difference between EU A50 and EEA A127. Leave voters may take some comfort from their views, which differ slightly from British Influence, who put the issue in yesterday’s headlines. The three relevant paras are on p7 of the PDF:

    A separate mechanism for withdrawing from the EEA is set out at Article 127 of the EEA Agreement, allowing any ‘Contracting Party’ to withdraw by providing at least 12 months’ written notice to the other Contracting Parties. There is no separate definition in the EEA Agreement of ‘EU Member States’. However, in the preamble to the EEA Agreement, the EU Member States are listed individually and, along with the EU itself, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, are collectively referred to as the ‘Contracting Parties’. On one reading of the EEA Agreement therefore, the UK is a Contracting Party by virtue of being one of the individually listed EU Member States that has signed it.

    On its face, this would suggest that it would be open to the UK to exit the EU following the procedure set out in Article 50 TEU, but take no action under Article 127 of the EEA Agreement. However, this raises the question of whether the UK would remain an EEA Contracting Party. One difficulty in that respect is that the territorial ambit of the EEA Agreement (as defined under Article 126(1)) is limited to the territories to which the EU Treaties apply, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, creating a paradox of the UK potentially being party to an international economic and trade agreement, the territorial ambit of which does not cover the UK.

    This kind of detailed (and unprecedented) legal issue gives a flavour of some of the difficult technical issues that will need to be traversed carefully by Boris Johnson (as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Commonwealth) and David Davis (as Secretary of State for Leaving the EU), the cabinet ministers charged by the new Prime Minister with steering the course to Brexit.

    Presumably, the EFTA Court in Luxembourg would have to rule on the issue. A pity that nobody thought to suggest an update of the EEA Agreement after the Lisbon Treaty and EU A50 were introduced.

  35. Re :ICM poll

    Could it be that the inate sense of fair play of the british electorate means that the more they see brexit frustrated by hostlie groups the more they are backing TM.

  36. OLDNAT & S THOMAS

    FPT
    Given that it’s now obvious that the A127 issue was known in the legal community as early as July, I must revise my opinion of HMG’s lawyers.

    With all the information then available in the public domain it is obvious that either they are incompetent or that HMG has simply not listened to them.

  37. @ THOUGHTFUL

    Actually determining the result of boundary changes has been one of the successes of psephologists particularly if we allow Anthony’s (and others’) warnings re uncertainties concerning tactical voting,Lib Dems. etc. I’d back them against any group of economists any day when it comes to understanding where we are right now. Of course it’s no more a forecast of the next election result than the last Opinion Poll was but i think we’ve all grasped that fact..It does provide a decent base for estimating the result in the days before the election however.

    @ Thomas
    If there is a democratic political party more representaive of the establishment than the Conservatives anywhere in the world I’d like to know what it is.Even the dominant parties in Germany and Japan have only been around since WW2. In short if a sustained anti-establishment mood kicks in in Britain May and her party will be toast whatever they do.

    This is one reason why I think an early election is both unlikely and very undesirable for Conservatives.(Boundary changes are another) An early election would provide the best environment possible for UKIP to cash in on brexit success before anything negative occurs.

    If they truly believe they can make a success of brexit time is very much on the side of the Conservatives.By 2020 we’ll already have passed American mid-term elections and will likely have a pretty good idea of what awaits later in the year from that direction.Sundry key European elections will have been and gone and the EU- well who knows? A change in mood at least is certain.

    I doubt Labour can win at any time on current evidence.They probably are slightly stronger than the polls suggest (but Corbyn isn’t and that’s key).At this stage I’d guess the Tories will have a rather bad May but for UKIP it could be worse so ultimately they might not be too concerned.

  38. OLDNAT & S THOMAS
    PS to my previous post

    As British Influence put it in Why wouldn’t the UK seize the opportunity to stay in the EEA?:

    There is a strong chance that the UK will be acting unlawfully by taking us out of the EEA with Brexit, and so will the EU by requiring us to leave. Having alerted them to this possibility, they have an obligation to seek urgent clarification in the courts. No government can proceed with a course of action while knowing it could be unlawful, just for the sake of convenience. The Single Market is a British invention and guarantee of British prosperity: if there is a chance that we can stay in without any possibility to remove us, we must take it.

  39. @R HUCKLE
    “On the subject of Brexit, can anyone shed light on the EU rule changes on QMV that apply from 1st April 2017. Apparently this is partly why Theresa May wants to trigger Article 50 by end of March. If she fails to do this, it will apparently make the process far more difficult.”

    Indeed – and therefore the more the delays, the better (from my perspective).

  40. @BARBAZENZERO

    The ruling I would love the most would be that we cannot leave the EU because we would automatically have to leave the EEA. That would be the icing on the cake.

  41. @NEIL A

    “I don’t believe UKIP can truly displace Labour unless it becomes a far more clearly identifiable left-wing party with union support.”

    I don’t agree. Many working class people just want a party that will listen to their moans and groans, and UKIP will do that.

  42. @Alec

    “Labour under Corbyn are on the brink of annihilation…”

    ———–

    Well Tories polled as low as Labour are polling currently in the last parliament. You’ll have to change your username from Alec to “Alack” at this rate!!!….

  43. It is a strange world a PM that does not believe in Brexit is going to enforce it even if it is a detriment to the UK.When was the last time a PM did this?Possibly Asquith in 1914 in entering WW1 when he already thought it would not be in the UK interests to participate in a European war.

  44. Tories 44% (+2)
    Labour 28% (NC)
    UKIP 12% (+1)
    Lib Dem 7% (-2)

    Looking at the ICM poll, this is dreadful for Labour and even worse for the LibDems. Excellent news for Leavers in that this poll puts more steel in the Tory spine to deliver Brexit. Ukip must also be pleased that despite the madness of the last 3 months they have emerged relatively unscathed.

    What must be crushing for Labour is the Tories now lead in the DE social group!

    How long are Labour going to persist with this Abbott cheerlead mass immigration policy?

  45. TANCRED

    Francis Urquhart applies: You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.

  46. @R Huckle ““On the subject of Brexit, can anyone shed light on the EU rule changes on QMV that apply from 1st April 2017. Apparently this is partly why Theresa May wants to trigger Article 50 by end of March. If she fails to do this, it will apparently make the process far more difficult.”

    Makes no difference to the tabling of Article 50, which only is subject to QMV on whether the final deal is acceptable to the EU Council. In that way QMV helps the UK as no one state can veto the exit deal. Trade matters will of course require unanimity.

  47. ICM poll

    84% for parties not averse to brexit. Warms the cockles on a cold cold morning.Still Farron (or whoever he is) must be pleased with his 7%.! Second referendum does not appear to have set the nation alight

  48. @DEZ

    “It is a strange world a PM that does not believe in Brexit is going to enforce it even if it is a detriment to the UK.When was the last time a PM did this?Possibly Asquith in 1914 in entering WW1 when he already thought it would not be in the UK interests to participate in a European war.”

    What makes you so sure that May does not believe in Brexit? I always thought she was a fence-sitter on the issue.

    Asquith was forced into war by the interventionists in his cabinet: Grey, Churchill and some others. They threatened to resign and split the party if he didn’t agree to war on Germany.

  49. ‘After Attlee, the Tories were in power for 14 years’

    Actually it was a few days short of 13 years!

  50. @S THOMAS

    Meaningless. Many remainers back May in the hope (and illusion) that she will deliver a ‘Brexit-lite’. When things go downhill, as they will, you will see the Lib-Dems pick up a lot more support. Besides, many people only vote tactically for the Lib-Dems and the polls don’t show this.
    Also, don’t think that Labour supportes all back Corbyn’s approach on Brexit. Far from it. They stick with Labour out of loyalty.

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