Opinium’s latest voting intention poll has topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 31%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%. The seven point Conservative lead is much tighter than we’ve seen in other recent polls, which have almost all had double-figure Tory leads. While the lead has dropped in this poll, I suspect the difference is methodological somehow – most of Opinium’s recent polls have had Tory leads that are smaller than those from other companies. One of the results of the 2015 polling error and polling companies’ efforts to correct them is that we can’t really tell for sure which are right. Is it that some companies haven’t done enough to correct the errors of the past, or others who have done too much?

Given I’ve flagged up the increase in Lib Dem support in the last three polls I should also point out the absence of one here, they are down one point. We’ve had four polls since the Richmond by-election, two showing a small increase, one a small drop, one a substantial increase. Taking an average across the four polls, a very modest impact on national levels of Lib Dem support. Full tabs are here.

The same poll had a couple of questions for Keiran Pedley – the first asked people if they preferred a Brexit where Britain left completely, but got a harsh deal meaning the economy suffers, unemployment increases and there’s less money for public services… or a Brexit where Britain remains in some EU institutions, has freedom of movement, is subject to the EU courts and so on. Faced with that stark choice, people went with the “soft Brexit” option by 41% to 35%. However, it does, of course, assume that people can be convinced that a “hard Brexit” option would result in the economy suffering, unemployment increasing and so on. We’ve just had a salutary lesson that lots of experts telling people that leaving the EU would have negative economic effects is not necessarily effective. I think the most we can say is that it suggests if people can be convinced that a hard Brexit would damage the economy, jobs and public services and that a soft Brexit would not, then they would prefer a soft Brexit… but that “if” is doing a lot of work.

Keiran also asked two questions about a second referendums, both finding a majority of people do not want one. The first asked if people would like a second referendum after terms are agreed, the second asked if there should be a second referendum if it becomes clear that Brexit is damaging the economy. In both cases 33% said yes, 52% said no – suggesting that a declining economy wouldn’t necessarily make people want to reconsider the issue.

That second question is key in a lot of current discussion about public attitudes to Brexit. It is clear from current polling that that has not been any significant shift in public opinion since the referendum, most people think the govt is obliged to deliver on the referendum result and that most people do not currently want a second referendum. The hopes of some of those who would like to stay in the European Union are pinned upon the idea that as the negotiation period progresses the impact on the British economy will begin to be felt and at that point the public will change their mind, want to stay after all, and therefore be open to the idea of a second referendum.

Whether there is a chance of this happening is very tricky to measure in a poll. It’s asking people to predict how their opinions might change as a result of future economic developments, when respondents themselves don’t know the answer. We don’t know what’s going to happen to the economy in coming years, and we certainly don’t know what the public will attribute it too. It would be naive to think that an economic downturn will necessarily be blamed on Brexit by those people who supported Brexit. People view new events and information through the prism of their existing views, and many Brexit supporters will blame it on other economic factors, or on the rest of the EU trying to punish us, or pro-Europeans wanting Brexit to fail…. or take it as short-term pain that will be outweighed by later gain (in the same way, many pro-EU people will be liable to blame things on Brexit that have nothing to do with it. This is not a comment about supporters of one side or the other, but on human nature in general).


986 Responses to “Opinium – CON 38, LAB 31, LDEM 6, UKIP 13”

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  1. First- and so my contribution ends ????

  2. AW

    Manythanks for a splendid summart. I agree with every word. Thank you.

  3. AW
    Many thanks for a splendid summary. I agree with every word. Thank you.

  4. I suspect much will revolve around the attitude of May and her government – particularly the remainers.

    They know what damage could come from a contested ‘hard’ exit with no transitional deal, and no one wants to lead their country to a worse place. If they start to believe that the leaving deal is going to be damaging, then they will start to introduce a different kind of rhetoric, asking the public to consider the issues. No one but a fool would continue on a path they thought would bring hardship and still vociferously campaign for it if it wasn’t what they actually believed in.

    If May is still trusted, and starts to sound warnings, then public opinions may start to shift further and faster than we think possible. Whether any of this happens is highly contingent on what kind of deal emerges, and how the economy responds, but I d think that anyone proclaiming certainty about anything to do with Brexit and the Brexit process really has little or no clue about it.

    Some talk previously about remain being ‘undemocratic’, but my best guess is that in time, it will be the leavers fighting against this charge.

  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38341445

    Oh dear. Will this ruin @Carfrew’s Christmas.

  6. Alec

    I’ve responded to your post on terrorism as an issue on the previous thread.

  7. At this point, I don’t think the polls make any difference to how things will pan out politically. The electorate are still reeling from the events of 2016 and are in a state of shock quite frankly. Theresa May presents a degree of pseudo-calm currently, while everything seems to be going chaotic around her, but it probably won’t last as the confusion may last for years. Labour don’t have any coherent message about Brexit, so there is no advantage there either. It’s difficult to build a political map while the wheel is still spinning.

  8. These options seem to set up a false dichotomy. Presumably the public would prefer a deal that splits the difference, where we gain considerable control over immigration and trade freedom, but still (if necessary) make a small contribution to the EU budget, have a close trade agreement with them and are still involved in some EU programmes (the space agency?, and, as a result, growth continues (albeit perhaps slightly lower than it would otherwise have been) unemployment stays relatively low, etc.

    Nobody can say that will be impossible to achieve thus far. And since it seems almost certain that it is what the government will at least try to achieve it would be good to have some polling about this middle softish-hard approach to Brexit.

  9. Regarding Corbyn and terrorism, he does have a problem with the issue, and it is down to his reponse to the Bataclan tragedy. Here is the BBC article from 16 Nov 2015:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34832023

    quote

    The so-called Islamic State group has said it carried out multiple attacks in Paris in which 129 people died.

    Mr Corbyn was asked by BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg whether he would be happy to order police or the military to shoot to kill if there was a similar attack on Britain’s streets.

    Mr Corbyn said: “I’m not happy with the shoot-to-kill policy in general – I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often can be counterproductive.

    “I think you have to have security that prevents people firing off weapons where you can, there are various degrees for doing things as we know.

    “But the idea you end up with a war on the streets is not a good thing.”

    The UK’s police forces do not have a blanket “shoot-to-kill” policy – but at the same time, police can be legally justified in shooting even if the attacker ends up dead.

    end quote

    Up until that point the public was keeping an open mind about him, but they lost respect after that, because they expect that in an emergency the govt would protect them.

    I brought this up at the time, and the usual suspects claimed it was not an issue – glad that the polls are showing it is an issue.

  10. Yes but…

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Jean_Charles_de_Menezes

    Opinions may be more nuanced than you suggest Candy.

  11. @Mark W

    In that Opinium poll, on the issue of terrorism, 46% trusted the Conservatives, 9% Labour, 0% LibDem, 8% UKIP, 1% SNP, 10% none of these, and 25% don’t know.

    Though I suppose the LibDems have more to be worried about than Lab, they can’t become the official opposition unless they are trusted on issues like that.

  12. Sure. Surprised at the zero for the libs. Also note the high none and don’t knows.

    I am not sure how powerful a driver of vi this issue is most people.

  13. @Mark W

    It isn’t a powerful driver right now, but it is at the back of people’s minds. Issues of security will get raised over and over during a general election thiough.

  14. @Candy – I think we can agree that Corbyn does have a problem with perceptions around the terrorism issue, and that his response to the Bataclan incident appeared very poorly judged, but I would argue this just reinforced existing very strong perceptions – it didn’t cause or change anything.

    @Mark W – of course, that case is a miserably example of the other impact of terrorism, and how innocent people can be harmed as part of the response, but it can’t really be used in the Bataclan case . Corbyn appeared to be arguing that when there is a live firing terrorist incident, security services shouldn’t shoot back. He allowed this to be the critical message, which was politically very stupid.

  15. @Oldnat – I think most reasonable people would conclude that Corbyn specifically is seen by many as having issues as regards attitudes to terrorism.

  16. @ ALEC “If May is still trusted, and starts to sound warnings, then public opinions may start to shift ”
    The trouble with that is it will probably confirm the views of many people who already don’t trust May, while some never have.

    “I ‘d think that anyone proclaiming certainty about anything to do with Brexit and the Brexit process really has little or no clue about it.”
    That I agree with! Though I will go so far as to say that if we do not leave, there will be trouble.

    “Some talk previously about remain being ‘undemocratic’, but my best guess is that in time, it will be the leavers fighting against this charge.”
    I think ‘undemocratic’ and ‘unconstitutional’ get confused. I made a post on this at the end of the last thread. It has attracted two replies which seem to think that using the Royal Prerogative to notify the EU of our intentions is the same as using the Royal Prerogative to endorse the result of the referendum.
    The Supreme Court has made it clear that it is not adjudicating on the result of the referendum, but on how formal notice can be given in accord with present law (which Parliament can presumably change if need be.).

    Why have we not already had a Bill to say
    “This House respects the advice received from the result of the referendum and instructs the Government to inform the EU Council of UK intention to leave the EU.”?

  17. @ Stephen W
    “since it seems almost certain that it is what the government will at least try to achieve it would be good to have some polling about this middle softish-hard approach to Brexit.”
    In other words, on leaving the government to “Get the best deal possible” though of course the best deal possible will probably be disliked by (and perhaps even thought unacceptable by) the majority for a variety of opposing reasons.

  18. Alec

    ” I think most reasonable people would conclude that Corbyn specifically is seen by many as having issues as regards attitudes to terrorism.”

    Could be. Also lots of unreasonable people with a strong dislike of Corbyn would say that anyway.

    However, that’s a big improvement on your original statement.

    Candy (from my response to Alec on previous thread)

    Only a quarter of the sample selected terrorism as an issue, and (not unusually) these were mostly people supporting parties on the right.

    The VI of these people was Con 37% : Lab 17% : UKIP 15% : LD 3%.

    89% of those with Con VI thought Con would deal with the issue best.
    45% of those with Lab VI thought Lab would deal with the issue best.
    46% of those with UKIP VI thought UKIP would deal with the issue best.

    A self-selecting sample of a population seldom gives much of a basis for claiming anything other than that’s what “those kind of people” tend to think.

  19. Alec, for many JCs response was a welcome change from the usual hawkish posturing.

  20. While we won’t see the details of the Scottish Government’s Brexit proposals till Tuesday, the early indicators are that they are proposing the degree of Devo-Max that would allow Scotland to remain in the Single Market.

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14973562.Sturgeon_reveals_Brexit_battle_plans_to_keep_Scotland_in_Single_Market/

  21. Re; JC and terrorism.

    The issue with JC’s response to terrorism – and his National Anthem non-singing, which I would think would be a bigger issue – is that it confirms views on both sides.

    The problem for JC and for Labour is that his actions don’t do the one thing that they need to for success: they have little chance of persuading people that JC is worth paying attention to, unless they already agree wth him.

  22. @OldNat

    Why not go for full independence? (given that genuine devo-max would mean no more transfers from the UK govt)

    Of couse then they’d have to decide whether they wanted soft independence or hard independence, and whether those areas that voted to remain in the UK, like the borders and shetlands, could be fully in the UK and in Scotland at the same time! :-)

  23. Sorrel

    “his National Anthem non-singing”

    So THAT’s what ended John Redwood’s career!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzBq0n8dxFQ

  24. A really interesting interview on Sunday Politics with a trade expert from the Australian Embassy.

    He explained that UK/Oz are in talks & doing scoping of issues for a UK/Oz FTA.

    Asked by Btrillo how they had managed to conclude a FTA with USA in 15 months-he said that it all depends on how protectionist either side want to be over sectors. In that case US were concerned about Sugar-so Oz agreed to leave Sugar out.

    Asked why Oz had not concluded a FTA with EU-he explained in diplomatic language how protectionist EU is -in the case of OZ on agricultural products.

    This element of the EU Customs Union-barriers to importers-is a key issue for a Free Trade orientated UK. The Australian Embassy chap said that Oz were supportive of UK membership of EU because they would bring a strong Free Trade voice to a club of Protectionists. He thought EU would become more protectionist after Brexit.

  25. Interesting last para AW-thanks.

  26. Good afternoon all from a mild sunny Stevenage…I like Stevenage on a Sunday, I’m always babysitting. :-(

    The Lib/Dems will have pale deflated faces after looking at this poll. Just last week they were getting ready for government.

    On soft Brexit or hard Brexit…The question around the economy etc taking a battering post hard Brexit is pure subjective in nature. Hard or soft Brexit most people just want immigration to be reduced and controlled and power handed back to our own elected representatives.

  27. Colin ” He thought EU would become more protectionist after Brexit.”
    In which he may well be right. EU protectionism is iniquitous, leading in the past to wine lakes and butter mountains, and today restricting the possibilities of African economies to expand their markets and lift themselves out of poverty.
    But protectionism can work both ways. EU may find its markets equally resistant, especially if it restricts the ability of the EU to (temporarily) export workers who otherwise will need employment or benefits at home.

  28. CANDY
    @OldNat

    Why not go for full independence? (given that genuine devo-max would mean no more transfers from the UK govt)

    Of couse then they’d have to decide whether they wanted soft independence or hard independence, and whether those areas that voted to remain in the UK, like the borders and shetlands, could be fully in the UK and in Scotland at the same time! :-)
    __________

    I was speaking to a mate of mine from Glasgow last week who voted remain and Yes in the Scottish referendum and I actually said to him that much of the noises the Scottish government are making over Brexit might come back to haunt them should they win any second independence referendum.

    However that said I’m still fully supportive of Scottish independence even it it meant the buggers staying in the EU.

  29. Good Afternoon All.

    Bournemouth is cold.

    I have a hunch that the Lib Dem figure of 6% is a little high.

    Just a hunch.

  30. I’m a bit confused by the Opinium data tables.

    What is the increase in the gap between Tory and Labour since the 2015 GE?

    In terms of actual number of votes, would the Tories get fewer votes now than at the 2015 GE?

    What is the breakdown of how the Don’t Knows voted in the 2015 GE??

  31. CANDY @ OLDNAT
    Why not go for full independence?

    Given that all the parties in Holyrood campaigned for remain, the FM made an immediate post EU referendum commitment to do all in her power to see Scotland remain in the EU and on 28 June set up an EU expert group. See the BBC’s Sturgeon sets up EU expert group.

    Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee had their first meeting with the group on 30 June and their most recent on 15 December. See Holyrood’s Meeting Papers & Official Reports.

    By not linking the process to independence per se, she was doing all in her power to keep Holyrood unionists on side.

    Clearly, if she fails to convince HMG, she will have no choice but to call for indyref2, when she will have the support of the SGP.

  32. Allan Christie

    ” much of the noises the Scottish government are making over Brexit might come back to haunt them should they win any second independence referendum.”

    That’s entirely possible. It’s equally possible that they wouldn’t.

    All any government, in any country, can do is to make the best call they can at the time – and it remains the case that most Scots want to remain in the Single Market.

  33. I’ve been reviewing the You Gov polls for 2016.

    My first analysis (link below) is of how people who said they voted for Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem or UKIP changed their VI in 2016. I also did the headline VI:

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzTTW1ecy-NDdWVCX2I1Q2lCbmc

    Headline VI

    The Conservatives have recovered from a pre-referendum dip and grown steadily since. They have breached the upper limit of the chart, demostrating a significant increase.

    Labour have done the reverse. After some pre-referendum improvement,. they have slipped back steadily, and dropped below the lower chart limit for two polls in a row.

    UKIP’s performance is very similar to Labour’s, except the last three polls have stablised.

    The Lib Dem’s have improved since mid-September, and omne more good poll should push them through the upper limit.

    The Greens have stayed steadily within the upper and lower limits, treading water.

    2015 Conservative voters

    Pre-referendum support for the Conservatives has wained, and support for UKIP and ‘don’t know’ had grown.

    However, since the referendum they seem to have gone back to the Conservatives.

    2015 Labour voters

    These charts do not make good reading Labour.

    Before the referendum, this group briefly supported Labour in improved numbers. However, support for Labour has fallen since, with the last five polls falling below the lower floor. Now only just over half of 2015 Labour voters are saying they would vote Labour in a GE.

    It looks like fabled UKIP to Labour move simply isn’t happening. 2015 Labour to UKIP looks static for the whole year.

    2015 Labour voters since the referendum are moving significantly to the Lib Dems, with three of the last four polls breaching the upper limit.

    2015 Lib Dem voters

    2015 Lib Dem voters look quite static is all catagories

    2015 UKIP voters

    Since the referendum around 10% of UKIP’s 2015 voters have gone back the Conservatives, with the six last polls breaching the upper limit.

    This increase in 2015 UKIP voters to the Conservatives is mirrored in reverse with the fall in 2015 UKIP voters supporting UKIP.

    There is much more detail in the data, so I will be releasing it on blog as I go deeper in .

    Enjoy.

  34. @Oldnat – “However, that’s a big improvement on your original statement.”

    No it isn’t. It’s a different way of saying exactly the same thing. In terms of policy, there is no logical reason why Labour should be seen as being so weak on terrorism, and this weakness is a new phenomena that wasn’t present under previous Labour leaders, or at least to nothing like the same extent. Corbyn has a severe electoral problem with matters of dealing with extremism and terrorism. This is not news.

  35. Alec

    ” this weakness is a new phenomena that wasn’t present under previous Labour leaders, or at least to nothing like the same extent.”

    In that case, you’ll find it easy to provide the evidence for that. May I suggest that not using self-selecting samples will help?

  36. @Colin – the Australian view on EU trade negotiations is very interesting. There really is a problem with the EU and trade deals when they negotiate with bigger economies, largely because 28 states each seek to protect their pet industries.

    A great example is sugar cane tariffs, which run at 40%. The UK used to import from the Caribbean, but good quality cane sugar is far too expensive. The worst bit is that we pay to subsidise sugar beet production in 17 EU countries, so the tariffs are there to protect subsidised EU farmers, meaning we effectively pay twice.

    I do wish the EU could do the sensible thing and get on with specific smaller deals as the Australians imply, instead of getting bogged down in hugely complex comprehensive deals.

  37. Squeezedmiddle
    ‘What is the increase in the gap between Tory and Labour since the 2015 GE?’

    Almost nothing at all! The May 2015 party shares for the two main parties were – Con 37.8% Lab 31.2% – Tory lead 6.6%.
    Today’s poll is simply the equivalent of those figures being rounded.
    The crossbreaks are a bit odd. Scotland has SNP 59 Con 22 Lab 12.SNP almost certainly too high there and Labour too low. In Wales the Tories lead Labour by 1% – which seems a bit unlikely on the basis of the GB figures. England ,on the other hand , only shows a Tory lead of 8% compared with 9.5% in May 2015. – indicating a swing to Labour there of 0.75%.

  38. @Allan Christie

    “Hard or soft Brexit most people just want immigration to be reduced and controlled and power handed back to our own elected representatives”.

    The most effective way to control immigration is probably to have a slump. Paradoxically the best way to make people happy with immigration may not be to control it bur rather to have a boom. Immigrants go where work is and where there is work most of the locals are generally happy with the situation. This may explain why the areas with lots of immigrants had some of the most pro remain votes.

    On getting back power – we win some we lose some. We are no longer subject to Brussels rules designed to avoid a rush to the bottom, on the other hand we no longer have a say in making rules in which we may have a vital interest.

    I have always been a bit sceptical about the validity of the sovereignty argument. After all we are in a union that has egalitarian countries like Denmark and semi-fascist ones (at least they look that way to me), and where some countries sell masses more to China than we do and where we have gone to war when most of the rest of the union did not want us to do so. So it doesn’t really look as though we are being forced into a uniform mold or losing our power of independent action.

    All that said I absolutely accept that many people see things as you do and sadly, from my point of view, things that are believed to be real are real in their consequences.

  39. harles

    “things that are believed to be real are real in their consequences”

    Beautifully put!

  40. Charles

    Sorry – didn’t mean to decapitate you, as happened to your namesake that was King of Scots and King of England.

  41. AW
    Thanks for the excellent analysis of the latest poll.

    CMJ
    Very interesting charts. They certainly show Labour in trouble.

  42. Let me get this right…

    A) The gap between Tories and Labour in England has closed a tiny amount since the 2015 GE.

    B) The gap between Tories and Labour is about the same as at the 2015 GE.

    C) The Tories are gaining on Labour in Scotland but it is largely irrelevant because SNP are so far ahead of both.

    D) UKip have not gainined on Labour since the 2015 GE.

    E) Lib Dems might be able to take back a few Tory seats in England. However, the Lib Dems could lose some seats as their pro-EU stance could lose them tactical votes from Tories. Labour would benefit.

    F) The highest percentage of Don’t Knows are former Labour voters.

    If this is right, then it isn’t looking like such a disaster for Labour in terms of seats. They would have about the same number as they do now.

    I think the Tories will lose support over Brexit as they can’t please everyone.

  43. @SqueezedMiddle

    F) The highest percentage of Don’t Knows are former Labour voters.

    According to Yougov 2015 Lib Dems have the highest number of Don’t Knows.

  44. CMJ

    “According to Yougov 2015 Lib Dems have the highest number of Don’t Knows.”

    Might that be because many of them were “tactical” voters in 2015, and waiting to see how they might most effectively cast their vote next time round?

  45. @Oldnat

    Very likely.

    Which party ‘owns’ a voter is very uncertain to say the least.

    I guess pollsters probably have to use the last party they voted for for simplicity.

    It all gets very murky!

  46. @Old Nat

    No offence taken this end and I guess my namesake isn’t that bothered either. But sadly my apparent bon mot is not mine but stems from a Polich Sociologist – I think he was called Thomazz. I have always liked it and I am glad that you also approve. (I have just looked it up on Wikipedia which has an article on it under the title of ‘Thomas theorem’,

  47. @ old nat – apologies! Turns out Thomas was Thomas not Thomasz and was an American Sociologist who did indeed collaborate with a Pole, ‘I grow old learning lots of new things every day’ (which is Solon according to Plato and they were both Greeks). In future I will cite my sources and avoid plagiarism!

  48. @Mark W

    “Alec, for many JCs response was a welcome change from the usual hawkish posturing.

    Obviously. But not for enough to balance out those for whom his response was thought to be irresolute, hand-wringing nonsense.

    It was an unnecessary wound, really, as in the circumstances of a live shooting incident, the police simply get on with it without any reference to Number Ten in any event. It costs nothing to talk tough about gunning down bad people who have guns and bombs.

    Jean de Menezes was unfortunate, but I don’t think it has that much relevance. He didn’t die because of tough talking by politicians, but because of policing errors and pure bad luck.

  49. Neil
    Didn’t he also run into a tube station when ordered to stop by the police, when they feared he was a terrorist?

  50. Dave,
    “Why have we not already had a Bill to say
    “This House respects the advice received from the result of the referendum and instructs the Government to inform the EU Council of UK intention to leave the EU.”?”

    For several reasons. Most likely because the day after the referendum, or even the week before, some government law officer pointed out to the PM that it was questionable whether he had the power to simply give notice. And then that advice went on to detail all the issues currently being raised in the lawsuit, which if they are real issues must be covered by any enabling legislation. Until it is determined that Scotland, Ireland do not have a veto, or whether there are legal consultations which must be complied with, May cannot press ahead. To do so risks the whole matter being derailed into the european courts and her notice subsequently being declared invalid. If this case had not been brought, it would have been necessary to engineer it.

    But aside from that, it is evident the government is not in a position to proceed with negotiations and must therefore delay. It is not at all clear it will be ready even on this score by its timetable, which was created because of other electoral timetables, not to fit the realities of even understanding what the issues are in leaving the EU.

    It is quite clear that the May government is not prepared to simply exit the EU cold turkey and must believe this could be disastrous. Otherwise it could save everyone a lot of trouble and just do it.

    AW,
    in answer to your question I cite the above argument. The government believes that at minimum there is a not negligible probability that difficulties associated with leaving he EU could be sufficient to cause the voters to change their minds and definitively reverse their decision. But exactly as you argue, they must agree with your piece that voters may well not see this untill well after the event. But they do believe it at least could be an economic disaster very obvious to voters.

    Putting aside issues of party gain and winning future elections, I am sure May and her government have no wish to be remembered by history as pushing through a narrow poll result into national disaster. They plainly believe they cannot proceed except with the utmost caution.

    However, i think this business about spoiling their negotiating position by telling everyone what they are aiming for is massively overplayed. It is again stalling for time because the government has no settled view, and because clearly any decision towards a softer or harder target outcome will lose government support from the disadvantaged faction.

    There are a number of potential doomesday scenarios following from this conclusion, such as a disgraced conservative party swept from office while a resurgent labour party (or even liberals or SNP, if labour cannot get their act together) rises to government with a mandate to rejoin the EU. Something which could take quite some time, with the conservatives incessantly tarred by their failure in leaving the EU in the first place.

    The safe option is probably to aim for ‘Norway’, soft brexit, and just see what happens. This will not solve the problem, because both sides will continue arguing that it was leaving or failing to leave properly (as side determines), which has caused any ensuing difficulties. The political battle will continue whether to rejoin fully, or leave fully. In as much as soft Brexit aims at minimising economic harm, it will never settle the question of whether full Brexit would be harmful or beneficial.

    Unquestionably, soft or hard Brexit will greatly reduce British sovereignty over the EU, which will no longer have to take account of British views, which are significantly different to many members. No doubt the EU is impatient for us to leave for this very reason. The day we give notice is the day they can start internal negotiations for reform, with a 2 year timetable for introduction.

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