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. “Is it scottish remainer fantasy night on here tonight? i think we ought to have been told that the jacobites were to be allowed their own safe space to run amok.”
    @s thomas December 27th, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    Hey, I’m not Scottish. I’m a Northerner living in an region that voted Brexit. If my 85 year old father is typical of the nupties round here, he voted Brexit to get rid of the f-ing Pakis. He wouldn’t know what an EU was even if it slapped him round the head with a wet fish, took all its clothes off and waddled his willy singing ‘the European Union is good for all our futures in an uncertain world.’

  2. S Thomas
    “Is it scottish remainer fantasy night on here tonight?”

    Alas, it usually is.

    ON (re Carfrew)
    “It would be useful if you could post in your version of Standard English, instead of whatever the language you post in is called.”

    Well said. It’s nice to agree occasionally.

  3. s/waddled his willy/waddled its willy/

    I have an image but I don’t think the (corrected) version above is still the right phrase.

    Anyway, hopefully you now have this image as well. :-)

  4. Al Urqa

    You can find the explanation for some of those peculiar comments clearly intentioned in a post at 7:09 am. It’s nothing to do you, but a clumsy attempt at “smuggling” partisan comments past Anthony.

    Sensibly, he doesn’t bother reading all the comments, so that those who dislike the policy on this site can think themselves “very clever” that he hasn’t spotted them yet.

  5. Al Urqa

    You can find the explanation for some of those odd comments clearly intentioned in a post at 7:09 am. It’s nothing to do you, but a clumsy attempt at “smuggling” partisan comments past Anthony.

    Sensibly, he doesn’t bother reading all the comments, so that those who dislike the policy on this site can think themselves “very clever” that he hasn’t spotted them yet.

  6. “…however when i did my Phd my thesis was on whether there is in fact a Law of the Sea or is it just politics.

    My new year resolution: to try and smuggle more anti-SNP references past our esteemed moderator.”
    @s thomas December 27th, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Phd — ah, an expert. I thought Gove told us never to listen to those? Have the rules changed again?

  7. Hi,

    Shameless plug alert.

    I’ve posted data and graphs for my analysis of You Gov polls in 2016 (part 1).

    There is another part to post. I’ve done the data and graph, I just need to create a new blog page (the previous did get rather large). It will include regional breakdowns.


    The brief summary – Conservatives doing well, Labour and UKIP doing badly, Lib Dems improving slightly.

    Significant movement – UKIP 2015 voters switching from UKIP to Conservatives and Labour 2015 voters switching Labour to Lib Dem.

    Evidence of UKIP taking Labour votes in 2016? Nil – it ain’t happening!

  8. Al Urqa

    Don’t be condemnatory!

    The thesis may not have been accepted.

    It’s an interesting concept, though, that laws – which are enacted through a political process – are somehow detached from politics.

  9. CMJ

    I’ll look forward to the national breakdowns (well only one of them, as YG incorporates Wales into the English Midlands, and can’t be bothered to ask NI at all) , which I assume is included in your regional list.

    Since the Scots sample is rather wee, and largely unrelated to the political system in England, can you also disentangle what some describe as “pesky Jacobites” and show an estimated E&W pattern.

    It’s the latter that will determine the composition of the HoC.

  10. As UK Government dithers, the UK might cease to exist in its present form.


    If England doesn’t give a damn about continuing to rule a bit of Ireland, could there be a useful German precedent for all of Ireland being accepted into the EU?

  11. Oldnat.

    The article appears to be about very sensible questions about tge future of Ireland, the answers to which are relatively obvious and uncontentious. No real referance or relevance to whether the UK is dithering or not. And no views expressed or evidence of any change to the likelihood of Irish unification as a result of Brexit.

  12. CMJ
    Nice analysis!

  13. BZ

    “A sense of humour might help, but Brexiteers seem a dour lot.”

    Well having read Remainer posts last night that must win the award for the funniest post of 2016!

    LOL :-)

    Happy New Year to all who post and to AW.

  14. James Kay,

    Interesting to see the Irish Question once again rearing its head.

    True as well that NI is completely ignored by the rest of us unless there is trouble..

    To be honest, I was surprised the Welsh did not vote Remain. I always myself thought the EU government was remote and bureaucratic but fundamentally benign, whereas Westminster has generally been (for me) actively bad.. yet Londoners who generally benefit most from Westminster ( just look at HS2 etc) were Remain, while the region’s, which get most of the EU money, were Leave.. ah well! I plough a lonely furrow here in Yorkshire it seems!

  15. Apologies for the baker’s apostrophe inserted by my autotext!

  16. @James,

    Not sure what you mean. An opinion piece by a left-leaning commentator who has long opposed the Union with Northern Ireland and argued for Irish Reunification long before Brexit looked like being a remote possibility.

    Again, his piece has no reference or relevance to whether the UK government is dithering. And although he does express the view that Brexit provides an opportunity to promote reunification, it’s not as if he hasn’t been doing that for a long time anyway.

    I am particularly taken by his view that Northern Ireland suffered the Troubles because it was viewed by Britain as semi-detached and not really part of the Union. I’d argue that there’s a good case for seeing it the other way around. Northern Ireland would be far more integrated into UK affairs if there hadn’t been decades of fear, hatred and slaughter. If most British people wouldn’t consider visiting, holidaying, or moving to Northern Ireland for work, it’s because they were frightened of dying, or at least being vigorously hated by a large fraction of the population. Of course in my opinion that was the whole point of the Republicans’ military campaign, to ensure that Northern Ireland never sat comfortably with the rest of the UK but keeping her militarized. So literally 180 degrees opposite to what Mr Meagher appears to believe.

    That’s not to say that I am massively partisan. I am perfectly happy to be in a Union with Northern Ireland, if that’s what she wants. The same as Scotland or Wales. In an ideal world we’d still be in a Union with an undivided Ireland, but that ship has almost certainly sailed forever.

    The original article linked by OldNat makes the perfectly reasonable point that if at some future date there was a majority in Northern Ireland for Unification (which is at least theoretically likely, due to differing demographics in the Loyalist and Nationalist communities – something which I believe was the key to understanding the PIRA ceasefire) then the most sensible way for this to be handled by the EU would be using the unification of Germany as a model.

    That’s great. Good idea. I foresee no objections from the EU or from the UK, and I expect the Republic would approach it in exactly that way. If such a majority appeared in Northern Ireland. It is already UK policy to agree to a border poll if there is evidence that a clear majority exists in NI for “Yes”.

    As to what Oldnat was alluding to, which boils down to “those stupid English Tories have broken the Union – *crocodile tears* – isn’t that typical”. Well there is an argument to be made that given the Remain vote in NI and the preponderance of Remain amongst young people across the UK, that Brexit might move the polls on unification towards “Yes”. One could posit the case that for a young person from a Loyalist family, the attractions of the cosmopolitan EU might peel them away from tribal support for the Union. One could posit the case that for a young person from a Nationalist family, who once might have been a swing voter due to liberal social views and an increasing non-religious view of the world, Brexit might push her back to “Yes” as the UK seems less relatively enlightened compared to the Republic.

    But neither article really addresses these cases or presents any evidence as to whether there is, or is likely to be, any polling movement towards “Yes”. That was my point.

  17. @BBZ / Hireton,

    I find myself perfectly adaptable to facts and mostly cheerful of disposition (perhaps in spite of, not because of some of those facts!)

    I am not particularly amused by the fact that the pair of you are continuing with the Remainer Against Brexiteer ad hominems even during the season of goodwill to all men (and women).

    Could you at least give it a rest until the New Year?

  18. @neila

    You presumably didn’t read sthomas’ wonderful contributions to the season of goodwill?

  19. hireton

    Much appreciated

  20. @Hireton

    Perhaps “S Thomas” should be used instead of “Brexiteers” in your posts then?!

  21. I am not for a minute suggesting that Remainers Against Brexiteers are the only ad hominems….It’s just that as I voted Leave I don’t perceive Brexiteer Against Remainer ones to be addressed to me. It’s not that I don’t object to them….

  22. Neil A – 9.56

    Re: Northern Ireland

    You seem to be forgetting that the lack of ‘integration’ between NI and the rUK was fundamental to the original division of Ireland in 1926 (?). The ‘troubles’ started in part because many Catholics were denied the vote – because they were not property owners. NI did not have universal adult suffrage until c. 1970.

    So Mr. Meagher was quite correct in his analysis. It was the British government which was quite happy to let sleeping dogs lie until the 1968 movement effected the Catholic working class areas of Belfast and Londonderry, and the the IRA took advantage of the situation to reignite the issue of Irish unity.

    The ‘troubles’ were not caused by the IRA but, if truth be told, by a rather sad lack of concern shown by the Government in Westminster from c. 1926 to c.1968/9. The IRA just exploited a situation waiting to explode. Of course, once the IRA and the Provos got going, then mayhem followed. But the cause of the Troubles was embedded in the political set up of NI from partition onwards.

    At least, that’s how I understand the way it went.

  23. John B
    The IRA didn’t suddenly appear in 1968 as a result of oppression. For instance they actively tried to collaborate with the Germans in World War II.

  24. Thank you, Oldnat and James Kay, for your links to Irish Times articles. It hasn’t hitherto been part of my regular reading, but it does seem to offer a useful alternative perspective of Brexit and its wider ramifications. I found both articles thought-provoking and illuminating.

    The idea that NI was only ever seen by the Brits as a transitional arrangement, an obligation to be shrugged off as soon as possible, seems to me entirely believable and one that is consistent with our acceptance of the Good Friday agreement. So, as Meagher says, if it’s only a matter of time, why not seize the opportunity and incentive provided by Brexit to wrap the matter up? The centenary of NI’s establishment comes up in 2021. A good moment for reunification? A federal arrangement would also create the possibility of Scotland at some point joining it to form a ‘Celtic arc’.

  25. @JB

    Oldnat might be able to add to your post regarding Northern Ireland.

    I would say, relying on memory, that there is more to fault than UK government apathy and indifference to what was happening in NI. It is certainly clear that the state itself was sectarian and that Roman Catholics suffered discrimination in housing and jobs. In addition, Roman Catholics regarded the partition of Ireland as wrong. Many Roman Catholics regarded the state as illegitimate and there was a general reluctance to engage at a political level. Meanwhile, periodically throughout the existence of NI there have been IRA attacks and campaigns such as that in 1956. I cannot see that the UK government could be ignorant of all of this, though it is possible.

  26. As the future of Ireland and Unification has come up I took at look at Wikipedia and the Demographics of Northern Ireland;


    One aspect of Brexit that might have an impact on it’s future is how EU nationals might vote. Since 2001 the gap between Catholics and Protestants has narrowed while the number of EU nationals has risen from less than 2% to closer to 5% of the population.

    What’s more as one of the tables show some 60% of those from post 2004 entry countries, the fastest growing group are Catholics.

    Now I must be said that the Catholic Protestant split doesn’t determine everything and a lot of Ulster Catholics view the UK as a better economic prospect than the Republic, but the question remains and I’d like to know people’s thoughts here;

    Does Brexit make it more likely that soft Unionists or Republicans will view the propects of Unification more favourably and will Brexit make EU national look to Unification as well.


  27. Somerjohn

    I think your suggestion is ill advised. It comes too soon after a protracted civil war that affected all of Ireland and parts of England. This war involved the UK government paying terrorists to kill each other and innocent people. I think you should bear that in mind.

  28. Peter Cairns (SNP)


    Here is a link to an article posted recently at Slugger O’Toole’s site. I would say there is zero chance of Irish re-unification at present and for some long time.


  29. Sam

    I take your point: despite the comparative harmony, there is presumably still a lot of entrenched bitterness and bigotry in NI. So trying to railroad the loyalist community into reunification would risk creating a mirror-image of the Troubles.

    Having said that, a lot of time has in fact already passed. It’s pretty much half a century since the Troubles started. So I don’t think it’s too early to start discussing the options. Brexit will surely shake things up.

    The attractiveness of a federal arrangement is that it could safeguard protestant interests in a way that a unitary state might not be seen to do. Adding Scotland would achieve further balance – and presumably allow the Scots to remain in the EU on the E German model.

  30. Peter Cairns (SNP)

    I’m not sure whether Irish re-unification is any sort of possibility in the near or medium future, but I’m pretty sure the number of EU nationals living in Northern Ireland won’t make a difference, because they don’t have a vote. At least they didn’t at the last referendum, or the 3 to 4 million living on the UK might have tipped the result.

  31. @John B

    It’s hard to see how partition itself created a lack of integration between the UK and NI, when prior to this the entirety of Ireland was in the UK. Northern Ireland started post-partition life with the same rules as the whole of Ireland had had prior to that.

    Northern Ireland became something of a monster within the UK due to devolution and the overweening power of the Loyalists. I certainly agree that Westminster should have intervened earlier to defeat that stranglehold, but Westminster domination over devolved administrations in the UK is apparently a bad thing.

    As to the “Troubles” being started by electoral discrimination, I think that’s seeing things the wrong way around. The civil rights movement, an entirely understandable and justified reaction to discrimination in Northern Ireland, and inspired by a climate of change all around the world, largely succeeded in its aims of removing voting discrimination, disbanding the B Specials and, not long after, the Stormont government itself.

    If PIRA violence had been intended to achieve these objectives, it would have ceased in 1972 and given way to purely political activity to advance the interests of Catholics.

    My personal view is that in fact, the removal of officially sanctioned oppression represented a threat to actual PIRA objective which was explicitly to end British rule in Ireland. If Catholics in Northern Ireland ceased to be targeted for oppressive and discriminatory actions by the state, and instead began to find themselves able to function as “normal Brits” they might eventually find, like Catholics in Great Britain, that there was nothing particularly incompatible between Catholicism and Unionism.

    This is why PIRA made a point of targeting Catholics working in the police and in other official positions. This is after the political reforms, not before. The purpose was to prevent those political reforms taking root and draining away the swamp, not to advance those reforms.

    The post-war years in Northern Ireland, whilst it suffered ongoing political discrimination against Catholics, were relatively peaceful and prosperous. It was when the official discrimination ended that the peace ended too. The UK government probably should have disregarded the prickliness of the Loyalists and pushed reform onto Stormont much, much earlier, but I can’t help thinking that this might have triggered a wave of violent Republicanism anyway, for the reasons I have outlined.

  32. Sam,

    Interesting article but it doesn’t change my question. I don’t expect any significant movement on the part Unionist community towards unification. The 90% plus who see themselves as British will still vote No to Unification.

    It’s those on the other side who have in the past said they would vote No, either for economic or social reasons that might be swayed as the propects post Brexit changed and the Republic continues to Liberalise.


    That kind of depends on the Terms of the vote. True EU nationals weren’t allowed by Westminster to vote on Brexit, but Holyrood allowed them and 16/17 year olds to vote on Independence.

    If there was to be a vote Westminster, Stormont and I suspect Dublin would all want a say. The Republic wouldn’t determine the Franchise in the North but it would probably try to get the same franchise established for both North and South of the Border to improve legitimacy.



    Who decides the electorate for Irish Unification Referendum/Referenda?

    I seem to recall that EU citizens resident in Scotland for the indyref were allowed to vote; but that they were not allowed to do so for the Brexit vote.

    It seems likely that EU citizens resident in the Southern part of Ireland would be franchised in an IRU; would it be possible/feasable/likely that their counterparts in the Northern part would be left out?

  34. @ Peter cairns (SNP)


    The article to which I linked does, I think, help to provide some answers to your question about the possibility of Unionists who support the Union for economic reasons being open to rejecting the Union.

    First, how many of such people exist? Take the writer’s assertion : “Political unionism is not just simply a mere pro-union point of view, it’s a culturally-intertwined political identity.”

    Polling on attitudes to the Union revealed: “The 2015 B&A poll drew a telling result, in that 55% of northerners rejected Irish unification even if there was a financial incentive to support it. Notably, of those with a British identity who participated in this particular question, an overwhelming majority of them r ejected it (90%).

    And, “Whereas George Eaton noted that Scots were motivated more so by “self-interest, not sentimentality”, northern unionists exhibit an innate emotional attachment to Britain alone, and so therefore approach the constitutional question through a prism of identity rather than a monetary lens. After all, they are loyal to the Crown, not the pound.

    Opinion polling on the support for Irish unity was recently carried out by Ipsos MORI (26%) and LucidTalk (31%) in September, setting support for the union at 74% and 69% respectively. Pan-unionist parties garnered 48.2% of the vote in the 2016 Assembly election, and so there is obviously more to the pro-union coalition than simply political unionism, namely those who support the union for reasons other than flegs. It is this constituency of people (not politically unionist but constitutionally pro-union) that could possibly be persuaded of an alternative to the constitutional status quo in the form of Irish unification.”

  35. Sam,

    You finish your quote with exactly the point I am making.

    ” It is this constituency of people (not politically unionist but constitutionally pro-union) that could possibly be persuaded of an alternative to the constitutional status quo in the form of Irish unification.”

    This is the group that if they are swayed by the final outcome of Brexit, an impact on the Economy, the U.K. Not fully replacing EU funding, might shift.

    As for the impact of EU nationals Patrick alluded to they might only make 2-3% of the Electorate in Northern Ireland, but that is the same as the Brexit votes margin of victory in June!


  36. @OLDNAT

    “Or, she might not. Once the legalities of who can authorise the tabling of Article 50 is out of the way, and any appropriate mechanisms required by the Supreme Court are adhered to. she could simply table Article 50 in the form of “I hereby give notice, according to our constitutional requirements, that the UK of GB & NI intends to leave the EU.”
    Then, do nothing.”

    If she does nothing after invoking article 50 then we’ll leave the EU automatically after the two year period and revert to WTO rules. I don’t see the point.

  37. Peter Cairns, Sam, James Kay

    Thanks for the useful information. If the outcome of a referendum might depend of how you define the electorate (as the last one may have done – 16 and 17 yr olds would have broken heavily for remain), I can foresee some wrangling. I’d love to see Ireland re-unified personally , but on present figures we may have to wait a bit longer.

  38. Neil A

    “Dither” was intended (though obviously unsuccessfully) to convey Irish frustration with the UK – see Charlie Flanagan’s comments.

    Anyone interested in the different ways folk voted in the 1998 referendum can find details here –


    “An 81% turnout is very high for a developed country where voting is not compulsory. What is even more striking is that the usual geographical spread of voting in Northern Ireland is almost completely flattened out. I have scoured electoral records and found no previous occasion since 1921 when the vote from the gentle hills and seaside resorts of North Down was anywhere near 80%. It is clear that the referendum somehow managed to pull out 147,000 people who otherwise make a habit of not voting. ”

    There would seem to be some parallel with both the indyref and the EUref, in that respect.

  39. James Kay

    The Republic has an awful lot of work to do before the North will vote for Unification, and so far they show no sign of doing any of it. If the UK suffers an economic disaster to the extent that the economic argument trumps all others that would change, but don’t get carried away with “It’s the economy stupid!”. It didn’t carry the Brexit referendum.

  40. @SAM

    “Here is a link to an article posted recently at Slugger O’Toole’s site. I would say there is zero chance of Irish re-unification at present and for some long time.

    This doesn’t bode well for the future – political polarisation usually results in violence. I’m not optimistic that peace will last in Northern Ireland.

  41. Rodger
    don’t get carried away with “It’s the economy stupid!”. It didn’t carry the Brexit referendum

    I don’t think that’s quite accurate. A comfortable majority of those who thought that leaving the EU would have a negative economic impact voted to Remain. The problem was that not enough people believed the economists who predicted that leaving the EU would have negative impact on the economy. To be fair to them, a prediction is an opinion, not a fact. Hopefully one based fairly transparently on decent evidence…

    Unfortunately economic predictions don’t have a great track record. Unfortunately the public are not particularly economically literate and some economists, journalists and politicians didn’t do a very good job of explaining the basis of their predictions.

    Should the economy deteriorate substantially that would constitute a fact of life that voters would find hard to ignore. Who they would hold responsible is an open question…

  42. @Tancred “If she does nothing after invoking article 50 then we’ll leave the EU automaticall.y after the two year period and revert to WTO rules. I don’t see the point.”
    That seems to me to be a way of achieving a fairly hard Brexit with little effort, maybe with a tag line of “the EU has offered nothing” which after all was what Cameron got to help his cause to stay in.

    @Rodger “don’t get carried away with“It’s the economy stupid!”. It didn’t carry the Brexit referendum.” Maybe not, but
    When those advocating Remain presented voters with ludicrous claims about what a Leave vote would do to the economy, I’m sure it didn’t encourage folk to vote with them. Rather perhaps to look at the arguments the other way. Only needed a few % to abstain, not even vote Leave, to get the Brexit result. I certainly would not trust the economy to a Chancellor foolish enough to make 15 year forecasts. As I wrote to my MP (who was supporting Osborne at the time) ‘No 15-year advance economic prediction is likely to escape some large unforeseen event in the intervening 15 years making it totally valueless. (try it from any date in the previous 100 years)’
    If you want ‘a large unforeseen event’ in only 6 months since that vote, try President Trump. I bet Osborne didn’t factor in that possibility.

  43. @sorbus @dave

    I said before the referendum that a Leave vote was highly unlikely because the power of the economic argument would cause a large swing to ‘safety’ and Remain in the last few days. That is the lesson of referenda everywhere, voters go for the safe option.

    What I did not expect was the quite brilliant Leave campaign run by Gove. The “We send £350 million a week to Brussels. Let’s spend it on the NHS instead” turned out to be the most inspired piece of political campaigning I have ever seen.
    1. It promised nothing.
    2. It made a claim that was a modest exaggeration.
    3. The Leave campaign, mentioned it, then just left it there in the background.
    4. It then became obvious that the Remain campaign were not going to shut up about it.

    It is a basic rule of any political fight is that the ideal is to get your opponent to make your strongest points for you. That is what Remain proceeded to do for Leave, and it had the effect of neutralizing the economic argument. There were important points that Leave should have been making, but they got lost in the £350m and simplistic extreme predictions. The more they went on about the wickedness of the £350m claim, the more they instilled into voters minds that we send £250m a week (yes I know we get some of that back).

    What did Leave do about this? They followed Napoleon – “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake” – and let them get on with it. A stunning example of the importance of knowing when to say nothing. It became one of the few clear ‘facts’ in the whole farrago of lies and deception. The Leave campaign that looked rag-tag to start with showed considerable discipline.

    It allowed sovereignty, in all it’s forms, to emerge as the key argument.

    The joke is that Remain supporters are still going on about it, they just cannot leave it alone, and they still don’t understand what they did to themselves.

  44. @rodger

    Interestingly Change Britain ( the Vote Leave successor organisation) have tacitly admitted in their most recent publication that the £350m figure was wrong.

    Interesting critique of its latest attempt at figures can be found here:


  45. @Tancred

    There has long been political polarisation in Ireland and low level violence punctuated by wars. Since colonisation?

    Here is another post from Slugger which I think you might find interesting – including the comments.


  46. @RODGER

    I think the £350 million a week lie may have had an impact on some people but it wasn’t the deciding factor in my view. I think the campaign was lost even before it began. People simply had too many reasons to vote leave: wanting to get back at ‘them’ (meaning the establishment), frustration with increasing immigration and blaming it for lack of jobs etc, concerns over national sovereignty, fears of Muslims coming into the EU and general dissatisfaction with how the EU operates. Basically. Cameron lost the referendum the day he called it. It was the stupidest decision by any Prime Minister at any time in history. In many ways similar to Heath calling the February 1974 general election in the deluded hope that the people still backed him over the miners.

  47. @RODGER

    “The Republic has an awful lot of work to do before the North will vote for Unification, and so far they show no sign of doing any of it. If the UK suffers an economic disaster to the extent that the economic argument trumps all others that would change, but don’t get carried away with “It’s the economy stupid!”. It didn’t carry the Brexit referendum.”

    Ireland should never have been divided – it’s one island and one nation. The division is an anachronism. The Irish were bullied into accepting it as the only option that could give them independence, but it’s geopolitical nonsense. You either have one Ireland in the UK or one Ireland out of it, but having a bit of both is a recipe for disaster and always has been.

  48. Tancred,

    So, logically, the Irish (all provinces) should vote for reunification.

    Maybe once they see how well Britain fares freed of the shackles of the EU they may well decide to do just that, as part of the United Kingdom.

    Every bit as logician as your argument that Ulster should want to leave the U.K.

    Here’s hoping 2017 is every bit as good as2016 has been.

  49. Rodger,
    Actually Leave did not at all shut up about the £350 million. They repeated it at every opportunity even after every neutral source had shown it was a lie. I still have the leaflet I got on the eve of poll which repeated the £350 million and also had the huge arrow pointing to Britain from Turkey..

    I agree the Remain Campaign was paralysed by this blatant and repeated lying and every complaint was counter productive.. In contrast Remain brought in a series of worst case projections and was defensive when they were challenged. And of course it was a huge disadvantage that while Leave could “pledge” to give money to the NHS ( yes, i heard Pritii Patel do that) , Cameron could pledge nothing except more of the same..

    Unlike Tancred, i do think the £350 million ( and Farage’s poster) won it for Leave.. clever and successful cynical campaigning.. But let’s not rewrite history by pretending it was a “modest exaggeration, just left in the background”

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