In terms of support for Brexit we end the year in pretty much the same place as we were on June 23rd. Among some there is a desire to jump on the slightest bit of evidence to suggest that people have changed their mind one way or the other. Overall however, the polling suggests that public opinion remains largely unchanged.

There have been numerous polls since the referendum that have asked how people would vote in another referendum tomorrow (below are all the polls I can find in the last three months):

ComRes/CNN (18th Dec) – Remain 45, Leave 47 (Remain 49, Leave 51)
Gallup International (7th Dec) – Remain 54, Leave 46 (Remain 54, Leave 46)
ComRes/Mirror (27th Nov) – Remain 46, Leave 47 (Remain 49, Leave 51)
YouGov (25th Oct) – Remain 44, Leave 43 (Remain 51, Leave 49)
BMG (24th Oct) – Remain 45, Leave 43 (Remain 51, Leave 49)
Survation/ITN (12th Oct) – Remain 44, Leave 44 (Remain 50, Leave 50)

All except the Gallup International poll are within the margin of error of the referendum result (I think the contrast is because the Gallup poll has a very large proportion of university educated respondents, which correlates with support for EU membership). On average they show only a small movement towards Remain and – looking closer – even that may be illusionary. Looking at the actual tables for the polls none of them show any real net movement between Remain and Leave voters, the small move to Remain is only because people who didn’t vote last time claim they are more likely to vote Remain this time. I would treat that with some degree of scepticism – of course, it could be those people took the result for granted and would be spurred into action in a second referendum… or it could be those who couldn’t be bothered last time probably wouldn’t be bothered in a second referendum either.

In addition, YouGov have asked a regular question for the Times on whether people think leaving was the right or wrong way for Britain to vote. That too shows no obvious evidence of Bregret:

YouGov (5th Dec) – Right 44%, Wrong 42%
YouGov (29th Nov) – Right 44%, Wrong 45%
YouGov (15th Nov) – Right 46%, Wrong 43%
YouGov (12th Oct) – Right 45%, Wrong 43%

Both sides of the debate have taken other figures to try and claim that the balance of opinion has shifted in their direction. In recent days I’ve seen several people who really should know better getting excited over voodoo polls in local newspapers that claim to show a big shift towards Remain – rather than let this post get overtaken by a rant, I’ve addressed that elsewhere. On the other side of the divide, some Brexit supporters have a tendency to misinterpret this YouGov poll to claim shows 68% now support leaving the EU. This is a little disingenuous – the poll doesn’t show that support for leaving has grown from 52% to 68%, it’s a different question asking about what the government should do. The 68% includes 23% of people who say they do NOT personally support Brexit, but that the government has a duty to do it.

Neither does there appear to be much current appetite for a second referendum. ComRes for CNN found 35% thought there should a referendum on the terms of exit, but 53% thought there should not. A similar recent question by Opinium for Keiran Pedley found very similar results – people opposed a second referendum on the terms of Brexit by 52% to 33% and also opposed one if the economy worsened, again by 52% to 33%. A poll by YouGov found that only 26% of people thought it was legitimate for those opposed to Brexit to campaign for a second referendum, 59% thought it was not.

As things stand public opinion does not appear to have moved since the referendum and people do not want a referendum, but as ever they are only a snapshot, not a prediction of how attitudes to Brexit may change in the future. Is there anything we can tell from current polls about how public attitudes towards Brexit might develop? There are two obvious “known knowns” ahead that could potentially change attitudes to Brexit: the negotiations and the economic impact.

The financial angle depends on what the economic impacts are and how long they take to show themselves. I am not an economist so won’t seek to speculate. I will urge caution though about polls showing that people would turn against Brexit if it cost them x amount of money, caused a recession, unemployment or so on. Should the economy collapse, I have no doubt that it would have a major impact on attitudes to both the government and to Brexit. I am less confident about what impact more modest economic bad news will have. Polls attempting to measure this assume that people will blame any economic ups and down on Brexit, and I don’t think they will – or at least, they will interpret it through the prism of their existing support or opposition. People who opposed Brexit will blame economic bad news on it, but people who supported it will blame it on other factors, or on obstructive Europeans, or Remoaners talking Britain down or whatnot. It is the nature of human beings that we are very good at defending our beliefs against data that might challenge them.

More interesting are the negotiations. We don’t yet know what sort of Brexit the government will be aiming for (well, not in any useful terms. We know what colour Brexit they want, but this is of limited use in judging potential public reactions) but given there are different possibilities and people have different preferences, once firm targets are announced some people will likely be disappointed.

Lots of polling evidence shows that the public would like to maintain free trade with the EU, but would also like to limit EU immigration – in Boris Johnson’s words, the public’s preference is clearly to have their cake and eat it. This is unlikely to be available.

If they have to choose, the polling evidence suggests the public are very evenly divided. There have been various polls using various different wordings that amount to a forced choice between EU market access or cutting EU immigration – all show a tight divide. An ORB poll this month found people agreeing by 44% to 40% that more control over immigration was more important than keeping EU free trade; a YouGov poll in November asking a forced choice between market access for British exporters and reducing immigration broke down as 49% for market access, 51% for immigration; ComRes in November found 42% would prioritise the single market over immigration, 43% would prioritise cutting EU immigration; NatCen found 49% of people said we should accept freedom of movement as the price of staying in the single market, 51% that we should not.

Looking only at immigration vs market access is probably taking to tight a focus anyway. I suspect the public will judge it as a overall package – as a whole, does it seem like a good deal for Britain? Even there is evidence is contradictory though: Opinium asked people to pick between a “soft Brexit” scenario and a “hard Brexit” scenario and people preferred the former by 41% to 35% (though the question also made clear that soft Brexit was economically better, which the public won’t necessarily think). YouGov have asked people to rate a number of scenarios – a hard Brexit on WTO terms, a limited trade deal along the Canadian model and a Norway type deal remaining in the EEA. On those a Canadian type deal polls significantly better than a Norway type relationship – 50% think it would be good for Britain, 65% think it would respect the referendum and 51% would be happy. In comparison the figures for a Norway type outcome would be 34% good for Britain, 33% respect the referendum, 37% happy (WTO terms would also be bad – 34% good for Britain, 66% respect result, 37% happy).

That is the narrow path which Theresa May must navigate – a Brexit that doesn’t mess up Britain’s trading relationship with Europe so much it sinks the economy, yet is not perceived by Leave voters as a betrayal. If we end up with a Brexit that has tougher consequences that some Leave voters expected then there is potential for public opinion to move against it. On the other hand, if we end up with a Brexit that retains more links with the European Union than some Leave voters hoped for there is the potential for a betrayal narrative to take hold, presumably to the benefit of UKIP. Either situation may bring division within the Conservative party, which has only a wafer thin majority to begin with.

Ultimately, I suppose those are two questions that matter about public opinion on Brexit. One, will public opinion move sufficiently against Brexit to make it avoidable? Two, how will it impact on the popularity of the Conservative government and opposition parties?

To answer the first one, as yet there has been little or no net movement in opinion since the referendum, the majority of people think the government have a duty to implement the results of the referendum and and the majority of people are opposed to revisiting the question. However, given the vote was only 52-48 it wouldn’t take much to tip opinion in favour of staying once the consequences become a bit more visible. It remains to be seen if the negotiations or economic developments do change things. Getting majority support for a second referendum is a much bigger ask and would be a necessity if there is any chance of a second referendum (well, counting 1975 a third referendum) has any chance of delivering a different result to 2016. Anti-elitism was an important factor in the vote, and the perception that an uncaring and distant political elite didn’t like what the public said so wants them to vote again differently would be a very powerful narrative.

As for the political parties, Brexit is the mission that has been forced upon Theresa May’s government and the yardstick they will inevitably be judged by. Thus far the public think they have been carrying it out badly, yet this has not damaged their position in the polls (presumably because it is still early days). If Brexit doesn’t work out well for them, they will suffer – especially given the high expectations of some Brexit supporters. The government’s great challenge will be to sell the compromises that will be necessary, the difficulty will be persuading the public that such compromises are either unavoidable or in Britain’s interests… as opposed to being the result of government ineptitude, backsliding or lack of ambition. If people believe the latter – that a government led by someone who never really wanted Brexit anyway is failing to be ambitious enough in our Brexit negotiations, I imagine it will be UKIP who benefit. If they deliver Brexit that’s hardness is beyond doubt, but the economy collapses, who knows who will benefit…


475 Responses to “Where public opinion on Brexit stands”

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  1. CMJ

    Was turnout in SW Eng constituencies much the same in 2015 as 2010?

    If it was lower, then that might indicate a group of voters p1ssed off by the coalition with the Tories who might come back to them.

  2. @Oldnat

    In those Con 1st/ LD 2nd seats turnout was an average of 71%.

    Casually glancing at 2010 looks to be similar.

  3. Of those 20 seats, 15 were Lib Dem in 2010 (exceptions being Newton Abbot, Truro & Falmouth, Dorset West, Cornwall South East, the Cotswolds and Wiltshire North.

    One would presume the Lib Dems still have a good activist base to fight with still in those areas.

  4. Sorry, 14 were Lib Dem in 2010.

  5. Alec. Yes I suppose you are right particularly as Labour remain in the dumps in Scotland.
    The LibDems had some respected MPs in the South West. Some of these former incumbents are still around and will want to return to Parliament. Farron’s decision to focus on Brexit msy well prove to be inspired.

  6. Catmanjeff

    I would expect Martin Horwood to stand again in Cheltenham at the next General Election. He was well thought of and the LibDems will fancy their chances of regaining the seat.

  7. I suspect that the focus on Remain by the Lib Dems (not Brexit, as it were, but I know what you mean) is going to reap rewards. It provides a smart tactical move in a sea of strong or vague pro Brexit parties (in England at least) but also provides evidence of a return to traditional Lib Dem values – something they lost in the coalition.

    The activists also appear to be claiming that how they are selling this on the doorstep is significant. Telling people that Lib Dems believe they should have a say on Brexit is probably going to become a significant message to sell in 2017.

  8. The problem for the LibDems will be that Brexit may happen despite them, and then they may face either losing their best issue, or risking being a slightly eccentric “Rejoin the EU at Any Cost” party which might limit their appeal.

    I see the Remain cause as a useful bootstrap to pull themselves up by temporarily, rather than a permanent cause for them.

  9. @NEIL A

    “The problem for the LibDems will be that Brexit may happen despite them, and then they may face either losing their best issue, or risking being a slightly eccentric “Rejoin the EU at Any Cost” party which might limit their appeal.”

    Well, if Brexit happens and it ends up being a spectacular failure then they will reap the benefits of their position. It’s a gamble, but so is everything in politics; Labour is gambling on backing Brexit (albeit unenthusiastically), against the wishes of most Labour MPs, and so far it’s not working too well. The Tories have embraced Brexit hook, line and sinker and that’s also a pretty substantial gamble.

  10. CMJ

    Thanks

  11. Was there some sort of glitch, stopping the site from working overnight? I usually enjoy a few minutes’ reading of comments after breakfast, but this morning nothing after 11.48 p.m.

    This morning Kez Dugdale has been putting forward some ideas on a radically more federal structure to the constitutional set up ‘in order to save the UK’. Kez Dugdale ought to join the Lib Dems, I think, as she seems to be putting forward their long-held preference. It’s just a pity Labour weren’t interested in putting forward such an option during the Indyref.

    Perhaps a SLAB/LibDem union north of the border would revive the ‘left’ at the expense of the SNP, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Too late for that, I think.

  12. JOHN B
    Kez Dugdale ought to join the Lib Dems, I think, as she seems to be putting forward their long-held preference. It’s just a pity Labour weren’t interested in putting forward such an option during the Indyref.

    Quite so, and thanks for the heads up, although she doesn’t go as far as FFA, which could have saved the day for SLab in both 2015 and 2016.

    The BBC’s GMS full interview is now online Kezia Dugdale [13m35s], and there’s also a report on the BBC website Labour’s Kezia Dugdale says UK is Scotland’s more important union.

    I can image the Welsh FM being onside with her proposal, but suspect that the main opposition to it would come from Lab HQ, with which she still doesn’t seem to be fully onside, to put it mildly.

  13. I am curious, a number of posters seem to want other countries to withdraw from the EU; why?
    If it is a fear that Brexit will not happen unless there is a collapse then I think its misplaced: Brexit will happen (much to my disappointment) and I foresee that it will happen quickly the leaks as to the content’s of TM’s speech mean that hard Brexit is on the cards and I see no reason why EU 27 should extend the two years in those circumstances.
    If it is not that fear I cannot understand why anyone would be so concerned about the need for the EU to fail, surely for our own economic interests we should want this corner of the world to succeed!

  14. WB
    Yes, I find that curious too. Remainers are accused of being gleeful about bad economic news – although most of us would be happier if leaving the EU was a smooth and successful process. The expectation that the Reu will fragment may be a mirror image of that. Or is leaving the EU actually a strategy for destroying it? The idea the Ireland will leave is certainly a complete fantasy.

  15. Trains and diamonds.

    Diamonds are not scarce and their price is maintained by Cartels limiting supply and forcing up prices.

    Like trains perhaps.

  16. @WB
    “I am curious, a number of posters seem to want other countries to withdraw from the EU; why?”

    I can’t speak for everyone, but my Leave vote was cast because I deeply dislike the whole institution itself and what I believe to be its end goal of political unification of Europe. An organised dissolution of the whole EU (to be replaced by a simple trade framework resembling the early EEC, supported by the existing network of alliances such as NATO) would be infinitely preferable to the hazards of Brexit, but that obviously wasn’t an option on June 23rd.

    From another point of view, the worst-case scenario of Brexit is generally presented as a Britain isolated from the continent by hostile relations with the EU. If the EU were to disintegrate then there is no need to fear such a scenario.

  17. WB
    Brexit will happen (much to my disappointment) and I foresee that it will happen quickly the leaks as to the content’s of TM’s speech mean that hard Brexit is on the cards and I see no reason why EU 27 should extend the two years in those circumstances.

    Perhaps so, but I would anticipate that if A50 is triggered sometime in 2017, then the EU27 will have their own interests at the top of the agenda. Unless the UK goes straightaway for retaining EEA membership, of course.

    First, they will want to negotiate the status of their own citizens in the UK and British subjects in the EU.

    Then the priority will switch to the interests of the 2 remaining members [Ireland & Spain] who have borders with UK polities.

    Those negotiations alone could well take the full two years, and if they do then we could be out sometime in 2019. It is only then that we could begin the re-application for full membership of the WTO. That would succeed but nobody knows what the timescale will be.

  18. Imperium3

    If memory serves, the original idea of the EU and its predecessors was not, in the positive sense, to seek political union but, in the negative sense, to avoid further disastrous conflict in Europe.

    My positive vote to remain in the EU was based, at least in part, on my first hand experience of living and working in Europe and enjoying that experience. I want free movement of people. I enjoy hearing other languages being spoken around town. As Lidl so delightfully puts it: ‘Go on, try something you can’t pronounce!’. I want to be part of the wider world, not stuck in an inward looking place that has a fear of that which is different.

  19. Why is it that Tory voters are more in favour of Brexit than Tory MP’s ? The Tory constituency associations are pro Brexit, yet the MP’s that they have helped select are mostly against Brexit.

    Labour are in a different position i believe, where they have more regional problems. Overall two thirds of Labour support is against Brexit, but the third who are pro Brexit are in Labour strongholds in North of England and Wales.

    I don’t know which party has most problems with Brexit. Arguably Labour have the problem of a leader in Jeremy Corbyn who appearly mildly in favour of Brexit, against two thirds of Labour voters. Corbyn therefore says Labour won’t block Brexit, but will try to insist on workers rights etc. But most Labour MP’s are likely to vote against any Brexit meaning leaving single market/customs union. So Corbyn might have to change his position, otherwise it will look like he is on the side of the few Labour EUSceptic MP’s.

    Many Tory MP’s might be reluctant to vote against any Brexit deal, even if they disagreed with it, because of their constituents and local party organisation being pro Brexit. Theresa May is therefore in a slightly better position than Corbyn in regard to leading their MP’s on Brexit. The Tories will also have the votes of most Ulster Unionists and about 20 Labour MP’s on Brexit. But any HoC vote on a Brexit deal would be very close, if Tory MP’s who share Ken Clarkes EU views vote against. How many Tory MP’s would vote against any Brexit deal ? I am not sure Theresa May knows this, which is why she is currently reluctant on HoC involvement.

  20. For those interested , more mainly good economic news:-

    Markit / CIPS UK Services PMI® UK service sector ends 2016 with strong expansion

    Key findings:

    Growth accelerates for third straight month to 17-month high
    New business increases at fastest rate since July 2015
    Output price inflation hits 68-month record Data collected December 6-20

    The final batch of UK PMI® survey data for 2016 from IHS Markit and CIPS signalled that the dominant UK service sector expanded sharply in December, rounding off the strongest quarter of the year. The rate of expansion of activity accelerated for the third month running to the sharpest since July 2015, fuelled by stronger growth in new work. Employment rose at a pace unchanged from November’s seven-month high, and sentiment towards the 12-month outlook strengthened despite ongoing uncertainty regarding Brexit and European elections. The survey data also signalled that inflationary pressures in the sector remained substantial, with prices charged rising at the strongest rate since April 2011.

    The Index remained above 50.0 for the fifth consecutive month in December, indicating a continued recovery in growth following a contraction in July linked to the EU referendum. Moreover, the Index rose for the third consecutive month to 56.2, from 55.2, signalling the fastest expansion since July 2015. The rate of growth was also sharper than the 20-year long-run survey average. December data signalled a boost to new business growth. The overall increase was the strongest since July 2015. Anecdotal evidence linked new business wins to marketing, new product launches, government contracts, export business, new accounts and mergers/acquisitions. Meanwhile, the volume of outstanding business increased for the fourth time in five months. Page 2 of 4 © IHS Markit 2017 Growth of employment was maintained for the fifth month running in December.

    Cost pressures remained elevated at the end of 2016. Input prices rose at the second-fastest rate since April 2011, again linked to the weak pound.

    Business expectations strengthened in December as firms reported planned marketing efforts, new products, export opportunities, acquisitions and new business premises.

  21. John B

    “I want to be part of the wider world, not stuck in an inward looking place that has a fear of that which is different.”

    Many Leavers want to be in an even wider place than that, dealing unencombered throughout the World and not restricted by the EU.

    As always John there are many ways of looking at these things.

  22. Good morning all from a sunny cold crisp central London.

    NEIL A
    “The problem for the LibDems will be that Brexit may happen despite them, and then they may face either losing their best issue, or risking being a slightly eccentric “Rejoin the EU at Any Cost” party which might limit their appeal”
    ______

    The problem for the Lib/Dems is Brexit will happen.

    The problem for the Lib/Dems is that roughly half the constituency’s they held going into 2015 GE voted leave.

    The problem for the Lib/Dems is that they are depleted and spent in Scotland and Wales and in England where their bread and butter is 53.4% of people or nearly 2 million more people voted leave than remain.

    It’s not looking good for them opportunistic Dems!!

  23. Oh No- the service sector is growing at its fastest level for 17 months.where are the 4 horses of the apocalypse when you need them.

  24. Happy New Year all, from a blue skied Peoples Socialist Republic of London.

    Over the long Christmas break I spent some time pondering the possibility of May calling a GE in 2017. The recent report from the Fabian society also prompted me to have a rethink on this.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/02/labour-election-jeremy-corbyn-fabian-society

    Last year in discussions on Labour’s electability under Corbyn I remember posting similar arguments / warnings. I still believe it is completely within the bounds of reasonable probability that Labour call fall below 140 seats at the next GE, however this would require Labour to fall below 25% and either UKIP or the LDs to get up 20%. Electorally the main beneficiaries would be the Tories.

    The two key issues facing Labour are Brexit and Corbyn’s electability. On the latter, rather than being the potential cause of further loss of electoral support I think Corbyn as leader sets a bar on the level of support it can obtain of approx. 30%. I struggle to see how any re-branding exercise that is launched could expand his appeal over 30%, given his scores on competency and leadership.

    Of all the major parities Brexit poses is most problematical for Labour, as it needs to appeal to voters on both sides of the divide, and it is not clear which position is most beneficial from an electoral perspective. Despite its vapidity, ‘Brexit means Brexit’ as a statement at least tells voters where the Tory party stands, and UKIP, LD and the SNP are all clear on their positions. So for Labour to fight a GE without a clear position on this topic would be a serious hindrance in a campaign.

    While Labour has benefited financially from an increase in membership, large sections of its traditional core base support and activists are demoralised or have left. So in reality Labour are there for the taking electorally.

    The electoral system has now swung heavily to the benefit of the Tories, and it would appear the only thing stopping May from trying to go to the country is her own statement that she wouldn’t do this. However, if the Supreme Court upholds the high court reason this could provider with a just cause to call an election – conveniently before having to trigger Article 50. She could then fight the election on who is best placed / competent enough to handle Brexit. On current form, this may lead so some pro-European Tory voters switching to the LD’s, but in the LabvCon marginal this may be compensated for or outweighed by Labour leave voters going for Cons and voters returning to the fold from UKIP.

    May is currently in a relatively weak position politically, and struggling to assert her authority. The authority within the party that a thumping electoral victory would give her must be tempting. If she does not try to call a GE I can only assume it is for the following reasons:
    1) Concern that the govt would lose credibility if it couldn’t engine a vote in HofC to trigger an election.
    2) The fact that the SNP would use the GE as a basis for gaining a mandate for a second Indyref
    3) Keep the threat of potential GE to maintain party discipline and deter rebellions
    4) Calculation that electoral advantages will be maintained until 2020, with little practical benefit of going to country earlier.

    May appears to be inherently cautious, so atm I think she wont go for a GE, unless current events force her to conclude that life would be easier with a big mandate.

  25. S THOMAS

    Sorry again :-)

    However, on a more serious note, looking forward, I do expect the UK economy to slow in 2017 as i have posted many times since the Brexit vote.

  26. WB,

    Those who want others to leave the EU think that we have made the right choice and that other nations will come to realise it and do the same thing.

    For them it’s only a matter of time before others wake up to the fact that the EU doesn’t and can’t work and follow Britain.

    There is of course little evidence that this is the majority view anywhere in Europe and indeed there are a number of nations wanting to join both the EU and Euro which suggests the opposite.

    Having campaigned for almost half a century on “Wake Up Britain!” They seem to want to move of to “Wake Up Europe!” Having saved ourselves from the clutches of Brussels they want to save others too!

    Peter.

  27. @ TOH

    I welcome any good economic news.
    However, whether it is your intention or not, your posting of such news carries with it a tone which, at least to me, smacks of a playground ner, ner, ner ner, ner you were wrong! Given your stated intention not to engage in Brexit discussions because of the fixed views involved I wonder whether, albeit unconsciously you are trying to pursue those arguments by other means?

  28. S THOMAS
    “Oh No- the service sector is growing at its fastest level for 17 months.where are the 4 horses of the apocalypse when you need them”
    _________

    They wont be far they wont be far…In fact they are in a meeting with NEXT plc to drum up the “Next” apocalypse message. Never mind John Lewis had a positive year as did the economy.

  29. @Rodger
    ‘Third placed Gove canvassed MPs and discovered that he had no chance of overtaking Leadsom and so dropped out, leaving a ballot of Leadsom v. May to go to the members.’

    Gove did not drop out. There was a second round and he was eliminated at that stage.

  30. S THOMAS
    where are the 4 horses of the apocalypse when you need them.

    Waiting for the Supreme Court?

  31. WB

    I left the playground many many years ago. Just posting economic news for those interested. If you look at my post to S.Thomas you will see that i do not expect it to continue to be so good in 2017 as we likely enter brexit negotiations and uncertainty ramps up.

    For many investors 2016 has been a very good year and is to be enjoyed while they can.

  32. EU breakup
    The question has been asked as to why some who favour brexit might wish for other countries to follow the same path.. On the one hand the continued existence of a single trading block, provided we have access to it, is a good thing from the uk point of view.On the other hand if we are commercially excluded from it then it is a bad thing.On the one hand it is a force for good in preventing inter state conflict but ,perhaps, a bad thing for bringing about internal state conflicts such as in greece,france etc through its europe wide policies.There are also wider issues. If you believe that the nation state represents the best way of protecting individual freedoms and liberties then the growth of a super-national state on the doorstep with a history of…ahem..problems in those areas is problematical.In addition to that:

    From the UK point of view the EU is currently threatening the UK with a withdrawal of preferential trading arrangements which we are told may have catastrophic effects on our well being.

    It is surely a legitimate approach to consider whether if the EU block were weakened by further departures the stated resolve of the EU might weaken and a more UK favourable negotiating position taken.

    On a more straightforward note the departure of Eire would resolve the irish issue as well.

  33. S THOMAS
    From the UK point of view the EU is currently threatening the UK with a withdrawal of preferential trading arrangements which we are told may have catastrophic effects on our well being.

    You have it base over apex there. The EU is not threatening anything. If HMG decides to withdraw from the EU they will be doing so knowing the rules, assuming that they have bothered to read them.

    Any catastrophic effects will be entirely of HMG’s making. Perhaps that partly explains why May is reluctant to say anything meaningful re Brexit.

  34. TOH

    i agree

    There is bound to be a slowing of growth in 2017 due to the effects of inflation and there will in all probability be an economic effect of less favourable trading terms with the EU in due course.

    However the UK economy may be 4% large and better able to deal with it by the time the 4 horses have been re-shod and are on their way again

  35. bZ

    I do not regard the statement of Mr Tusk of “Hard Bexit or no Brexit” as conciliatory.

    Besides which the word threatening relates to our perception of it being a threat to our economic well being rather than, despite the above, the intention of the EC

  36. “where are the 4 horses of the apocalypse when you need them”

    ———–

    They’re delayed while they save up for the train fare and wait for the pound to strengthen…

  37. @WB

    Re: economic news

    I know it can seem a bit strange, but some peeps only post good economic news. Anything else would be “talking down the country”.

    This would mean of course, that when Labour were in power, those peeps never criticised the economy then either, only praised it!!

  38. bz

    classic mistake i am afraid. It was the British people who decided to withdraw. HMG and our current prime minister campaigned to stay and those tricky people known as voters advised them that they were not correct.
    So when you assert that the catastrophic effects are of HMG own making you are correct only in the sense that they allowed those pesky voters to have any say whatsoever and not in the sense that HMG desired the result.

  39. TOH

    Yes, more good news.

    Whilst I agree 2017 will probably see a slowing of the UK plc economy, we look like finishing 2016 well ahead of where project fear told us we’d be.

    Most economists always seem certain about what’s going to happen and then spend all their time telling you why it didn’t. They’d be better off reading tea leaves.

  40. i had assumed that the 4 horses were currently locked in the office of jeremy Corbyn where they have been for some time.

  41. That would make sense especially if Jeremy was one of the horses!! You might be onto summat…

  42. @ S Thomas

    i had assumed that the 4 horses were currently locked in the office of jeremy Corbyn where they have been for some time

    I heard it was delayed as the four horse men all lived in the South East and couldn’t get into town due to their reliance on Southern Trains.

  43. @ToH
    Agreed – demonstrably good news and better than predicted; let us hope – Breiteer or Remainer – that it persists into 2017!

    @Allan Christie
    A bit weird to describe the LibDems as ‘opportunistic’ on Brexit v Remain, given they have had, and still have, the most consistent policy on Europe of any of the three historically major parties. In fact it is hard to think of how they could have been more consistent about their approach!

    Their continued pro-Europe stance is a bit of a gamble, but they have the smallest proportion of supporters that are pro-Brexit so have little to lose, and appear to have 40 -45% of the electorate to target, which – for them – is a huge pool to fish in.

    If Brexit is a massive success then this approach is problematic, but if that happens the Tories are a shoe-in for 2020 and probably 2025 as well anyway….

  44. “It’s just a pity Labour weren’t interested in putting forward such an option during the Indyref.
    Perhaps a SLAB/LibDem union north of the border would revive the ‘left’ at the expense of the SNP, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Too late for that, I think.”

    ————

    Wouldn’t necessarily help Labour when SNP can just co-opt the policy. Devolution has undermined reasons for voting Labour. Labour ideally need to come up with scots-friendly policies that SNP can’t readily ape…

  45. S THOMAS
    the word threatening relates to our perception of it being a threat to our economic well being

    Fair point, but it is still entirely of HMG’s making.

    I agree that Tusk has not been conciliatory to date, but he has some justification in being a tad impatient for HMG to decide whatever it is that they are going to do next.

    Re your It was the British people who decided to withdraw, that is not so. The referendum was advisory because the act which authorised it specified no consequences, so the plans which HMG are making are entirely of their own volition. We’ll know more when the SC decision is announced.

  46. @bigfatron

    “A bit weird to describe the LibDems as ‘opportunistic’ on Brexit v Remain, given they have had, and still have, the most consistent policy on Europe of any of the three historically major parties. In fact it is hard to think of how they could have been more consistent about their approach!”

    ———–

    Ah, you may not have spoken to the (forme) lib Dems none too pleased at how this vaunted consistency included enabling the referendum that now means we’re leaving Europe!! (Without considering the policies from austerity to vans which may have impacted on the desire to vote to leave…)

  47. At the last election our longstanding LibDem MP in North Devon lost his seat dues to losing masses of votes equally to UKIP, Labour and Green, allowing the Tory to take the seat.

    Even though the area voted quite strongly for Brexit I think the LibDem may get back in next time (been forgiven for the coalition years by the electorate). Especially if the local Tory is unable to stop cuts to the local hospital!

  48. “The two key issues facing Labour are Brexit and Corbyn’s electability. On the latter, rather than being the potential cause of further loss of electoral support I think Corbyn as leader sets a bar on the level of support it can obtain of approx. 30%. I struggle to see how any re-branding exercise that is launched could expand his appeal over 30%, given his scores on competency and leadership.”

    ————

    The rise of the SNP has effectively lowered Labour’s floor. Because whatever Labour offer, whoever leads Labour, SNP can just say if you vote for them they’ll do the same and ensure Labour stick to it.

    Thus some of the Labour decline pre-dates Corbyn, Miliband only got 31% but Corbyn gets blamed nonetheless. Once Scots saw that devolution now partly insulated them from Westminster, highlighted under the coalition, Labour were toast in Scotland.

    The second problem is that Corbyn might get more favourable media if he moved rightwards but it’s the more neolib Labour voters in the South who were happy with that. Tories have managed to extend the economic reach to the Midlands given help to buy etc., and immigration is now blamed for many things that used to ail governments.

    But it still required immigration dominating as an issue. Brexit long term removed that as an excuse. But in the meantime Labour, whoever leads, have a thorny problem. They need scottish policies SNP can’t easily copy, they need policies to favour Midlands marginals Tories can’t copy and media won’t trash, and they need immigration to stop being a get out of jail free card for government.

  49. Removed = removes

  50. My recollection is that the idea of an in/out referendum was first floated by Clegg in response to Tory Eurosceptic calls for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (or something similar).

    If my memory’s accurate (and it is sort of consistent with LD penchant for ‘more democracy’, although at the time it seemed daft because leaving the EU was very much a fringe position) he keeps awful quiet about it these days…

    Nor have LDs lost their faith that ‘the people’ will give the ‘right’ answer given their calls for a second referendum (subject partly dependent on whether A50 is revocable, I assume). Compare and contrast with Columbia.

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