The Times released their regular YouGov voting intention poll this morning, the first of the new year. Topline figures with changes from before Christmas are CON 39%(nc), LAB 26%(+2), LDEM 10%(-2), UKIP 14%(nc), GRN 4%(nc). There is no significant change, though the boost in Lib Dem support that followed their by-election success appears to have abated. The Conservatives continue to enjoy a double-digit lead, Labour remain in the mid-twenties.

On the regular Brexit trackers things also look steady. 47% think Britain was right to vote to leave, 43% think it was wrong. 57% of people think that the government are doing badly at actually negotiating Brexit, just 20% well. That latter question may very well just be a reflection of the fact that negotiations haven’t started yet, but it will be a tracker to watch once May lays out a more detailled negotiating stance, Article 50 is invoked and things actually start moving.

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368 Responses to “YouGov/Times – CON 39, LAB 26, LDEM 10, UKIP 14, GRN 4”

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  1. It will be interesting how Theresa Mays personal ratings in polls hold up this year. Given all the challenges that need to be faced, if May does not lose too much support as the best MP, then i suspect that she will feel comfortable in driving forward an agenda she wants without too much compromising.

    With Corbyn as leader of the main opposition, there is less pressure on Theresa May, as Labour are not really holding the Government to account in Parliament. Tom Watson said he did not know what Labours current position was on immigration policy and i should imagine most Labour MP’s would have difficulty stating what Labour policies are in many different areas.

  2. @TOH – “Good to see that at last most Remainers are understanding May’s position. She wants us out of the EU, in control our own borders and outside the jurisdiction of the ECJ. It has been clear to me for months that was her position.”

    I don’t think many remainers doubted the position she expressed, but rather were questioning it’s wisdom.

    On the broader issue, as it sinks in that May really does wish to prioritize control of migration over frictionless trade with the EU, the reaction of the business community is going to be very interesting.

    Today we have seen a sharp fall in sterling, which is a direct response to May’s comments yesterday. We’ve also seen a major Tory party donor say he will not support the party any further if they go for hard Brexit. There have also been numerous reports of financial institutions preparing contingency plans to move staff to EU27 countries.

    The closer we get to real negotiations, the harder it becomes for the government to keep everyone happy, and the clearer it becomes that the publicly stated position isn’t a preliminary negotiating stance but actually what the government intends to deliver.

    Business remains (on the whole) extremely worried about anything that would impact upon EU trade, and are likely to adjust their plans accordingly if it becomes apparent that tariffs and customs checks are going to be imposed.

    Alongside a bout of rising prices, any relocation or reduction in hirings is going to start to have an effect on the economy, so I think there is going to be considerable political pressure on the government around issues of trade with the EU27.

  3. @Toby Ebert – Hello. That analysis must be an enormous comfort to Corbyn loyalists. Labour languishing on 232 seats, wiped out in Scotland, no sign at all of any recovery, but don’t worry – it won’t get much worse even if we become even less popular.

    That style of thinking is precisely why Labour needs to bury Corbyn.

  4. Toh
    ‘Just to correct a small error. Labours lowest rating in the last month (30 days) was actually 24%.’

    I was quoting the last polling figure provided by each of the four polling commpanies currently publishing surveys.

  5. @Colin – the Civitas report is interesting. Unfortunately the fact that the EU would pay more in tariffs than the UK has been taken by some (including some rather dim pro Brexit politicians) to mean that WTO rules would favour the UK. That’s erroneous, as Civitas imply themselves, when they point out that the gross tarif levels calculated merely reflect the value of the trade flows.

    More pertinent is to look at the proportion of exports of UK/EU27 affected by new tariffs, which will mean the UK is more heavily affected. Civitas also mention the issue of the impact on sales, which again is noteworthy.

    If tariffs are applied to UK exports to the EU27, it obviously makes our exports more expensive and potentially might mean cheaper substitutes are more favoured. A consumer in the EU27 would have 27 other nations suppliers to choose from within the single market, greatly increasing the chances that there is an alternative product available.

    UK consumers, by contrast, can only seek a tariff free alternative from within the UK. While there will certainly be an element of import subsitution, overall again it’s likely that the UK would suffer greater losses than the EU27, however.

    Currency valuations obviously affect all of this, as do things like inflation etc, but the Civitas numbers shouldn’t be taken by Brexiteers as some kind of proof that tariffs will hurt the EU more than the UK. They won’t.

  6. ALEC

    Is anyone in Government arguing that EU/UK Trade barriers are a desirable outcome?

    Of course the CIVITAS scenario results in our exports being more expensive-offset by the fall in Sterling.

    The most interesting numbers in the CIVITAS paper for me are the additional potential funds available to UK Governments as a result of Import Tariffs. Every cloud……………..

  7. ALEC

    ………..but I don’t argue that £12.9 bn. pa of new Import Taxes is per se a good thing.

    The journey through ” Compensation” for exporters, Subsidies for State Favourites, Full blown Protectionism & Fortress Britain -to UK circa 1970 would be all too tempting for a government of a certain persuasion.

  8. COLIN
    Fascinating, thank you.
    Extrapolating the figures out of today’s exchange rate and assuming total goverrnmental inertia on both sides of The Channel, were we to just give up on negotiations and leave the single market today, British goods going to Europe would be about ten percent cheaper and European exports to Britain would be about twenty percent more expensive than they were pre-referendum. There would also be a fairly substantial tax benefit to the UK treasury (courtesy of the consumers of course).
    Putting aside the costs of more Red Tape and any psychological damage done, most gains and losses would be in the single digits percentage-wise although agricultural products from Europe would be massively more expensive and sales would probably collapse, to be replaced from further afield (and by more homegrown produce). So basically, buy British farm land and sell financials. :)

  9. Colin,

    I’ve been thinking for some time that as we go forward the debate would move from; Leave v Remain, to Immigration v the Single Market, to Free Trade v Protectionism and it ill be the last one the post Brexit debate about our post EU stance on trade that will be the 2020 election issue.

    Most of the Tory Party favour free trade, but a lot of Tory supporters and leave voters are attracted Trump style “Bring our jobs back!” rhetoric.

    I think Nuttal is better placed than Farrage to move UKIP from;

    “Their stealing our jobs!” to “Their Stealing our Factories!”

    and from

    “Foreigners living here should have to pay for the NHS!” to “Foreign Companies selling here should pay for the NHS!”

    It would both challenge the Tories for the pensioner vote and challenge Labour for the blue collar vote!


  10. @Alec

    The recent remarks of Next’s Lord Wolfson – a prominent business supporter of Brexit – about the importance of free trade and the risks of a hard Brexit were interesting.

  11. @Colin and Alec

    Any tariff tax benefit for the UK Treasury will largely be raised from.UK consumers.

  12. @Mille @Colin @Wood

    Thanks for the info and links. Very interesting. After 10,000 years the Welsh are still for the most part genetically different from the rest of the Island. Also interesting how little people have actually moved with regional genetic groupings still prevalent to this day.

  13. Hireton,


    If a UK built Ford is £20k and an imported Skoda £18k now, but £23k after Tariffs, then Ford will in all likelihood push their price up from £20k to £22k, undercutting the Skoda while increasing their margin.

    As Alec points out in the EU there would be farmore choice so it’s unlikely any car manufacturer could push up prices to take advantage of Brexit.

    What that might do to inflation and Sterling may or may not counter the effect of Tariffs.

    There is also the inflationary impact on British made goods that have substantial foreign built content.

    Over time that might lead to investment in alternatives but only if people are confident they will be guaranteed a return and they feel the market is big enough.

    Even then it will only ever be partial. We might manufacture more clothes but we’re not going to start planting cotton!



    I think Trump’s economic policy is absolutely key.

    If he really does go the full Protectionist route to US job creation/retention , the fallout to the global economy will be considerable.

    But places like France too might test bed this aspect of the Anti Globalisation Populism. LePen as President could usher in Industrial Policy that Fidel Castro would have been happy with.


    Thanks for the link. So 24% only means a loss of 40 odd more seats. On the flip-side, as the article points out, the lack of marginals makes it even harder for Labour to win a majority even without the proposed 2018 boundary reform making their job harder still.

    @Jim Jam

    I tend to agree with you. Unless Brexit is a total catastrophe and there has been a big change in the leadership of Labour, I think it will take a couple of elections at least for Labour to claw themselves back. I’d put money on the Tories being in power for most of the next decade.

  16. Hireton: “Any tariff tax benefit for the UK Treasury will largely be raised from.UK consumers.”

    Indeed. The economic effect of levying £13bn in additional import duties would be similar to raising the standard rate of VAT from 20 to 23% (including the effect on inflation and living standards).

    What I find interesting about the Civitas report is that it calculates an average tariff on UK exports to EU27 at 4.5%, and on UK imports from EU27 of 5.8%.

    That’s presumably due to the different mix of export categories, but nowhere in the report is this point addressed. Likewise, there is no mention of the effect on UK exports and imports of moving to WTO tariffs on trade with 3rd countries; in particular those countries where the UK currently enjoys EU free trade deals.

  17. @Wood

    Thanks for those links – I think it must have been Wood’s I saw previously. I also like the idea that the French invaded big time, but we’ve all forgotten about it.

    @Colin. I agree about this idea that access to free trade and/or the single market is inextricably linked to freedom of movement. Why? We have never shared the same currency, but that wasn’t a problem.

    Our starting position is surely: we wish to control our own borders, and we wish to continue to trade as freely as possible. I think this is what TM is saying. Its then up to the EU to respond.

    We have a great advantage in this negotiation: we are one, Sturgeon aside, and they are 27. I think the Brexit ball is much more likely to be in their court than in ours.


    Apart from foodstuffs most WTO Tariffs are not overly onerous.

    The real issue will be the non-tariff barriers.

    Do people remember some of the shenanigans our friends across the channel used to pull in the 1970s and 1980s when they were unhappy about something?

  19. Now, this can be very interesting – the implications are very far reaching (and hence could affect polls).

  20. Sea Change,

    “Do people remember some of the shenanigans our friends across the channel used to pull in the 1970s and 1980s when they were unhappy about something?”

    Not really!

    I do remember the likes of the Mail, Mirror and Express fulminating about nothing and creating myths like not being able to buy curved Bananas but nothing of any substance.

    Prior to the Single Market and all that “Red Tape and Laws from Brussels!”, that make it work openly and fairly, trading across Europe with a dozen different sets of rules and regulations could be difficult but that wasn’t overly due to “Shenanigans!”

    Still, I suppose it’s so much easier just to blame “Johnny Foreigner!”


  21. Peter Cairns: “If a UK built Ford is £20k and an imported Skoda £18k now, but £23k after Tariffs, then Ford will in all likelihood push their price up from £20k to £22k, undercutting the Skoda while increasing their margin.”

    Sadly, there is no longer such a thing as a UK built Ford. However, some Vauxhall Astras are still built at Ellesmere Port, so let’s use that as the example.

    The WTO tariff on cars is 9.0%, so using your figures, the Skoda would rise from £18k to £19,620, so it would still undercut the £22k Astra. Moreover, much of the UK-built Astra (including engine and gearbox) is imported from EU27, and these components would be subject to the 9% tariff, leading to an Astra price rise. In reality, prices are determined more by what the market will bear than by costs.

    While Ford no longer produces cars in the UK, it produces all of its EU diesel car and van engines at Dagenham, petrol engines at Bridgend and transmissions at Halewood. These would have to pay the same 9% tariff to enter the EU27, which could be devastating.

  22. @The Other Howard

    “What we are doing is going to get an ambitious, good, the best possible deal for the United Kingdom in terms of trading with, and operating within, the single European market.” – Theresa May, this afternoon’s press conference.

  23. Trade tariffs are essentially a sales tax on imports. The government could commit to cut VAT by a few decimal points to ‘return’ the money and it would be a zero sum game for the treasury and the consumer.

  24. David Colby,

    “The government could commit to cut VAT by a few decimal points to ‘return’ the money and it would be a zero sum game for the treasury and the consumer.”

    But that would also impact on domestic goods and services too, so a differential would still remain.

    Fact is there are so many competing demands for an revenue increase; personal or business tax cuts, defence, housebuilding, the NHS, pensions, that it would probably be spread about thinly and be lost without real impact.


  25. Meanwhile in Scotland.

    oh and Martin MaGuinness has just resigned!


  26. TOH: “Good to see that at last most Remainers are understanding May’s position. She wants us out of the EU, in control our own borders and outside the jurisdiction of the ECJ. It has been clear to me for months that was her position.”

    Except that May doesn’t have the same understanding f her position as you do. “Theresa May has suggested the media are responsible for a slump in the value of the pound by wrongly claiming her views about Britain leaving the EU equate to a hard Brexit.” There you go, talking Britain down again!

    Peter Colby: “Trade tariffs are essentially a sales tax on imports. The government could commit to cut VAT by a few decimal points to ‘return’ the money”

    Except that, as I pointed out above, the £13bn extra import duties posited by Civitas equate to 3 percentage points on VAT, so it would have to be cut to 17% to compensate (VAT raises about £90bn pa) – not by ‘a few decimal points’.

  27. New Guardian/ICM poll:

    Conservatives: 42% (up 1 from Guardian/ICM in mid-December)

    Labour: 28% (up 1)

    Ukip: 12% (down 2)

    Lib Dems: 9% (no change)

    Greens: 4% (up 1)

    Conservative lead: 14 points (no change)

  28. @seachange

    I assume your reference to “WTO tariffs” is actually to the EU’s common external tariff which is available to all WTO members under the MFN rule.

    If the UK resorts to the CET it will be necessary for it to have its own WTO schedules in place,presumably by March 2019. DFIT has started on that work with the aim of replicating the EU CET as far as possible presumably since that should maximise the chance of getting the required agreement of all the other 160 or so other WTO members in the very short timescale. It seems that the most difficult aspect of this will be for this items where there are not only tariffs but also tariff quotas where the EU quotes will need to be divided between the EU and the UK again with the agreement of other WTO members.


    You still seem to be in denial about T May’s views. She does not believe in “Hard Brexit” which you would understand if you listened to what she says. She is quite clear in leaving the EU and was so again yesterday. That’s the last comment I will make as I don’t want a brexit argument, pointless until it happens.

    You seem to be trying to “point score” for some reason. I would remind you that this is much against the spirit of this site, and AW.s rules.


    Thanks for the latest poll figures, really no change again, double digit lead for the Tories, no sign of Labour revival. Using Electoral Calculus the latest figures would give a Conservative majority of 90 under current boundaries or 98 under new boundaries.

  31. Thank you Roll a hard 6. Very interesting, no wonder we have heard the first rumble in the trade union jungle.

  32. I have just read a prediction by TSE on Mike Smithson’s Political Betting. TSE says, should Corbyn fall, resign, die or whatever, Ms Abbot would take over. I have no idea, but what do others closer to Labour think?

  33. A rating of 28% from ICM – under present circumstances – is not too bad for Labour and matches its highest level with this pollster since late August. Going back as far as 1997 ICM has tended to give Labour a lower rating than most pollsters – and has usually been better for the LibDems. No real sign of the latter in this poll. On the whole if ICM has Labour at 28% I would expect other pollsters to have them on 30% plus.Since late November YouGov appears to have taken up the mantle of recording the the lowest Labour vote shares – despite having been the only pollster in this Parliament to have produced a Labour lead – last April being the most recent.

  34. So it looks as though we could be on a countdown to to a NI General Election if Foster does not step aside.

  35. TOH:

    “Out of the EU, in control our own borders and outside the jurisdiction of the ECJ” means outside the single market, with negotiations for a possible trade deal to follow. If that isn’t a hard Brexit, I don’t know what is.

  36. Somerjohn,

    As they say if it’s in the Farmyard and, “It looks like a Duck, Quakes like a Duck and Walks like a Duck…it’s a Duck!’

    However as Farmer May doesn’t like Ducks, she’s insisting it’s a Chicken and that “Chicken means Chicken!”

    TOH takes the view that if Mays says it’s a Chicken then a Chicken it is!


  37. Hi Jim- Jam

    I think your post of 8:37 am this morning was spot-on. I cannot see Labour forming a government in 2020 and the Tories may well achieve a handsome majority.

    I agree that the Parliamentary Labour Party has been inept but find it telling that Corbyn’s supporters see MPs as totally to blame for Labour’s dire poll ratings. First, the PLP were condemned for speaking out against JC, but now, I see, they are accused of keeping silent.
    I think that for younger Corbynistas to get the message, they perhaps need to experience life under a Tory government in full-throttle with a large electoral mandate.

    Some of us old-timers can remember the Thatcher years only too well.

    Good to see you posting again :-)

  38. @Roly

    For a moment I thought, ‘Roll a Hard Six’ might be your latest nom de plume :-)

    But it does work like that. The only (slight) difference would be that a sales tax might hit the poor more directly than VAT (which is quite an achievement). I’d grant you that were the government to collect these taxes and use the money to reduce the deficit then, macro-economically, that would be a tightening, but so long as they spend it on something, or refund it through an adjustment to VAT (my preference), then it’s a wash. The VAT route would create a strong incentive to buy British which might well reduce the trade deficit. This would be short lived IMO as poor management, which is mysteriously rife in UK companies for some reason, would quickly fritter away their competitive advantage through underinvestment in shoddy, inferior products and thoroughly unwarranted price hikes.
    There is a polling point in here (somewhere). Perhaps it is that the type of brexit we get isn’t as critical as most commentators seem to believe and that there probably won’t be a gigantic meltdown that brings the government crashing down. (If there is one, it will be concocted in The City). Anyway, no meltdown is bad news for labour and makes a change of leader a pre-requisite for any meaningful shift in the polls.

  40. TOH

    I’m sorry if you think I’m points scoring. It isn’t that. It’s that I take your comments seriously, and when I don’t understand them, or the thinking that lies behind them, I point that out in the hope of elucidation.

    So, in this case, May had described what I – and the City and press – took as a hard Brexit. You endorsed her comments as what you have long understood her views to be. All fair enough.

    Then this morning she said she’d been misrepresented. I flippantly said that in that case, you were one of the misrepresenters (or words to that effect). And you said: . “She does not believe in “Hard Brexit” which you would understand if you listened to what she says.”

    Well, I’m baffled. What is the difference between what she’s describing, and you’re endorsing, and a hard Brexit? I genuinely don’t get it. You clearly do, so if I ask you to explain, that’s not points-scoring: it’s a request for help.

    So it looks as though we could be on a countdown to to a NI General Election if Foster does not step aside.

    My understanding is that if one of the FM or DFM go and is not immediately replaced there’s a fresh election.

    See the live coverage at

  42. Genuine free trade without abuses encourages efficiency.

    Or more accurately protectionism encourages inefficiency.

    Of course reciprocity is required but it would be ironic if the right of the Tory party in effect ushered the country towards protectionism against the EU – I think the 1983 Labour manifesto was the last time this possibility was promulgated.

  43. New Welsh poll reported by NC Politics

    Westminster VI :
    CON 25 (+1) LAB 31 (-3) LD 8 (+2) UKIP 12 (-1) GRN 2 (=), PC 21 (+1) AWAP 1 (=)

    Senned list:
    CON 22 (=) LAB 28 (-1) LD 7 (+1) UKIP 14 (+1) GRN 2 -1) PC 20 (-1)
    AWAP 4 (=)

    Prof Scully’s write-up states “Labour have fallen to their lowest levels of support in Wales, for both Westminster and the National Assembly, since before the 2010 general election.” and projects Labour loss of just one Westminster seat (Ynys Mon) on current boundaries but 4 seats on proposed new boundaries.

    For the Assembly constituency seats, “………the situation indicated by this poll would see Labour begin to reach the sort of ‘tipping point’ where they start losing significant numbers of constituency seats. If the changes from last May’s Assembly election indicated by our new poll are applied uniformly across Wales, then we project Labour to lose eight constituency seats that they won in May 2016…”


  44. “Genuine free trade without abuses encourages efficiency.”


    Sometimes it can. Some times maybe not Free trade that allows a nation to corner the market in summat is not necessarily so efficient… Especially if it’s strategic…

  45. Surely any protectionism from the UK would only be in response to protectionism from the UK.

    Being that we are currently net importers, I fail to see the rationale for the European to do this, apart from dishing out a Federalist lesson to the separatists.

  46. Sorry…. Response to protectionism from the EU.

  47. Also, it might seem more efficient to be able to secure summat a bit cheaper from abroad. But when you factor in the cost to the supply chain, the loss of jobs and the money that would have been spent in our economy etc…

    The traditional analyses of free trade do not tend to take such things into account.

    Then there’s knock on effects. Suppose Thorium becomes viable. It’s value would be huge. But if we’ve lost our nuclear scientists because decided to buy reactors from abroad instead, we can’t capitalise…

  48. Old Nat

    I didn’t realise Jasper was Welsh either. Heavens above or should that be Evans above.

  49. Yes Carfew – I get all that but I am talking about the free trade as advocated by the 1980’s Tory Government.

  50. Valerie
    I wished I had his brains duck.

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