The latest ICM poll for the Guardian has topline figures are CON 42%(nc), LAB 26%(-2), LDEM 10%(+1), UKIP 13%(+1), GRN 5%(+1). It was conducted over the weekend and changes are from a fortnight ago, before Theresa May’s Brexit speech. The sixteen point Tory lead is similar to YouGov’s poll straight after May’s speech, and both show a modest increase in the Tory lead (though the actual level of Tory support is unchanged in ICM). Martin Boon says there are some more Brexit questions to come later…

226 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 42, LAB 26, LDEM 10, UKIP 13, GRN 5”

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  1. On the devolved issues, just one pithy paragraph. That’s what I call dismissed:

    “On the devolution issues, the court unanimously concludes that neither section 1 nor section 75 of the NIA [Northern Ireland Act] is of assistance in this case, and that the Sewel convention does not give rise to a legally enforceable obligation.”

    8-3 on the main issue is a comfortable majority. This is a nightmare for Labour as it is going to expose their divisions even more. The question remains will TM have to ram this for the Lords with a 1911 Asquith threat or will she try and call a General Election if Lab+Lib peers try and block or neuter the government bill.

  2. Someone ought to surcharge Sturgeon for what was a hopeless intervention in proceedings and i am sure contrary to received legal advice.

    The SNP ought to publish that legal advice or say whether they intervened with advice that there was a reasonable prospect of success.

  3. It’s actually a good result for the Govt. Nobody expected the decision to be over turned. Two main positives for the Govt & Brexiteers.

    – It doesn’t stipulate the extent and complexity of any legislation, meaning a tight, difficult to amend bill can be used now.
    – The devolution question was potentially a nightmare, and the highest court in the land has comprehensively voted 11-0 that it’s an issue solely for the UK Govt at Westminster.

    Very interested to see what Sturgeon says. I think she will be rather disappointed this morning.

  4. @RICH “Very interested to see what Sturgeon says. I think she will be rather disappointed this morning.”

    Indeed, the court has…”Sent her homeward, Tae think again.”

  5. Politically, this is a better sell for the government in Scotland than if the court had also ruled, unexpectedly, in PM’s favour on the High Court judgement.
    If they had done that, there could well have been a wave of resentment at ‘London’ in general dissing Scotland (even though we’re talking about the Supreme court, people have a funny way of interpreting things like this as ‘supporting’ one side – in this case would have been the government – rather than interpreting law. People do this subconsciously to suit their own prejudices / narratives I suppose).

    Now as it is, it’s hard for the SNP to tolerate even their supporters suggesting the Supreme court might have been biased / mistaken, given that they upheld the main ruling against the government, without gently rebuking those supporters. Otherwise they are open to accusations of pure politics and cynicism.

    Meanwhile, the devolved Parliaments / Assemblies have been sent, unanimously, the clear message from those same 11 Justices that they have no business in this process (legally that is – of course consultations with all major regions / devolved governments will continue).

  6. It’s fairly plain sailing for May from here. The horrible ball to deal with is in Sturgeon’s court. I think she is snookered.

  7. “It’s fairly plain sailing for May from here. ”


    That might be stretching it a bit, Brexit hasn’t started yet. I do think she’s shown adept political instincts since taking office so far, though.

  8. Sea Change

    “On the devolved issues, just one pithy paragraph. That’s what I call dismissed:”

    You will find the SC ruling on devolved issues in paras 126-151 of the judgment.

  9. Actually, although not ideal this is a fairly good result for the SNP.

    Scotland voted for the SNP in May, who opposed Leave and said they would stand up for Scotlands interests.

    Scotland voted to Remain in June by a wider Margin than the UK voted to Leave.

    The SNP took the issue to the SC arguing that Holyrood should have a Veto as it is the Democratically Elected Parliament of Scotland and the rights of Scots as EU citizens will be effected.

    The SC has ruled that Holyrood has no place and that Westminster can decide the outcome.

    Legally that’s a fair decision, it’s for the UK Parliament and it has members from all four Countries so all four are represented. Westminster in Sovereign.

    Politically North of the Border it will easily be portrayed as a snub or worse.

    Referendum issues like the “Vow”,”Respect” ,”The closest thing to Federalism” and ” A No vote safeguards Scotlands place in the EU!” will all be brought back up with the claim that Scots were deceived.

    The line will be that in order to get a No vote Better Together promised a different kind of Britain and this is just the same as before.

    Will it boost the pro independence vote or move VI.

    Probably not by much if at all, it’s just not a decisive issue for most,but if it has an effect, one way or the other, the things to watch for are a Poll Question on does the SC decision make you more or less likely to vote for Independence.

    If I had to call it I’d say if anything it might be bad for SLab, as SNP voters will be angry, Leave supporters and Tories happy and Slab in the middle.

    Having said that I think the shifts voting behaviour and in VI as Brexit has become the issue of the day are such that this won’t have much impact.


  10. The SC ruling shows that the SNP were correct in their approach to the implementation of the “Vow” through the Smith Commission and the Scotland Act 2016. It demonstrates that there is now no possibility of a stable and credible devolution settlement in Scotland (and Northern Ireland) from the Westminster Parliament and certainly no prospect of a general’ssettlement as advocated by Labour and Lib Dems. It will sharpen the case for independence and it remains to be seen whether it will affect voting intention.

  11. @Peter Cairns,

    It’s a terrible day for the SNP. lol

    You can’t dress it up. You have to respect the court as it upholds the main point which you agree with, parliamentary say, but then it’s slapped you down big time on the (lack of) relevance of devolution to the UKs approach/legality as a whole.

  12. @Peter Cairns

    “Politically North of the Border it will easily be portrayed as a snub or worse.”

    I’m a little bit shocked at this suggestion from you, as I thought you were someone who respected the pillars of democracy at least, of which one is an impartial Supreme court.

    If SNP’s elected representatives seriously allow this to be portrayed as a snub or worse, without rebuking such clamour, they are gravely neglecting their responsibility and undermining law and democracy. It would be unbounded cynicism for poitical ends, given that the truth is the same judges upheld the sovereignty of Parliament against the wished of the PM, and as most of you in Scotland wanted.

  13. Interesting reaction from the currency markets. The £ has lost most of yesterdays gains against the $ & Euro. So the fact that Brexit is slightly more complicated to achieve has actually upset the markets. It seems to me that the markets have actually factored in Brexit along May’ lines.

  14. Few will know or care that the devolution issues in the case weren’t raised by “Sturgeon”. They were referrals from the Northern Ireland High Court, particularly “is the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly required before the relevant legislation is enacted?”

    Both the Welsh and Scottish Governments argued that, while the devolved Parliament/Assemblies had no veto over Westminster, they should be consulted.

    Now that the SC has ruled that there is no such right to be consulted, and Sewel/LCMs is just a “political convention”, the argument can get back to the core one that affects VI –

    “Should the Parliament/Assembly have sovereignty in some/all matters, or is the UK Government/Parliament to be the sole arbiter?”

    I suspect the SC ruling won’t affect VI much – most folk aren’t much interested in legal matters, and just look at the headlines or see/hear the news.

    So only the general reaction to the spin put upon the judgment may shift or harden attitudes.

  15. I would imagine that, in general, people who support independence already will see it as a “snub” or an “outrage”. People who don’t, won’t.

    It seems like it was a short-term attempt at spin by the SNP, which hasn’t paid off (yet). I do think that Brexit creates some genuine issues that the SNP isn’t ready for e.g. independence controls meaning immigration controls at Gretna. On the other hand, if they put their thinking caps on, they might be able to find some solution.

  16. Does this improve Paul Nuttall’s chances in Stoke? He could campaign on “I will definitely vote to trigger Article 50 whereas Labour ,might not”.

  17. oldnat

    I agree .the welsh submission was even more of an embarrassment than the scottish one

  18. @Sea Change
    ‘I admire those rose-tinted specs you own Graham!’

    You appear to think I am a committed Labour supporter despite the fact that I have voted Labour at only one of the last five General Elections. I shall not vote Labour in 2020 if Corbyn is still leader – nor will I do so if their local candidate is gender vetted.

  19. Graham

    “if their local candidate is gender vetted”

    You mean you don’t want a political eunuch? :-)

  20. Some suggestions this morning that Sarah Woolaston might be about to defect to the LibDems.

  21. I always took the view this should never have gone to the courts – they should have thrown out the case.
    That said, Parliament passed an act taking us into the EU so Parliament must kick off the process of us leaving, from a legal point of view, the judges are correct.
    I am no defender of the SNP – ye gods, I am a unionist through and through, but the Scots Government was entitled to put its case to the Court. That it was thrown out is neither here nor there.
    Through gritted teeth, I say the courts have done their job in protecting the people from an over mighty executive. Far from subverting the people, I now see they are protecting the people.
    Our unwritten constitution is messy, but give me that any day over foreign ways.

  22. @ CMJ 11.07 23/1/17

    Thank you very much extremely kind of you to indulge me. It does show a significant, dare I say “cliff edge” for Labour if current polls continue as they are and are replicated in an election

  23. @Graham

    No that’s not the case, sorry if that’s how you took it. I’m only alluding to the fact that you’ve stated that YouGov and now also ICM are underestimating Labour support which I think is rather optimistic on your part! I don’t quite see why other polling is correct and these are so wrong.

  24. @WB – it does indeed. I suspect the number of seat losses will be a lot worse in the Midlands however.

  25. @ Graham

    Yes, I do understand the difference between coalition and minority. I was referring to the position after the 1923 general election, and although considered a minority Labour government most historians agree it was based on tacit support from the Liberals.
    I am sorry to be so inaccurate I was simply trying to indicate the difficulties in a first past the post system as being seen as a junior partner in a coalition or pact. I apologise and will endeavour to write in greater detail in future, my major point was the ease with which a major party can stop being a major party under a FPTP system.

  26. @Graham –

    If Sarah Woolaston defects, she must know that Totnes has been Tory since 1924. Surely this would be a very short career with the Lib Dems.

    Mind you she has form when it comes to changing sides having left Leave for Remain a couple of weeks before the vote.

  27. Whether or not this is “good” or “bad” for the SNP rather depends on what you see as their obective(s).

    Keeping Scotland in the EU as part of a united UK – bad day

    Giving the Scottish parliament a say in the Brexit process – bad day

    Highlighting that Westminster still has total control over Scottish affairs, that the Scottish parliament only has as much power as Westminster wants to give it, and that the only way for Scotland to have true self-determination is through independence – a very very good day

  28. @Sea Change

    ICM do have a history of underestimating Labour. In 1997 it was the only pollster to understate the Labour lead – indeed a week before Polling Day ICM had the Labour lead down to 5% – compared with the 13% outcome.
    I am finding YouGov rather difficult to read at the moment. Last Spring it appeared to be producing the most positive results from Labour’s perspective but since September it has gone to the other extreme. ICM has, at least, been more consistent.

  29. @WB

    It’s a pleasure to help.

    I think the Fabian piece ‘How Labour is too weak to win, and too strong to die’ [1] was well titled. Under our system, and the current distribution of votes, Labour are looking up an very steep slope to win power, yet are perched on the top of their own steep slope above other opposition parties.

    This leaves us in a kind of stasis that looks hard to change in the short to medium term.

    As there is a fixed amount of ‘political matter’, Labour needs to really up it’s game to win power, or completely die and fragment, allowing another opposition to form and challenge, made from what they break up into.

    We do seem stuck between two stools here.


  30. Lord Hughes (albeit in a dissenting Judgment) gives a very useful short indication of what the SC case was about

    “Some observers, who have not been provided with the very detailed arguments which have been debated before us (or the something over 20,000 pages of documents which supported those arguments) might easily think that the principal question in this case is: “Does the 2016 referendum result not conclude the issue, and mean that the country is bound to leave the EU?” In fact, that is not the principal question. No-one suggests that the referendum by itself has the legal effect that a Government notice to leave the EU is made lawful. Specifically, that is not the contention of the Government, speaking through the Secretary of State for exiting the EU. The referendum result undoubtedly has enormous political impact, but it is not suggested by the Government that it has direct legal effect.”

    In addition the SC was unanimous on the Devolution issues.
    I have said previously that both sides arguments in the main case were respectable (in a legal sense) that is clearly shown by the dissenting judgments.

  31. What I think is of particular interest to those who might think the judges were motivated by their political views is that Lord Reed (the lead judgement dissenting) is a Scottish Judge, whose views have never appeared to be particularly anti EU whereas Lord Sumption who has been a significant critic of ECJ judgments and their impact on UK jurisprudence was one of the majority.

  32. Robin,

    That’s about it.

    For many here posting from a UK and indeed largely Brexit supporting perspective, the SC it’s a humiliating result for Sturgeon and the SNP;

    Put back it their place, taught a lesson and sent home to think again!

    From North of the Border it’s a popular Scottish Government standing up for what Scots voted for being told, it doesn’t matter what Scots, their Parliament or their Government want your votes and views carry no legal weight under UK law.

    That’s what many Independence voters wanted to happen; to be taken out of the EU against the voters wishes.

    The SNP will only call a Referendum if they think they’ll win and the more Scots think they’re being overlooked let alone humiliated the better it suits the SNP.

    The SNP position since the EU referendum has been to show that they will do everything they can and explore every avenue to protect Scotlands place in the EU in line with how Scotland voted and only when every avenue has been explored and exhausted would we be forced to have a Referendum.

    One of those Avenues just got blocked off.

    Polls show quite clearly that Scots are reluctant to have another Referendum, so they need to be persuaded that all other options have been tried before we call one.

    Todays ruling should be seen in the context of being seen to fight the fight rather than whether we one.

    Remember the Alamo…

    Militarily a disaster, Politically it changed the course of events.

    The same can be said of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.
    The Vietminh got hammered but it shook US resolve.

    You’d have thought on here more people could have figured out what was going on but obviously not!


  33. I disagree. She’s over-reached this time.

    Plus as it’s been pointed out time after time, we voted as the UK, one member, one vote, equal weight.

    Any other interpretation is simply playing politics which I admit the SNP have been good at.

  34. Robin


  35. RE: Scotland and 2nd Referendum

    Not having a dog in this fight I hesitate to make a comment. However it does seem to me that when one of the major arguments presented to the Scottish People by the Better Together campaign was that independence would mean that Scotland would have to leave the EU and Scotland would be given more power, and where the UK now having voted to leave the EU indicates that Scotland must come too. Whatever the legal position aren’t the political arguments strengthened by the decision that Scotland does not have any power to mitigate that position?

  36. “– It doesn’t stipulate the extent and complexity of any legislation, meaning a tight, difficult to amend bill can be used now.”

    This will be inetresting. There has been legal advice received by HMG apparently that a short bill will leave them open to more legal challenges.

    Overall though, screamingly funny watching all the Brexiteers bang on about how parliamentary scrutiny can be bypassed or minimised, after voting to bring powers back to Westminster.

    On the wider issues – it sounds like views amongst business leaders (and as a consequence, quite a few party donors) are also hardening against May, and I really think the next twelve months or so may well change the tone of the debate.

    At least this judgement clears the way for us to march out of La La Land towards a place called Reality.

    It’s going to be fun, plus, plus, plus, as the orange people say.

  37. I accept that, on the whole, SNP have proved the most masterly of all the politilcal parties in the UK at playing the games of politics and spin well over approx the last decade.

    However, even if one doesn’t care about their [conduct over other] matters, I think they are on thin ice this time, in real danger of appearing obsessive to the point of twisting every which way to get something incredibly unrealistic – leading increasing numbers of Scots to realise / believe (take your pick) that it is a not-so-subtle ruse to raise support for independence. If this happens, and they don’t move on soon enough, there would be electoral consequences – history has often showed that voters don’t like being treated like fools.


    I don’t think Sturgeon’s going to win this line with Scots voters, short of some really underhand manouvering. Perhaps if the opposition were less effective than Ruth Davidson & co, she would stand a better chance.

  38. WB

    No it doesn’t – because whatever different politicians from all different sides screamed during the Indyref campaign – and you are correct that membership of the EU was one of the big themes, amongst lots of other noise – the simple fact is that that wasn’t on the ballot and the reasons for voting for independence in Scotland were multitude – it is in fact well known that at least a large minority of SNP and – not quite the same thing – of YES to independent Scotland supporters, were also Brexit voters.

    The thing is that people all say things that suit them in campaigns, but that was only one and people could make their own judgement on its significance or not. The fact of the matter is, and this is the crux of it, is that a referendum on the EU had already been promised by David Cameron prior to the IndyRef so, whilst people may have ignored this, no-one can actually claim that they didn’t know that leaving the EU was a very real possibility at the time they cast their vote in the Scottish Indy referendum.

    Make sense?

  39. The result of the judgement is exactly what I expected. But the Brexiteers should not gloat too soon. There is still some way before the bill is voted on and there is also room for amendments along the way. The process is still very early and much has yet to happen, and no doubt will.

  40. Oldnat
    “I suspect the SC ruling won’t affect VI much – most folk aren’t much interested in legal matters, and just look at the headlines or see/hear the news.”

    You may be right. On the other hand, the vast majority who do not delve into the minutiae of politics and the law may see the ruling as a betrayal or at least delaying tactics by Remainers. This could strengthen the UKIP vote and could affect the Stoke by election in particular. I really hope we get some constituency polls before too long so that we can see which of us is right.

  41. BT Says,

    “And btw, what was the relevance of mentioning the SNP motion to the point about working collaboratively”

    To give a clear indication that collaboration is difficult if you have diametrically different objects!

    Try to keep up!


  42. Peter

    You also seem to describe the scenario in terms of the Holyrood government – highly important though it is in carrying out devolved matters – as some kind of equal part of the leadership of the UK on NON-devolved matters. [snip]

    The fact is, the Conservatives were voted in fair and square into government last year on the system currently in place for doing so [snip]. So, like it or not, they are actually acting completely legitimately in being the ones undertaking the (thankless, I might add) task of leaving the EU to the best of their ability. [People] can’t wish this away, or change the rules of democracy during the game.

    Better to keep pursuing the Independence dream by creditable means, based on the real situation.

    “We the Scottish Government says what it wants, the UK Government says what it wants and then we collaborate to get the UK Government what it wants.”

    In complete contrast, most seem to think that Scotland gets disproportionate and very preferential consideration regarding its affairs relative to its population and compared to the other regions of the UK. [snip] Needless to say, the SNP diehards will of course part company with most [people] on that point.

    Personally, I actually believe [all sorts of things, but I’m not getting into my own political beliefs here, as it’s not the right place]

  43. BT SAYS… (an awful lot of very partisan stuff!)

    The Welsh Government have reacted to the SC judgment

    “It is vital that the UK Government develops an approach to negotiations which reflects the interests of Wales and the UK as a whole – an approach to which the Prime Minister has already publicly committed.

    “The judgment preserves and recognises the importance of the Sewel convention whereby Parliament will not normally legislate on areas devolved to Wales and devolved governments without their consent.

    “The Welsh Government will continue to work closely with the UK Government, and the other devolved administrations, through the Joint Ministerial Committee process to influence the overall UK position.

    “Our aims are to preserve single market access for business and to protect Welsh jobs and investment, along with the rights of workers.”

    The Joint Ministerial Committee meets next week and the three devolved administrations will continue to attempt to work with the UK Government to influence it away from leaving the Single Market. Will the UK Government try to find common ground with them?

  44. Peter

    So you are saying that it’s not even your objective for the Scottish government to work constructively together with the UK gov??!!

    [Peter’s objectives aren’t a matter for discussion here – I hope his objectives are to participate in a non-partisan way in line with the comments policy. No one here is a party political spokesman (and if they are acting that way, they haven’t read the comments policy and probably SHOULD – AW]

  45. BT says,
    I don’t really agree this is a bad day for Sturgeon. The worst option was that the law remain undefined, so that westminster could claim it had given Scotland rights. This judgement states clearly it has not. If the ruling had been that indeed Scotland had a veto that would certainly have been better, but Scots Nats can now clearly point to a betrayal. I don’t see they would be attacking the judges, who have merely elucidated the law, but will attack westminster. Although Brexit is the point at issue, in the lawsuit it just becomes an example that the scottish government is powerless.

  46. “The Joint Ministerial Committee meets next week and the three devolved administrations will continue to attempt to work with the UK Government to influence it to keep freedom of movement. have no control of its borders, be under the auspices of the ECJ and basically ignore the vote of the UK people”

    There, fixed that for you.

  47. OLDNAT

    I hope they will, there’s got to be give and take on all sides of course, as well as recognising that the Conservatives are the legitimate UK government by the other administration (like it or not), and wishing it was a different government of a different political shade with other priorities who held the whip hand, won’t help!

    Either Sturgeon doesn’t get this (hard to believe tbh) – or else I’m not sure yet that Sturgeon et al genuinely want to be collaborative underneath, I really hope it becomes clearer and I’m proved wrong on this though.

    Sorry if I was a bit hard on [the SNP]. I thought I was addressing the points raised by Peter and other posters, and the likely success or otherwise this might lead to at future elections. I don’t think I was being overtly partisan but apologies if the psephological link got a bit tenous at times!

  48. @DANNY
    “BT says,
    I don’t really agree this is a bad day for Sturgeon.”

    I don’t think it was me that said it was. My original point was more that it was a pretty OK day for the PM regarding Brexit political impacts in Scotland – but not meaning to automatically imply this meant a terrible day for Sturgeon. I also appreciate that there’s something in the judgement for all sides to spin tbh.

  49. BT SAYS…


    I think it’s a commonly made error to assume that political strategies adopted by any party are uni-dimensional.

    It’s clear that the governments of all three devolved nations see leaving the Single Market as having a deleterious effect

    They work with each other to try to maximise influence, and each has made compromises internally with other parties to reach a common position.

    Simultaneously, each party looks at every situation for ways in which they can both maximise their VI, and the chances of getting their preferred constitutional position achieved.

    All of that is just good politics.

    I’m sure that the same type of calculation goes on within parties that primarily represent England.

    Perhaps there is much less compromise sought in Westminster, since the system is designed to produce “strong governments” who expect to be able to do largely what they like.

  50. BT says: “Try working with your neighbours, not against them.”

    I didn’t have you down as a supporter of the EU, but it’s always good to the see the voice of reason prevail. Welcome to the bright side!

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