ICM’s regular poll for the Guardian is out today and has topline figures of CON 43%(-2), LAB 25%(-1), LDEM 11%(+2), UKIP 11%(+1), GRN 4%(nc). The 25% for Labour equals the lowest in the ICM/Guardian series of polls, previously reached during the nadir of Gordon Brown’s government in 2009.

Looking ahead to the Brexit negotiations ICM also tested out some of the compromises that Theresa May may have to make in the years ahead:

  • By 48% to 28% people said they would be happy to give EU citizens preferential treatment compared to non-EU nationals when coming to work in Britain
  • People were also happy to accept, by 54% to 29%, continued freedom of movement during a transitional period
  • By 47% to 34% people said it would be not be acceptable to continue to follow ECJ rulings during a transititonal period (though given the widespread confusion between the European Court and European Court of Human Rights I do ponder how mant thought this was a human rights question)
  • The trickiest bits were, however, on spending – all three different financial settlements that ICM tested were rejected by the public: only 33% thought it would be acceptable to pay a £3bn “exit fee”, only 15% thought a £10bn fee would be acceptable, only 10% thought a £20bn “exit fee” would be acceptable. How and if the government manage to sell the financial settlement part of Brexit to the public is going to be interesting…

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759 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 43, LAB 25, LDEM 11, UKIP 11”

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  1. Quite a bit of explaining for someone to do, it seems.

  2. So, LD majority in 2040?

  3. @alec

    It will be the acceptability of the trade offs between payments, free movement, tariffs etc that will be the test and need explaining!

  4. Since no one has the faintest idea of what amount of the “exit bill”, as ICM describes it, are things like pension liabilities, and how much are for future spending commitments, the ICM questions simply ask the ignorant about the unknowable.

    Their questions state that it would be a “compromise” for the UK to meet their liabilities.

    If that’s what the Guardian paid ICM to ask, then no blame attaches to the pollster.

    Incompetent questioning by the Grauniad though.

  5. I wonder if we can claim back our part of (say) a new motorway in Slovenia, or a bridge in Hungary that were funded by the EU? I suppose it wouldn’t be practicable to transport all the tarmac and concrete back here, but could we perhaps ‘sell’ our share back to the EU? :-)

  6. Those first two questions point to the the fact that a compromise deal is quite possible on EU Immigration etc.

    It looks a fortress independent UK isn’t particularly the majority view.

  7. Oldnat,
    not sure I understand your objection to the question. If its about the nature of the bill, I suspect it is more the principle being objected to. Paying a bill at all, rather than whether it was for steak or chicken.

    However, as I just posted on the last thread, I think what this says is that voters have been told they can leave the EU and stop paying bills. Therefore still paying bills is already a fundamental break of that promise.

    What I think it amounts to is a ratcheting up of the Brexit gamble. This matter will be finally decided when we see the potential terms and cost or gains for the UK. At that point voters will decide whether they like the new deal or not. At that point all this talk of a decision already made will go out the window if it does not conform with what voters then want.

    At this final point, a refual to pay exit fees is just as likely to push voters towards remain as leave, since remaining does not incur this fee.

  8. Yes. I think the argument that immigration was the major issue is a convenient explanation for pious remainers?

  9. The Resolution Foundation has pointed out that 80% of the tax cuts coming into force this Thursday (while people were obsessed with making war on Spain) go to better-off households. 67% of benefit cuts fall on poorest third of households.

    Transferring resources from the poor to the rich seems to be quite a popular idea in England & Wales, judging by this poll (and many others).

  10. They also failed to ask,

    • Should we attack Spain with thermonuclear weapons now or wait.

  11. @ Danny

    I think your argument is somewhat contradictory?

    The bill as presented simply shows how much the EU was milking the UK? I can’t see how continuing to subsidise road schemes in Eastern Europe and subsidising small inefficient farms in France and Spain forever more makes anyone want to remain.

  12. Danny

    My objection to the question is the wording that pushes respondents towards rejecting any payment to the EU for liabilities incurred during membership.

    An option such as “The UK should pay for any financial liability it has incurred” – without putting a totally invented figure on it, would have been sensible questioning.

  13. ON
    Do you have a link to that? Those figures on their own mean nothing. Suppose Tax cuts were £100 million, then £20 million would go to worse-off households (whatever that means). If then benefits cuts were £1 million, only £670,000 would fall on the poorest third. That would hardly be transferring funds from the poor to the rich, because both would be better off.

    Obviously I’ve made those figures up, which is why I’m asking for a link so that I can see if there’s anything actually meaningful behind your statement.

  14. Something else which occurs, is whether we shall by that time have a national account of the revenue costs of leaving the EU. The Uk government is busy hiring staff to perform tasks done for it by the EU. It seems to me quite a few of these are in fact a lot cheaper than the Uk could do for itself. Whatever this cost is, it will be set beside the UKs current annual contributions.

  15. Danny

    Should have added to that question “while offsetting that against the UK share of EU assets”.

    Of course, there are people who really, really, don’t want the issue of equitable sharing of assets to be raised – for fear that others will use precisely the same argument against the UK.

  16. Jonesin Bangor,
    ” I can’t see how continuing to subsidise road schemes in Eastern Europe and subsidising small inefficient farms in France and Spain forever more makes anyone want to remain.”

    First, we do not subsidise the French and never have. They have always paid their way with EU contributions, notwithstanding decades of UK propaganda to the contrary.

    As to the development funds for new members, it was rather our idea to let them in, and as part of the deal we agreed to pick up the bill. Now we have changed our minds and neither want them exercising the rights we gave them to come here, nor want to pay the other costs of their membership?

  17. @Danny

    I didn’t say France does not pay its way, it’s just I don’t see why we should pay to keep the rural dream alive for them and the rest of Europe.

    Yes, we promoted expansionism, but that was an attempt to slow Federalism. That can now proceed at full pace without us interfering.

  18. “Another forecast of major losses coming for Labour, from Lord Robert Hayward:

    “Labour is on course to lose 125 seats at next month’s local elections – and suffer a “cataclysmic” defeat in Scotland, according to a new report.”

    “According to Lord Hayward, who is a Conservative peer, Labour is likely to lose control of Lancashire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire County Councils.

    Of the councils which are up for grabs, he said the party is only certain to maintain control of Durham.”

    “Elsewhere, he said the Tories were likely to make gains from Ukip in East Sussex, Norfolk and Lincolnshire, while the Lib Dems will also make progress in Gloucestershire and could regain overall control of Cornwall and Somerset.”

    https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/labour-party/news/84816/labour-set-lose-125-council-seats-next-month-and

  19. JonesinBangor: “subsidising small inefficient farms in France and Spain”

    Ye gods, have you no idea of the incredible size, efficiency and productivity of Spanish agriculture? Do you think all those lettuces, tomatoes, aubergines, avocados, brocolli, celery, onions (OK, enough, you get the picture) are grown on ‘small inefficient farms’? One week of bad weather in Murcia and the price of lettuces doubled in the UK!

    If you want to see small and inefficient farms dependant on EU subsidies, look no further than the Welsh hills.

  20. @Saffer

    Thanks for the information.

    That’s close to my prediction.

  21. @Somerjohn – ah yes, but they are our small, inefficient farms.

  22. jonesinbangor,
    ” I can’t see how continuing to subsidise road schemes in Eastern Europe and subsidising small inefficient farms in France and Spain forever more makes anyone want to remain.”

    The interesting question is whether we are willing to pay farmers in the Uk forevermore? Where did I see a statistic that in N. ireland 90% of farm income comes from subsidy?

    “That can now proceed at full pace without us interfering.”

    So should we take the eastern europeans with us in our own mini EU, since we asked for them to be allowed in and they arent really up to a full federal arrangement?

    But why do you believe any part of the EU wants to become a federal state? Everything I see says they dont.

  23. Great idea folks, let’s try to get the money we have invested in developing the economies of Eastern European members back.

    Then over the next fifty years wave goodbye to hundreds of times that, as those economies develop to the same level as us, because their friends the Germans, French and Italians,who step in to help, have locked the nasty Brits out of their markets.

    Just like Gibraltar Brexiteers react to every new piece of Brexit information by crying infamy and manning the baracades.

    It’s like that line you get from Rednecks;

    “We Don’t Want a War, But if they Want a War, We’ll Give Them One!”

    It usually turns they don’t want a war either but they end up in one because of the people claiming they don’t want one.

    Good help us if the Government actually listens to those trying to turn this into a fight!

    Peter.

  24. @ SOMERJOHN

    I have little idea how EU subsidies help out Spanish horticulture, but I’m happy to agree a lot of Welsh upland farmers have done very well from EU subsidies.

    Fortunately for them, the Tories have always been the farmer’s friend – and I’m sure decent Tory representation in the Welsh hills will ensure that stays the same.

  25. ON
    Thanks for the link. I wish I hadn’t asked! It’s very complicated. One thing I did notice is that part of what they claim is a loss to the poorest families was the “family element of tax credits and Universal Credit (UC) – worth £545 a year to recipient families with children – will be removed for families with a first child born on or after 6 April.” and “A much larger cut – concentrated on a smaller group of families – is the limiting of support to just two children within the tax credit and Universal Credit systems.”

    I checked the government website, and these changes were announced in summer 2015, so families affected by this have effectively chosen to have a child in the knowledge that they will not receive extra support from the state. It’s hard to see how this can be considered to be a cut in benefit for those families. There are other points but I don’t want to write an essay. Suffice it to say that your original post (though an accurate quote from the article) was, in my opinion, rather an over-simplification.

    Plainly these changes as a whole are an example of social engineering (which I didn’t think the Tories went in for), to encourage people into work, and to discourage the poorest families from having large numbers of children.

    As a pensioner still paying tax, I welcome the increase in the personal allowance.

  26. @ DANNY
    “So should we take the eastern europeans with us in our own mini EU, since we asked for them to be allowed in and they arent really up to a full federal arrangement?
    But why do you believe any part of the EU wants to become a federal state? Everything I see says they dont.”

    Ermmm…no?

    For the second bit – let’s see. Once Le Pen fails to win, who will stop the Federalists?

  27. Jonesinbanger,

    “Fortunately for them, the Tories have always been the farmer’s friend – and I’m sure decent Tory representation in the Welsh hills will ensure that stays the same.”

    You better hope so, because there is going to be an almighty post Brexit tussle between Rural Brexiteers who want the same support as CAP without the rules and the Urban Brexiteers who want the same money for the Northern Powerhouse and the NHS.

    My money is on the Blue Collar seats over the leafy Rural ones.

    Electoral Demographics; Post Corbyn the cities and towns can go back to Labour but the farmers have no where to go but the LibDems and they can’t form a Government.

    Peter.

  28. @ PETER CAIRNS

    “You better hope so, because there is going to be an almighty post Brexit tussle between Rural Brexiteers who want the same support as CAP without the rules and the Urban Brexiteers who want the same money for the Northern Powerhouse and the NHS.”

    I’m afraid that if they want to continue to sell premium lamb products into the EU, then equivalence with EU r&r’s would be a prerequisite.

  29. Very sobering — for everybody. No one is going to be happy. :-(

    Amicable Brexit divorce hinges on cash settlement
    https://www.ft.com/content/655f8dbe-1541-11e7-b0c1-37e417ee6c76

    “Business people and diplomats are familiar with the cliché that negotiations are best conducted on a “win-win” basis. But the Brexit talks are different. The negotiators on both sides are looking for a lose-lose deal. They know that if the talks are to succeed, the UK and the EU must be satisfied with the level of pain they are inflicting on each other.”

  30. Pete B

    I agree that the headline I quoted earlier was an “over simplification” – headlines tend to be that.

    People have different preferences as to policies – after all that is what democracy is about. Whether people actually knew that these policies would be implemented is another matter. but despite that the polls indicate that folk in England & Wales are strongly supportive of reducing expenditure on the poor, while reducing the taxation burden on the rich.

    An effective opposition in England, or less obsession about England’s place in the world may have provoked more interest in social equality issues, but “you are where you are”.

  31. JonesIn Bangor

    “I’m afraid that if they want to continue to sell premium lamb products into the EU, then equivalence with EU r&r’s would be a prerequisite.”

    Quite true – but not necessarily enough.

    the EU has a quota on how much imported lamb is allowed, and New Zealand is bidding for all of that quota.

    Sensible countries look for opportunities to maximise their national interest. Why would the UK whine about that, just because some Welsh, Cumbrian or Scots hill farmers went bust?

  32. This might feed into the Remainers stereotypes of what they think a Leaver is:-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYiOCctlPR0

    By the way he was wrong about Burkina Faso.

  33. G’night all

  34. re: the Local Elections seat predictions

    Why are UKIP forecast to do badly? They seem barely worse off in the national polls now than they were in the run up to these seats being fought in 2013 – is it that the much stronger Tory support will see UKIP coming second in lots of seats they won last time even if their own support holds up pretty well? Or are the predictions based on local by-elections?

    Also, given the Tories are polling a good 10% higher now than in the comparable period in 2013, why does this only project into a 5% improvement in the R&T forecast?

    I get that these aren’t a representative section of wards and councils, but I thought the point of the projection models for national vote share was to account for that?

  35. @JONESINBANGOR “The bill as presented simply shows how much the EU was milking the UK?”

    Yes indeed. I have been thinking through this line myself recently. If we are such a loss, it surely implies we were a milch cow all along. This should help nail the coffin lid shut on a “rejoin the EU campaign” and bury said coffin 20 feet deep.

    @EDGE OF REASON

    Vote share in England at the 2013 Locals

    CON 34.3%
    LAB 21.1%
    UKIP 19.9%
    LIB 13.8%

    It is a comparison to that which is being made. Remember the national VI will be different to the makeup of this patchwork of councils.

  36. I wonder if the answers would have been much different if the Questions had been asked in terms of net or annual contributions.

    So if instead of £10bn which got 15%/64% against it had been;

    “A final one off settlement after 40 years membership of less than one annual contribution!”

    Sea Change,

    “If we are such a loss, it surely implies we were a milch cow all along.”

    No it implies that annual trade of billions each way is good for us both and that , the single market and economic stability across the continent are far more important than the contributions of any one state.

    I find the idea that they regret we’ve leaving, by our own volition, a Union that they think is mutually beneficial actual means we were being fleeced bizarre!

    But then it must be true because they’re the Baddies!

    Peter.

  37. @ SEACHANGE

    Sure. But to ask the same question a slightly different way, if UKIP at c13% in national polls scored 20% in these particular English seats in 2013, why are UKIP (now at 10-11% nationally) forecast to get only half their previous share of the vote in these same seats this time around?

    And similarly for the Tories, unless we’re going to assume massive regional distortions (which the recent London polling would appear to not support) then why is their projected vote share improvement this time (vs 2013) not roughly in proportion to the improvement in their national polling numbers over the same time period?

  38. @Peter C “No it implies that annual trade of billions each way is good for us both and that, the single market and economic stability across the continent are far more important than the contributions of any one state.”

    Try selling that to the electorate as the polling suggests. People are throwing up in their mouths at a few billion!

    I’m gratified that the EU has gone down this path on the one hand because it makes rejoining less and less likely. On the other hand, I want a sensible exit deal.

  39. Edge of reason,
    “Why are UKIP forecast to do badly? They seem barely worse off in the national polls now than they were in the run up to these seats being fought in 2013”

    National opinion polls seek to answer the queston how people would vote in a national election. Unfortunately people do not vote the same way in local elections. Moreover, the constituencies are completley different, changing the balance of support in each, and fewer people bother to turn out. People vote tactically, depending on who they think has a chance to win but also on whether they think it matters who wins and therefore are free to vote for who they want rather than who has a chance.

    In general UKIP is doing worse nationally now than it has been, so in all probablitiy it will do worse locally too. libs are doing better nationally, so will probably do better locally. In particular libs have traditionally done much better locally than nationally but have had some very poor years, so people are now expecting a resurgence. On the contrary, UKIP trending back to their traditional showing might expect to do rather badly.

    Very many parliamentary seats in the Uk are pretty much a stitch up with a massive majority one way or another. On the local level with more seats the results ought to be more representative of voters.

    As to remain v leave, will this divide voters in a different way to their traditional pattern, and if so will they suport remain friendly parties? Er, which ones are those, exactly? Which party is campaigning on remaining in the EU? UKIP used to have a monopoly on attracting Leave voters, but will they now vote UKIP or conservatives for the same policy?

    i’d say a number of UKIP voters will defect to conservative. A number of conservatives will defect to labour or liberal, and a number of labour will defect to liberal. And the odd liberal or labour will defect to conservative. And all in all its quite a mess to try to predict anything.

  40. @Edge

    UKIP also has a specific problem that their councillors tend not to get reelected. Organisationally the party is currently in a bit of a state. Plus their bank roller has just legged it seemingly to try to fulfil his fantasies of becoming some kind of comic book supervising.

  41. @peter c

    You think the Tories are going to prioritise working class northerners over their rural core vote?

    Hmm.

    Tbh I think both groups will end up stitched up. I don’t see a way either come out of this very well. The people the Tories will protect first are the home counties pensioners because they’re the ones they can shield.

  42. It may be inperceptible but IMHO this site is now moving on from the fact of brexit to the terms of brexit.This is welcome as it moves us on from a increasingly sterile debate. The site was beginning to resemble 2 rugby players having a scrap at one end of the field while the maul had moved down field.
    I am not yet part of the negotiating team but the “Divorce”bill must in practice be very flexible. It represents not a fine for leaving but a liability already accrued which does not feature in the national accounts of any nation. On that Principle it should feature in our nationals and be subject to ONS calculation.
    If Junckers has after a very good lunch loosely has promised to build a motorway in Hungary or a road bridge to North Africa by 2030 it is surely an uncosted promise which can be cancelled. it is different where there is a costed project either about to start or in progress. Likewise there is much talk about Pensions. If they are funded then the uK will have already contributed but if unfunded then there may need to be a top up contribution but as we are always told that there are only 30,000 EU civil servants and tthere are 27 nations our share needn ot be large at all.

    Then there is the political side. Looking at the polling a grumpy nation would probably accept up to about 20bn as a one off and probably about 5bn per annum

    However,following the EU document it seems the EU will not want a sum agreed but would be content with heads of liability agreed and then batted off.The other “divorce” topics of Ireland and Citizen rights will be equally important but the very fact that the EU document did not say that there had to be free movement means an acceptance that it is an area of negotiation and in play.

  43. @ oldnat
    “the EU has a quota on how much imported lamb is allowed, and New Zealand is bidding for all of that quota.
    Sensible countries look for opportunities to maximise their national interest. Why would the UK whine about that, just because some Welsh, Cumbrian or Scots hill farmers went bust?”

    I suspect that fresh (live) exported UK lamb will be more attractive to the French than frozen carcasses from the Southern hemisphere? We all know what sticklers the French are for quality….a bit like our love for premium German engineering products?

  44. Local election campaigns have started and many people are beginning to think how to vote. This poll could be a one-off, but if other polls show similar trends I think that will be the reason.

    A lot more people are probably going to vote Lib Dem than 4years ago and some of them will also change their national voting intention, giving a modest uptick in the polls. That is my prediction for what it is worth!

  45. JonesinBangor; “I have little idea how EU subsidies help out Spanish horticulture, but I’m happy to agree a lot of Welsh upland farmers have done very well from EU subsidies.”

    An admirably frank admission which sheds an interesting light on the evidential basis for your earlier assertion that the EU is “subsidising small inefficient farms in France and Spain forever.”

    In fact, the prodigious growth of Spanish horticulture is a textbook example of the effect of a Single Market. With a comparative advantage deriving from climate, great investment in transport infrastructure and evidently considerable entrepreneurial energy, south-east Spain has replicated the role played by the Central Valley in Californian in supplying the whole of the USA with similar products.

  46. @ SOMERJOHN
    “An admirably frank admission which sheds an interesting light on the evidential basis for your earlier assertion that the EU is “subsidising small inefficient farms in France and Spain forever.”

    So you’re of the opinion that genuine CAP reform will now happen in the rEU?

  47. Lib Dems very active around here re the locals coming in May.
    They sense an opportunity.

  48. It would be interesting if the polling companies asked more questions about how people came to their views. How many would state that they had read something in a newspaper ?

    People read newspapers and then believe that what they have read is 100% accurate, if it chimes with their instinctive views on something. For example, if they see food in a shop that looks perfect, then it must be some EU rule, that requires bananas etc to look a certain way. They remember reading an article in a newspaper about EU officials requiring bananas to meet a certain standard and that this must be true. When of course, it is Supermarkets that will only sell produce that they believe is appealing to consumers.

  49. As a lifelong sceptic, transitional periods do not worry me IF the EU approaches talks with same spirit Canada would if Quebec ever seceded. We can wait three years.

    As for the exit fee, the pensions part is readily understandable. But the EU has no fund, and contributions should be made as they fall due. Same for other accrued liabilities, but giving credit for assets. What cannot be paid are simple future budget contributions – unless that is a logical extension of a transitional deal. Otherwise EU Law ends 29 March 2019, and there is no legal or moral argument for saying budget liabilities survive.

    It is not just fairness. If we tell the EU we’ll do anything for a deal, they will just up their demands.

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