The Mail on Sunday today had a new Survation poll on Brexit, YouGov had a longer Brexit poll in the week. After a general election that was supposed to be a “Brexit election” but didn’t really contain much debate about Brexit, the agenda is now moving back onto the subject.

Public opinion on Brexit tends to be a bit unclear and nebulous. It’s one of those subjects where the impression created by a poll depends an awful lot on the questions asked and the wording used. With complex issues where people’s opinions are fairly uncertain it does makes an awful lot of difference how you ask the question. As ever, the best way of understanding it is to look at all the polling, not to jump on bits that appear to tell you want to want to hear. So in the spirit of that, what can we tell?

What sort of Brexit people want

Questions about the sort of Brexit people want come down to a couple of different patterns. One is asking if we should stay in the single market and/or the customs union. Other questions frame it as a trade off between immigration control and free trade. My preference is generally for questions that ask about Brexit packages are a deal, but there are even countless different ways of doing that (most notable degree to which they are described using terms like “soft” and “hard Brexit”).

There is also a question of what criteria you measure Brexit preferences by. It’s not just whether the sort of Brexit that the government delivers is seen as being good for Britain, it’s also a matter of whether it is seen as democratic. Are the government honouring the referendum result? This is most evident in questions about what the government should do now. 48% voted for Britain to remain a member of the EU in June 2016 and if you ask if that result was the right or wrong thing to do, or how people would vote if the referendum was repeated, you tend to find not much has changed: about half the country would vote to stay. However, questions asking what the government should do NOW generally paint a very different picture. YouGov consistently find around half of Remain voters now say that while they don’t support Brexit, they think they government is duty bound to go ahead with it. A new question on their poll this week asked what the government should now do on Brexit following the general election – 66% wanted to proceed with Brexit (43% on current plans, 23% for a softer Brexit), 17% wanted a fresh referendum, just 7% wanted to stop Brexit completely.

That’s not because only 7% of people would, ultimately, like to remain in the European Union (later in the same poll YouGov asked people to put their favoured outcomes in rank order and 35% of people would still, ideally, like Britain to remain a member), it’s because a substantial proportion of people think that the government has a duty to go ahead an implement the referendum result, even if they personally disagree with its outcome. For anyone campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU, that’s probably the more difficult obstacle… not convincing the public that Remaining would be good, but that it would be democratically legitimate.

Soft v Hard

If we are to leave, that brings us to the question is the balance between “hard” and “soft” Brexit. The terms themselves are a problem – personally I try avoid using them in questions as it’s unclear what people understand by the terms (Note how opponents of hard Brexit have started to call it “extreme Brexit”, rather than “hard Brexit”). I’ve always assumed that there is a majority to be found in favour of a “soft Brexit”: 48% of people voted to stay in the EU as it was and would presumably be fairly happy with a soft Brexit. Equally some minority of Leave voters would prefer a soft Brexit to a hard one. Even if the vast majority prefer a harder Brexit, when combined with the opinions of Remainers it only takes a few percentage points of soft Leavers to build a majority for soft Brexit.

Just asking about whether people would like to keep free trade or stay in the single market rather misses the point. I suspect the single market is just being seen as a euphemism for free trade, so the vast majority say they want to keep it. Equally when it is asked in isolation a large majority of people want to end the right of EU migrants to freely come to Britain. To give one example, a poll by NatCen earlier in the year found 68% in favour of treating EU migrants like non-EU migrants, and 88% in favour of free trade with the EU. These don’t tell us much beyond the the fact that ideally people would like all the benefits of EU membership without the responsibilities – of course they would. The interesting questions come when we start asking people to make trade offs.

There have been lots of different questions asking people to pick between free trade and immigration control when it comes to the Brexit deal. The wording makes a difference here (I am suspicious of questions asking about “freedom of movement” and the “single market” because I’m not sure people know exactly what they mean), but there is a clear pattern. To give some examples:

  • Opinium ask a regular question asking people to choose between the single market and ending free movement of Labour, typically the split is down the middle (in their last poll 37% preferred staying in the single market, 38% preferred ending free movement).
  • NatCen in February found 54% thought we should “allow people from EU freely to come and live and work” in return for “allowing UK firms to trade freely with the EU”, 44% did not.
  • In February Ipsos MORI found 40% of people thought EU citizens should continue to have the right to free movement in return from British access to the EU single market, 41% thought they should not, even if that meant losing access to the single market

These questions all assume, of course, that the public see this as an actual choice. That is not nececssarily the case – some people think it is a false choice, and that Britain will indeed be able to have its cake and eat it:

  • In March YouGov asked a version of the question that asked people to choose between it being more important to control EU immigration than keep free trade, more important to keep free trade than control immigration… but gave people the option of saying that it’s a false choice and that it was possible to do both. 16% thought it was more important to control immigration, 24% that it was more important to keep free trade… 40% that it was possible to do both (when forced to choose the 40% split down the middle, so overall more people wanted to keep free trade)
  • Opinium have a question along the same lines asking how likely they think it is that Britain could both stay in the single market AND stop free movement of labour from the EU – in their last poll 16% thought it was likely, 37% either didn’t know or didn’t think it likely or unlikely.

Looking overall at the questions, they tend to show it either very close or slightly more people valuing free trade over immigration control. However a substantial majority do think that both are possible, so actually selling a compromise as necessary may be tricky for the government.

Another caveat is that these questions do rather assume that the public’s big sticking point is going to be immigration. That’s not necessarily the case – for example, in April ICM asked in what areas the government should be willing to make compromises in negotiations: 54% said that a transitional deal on immigration would be acceptable, 48% said giving preference to EU immigrants over non-EU immigrants would be acceptable. On contrast, a majority thought that it would be unacceptable for the government to compromise on paying towards the outstanding costs of EU projects agreed when Britain was still a member. YouGov found similar in polling last summer – 51% thought allowing EU immigration was a price worth paying, but only 41% thought a financial contribution to the EU would be. Don’t necessarily assume that immigration is the trickiest obstacle.

Equally, before assuming that costs would necessarily be a deal-breaker for the public, the Survation poll at the weekend asked a different trade off – whether people would be willing to pay a fee in order to secure membership of the Customs Union. 27% would like Britain to leave the customs union, 37% would rather Britain pay a fee to remain a member.

Some other polls have asked wider ranging questions, asking about whole Brexit packages. My general assumption is that this is likely to be a better guide – in the end the Brexit deal is likely to be judged by whether it sounds good overall, rather than on a sum of its parts.

Before Theresa May set out her negotiating stance at the start of the year YouGov asked people about various Brexit scenarios. These suggest more problems with selling a “soft Brexit” to the public: a Norway style soft Brexit where Britain became a member of EFTA, stayed in the single market with EU immigration and a financial contribution was seen as good for Britain by 35%, bad for Britain by 38%. However only 32% thought it would respect the referendum result, 42% thought it would not. Compared to that Theresa May’s version of Brexit is popular – asked this week 52% still think her version of Brexit would be good for Britain (compared to 51% in March), 61% think it would respect the result of the referendum. By promising a trade deal AND controls on immigration she is presenting a version of Brexit that people would be happy with. The question is whether it is realistically possible. If May fails to secure the sort of Brexit she has asks for and returns with a deal that involves only limited free trade and customs checks and tariffs on British people think it would be bad for Britain by 42% to 31%.

Has the election changed the situation?

Given the variations you get from different question wordings on Brexit, the only real way of measuring if attitudes to Brexit have changed in face of the general election result are long term tracking questions. The YouGov survey this week was mostly made up of repeats of questions that were last asked before the election was called, and with a few important exceptions, opinion hasn’t changed much.

Directly comparing people’s preferences on Brexit there does appear to be a little shift towards a softer Brexit. Last November a hard Brexit of some sort was the first preference of 52% of people (26% favoured no deal at all with the EU, 26% only a limited deal), a soft Brexit or remaining a member was favoured by 48% (17% a soft Brexit, 31% remaining a member). Now only 45% support a hard Brexit (23% no deal, 22% a limited deal), 54% either a soft Brexit or Remaining (19% and 35% respectively).

The more drastic change has been confidence in Theresa May to deliver Brexit. Obviously this is not Brexit specific – the public’s attitude towards May has nose-dived across the board. Nevertheless, back in January 47% had confidence in May to negotiate the sort of Brexit she wanted, that has now fallen to 37%. In April 40% thought the government were doing well at negotiating Brexit, that is now only 22%.

This change is important – ultimately when Theresa May comes back with a final Brexit deal, she will be the person selling it to the British public (if she is still there, of course). Any political message depends a great deal on the person making it, and the Theresa May the public mostly thought very highly of in April 2017 would have been a far more effective saleswomen than the Theresa May we have now. To put it bluntly, she doesn’t have much political capital left to spend on selling her Brexit deal.

A second referendum?

Polling on a second referendum is somewhat mixed. The Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday at the weekend found 53% support a referendum on the final dead, 47% opposed, compared to 46% support and 54% opposition when they asked a very similar question in April. I should add a minor caveat in that the first question was asked online and the second by phone, but the important thing is the result: this appears to be the first poll that has shown more people supporting a second referendum than opposing one, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on to see if it’s a consistent pattern.

The YouGov poll this week asked a different question on what should happen after the final deal was agreed, offering options of a referendum or a Parliamentary vote, though it again appeared to show some movement. Only 25% wanted a referendum on the deal, 23% want a Parliamentary vote on the deal, 37% want the government to go ahead without any further. The proportion wanting a referendum or vote after the deal is up two points since the start of the month, the proportion thinking the government should just steam ahead is down five.

What next?

If there is public support for a softer Brexit out there, it does not mean it’s necessarily easy for the government to take advantage of it. The biggest obstacle for a soft Brexit is probably the politics of the Conservative party. The figures in most of this article are for the public as a whole. However, Theresa May’s position and her party’s position depends on the views of Conservative voters and those who might plausibly support them in the future. If you look at the answers for Tory voters, they think that a hard Brexit is preferable to a soft one, that May should plow on with the current targets rather than reconsider, that immigration control is more important than trade.

It would be interesting to see the same split amongst Conservative MPs (given the proportion who backed Remain it may not necessarily be in favour of hard Brexit), though the more pertinent question may be whether there are enough Conservative MPs who are wedded enough to the idea of a hard Brexit that they would trigger a vote of no confidence to remove Theresa May if she changed course. That, however, is steering away from this site’s focus on public opinion and polling into political commentary for which others are far better equipped than me. For now:

  • There has not really been much change in the overall proportions between Remain and Leave
  • But even if there is a fairly even split between people who think Brexit is good or bad for Britain, the proportion of people who think Brexit should go ahead is higher, as many of those who voted Remain think the referendum make it the government’s duty to go ahead with it
  • The ideal Brexit for much of the public one where Britain has its cake and eats it, where we control immigration AND have free trade – a substantial minority think this is possible
  • The version of Brexit that Theresa May laid out in January, with immigration control and the “freest trade deal” is still popular with a majority of the public
  • But trust in Theresa May to actually deliver it has plummeted over the last few months and most people don’t think other countries would agree to what she wants
  • If the sort of deal that May wants isn’t possible then most people think a harder Brexit would be bad for Britain. In contrast a Norway type deal risks being seen as not respecting the result. There is potential for either to be unpopular (especially for those people who think a cake-and-eat it deal was possible)
  • If push comes to shove, when people are forced to choose more people would opt for a soft Brexit rather than a hard one, for free trade rather than immigration control. However among Conservative voters the preference is the other way, and the political obstacles towards the Conservatives making such a change in their approach could be formidable.

915 Responses to “Public opinion on Brexit”

1 14 15 16 17 18 19
  1. @Colin A nice distinction. (in the original sense of nice) IDS wanted ‘interim’ so I suppose he thinks that we can’t know what the ffinal deal will be,

    @Trevor Warne and ToH I agree with you that it would be good for the UK to sell more to countries other than the EU. What is it that makes you think that it is the EU that is the main stumbling block to our doing so? Germany sells 9 times as much to China as we do (or so the Irish Ambassador said on the radio) and she is in the EU.

  2. “momentum” spreading “fake news” was lots of individual labour members and supporters doing their own thing on social media – creating and sharing posters, memes, videos, tweets- an organic process, not paid or co-ordinated – but very effective at countering the tory domination of the print media.

    What the tories are accused of doing is completely different – allocating resources and funds under the guise of “market research” in order to target marginal seats in a way that breaches electoral spending rules.

  3. On who would make best Prime Minister:

    J. Corbyn: 35% (+3)
    T. May: 34% (-9)

    (via @YouGov / 21 – 22 Jun)
    Chgs. w/ 07 Jun

    Note: this is the first time a LAB leader has been ahead on ‘best PM’ for more than a decade

  4. YouGov confirm Corbyn now seen as the best person to be PM over May by 35% to 34% with 30% don’t knows.An astonishing turnaround considering May held a 39% lead over Corbyn two months ago.

  5. I suppose that, looking at those figures the other way round, it is hard to see how it could get any better for Corbyn or any worse for May.

    So this might be as good as it can ever get [or as bad, depending on your viewpoint].

  6. the Other howard,
    “Others take the view that after an initial hit we will become a much more powerful tading nation as time goes on while the EU decline accelerates”

    This is a misunderstanding of the situation. The EU economy is growing, as is that of the UK. But its pretty obvious why the economy of a less developed country has more potential for growth than a more highly developed region like Europe. Because if you are less developed there is lots more you can develop as you catch up.

    But because the world outside Europe might be growing faster does not mean we can. We are part of Europe, and I mean this economically not geographically. We are poorly placed to take advantage of any of this growth elsewhere, which the countries councerned wish to make internal as much as possible. just as the EU protects its own internal market. If anything, the trading mass of th EU allows it to get good deals which the UK will not be able to get by itself. Nothing right now precludes us trading with any nation outside th EU, which will not still apply in the future. It aint going to get better. It can’t.

    I have no idea why you, and others, have the optimistic view that you do. Dure, there is a propaganda war about who is right, but I see no facts coming down on your side. How is this magic trade tree supposed to work?

    Trevor Warne,
    “I think a few people missed a recent poll”

    Professional pollsters are always very careful to berak down their questions so as to ascertain which parts of an issue influence voters. How were the issues separated out in the poll you mention?

  7. the other Howard,
    ” perhaps you see why I think the most probable outcome is that we will leave with no deal.”

    No. The fact the contradictions of brexit cannot be squared simply means they will still apply after a hard brexit. Politicians know that. Turkeys do not vote for christmas. Thus far they have all gone along with Brexit bcause to be the first to break ranks is to court disaster. But eventually when we really do get to the cliff edge, the choice becomes certain political death in the drop or U turn and take your chances.

    Jim Jam,
    ” the key group is the remain voters from 2016 who now think we should leave and not ask again. ”

    i don’t agree. They still believe remain is the right course. I think the key group is the leave voters who think there are no bad consequences to brexit. They are in for a surprise. The May election message was aimed at keeping these people on side, by reassuring there would be no negative consequences. Can she keep it up?

    May tried getting a big crowd of lemmings together so the conservatives would be hidden in the crowd. It didnt work.

  8. “I don’t think we should base our economy on a population mortgaged to the hilt especially when Brexit looks like being a dogs Brexit.”
    @ALLAN CHRISTIE June 22nd, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Generally I strongly prefer not to get personal, however (please correct me if I’m wrong) – have you not described previously how you did quite well out of the property ladder, with the help of “the bank of Mom and Dad” – and of the bank of Gran and Grandad?

    Personally, I’d be more supportive of an economy that works for people who have mortgages, based on their own personal situations, than on those who have been fortunate in their choice of parents.

  9. I have noticed that Remainers nearly always concentrate on the economic issues (which are little more than guesswork anyway). There is very little idealistic discussion of the benefits of being in the EU.

    On the Leave side there is a significant number of people who expect some economic turbulence but feel that it is a price worth paying for being able to set our own laws and trading arrangements.

    This to me is perhaps the most fundamental difference between the two sides. One is obsessed with money, the other thinks that some things are more important.

  10. I do question whether the EEA option is really there and whether the EU would be prepared to offer it. It’s actually shocking how little people have grasped that it’s not just about what we want. All parties have been guilty of this, as well as both brexiteers and remainers. It’s very worrying tbh.

    It seems to have gone under the radar how much tension there is with Switzerland over this within the EU, in particular as they’ve taken measures to block freedom of movement, which is against the agreement.

    Not entirely convinced everyone in the EU is prepared handle another Switzerland, especially in the form of a much bigger country that doesn’t have a physical border with a number of the more powerful countries.

    As we’ve always been considered awkward (rightly or wrongly) and have been kicking up a fuss about freedom of movement, we would definitely be considered more Switzerland than Norway.

  11. Danny,

    I don’t have the numbers to hand but there is a big majority against a second EU ref at present and it is remain voters who think the result should be respected who made the difference.

  12. @Danny @Jim Jam,
    ” the key group is the remain voters from 2016 who now think we should leave and not ask again. ”

    I confess to having been one of them for a while, or at least I would have professed to be (secretly I never stopped wanting it all to go away, but I was cowed by the ‘You want to defy the inexorable will of the great British public, you craven scumbag’).

    I always thought Brexit was quite mad and now it is gradually becoming socially acceptable to hold the view that the much
    advertised but wholly unsubstantiated inexorable will to exit at any cost -at least – is madness (viz 30 secret Tory MPs, 50 public Labour ones)

    I think the group to whom you refer are the softest of soft voters, and the slightest hint of a change in the wind would get them back onside.

    I agree with Danny that ‘the key group is the leave voters who think there are no bad consequences to brexit.’ Again, I think the bad consequences of Brexit (none of which are yet apparent) will gradually begin to unfold – a few jobs transferred here, an investment decision favouring the Spanish plant rather than the UK one there, a dire shortage of nurses – and this group will just as gradually start to wonder.

    Those with no mortgage, secure pensions, well set up children will stay Brexit, but demographics and the effluction of time will soon account for a couple of percent swing

  13. Pete B,
    ” One is obsessed with money, the other thinks that some things are more important.”

    Polling said that most leave voters believed they would be economically better off if we leave. only a relatively small minority believed there would be a negative financial impact but voted leave anyway for other reasons. Most peoples voters were thoroughly consistent with ‘its the economy, stupid’

  14. Pete B

    ” but feel that it is a price worth paying for being able to set our own laws and trading arrangements.”

    Tough, but you can’t do either of them even as a non-EU member. Well, that’s it. Lord Palmerston is not the Foreign Secretary anymore.

    It’s not against Brexit, it’s just a about the argument.

    I have a much simpler argument for Brexit, and it’s not economic: you don’t want to be a member in an organisation that can’t throw Hungary and Poland out. But all the other arguments are for staying in.

  15. Oh, and for my money, it isnt just the economic argument. I was very struck when the BBC dug up a recording of Ted Heath campaigning for ‘in’ arguing that the world power of the Uk required we be in so as to be able to exert control over the EU. I didnt think the remain campaign explored this angle at all, but let the question of ‘brussels imposing rules’ go by default. In part this is because the remain campaign was hamstrung by what has become a classic UK government excuse that ‘the EU wont let us’, when this is almost always a way to escape blame for an unpopular westminster policy.

    In order to campaign on the basis that the EU does not control the Uk, it is necessary to admit a 40 year string of parliamentary lies.

  16. Pete B

    I have noticed that Remainers nearly always concentrate on the economic issues (which are little more than guesswork anyway). There is very little idealistic discussion of the benefits of being in the EU.

    Yes, that’s a problem but the only party which has been consistently euro enthusiastic never seemed to have much traction for their idealism.

    I used to believe but to me it seems that the EU has become a thatcherite organization, the Lisbon treaty was horrendous. So my ardor has cooled somewhat, I’m still a reluctant Remainer.

  17. “One of these sounds a lot like Sh*t Creek to me.”
    @COLIN June 22nd, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    It ALL sounds like Sh*t Creek to me.

  18. I would love to remain in the EU personally. However, I’m far from convinced that a second referendum would be a good idea. Offering a second referendum would be difficult to spin as anything other than “ok let’s try and get the right answer this time” making people believe they’ll just keeping asking until they get the “right” answer. UKIP could become a unfeasibily strong party in this scenario.

    Essentially, this was more than just about the EU. This was also about people feeling in control and having a voice. You ignore the referendum and you stamp on a lot of people who already felt the system was rigged and against them. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of anger and mistrust that could explode I think here.

    Also, the anti EU topic will always be be on the table and won’t go away if we stay in. If anything it could get worse as so much will be lazily blamed on the fact we stayed in the EU and politics will get even worse. We won’t hold the same status as before, we’ll always be an unstable member with a high risk of leaving in the future, so we would probably still feel some of the negative affects of leaving the EU even if we stayed in.

  19. @Pete B

    You seem to be under the mistaken impression that the UK has been unable to make its own laws for the last 40 years.

    I can assure you, we’ve made plenty.

    We’ve also had a say in the creation of laws which apply to all EU countries, although leaving the EU means we would lose that privilege.

    As for setting our own trading arrangements, we’re going to have a harder time than you realise, I’m afraid. The rest of the world outside the EU that all the Leavers promise us will be so desperate to trade with us are all part of their own trading block, in the same way as the 27 other EU countries are. Why would they give preferential trading deal to a country outside their own trading block?

  20. Danny
    Those near the bottom of the earnings ladder will obviously think that they will be better off if they are not having to compete with unlimited numbers of East Europeans prepared to work for minimum wage. These are fairly numerous.

    My point was not that there are economic arguments on both sides, but that only one side seems to have anyone who sees more than short-term monetary advantage.

    You are talking nonsense. If we are out of the EU we will not be subject to the laws that they keep coming up with except those that we choose to implement. Now it may be true that after Brexit we have a government that acquiesces in all EU directives, but the people would then have the ability to kick them out and elect a government that would not be so subservient.

  21. TREVOR WARNE (Sorry forgot to answer this earlier)

    Survation are busy proclaiming themselves as the polling gurus but how did they do on turnout prediction?? Did we get 85%+ turnout???

    But pollsters always ‘over-estimate’ turnout because the people who can be bothered to reply to pollsters tend to be the sort of people who can be bothered to vote. Similarly the apathetic, disengaged and indeed dead are unlikely to take part in either activity. There’s no way to get round this.

    What really matters is whether the sample you do get is representative of those who vote next time and that any adjustments you make to the raw data[1] will get you nearer to that end. This can cause problems if overall turnout increases or decreases because it may not do so equally over all demographic groups. Even if turnout remains the same there may be shifts in the balance between groups or between regions.

    After May 2105 there was an assumption that a lot of the problem was younger voters saying they would vote Labour and then not bothering[2]. So pollsters downgraded them to what was assumed to be 2015 levels of engagement, ignoring the fact that more of them saying they would vote actually implied they would. After all if you’re going to trust people to tell you who they will vote for, why not trust them about if? Pollsters also may have upgraded older voters too much[3].

    So of course polling companies will not get the ‘estimate’ of turnout right[4], it’s the relative accuracy you need to look at, both between groups and between elections.

    [1] This is usually weighted to demographic factors – age, sex, class and so on. However sometimes pollsters use this weighting to also include assumptions as to the relative likelihood of how various demographics will vote, so the distinction between the two types of weighting isn’t always clear.

    [2] This may not be what happened. Rather the younger voters who took part in polls may have been unrepresentative of their peers, both in their interest in politics and who they would vote for.

    [3] There is some hint from MORI etc that there was a drop if anything in turnout here. Though a bigger problem may be the older voters polled (especially over 75) may have been as unrepresentative of their age group as the polled young voters in 2015 had been of theirs.

    [4] For similar reasons they always overestimate the percentage of voters who vote with a postal vote.

  22. Danny
    “In order to campaign on the basis that the EU does not control the Uk, it is necessary to admit a 40 year string of parliamentary lies.”

    That is absolutely true. Governments of all persuasions have consistently played down the influence of the EU on our laws. Also, your point about Heath saying that we had to join in order to exert control over the EU is laughable. Cameron couldn’t get even tiny concessions prior to the referendum.

    Though we have different views of the EU – I see it as more like Mussolini – You may yet see the light :-)

    OK, I phrased it badly. Of course we have made plenty of our own laws, but they have been constrained by what the EU allows. For instance, we would not be allowed to reintroduce the death penalty or use imperial measures. Also, many EU laws and regulations are more or less just accepted without being debated in Parliament. I know that existing ones will be incorporated into UK law initially, but we will then be able to elect a government that would overthrow the sillier ones.

    As for trade, the majority of our trade is already outside the EU. Free of their rules we will be able to negotiate better terms with at least some of our other trading partners. Also, the EU is a shrinking percentage of the world market anyway.

  23. No to imperial measurements, that’s totally bonkers

  24. Rachel
    I wasn’t proposing that we should go back to imperial measurements (though if we were allowed to use them as an option it would help exports to the US), it was just an example that sprung to mind of things that we would not even be allowed to do while within the EU.

  25. Anyway, g’night all. I hope we all sleep better in the cooler weather. Now that all the hot air isn’t coming from the Continent any more and we’re getting the cool breezes from across the Atlantic things can only get better. :-) jk

  26. Pete B,
    “My point was not that there are economic arguments on both sides, but that only one side seems to have anyone who sees more than short-term monetary advantage.”

    I don’t think polling answers this. It identified a sizeable minority of leave who believed they would be worse off financially but better off for other reasons. However, on the remain side almost everyone thought they would be better off financially by remaining. This does not mean it is their main reason for choosing remain, but there was no need to choose between financial advantage and some other.

    Perhaps I should also suggest that it is a leave argument that the EU is over controlling and a burgeoning state. The opposite of this is perhaps simply that it isnt, and is still what it was always billed as, a trading block. It isnt very ideological to believe that a claimed threatening beast simply doesnt exist. if you think these threats to UK sovereignty are imaginary, why would you not then plump for money in pocket?

  27. pete b,
    ” Free of their rules we will be able to negotiate better terms with at least some of our other trading partners”

    This is where I have the problem. How?

  28. Pete B,
    “I wasn’t proposing that we should go back to imperial measurements (though if we were allowed to use them as an option it would help exports to the US)”

    Arent US and UK imperial measureas different?

  29. “OK, I phrased it badly. Of course we have made plenty of our own laws, but they have been constrained by what the EU allows. For instance, we would not be allowed to reintroduce the death penalty or use imperial measures.”
    @Pete B June 23rd, 2017 at 1:03 am

    What? You do know what the EU is, don’t you? What an earth has the death penalty got to do with the EU?

    As for imperial measures, we have discussed this on here before. Starting from scratch and having to choose between metric or imperial why on earth would you choose imperial?

    This sounds strongly to me like UKIP nonsense.

  30. “As for trade, the majority of our trade is already outside the EU. Free of their rules we will be able to negotiate better terms with at least some of our other trading partners. Also, the EU is a shrinking percentage of the world market anyway.”
    @Pete B June 23rd, 2017 at 1:03 am

    Looking on the WTO website and using their tool to view the UK I see that, looking at merchantise trade (exports 2015: $460bn), if you lump Switzerland in with the EU that’s just over 50% of our trade. The other 50% splits out as 15% US, 6% China and 28% other.

    So these other countries. They will include Canada, New Zealand, Australia. Although it’s not broken out these will be the biggest chunk of this 28%. But it will also include the industrialising countries. These, of course will show a much greater rate of change, but that is simply because of scale. If I want to double my trade when I’m already trading £1000 that’s not too big a jump to £2000, but to double one million pounds is a totally different thing. All countries that are on a development path will grow quickly initially, but as they get substantial in size that growth will slow. To see that fast growth as the future is to misunderstand how the world economy is developing.

    So let me get this straight. The Brexiters want to leave because, although we already have as good a deal as we can ever get with our closest neighbours, we want to cook up our own trade deals with a group of countries that only provides a small percentage of our total exports? Honestly, are you mad? Why would you scupper all that existing export trade just because some little component is growing faster than the rest?

  31. @ Al Urqa

    The death penalty is relevant because (I think) it is not possible to be a member of the EU and have it. Leaving would make re-adopting it possible, though not in my view desirable/acceptable.

  32. @ Danny

    US and UK imperial measures

    In the US, there are only 16 fluid ounces to the pint; this affects the volume of a quart (2 pints in both countries) and a gallon (8 pints).

    Otherwise they are the same. (I’m not sure if the US uses some of the more obscure measures such as bushels, pecks and perches.)

  33. @Pete B

    Oh, the big bad EU is stopping us from bringing back the death penalty and imperial measures? I know the average Kipper wants to drag the country back to the 1950s but that’s utterly laughable…

    I’m sure you’ll say something like ‘Of course I don’t want to bring those back, they’re just examples’, but the fact you couldn’t provide more reasonable, rational and sensible examples of things that the EU has prevented us from passing laws against is very telling.

    Again, I reiterate my earlier point that we have always had the power of veto within the EU. Any laws we didn’t agree with, we didn’t have to go along with. Also, when you’re in the club, you get to suggest, debate and shape the new club rules. Once you leave the club, you don’t get a say in it.

    I think you completely missed the point I was making about trading with other countries outside the EU, so allow me to clarify. The EU is not the only trading block in the world, the other countries that Leavers are so fond of mentioning (India, China, Australia, etc) are all members of trading blocks themselves and each give preferential deals to other members of those trading blocks.

    How are we supposed to get good deals with them without joining their trading blocks?

    Essentially, it’s like cancelling your gym membership and then expecting to use the gym in the next town instead, without signing up for that one either…

  34. “As for imperial measures, we have discussed this on here before. Starting from scratch and having to choose between metric or imperial why on earth would you choose imperial”


    Well it could be quite handy if your business is selling conversion aids…

  35. Most economists will tell you that proximity is a factor in international trade. It’s called the distance effect.

    Worth bearing in mind when we start hyping our ability to turn on a sixpence (trade-wise), when a hard Brexit comes.

    A good example to consider is the size of the trade flows between mainland UK and the Irish republic.

  36. Yougov/Times

    Best PM (Jun 5-7 in brackets)

    Tezza 34 (43)
    Jezza 35 (32)
    Not sure 30 (26)

    Not sure is improving most!

  37. My Twitter feed is full of videos of young people chanting ohhhh jeremy Corbyn! I’m starting to find it a bit scary, I’ve always laughed at the personality cult narrative but it’s starting to look very much like it. Very strange!

  38. TOH, you keep saying we’ll take an initial hit after we Brexit. Then it’ll be all right. How long is this initial hit and what of those that really can’t afford this initial hit?

    Looks like the Tories may have broken election law, again.


    If the EU is willing to accept something close Mrs May’s proposals as the deal on migrants it would be be an excellent deal for the UK, and less than I thought we would be conceding.

    It would, at a stroke, resolve all the relevant issues of Freedom of Movement.

    It was never likely that either side would want to deport existing settled migrants anyway. I voted Leave and I certainly didn’t.

    Apart from the cruelty associated with doing so, it would have been an unmitigated disaster for businesses and public services here, who were already reliant on them as existing, trained employees.

    The key phrase in this report, is the statement that this deal relates to rights to stay, AND ACCESS HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND OTHER BENEFITS.

    I voted Leave and still would, but people coming here freely to fill jobs, has never been an issue for me. The problem has been vast numbers attracted here to take low paid jobs working only thirty hours a week (less of they have some disability or have children), on minimum wage, and so qualifying for Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and other benefits from the moment they arrive.

    People who come here, to work, set up businesses, and pay tax, without claiming benefits or using these expensive public services, are an asset we should be actively seeking to ATTRACT, not discourage.

    I myself would be content to see Free Access to Emergency Health Service Care (but not routine care or elective surgery), thrown in as part of this deal as well, along with access to the rest of the NHS, and to the Education System, upon payment of a reasonable annual charge per head.

    If something like had been conceded by the EU during David Cameron’s ‘re-negotiations’ it’s quite likely we would have voted to Remain. I certainly would have considered doing so.

    I think Laura Kuenssberg is being unduly pessimistic in suggesting that Mrs May is ‘on a collision course with the EU’ as to whether the ECJ or the UK oversees the new rules.

    This would be a Bi-lateral Agreement with the EU, so it’s perfectly reasonable to set up an Independent Arbitrator consisting of nominees from both the EU and the UK, which is empowered to arbitrate in disputes and make binding judgements.

    It might be agreed, that decisions could only be overturned, if the ECJ or the UK Supreme Court respectively, found that they were not in compliance with the law. And it could be written into the terms of the agreement that this would only ever happen, in exceptional circumstances where the case concerned has serious wide implications.

    For administrative convenience it might even be acceptable for the UK to concede that such an institution would be a sub court of the ECJ, whose jurisdiction in the UK was confined SOLELY to this function.

    Labour and the Lib Dems describing these developments as ‘too little too late’ is laughable.

    The negotiations only started this week, and it was the EU itself which refused to discuss it last year. The French Government has only been in office for a week and The German elections have yet to take place.

    Mrs Merkel has described these proposals as a ‘Good Start’? So who cares what fifth columnists in this country think. We’re negotiating with Mrs Merkel not Tim Farron or Jeremy Corbyn.

    Mrs Merkel’s response vindicates entirely our own determination to get a negotiated settlement rather than, as Labour and the Lib Dems have been demanding, giving up everything unilaterally and leaving our own migrants living in the EU, stranded with nothing.

  40. @CambridgeRachel

    I know what you mean, but is personality cult really the right description? Don’t you need to be a personality for that. I’m not trying to be snide or anything, of course Corbyn *has* personality, foibles, his own way of doing things and speaking, everyone does. But I’m not sure he qualifies as *a* personality does he?

    He doesn’t seem to be like a Boris figure, where a larger-than-life persona overwhelms anything they’re actually saying. He’d been in the House of Commons for donkey’s years, but how many of the public knew who he was before his leadership bid? I can imagine many other backbenchers would have had much more public recognition as “personalities”.

  41. @Cambridge Rach

    I suppose one way of dealing with it would be to ask yourself if you’d prefer it if they were chanting for Michael Gove.

    (Unless you WOULD prefer it, in which case it’s possible it might not help quite as much, but still…)

  42. I have always seen the EU primarily as an association of countries trying to work together for the common good. This arrangement, especially with so many countries involved, could never be without tensions or disagreements, but that is to be expected. It is inevitable that each of the partners would try to pull the whole organisation in their preferred direction but there has to be some give and take for it to work.

    In my view, the economics are part of, not simply a consequence of, this process. It is in the interest of the association to make everyone better off. That this may involve giving the poorer members more assistance at times is also part of promoting the common good.

    Of course the project can at times be led in the wrong direction, but it is up to the members to work to correct that, not to throw their toys out of the pram and walk away, I think it is unfortunate that we have chosen the latter course, because we do seem to have a lot of toys.

  43. @ DANNY – we voted to leave, we’re leaving. What matters now is how we leave. Germany have the competitive advantage of locking others into the Euro that benefits their manufacturing/export led economy. EU trade deals are collective. UK trade deals would focus on UK’s CAs (services, etc). Swiss have deals with China and Japan so I’d be OK with a Swiss+ deal (at least as transition). Norway not so much.

    @ ROGER MEXICO – most polling company has done post GE analysis showing why people voted so we have a good idea what was important to each group of voters. YouGov one here:

    Feel free to google the others. If a sample was truly representative it would get turnout close. Otherwise (as I said) the sample was lucky in being equally wrong across the main party split (Survation over estimated LDEM and UKIP, just happened to be closest on CON lead over LAB).

    Seems like going over old stories on this thread. Hopefully new thread soon.

  44. In today’s Times, item no. 4736 in the series: everything you always needed to know about Brexit but they were too afraid to tell you beforehand…

    “The government could face multibillion-pound legal claims from foreign investors if their profits suffer because of Brexit, investment lawyers have told The Times.

    International arbitration specialists have been advising overseas companies that if they lose access to the EU single market, they could sue the UK for damages under its bilateral investment treaties with their home countries.

    Holger Hestermeyer, an international dispute resolution academic at King’s College London and former staff member at the European Court of Justice, said: “The EU’s so-called divorce bill has sparked much excitement.

    “It is insignificant, however, compared to the damages the UK might have to pay to investors if they successfully take the UK to court for damages they suffered because of Brexit.”

    Britain has 95 bilateral investment treaties, including with Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and Russia…”

  45. Also in the Times. An analysis of the Social Media war…

    “Labour’s strategy relied heavily on video: Momentum posted no fewer than 68 videos in the week leading up to the election. Instead of pumping money into paid advertising (targeting Facebook users with the video), it focused on creating interesting content that people would share voluntarily on social media. This organic endorsement is more valuable than anything paid-for.

    They did humour and satire well. Videos included Daddy, why do you hate me? – a mock political broadcast asking people to vote for Theresa May “because your children deserve worse” – which was viewed more than 7.6 million times across social media.

    According to the group, the videos, many of them parodies, were watched by more than 22 per cent of Facebook’s British users, 9.8 million people.

    It also launched an NHS “baby number” engine, which allowed people to share where they ranked in the list of 44 million babies delivered by the NHS, along with the call to action, “Save the NHS. Vote Labour.” This reminded people of the important role the NHS has played over their lifetime and created something personal to them, offering a reason to share.

    However, the Conservatives’ strategy fundamentally misunderstood the psychology of social sharing and “virality”. Its videos focused on the strength of (strong and stable) prime minister Theresa May and scaremongering around the weakness of Jeremy Corbyn. They were straight-laced and stiff political broadcasts.

    Even the party’s attempt at a youth-seducing Buzzfeed-style “listicle” animation failed to engage voters, inviting critical comments such as “Kill foxes, destroy NHS, victimised disabled and take houses off the elderly…ruin education system? [sic] Not for me thanks”, which attracted 1,400 likes, one quarter of the total likes on the video itself; a pretty damning statistic.

    The party pumped money into promoting its videos to potential voters on Facebook, but with minimal impact: they generated an impressive number of fake views (Facebook counts three seconds of watching a “view”) and no real engagement. May’s messages were shared just 130,000 times.”

  46. “The death penalty is relevant because (I think) it is not possible to be a member of the EU and have it. Leaving would make re-adopting it possible, though not in my view desirable/acceptable.”
    @kitsune June 23rd, 2017 at 2:17 am

    Yes, this is true. But if we leave we will still be subject to the Convention on Human Rights. Even if we have nothing to do with the EU we still will not be able to bring back the death penalty. The only way we can bring back the death penalty is to leave the Convention. And remember, the Convention is NOTHING to do with the EU. It is related to the Council of Europe ( That is a totally different organisation to the EU. And if we leave that then you can stop calling the UK a civilised country; especially if you are leaving it to bring back capital punishment.

    I think I read somewhere that there is polling evidence that UKIP voters correlate very strongly with those who want to bring back the death penalty. Indeed it can be used as a proxy if I recall correctly.

  47. @ Carfrew. 7.40
    IIRC J P Morgan (the Plutocrats’ Plutocrat) came out in favour of a Labour win just before the GE!
    Also there was no criticism of the Labour manifesto from ‘the usual suspects’ in the CBI .
    How long can she hang on?

  48. Paul Croft

    “Anybody been impressed with ITV’s “Fearless” like wot I am?”

    Yes, my wife and I are both enjoying as we have many of the ITV drama’s of recent years. Usually of a very high standart of plot, acting and presentation.


    “Sorry, TOH, I’ve spent a wonderful afternoon walking round the lake at Holkham Hall so have only just seen your query.”
    Glad to see you reply, I assumed you had “chickened out”. Nice spot, I know it well having birdwatched the North Norfolk coast many times over the years.
    “See the analogy?”
    No, since I have made plain why I am not prepared to spend a lot of precious time presenting my case on many occasions. There is no point in presenting a case to you as it would not change your mind, which seems totally closed. For example every time I have given you backup information about the problems facing the EU, from reputable sources such as the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz or the LSE report that I posted you poo poo them.
    I really do have better things to do and no I don’t do irony very often as it tends to be a way of insulting people and their ideas, beliefs. I like to be straightforward in dealing with people, something I highly recommend to you.


    “This is a misunderstanding of the situation.”
    Not at all, I understand very well thank. The fact remains that the EU as a percentage of total World Trade ius declining and sharply. That is why I want the UK to be able to negotiate trade deals I n it’s own right outside the EU. I don’t agree with your analysis.


    See my reply to Danny.
    Pete B
    Liked your reply to Laszlo.

    Good post.

    I think I have covered most posts to me. Have a good day all, and keep smiling as I am, we are another day closer to leaving the EU.

  49. Tory backbenchers will be taking note of that yougov poll showing JC ahead of TM for best PM. The most recent change there being caused by a big drop in TM’s rating (-9) and a smaller jump for JC (+3).

    If the Tories needed a wakeup call as to the need to replace her as soon as possible – ie now – this is it. No doubt IMO the leadership will become front and centre just as soon as the queens speech is passed. May will be gone by the conference.

  50. Apologies, above YouGov link was the “who” GE results breakdown. The “why” breakdown is here:

    Asked for most important issues in deciding (allowed up three). Brexit cross break:

    CON 72
    LAB 35
    LD 57

    Survation asked similar “why” question. Review their twitter feed to find the link as their website is pants.

    Also worth opening up some of the back catalogue of Brexit polls AW kindly listed above. Lots of great info on whether people would prefer a bespoke deal (they used Canada) or EEA (wrongly categorized as Norway/EFTA but go with it – I doubt many people understand the difference between a Swiss and a Norway model anyway). YouGov also asked whether they thought those outcomes respected the result of the referendum. Both main parties picked up on the bespoke deal preference and respect for the result and were recently rewarded with 85% of the GE vote.

    P.S. It’s great to see May making a “fair and serious offer” for ex-pats rights. Polls have consistently shown that most people want those rights respected and settling the matter asap is a priority for both sides. #2 of Barnier’s 3 points hopefully ticked off quickly.

1 14 15 16 17 18 19