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”

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  1. I am sometimes called upon at work to write questionnaires, and have been sent on courses on writing questions which make sense, and try to get a useful response, so understand the difficulties involved.

    As one of the respondents to this yougov survey I was struggling to express my actual opinion, and reminded of the time when our eldest was about eight asked his sister, then about four, whether she would rather go on holiday to Skaro or Telos, (planets of daleks and Cybermen respectively). Her response was to burst into tears and sob that she didn’t want to go to either of those places.

    I’m? not convinced that it’s possible to accurately survey opinions on a subject like brexit, since there seem to be too many variables, too many unknowns, and as many variations on what it means as there are respondents. Well done for trying though.

  2. Carfew – I read your post at least and understood it clearly.

  3. SS – ”On the plus side for the Tories, that VI is *still* holding up amazingly well, particularly given all the negative coverage of the last week.”

    Yes we seem to be in ABT and ABLab mode in England and most of Wales. Divided nation indeed!

  4. Cambridgerachel

    “Because we are superior to those continentals”

    Oh dear! I think you should check out the Yougov chat firum and the HYS BBC site. Lots of people there to make these views feel at home

  5. @Tony

    I am very confident Rachel is being ironic.

  6. AW

    Many thanks for an excellent analysis

    Somerjohn

    “As an unrepentant remainer, I accept that we will leave, it will be catastrophic, and there’s nothing I can do about it except sit back, watch and nod sadly as events unfold.”

    As an umrepentent Brixiter I also accept we will leave. It may be painful in the short term but it will lead to a much improved international and economic outlook for the UK in the longer term.

    As for the EU it could be that the UK’s exit will be the start of the terminal decline and break-up of the EU which I believe to be inevitable within 30-50 years. We will do very well to be outside as that happens.

  7. The latest Survation polling figures showing only a 3% labour lead is quite interesting. Many would say Labour have not made a good economic case for a Labour government.

    [snip]

  8. @ToH

    Eurosceptics have been confidently predicting the imminent collapse of the EU every day for 40 years. Somehow it still seems to be there.

    I wish I could confidently predict the future 50 years out though.

  9. Tony and Chris

    I was of course taking the p

  10. “Whilst I understand why pollsters agonise over precise wording I do have to wonder whether whether those being polled perceive, understand or appreciate the crafted subtleties involved. It seems to me that in the heat of the moment, generally, those carefully phrased nuances are boiled away under the heat of each person’s personal prejudices and the answer reflects the question they think or would have liked to have heard.”

    ————-

    Precise wording can demonstrably make a difference. And those in marketing make quite a bit of dosh out of it. It’s increasingly a movement within politics, the whole ‘nudge’ thing, where just changing the wording a bit of a tax form or summat can dramatically change the outcome.

    Just because some may not be conscious of the impact, does not mean there’s no impact. Indeed, the effect can be magnified if they are not aware they are being influenced!!

    That said, of course it’s true that some may be so prejudiced that changing the wording makes little difference. But there are usually others who are less committed, waverers etc. for whom the wording will likely then have more impact.

    And even with those committed in a partisan manner, utterly unswayable, there can still be a further impact of the wording. Because they might be happy to propagate a meme that suggests ‘overthrow’ of a democracy, as opposed to one that suggests peaceful democratic protest resulting in an election.

  11. @JIM JAM

    “Carfrew – I read your post at least and understood it clearly.”

    ————

    Thank you Jim Jam!! Happily this was one of those occasions where being challenged on a matter affords the opportunity to dig some more out of it. One certainly can’t dismiss the matter, it’s bread-and-butter polling stuff.

  12. mike pearce’
    “She will do very well to still be in charge at the end of Brexit negotiations”
    I see it more a win by default, because of the dificulties of finding anyone to replace her.

    Edge of Seat,
    ” It is now absolutely crucial to make it clear to the electorate that they cannot have their cake and eat it,”

    Yet politicians do not seem to see it that way. Rather, they seem to think it absolutely critical not to make such matters clear.

    Answer=42,
    ” The last survey I saw identified 50% of the population who thought they would not be personally affected.”

    The recent yougov identifies 45% of leave conservatives (leavers are 2/3 of the conservatives total) think there will be no negative effects at all from Brexit. This strikes me as the key group if they discover otherwise.

    Canbridgerachel,
    “Not to worry our massive trade deficit is our biggest asset in the Brexit talks”

    I’m not convinced. Assuming mutual trade barriers which somewhat cancel out, I can’t help thinking the Brits love of luxury German goods will hold up stronger than their liking for…whatever.

  13. @cambridgerachel

    Fair enough. It’s early, Not enough coffee yet, :-)

  14. “The recent yougov identifies 45% of leave conservatives (leavers are 2/3 of the conservatives total) think there will be no negative effects at all from Brexit. This strikes me as the key group if they discover otherwise.”

    ———

    This is one of those Heisenberg things, where the polling itself may distort the outcome. It’s possible that some of those 45% may actually think there WILL be negative effects, but hope to use the poll itself to persuade people otherwise, being as Brexit isn’t settled yet.

    (Even if it was settled, they might still want to deny ill effects such that Brexiters avoid any blame…

  15. @Jim Jam

    “Yes we seem to be in ABT and ABLab mode in England and most of Wales. Divided nation indeed!”

    ———–

    This is another example of the effect of dominant things that trump other concerns. One such example was immigration, and another was the question of Corbyn’s competence.

    But a third, is the massive inflation of property prices for some. Once you’ve suddenly got over a million to preserve, this can suddenly overwhelm a variety of other policy considerations.

    For others lacking such assets though, still other issues may also come to dominate. Even if the basic case for Austerity is still accepted, for example, the matter then shifts to WHO should bear the brunt, is it being exercised fairly, fairness then becomes a dominant issue of policy.

  16. Just a little note about irony. A surprisingly large number of people are incapable of recognising it.

    I am a little surprised by the Tory vote holding up so well given the huge amount of negativity from all the media. Perhaps the public think May is being treated unfairly. A polling question may answer that. It is also possible that the calm and sensible Hammond interviews are holding the ship steady.

  17. The trouble with the whole Brexit debate is that Brexit means Brexit in exactly the same way as ‘x’ means ‘x’. It’s true to the extent that any logical rule is true but the question is “what is Brexit” and it undoubtedly means different things to different people. One of these things as AW points out is having your cake and eating it.

    Unfortunately whatever Brexit is it has to be negotiated and therefore we cannot simply decide it by vote. We can it is true leave the EU without a deal at the end of two years and without WTO terms (I believe we have to negotiate to get those). I doubt that many would relish that. We certainly cannot simply decide to have our cake and eat it, and opinions will differ on how far we can get that and how far any deal actually embodies it.

    Given these uncertainties I personally feel that the democratic thing to do is to maintain some control over the process (go for an interim deal, perhaps as a member of the EEA) and then use parliamment to agree the details of a final settlement.

  18. Guymonde

    Thanks for the link.

    I could have written it myself.

    Guys link:

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155368350083480&id=540783479

    You just could not write this as fiction.

  19. RMJH

    I too was surprised that the Tory vote seems to be holding up.

    I suspect that if there was a GE now, it would be another hung parliament but with the two main parties on very similar seat numbers in the 280s.

    That maths would favour Labour but we are definately a divided nation.

    Well done Cameron. Nice job!

  20. Given everything, the Con vote is holding up well. As I said before, with a new leader, new manifesto, I think there would still be every chance of a Con majority.

  21. @Tony

    That article is a perfectly-worded and succinct summing-up of the trouble we are in from people with no vested interest. Thanks for the link.

  22. @Rich

    You forgot to mention ‘new policies, new ethos and new membership’. I would agree with you in that case.

  23. “Perhaps the public think May is being treated unfairly. A polling question may answer that. It is also possible that the calm and sensible Hammond interviews are holding the ship steady.”

    ———-

    Indeed, it could be a variety of things. It could be, as I said, the preservation of the million quid asset that dominates. Will we have a polling question about that? And how many would answer honestly?

    Thing is, people don’t always seek to disguise the self interest. Like the survey that showed a surprisingly high proportion of boomers saying they planned to spend their gains on themselves. (And the same survey showed their descendants blissfully ignorant of this…)

  24. Carfrew,
    “This is one of those Heisenberg things, where the polling itself may distort the outcome”

    Thats something of an inherent problem. But the statistic is arguing the same way as other responses re chaos and confusion over Brexit. This is far more a spin campaign than a firm decision by voters.

    The background at the moment is that politicians generally are pushing Brexit. Even if they dont believe in it. This has started to generate kickback from voters who are rejecting their decision. Some of the politicians were aiming for this to happen. What happens to the political consensus as and when opinion gets firm enough against brexit remains to be seen.

    Labour have about 5:2 more remainers than leavers, but that isnt enough to firmly commit to remain. Still more work to do before they switch official tack. For the conservatives, there is an even steeper hill to climb with the reverse proportions.

    For the EU this is probably something of a negotiating nightmare. There is no guarantee whatsoever that anything the May team agrees will be accepted by the parliament or voters.

  25. Great summary AW

    Of course what isn’t yet apparent-midst all this “what do we want” analysis-is what will be on offer.

    The latter being arguably more significant than the former.

    Surprising Poll-quite good for Cons considering.

    Assuming the Tories don’t try to replace her, TM can pull this back gradually by delivering on Grenfell Tower & Brexit.

    Corbyn’s troops can overplay their hand on the streets. Parliament is where we make political decisions in this country.

  26. My wife votes Liberal, she said last night social media and the left are over doing the attacks on May. I wonder if this is back firing now? All the personal attacks on Corbyn I also think backfired in the election so maybe people like an underdog over here. Part of UK DNA.

  27. Listening to Hammond yesterday just confirms what a complete & utter disaster the Tory Campaign strategy was.

  28. @Danny

    “Thats something of an inherent problem. But the statistic is arguing the same way as other responses re chaos and confusion over Brexit. This is far more a spin campaign than a firm decision by voters.”

    ———

    Well it’s a lot less of a problem if the results of the poll are held back, perhaps for years, so they can’t shape current opinion. The immediate publishing of polls heightens their utility in shaping rather than reflecting opinion.

    But yes, it may be that it fits in with other things, I haven’t looked into it myself. But if you are setting it alongside other polling indicators, they may also be attempts to influence of course!

  29. @Rich

    “My wife votes Liberal, she said last night social media and the left are over doing the attacks on May.”

    ——–

    Of course it’s possible some people think there isn’t enough challenge of May. Need some polling to find out really…

  30. We all know the split in the Tory party is there.
    It is about to become immanent IMO.
    The QS debate could be very important in providing the theatre for the split to affect the future of the Government.

  31. carfrew,
    I’d suggest the whole polling history of the election campaign demonstrates the benefits of spin as opposed to fact. Corbyn’s polling unpopularity was clearly very ‘soft’ and a result of spin about him. The polling was wrong, and probably contributed to this image, as you suggest. People like being on the winning side and being herd animals.

    As things went along, substance (or maybe a different spin) rehabilitated his image. A trend having begun, the herd is now going in the opposite direction. The fight right now is probably over whether this is going to impact the herd’s view on Brexit. It seems there has been a modest change, reported and discussed here. As the polling news spreads, will it be self-reinforcing that we now believe Brexit is bad?

  32. @ToH

    Yep, watched some if it in the pub while I worked my way through the Sunday Times.

    Very enjoyable, the cricket at least. The stuff in the Times about May was a bit sobering…

  33. @Colin

    “Parliament is where we make political decisions in this country.”

    Most of the constitutional trouble we are in is because Parliament didn’t make the political decision we are having to enact. It was given over to the general public.

  34. @CARFREW,

    It is certainly possible for councils to get into buy to let at present interest rates, usually through an arm’s length company. The problems arise when interest rates climb, and interest payments + maintenance costs exceed revenue. This can happen in surprisingly short order. There is also some evidence that council owned companies are heavily outbidding commercial buyers for some property, which leads one to suspect that they may come unstuck.

  35. COLIN

    “Listening to Hammond yesterday just confirms what a complete & utter disaster the Tory Campaign strategy was.”

    Clearly it was and it has made life very difficult for the Tories. Instead of attacking Corbyn they should have attacked his economic policies. The manifesto was awful and I think down to arrogence. After seven years of what people call austerity, being brutally honesty was not what the average voter wanted to hear.

  36. we are already the laughing stock of Europe and we havent even left yet!

    @the other Howard I respect your view but I see no reason why the EU should suddenly collapse after we leave

    I personally do not accept that the UK leaving is inevitable.
    I am sure that a couple of months ago on here 95% of people thought that TM winning an overall majority was inevitable…

  37. Steve

    “I see no reason why the EU should suddenly collapse after we leave”

    Nor do I you need to read what i said again.

  38. @Danny

    Yes, as others have also said, it’s possible once people had something more concrete regarding Corbyn, it undid a lot of the previous impression created.

    Can’t really just leave it there, because there is also the impact of policy, and the contrast with Theresa. Tricky to work out how much of each.

    There is also summat I think people might think about a little more: the impact of all those young people in swaying some opinion. How much was that worth?

    Then there’s the memes. Corbyn’s “For the Many not the Few”, versus… “Strong and Stable”.

    I also can’t help wondering… have the media had a bit of a change of heart? Not least because demographically, they can see the writing on the wall…

    Regarding the modest change in Brexit sentiment, yep, we kinda need to know why and if it’s a trend…

  39. the tory vote (seemingly) holding up is – i suspect – down to a chunk of voters (maybe 10%?) – for whom brexit is the most important issue wrt to how they vote and they trust the tories to deliver it more than labour.
    IF/when their expectations of how brexit unfolds are confounded they may well desert the tories for other parties (or none).
    The talk now is of a “transitional” period where the UK is still in the Free trade areas (like norway) but no longer part of the EU governing structures.
    The period could drag on for years whilst the ( mindbogglingly complex) details of the final deal are worked out.
    I cant see this going down at all well with the most brexity voters – they are likely to see it as a betrayal and a stalling tactic which has the potential to end with the UK staying in the UK after all (a justified fear IMO).
    In this situation i wonder weather a farage led UKIP could start making its presence felt again.

  40. @RMJ1

    “It is certainly possible for councils to get into buy to let at present interest rates, usually through an arm’s length company. The problems arise when interest rates climb, and interest payments + maintenance costs exceed revenue. This can happen in surprisingly short order. There is also some evidence that council owned companies are heavily outbidding commercial buyers for some property, which leads one to suspect that they may come unstuck.”

    ————-

    Yes, it’s definitely possible to screw it up. If you’re buying on potentially injurious terms, it’s less of a money tree and more of a potential money pit!!

    A potentially better model is for councils to acquire land cheap, build property themselves that can reduce costs and increase gains, then increase the value further by leveraging the council’s power to establish communications links, amenities etc.

  41. @TOH

    “all you need to do is examine the facts such as the Euro is designed to strengthen the German economy and weaken those of southern Europe”

    You seem to be getting confused between the concept of ‘facts’ and that of ‘opinions’ though to be fair this is a common trait amongst you Brexibunnies.

    Thinking about developing views about Brexit and the herd mentality: I’ve never wavered from the view that Brexit will be an unmitigated catastrophe but over the winter I began to acquiesce to the view that it had all been decided and we’d better get on with it, act of self-harm as I believe it to be (actually, there has been probably irreversible self-harm already, as the Swiss ‘laughing stock’ article attests).
    Elements of the herd who take the view that there’s a possibility this inexorable process can be arrested are getting a bit more air time recently. I am happily joining that element of the herd.

  42. ToH – ‘Many would say Labour have not made a good economic case for a Labour government’

    Labour got away with weaknesses in it’s Economic policy due to various factors; perhaps the biggest 3 being:

    First. The Conservative manifesto was not costed properly either;
    Secondly, the end to austerity message was more important to many voters and the IFS this IFS that, magic money tree etc is just blah blah blah as far as these are concerned.
    Finally, some voters voted Labour to send a message to the Tories, including some Tory remainers, and had Labour looked like winning or even being the largest party an element of these would not have done so..

    The naivety at my local GC on Saturday which reasonably was in celebratory mode was somewhat worrying. Many seemed to think the next GE is in the bag!
    Our MP pointed out that next time the Tories will have a new leader who is probably better at campaigning, a better manifesto and our manifesto will be scrutinised more thoroughly re Economic policy but also defence and security. Doing this without being accused of being a meo-liberal Blairite Red Tory is tricky.

    Senisible Labour voices, whilst acknowledging that Corbyn is now unassailable for the foreseeable future (and acknowledging that he had an excellent campaign) want to shape the debate going forward to how we can win without doing a Chris Lesley

  43. @RMJ1

    “Quantitative easing keeps coming up as an example of a magic money tree in opperation. It depends how you do it. The bank of England swapped new cash for bonds. Those bonds have since been parked – taken out of circulation – so there has been no real additional money in circulation, although the money that is there is more liquid. Hence the benign effect on inflation. Helicopter money would be an altogether different animal.”

    ——–

    That’s not the end of the story. The BoE uses it’s printed money to buy stuff off the banks which may her parked, yes, but then the banks now have money they can spend. Some gets used to buy government debt, which is handy for the government, some gets spent on assets inflating property prices and assisting the economy…

  44. @ CARFREW – I agree natural resources are a great example of money trees (ignoring the special case of Middle East/Russia you can see this impact in Western economies like Canada). Unfort for UK, North Sea oil is both relatively expensive and running out (and with new finds/processes, US fracklog, etc the price is unlikely to rise much). We also have a very weak position in agriculture and even if we pushed fracking, off shore wind farms, etc the money involved isn’t huge (not 50bn/year for sure!)
    In short we lack those kind of money trees in UK.

    Govt owning assets to rent out (houses, railways, etc) is possible but they need to be well managed (e.g. Swiss rail). IMHO if the unions indirectly control the govt’s assets they will not be well managed. Those kind of money trees can quickly turn into money pits!!

  45. @RMJ1

    In America the central bank also used QE to relieve the banks of some of their toxic debt burden. (Over a trillion dollars worth IIRC…)

  46. @the other Howard I appreciate that you did not state “suddenly” but you did say that the break up of the EU was inevitable within 50 years. Within that timescale it possibly is because the world will undergo huge change in that time. Within the next 20 years though I strongly believe that the UK is better placed to remain IN the EU.

    Considering the demographic which voted Leave are already starting to die out, if we do leave then the increasing majority of the country will spend that time trying to get back in (but with none of the perks and influence that we enjoy today) The whole Brexit attempt therefore seem a fairly futile exercise in self harm.

  47. “The Tory vote is holding up so well”

    12 point swing within 6 weeks and that is “holding up well”?

    Traditionally the party which wins the most votes and seats in an election is awarded a significant ‘winners bonus’ which we can see time and time again in the polls, following general elections.

    This is the one occasion where the ‘winners bonus’ seems to have been allocated to the losing side, and that is well before any mid-term blues starts to settle in. This is supposed to be the honeymood period, after all.

    In an historical context, this is an absolutely dreadful performance for CON. They have taken a 22-point lead and converted it into a 3 point deficit – during what is usually the ‘honeymood’ period.

    A little perspective goes a long way.

  48. Is Brexit really a proxy vote for money to pay for resources that the country needs ?

    The UK’s net EU contribution was about £10 billion a year, but it is unknown what the costs will be to have a tariff free trade deal with the EU. Also if the UK agrees trade deals with other countries, they usually come with terms that might be unattractive. India and China have both indicated they would want more UK visas for their citizens. The US wants to export meat that the EU currently does not allow etc etc.

    At some point there will be real analysis of the Brexit deal and a look at the likely trade deals that might follow with different countries. It will be interesting what the polling might indicate, when more information is available.

  49. @Trevor

    The potential for renewables is I believe a bit greater than some think. Efficiency keeps rising, prices plummeting. It’s very early days still. Though regulars on the board will know that I think Thorium could well be a much bigger money tree, and possibly even Polywells one day.

    (Frankly given the way prices have gone up PLUS the VAT hike, storage units seem to be quite the Money tree for private and public alike.)

    Regarding utilities as money trees, the public purse used to get billions from telecoms, even if “poorly managed”, because we got all the profits not just the tax.

  50. “Labour got away with weaknesses in it’s Economic policy due to various factors; perhaps the biggest 3 being:

    First. The Conservative manifesto was not costed properly either;

    Secondly, the end to austerity message was more important to many voters and the IFS this IFS that, magic money tree etc is just blah blah blah as far as these are concerned.

    Finally, some voters voted Labour to send a message to the Tories, including some Tory remainers, and had Labour looked like winning or even being the largest party an element of these would not have done so..

    —————–

    Would love to know how much of each it might be! How many were swayed by Tory proposals being uncosted, how many think IFS is just noise, how many want to send a message…

    …There are other potential factors. How many expect more from Austerity. How many think it’s about fairness in how the burden is shared. How many think Labour’s proposals on tuition fees are irrelevant, it’s about preserving assets. I know it’s hard to cover all bases, but could polling do a little better?

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