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 suspicious of questions asking about “freedom of movement” and the “single market” because I’m not sure people know exactly what they mean”

    I think it’s almost certain that a majority don’t have a clue on the finer details of either, or such concepts as a customs union either.

    Was it ipsos mori who did the poll about a year ago which asked a number of questions on things like what % of the uk population is EU immigrants and, size/cost of the EU etc? Remainers and leavers alike were generally hopelessly out (usually in the direction of painting a worse picture of the EU than was actually the case – more immigration, more expensive & wasteful etc).

    It would be interesting if a similar survey was done about understanding of terms like single market, customs union etc.

  2. Carfew, I did not wish to imply that for Labour voters, in particular new ones and Con switchers did so for a particular single reason. Although some will have for many it is the cumulative consequence of those I raised and others as they are connected of course.

  3. @ The Other Howard

    “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.”

    ONLY a three percent lead. That sounds like spin to me!

    Earlier this month, the Tories got something like 43% and Labour 40%, or thereabouts. What does Survation say it is now?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/19/new-poll-puts-labour-ahead-conservatives-theresa-may-still/

    “Now a new survey suggests the Tories have been overtaken by Labour with respondents to a Survation poll for ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme putting Jeremy Corbyn’s party on 44 per cent and the Conservatives on 41 per cent.”

    Ever since Theresa May called the general election, we’ve seen Corbyn’s Labour gain support, and now they’re surpassing the Tories. It’s pretty obvious that the Tories are going to fight tooth and nail to avoid another general election, because the writing on the wall is that the Tories will lose more seats….

  4. “the final dead” haha sounds right!

  5. @JamesB

    My local university has any number of books about Nazi Germany but you’d struggle to find many about Germany and the EU.

  6. With regard to the EU disappearing in 50 years.

    I worry that the UK leaving will be a major catalyst in bringing that about and a lot sooner than 50 years time. I also worry that our Brexit politicians and their followers are being exploited by other ‘forces’ who have a vested interest in the EU disbanding.

    Over the years I’ve seen many big businesses review their operations, decide that there are potential gains to be had in changing direction and then found that because a major player has changed course, the whole industry moves the same way. Generally this results in extra costs, few overall benefits, reduced profitability all round, plenty of losers and no winners. Of course no one knows what the result would be if the business that initiated the major change hadn’t done so.

  7. @ SS Simon

    Voting Intention (change since May 9th)
    CON: 41% (-7)
    LAB: 44% (+14)
    (@Survation)
    That 10.5% swing over 6 weeks is extraordinary.

    ———————————————————————-

    Significant, isn’t it?

  8. @JimJam

    “I did not wish to imply that for Labour voters, in particular new ones and Con switchers did so for a particular single reason. Although some will have for many it is the cumulative consequence of those I raised and others as they are connected of course.”

    ——–

    Yes, for my part I wasn’t intending criticism of your post. I was just riffing off it a bit, trying to get a handle on all potential factors, and then to what extent could polling reasonably assess them.

  9. The general tone seems to be to pillory Cameron for promising a referendum in the first place, as if that’s what has led us to this deplorable situation. In many ways that’s correct, but think back to why he made that promise.

    He was heading into a GE where UKIP were on the ascendancy and the Tories might well lose a substantial number of seats either to UKIP or to other parties because the Tory vote had slipped away to UKIP. Added to that there was a rump of Tory MP’s who either believed in Brexit or could see that their seats were at risk unless they played along as Brexit supporters.

    If he’d not promised a referendum I suspect Milliband would have won and where would we be now?

  10. My advice to the tories would be the same as Cpl to thr home guard platoon.

    Volatility can go both ways.For my part i dont think the country likes the perceived bullying of TM. For every action there is a reaction. if she survives the week she will survive the year..IMHO

  11. Tory vote holding up is because Corbyn is not a New Labour candidate (Note I think the ship has sailed on being able to court the right and keep the Left on your side by just not being a Tory) so hes still quite marmite.

    The news plays a part as well. Everyone expects May is dead, so why would she impact anyones vote? Additionally I feel any gains for Labour are really to the Tories despair – the Tories did a lot, but no where near enough to turn those Northern constituencies Blue (mainly because of the fundamental fact their Tories). If the Tory vote ‘holds’ but Labour gains from the likes of Lib Dems a lot of seats will be changing hands with little opportunity to target Brexit seats.

    This year is likely to be a mess; can’t see an election under any circumstances. Todays attack just adds fuel to the fire – the Conservatives have been in power 7 years and are aiming for another 2 at least (based on Queens Speech)

    Personally I think they need to be gutsy; slash May and call an election and fight on the centre ground – they don’t need their right on Europe – Labour will back any agreement but a no deal (they’ve said more or less this) so can spend some political capital. They might lose, get another minority or a slim majority depending on the candidate. But if they continue this zombie government then their reputation will be in tatters. The risk of losing power to be is less than the risk of holding on no matter what.

  12. Serious point, would Labour really want to be in power now. The in tray is brutal!?

  13. “If he’d not promised a referendum I suspect Milliband would have won and where would we be now?”

    —————-

    We’d be celebrating the polling impact of bacon sarnies and Ed Stones, Lynton might not have gotten a gong, and Tories would be casting around for their own version of Miliband the Master…

  14. Carfew – understand.

    We know our hosts views on ‘did or does this policy make it more likely…? questions.

    No doubt Tory and Cons will be doing or at least commissioned internal polling already and be using focus groups but in the end I think it will be judgement calls by party strategists.

    Take the IFS, I have seen attacks on it as being part of the neo-liberal elite, mentioning its founder and history etc. No doubt some on the left would want to attack them as a way of countering any ‘uncosted’ challenges. I am sure it will work with some but maybe others may well drift away.

    Question for Labour high command. To what extent do they try to ensure that the Economic policy passes the IFS test (you can be a bit out)?

  15. JIM JAM

    Your 9.55 to me. very sensible post. Like you I do not necessarily see a Labour victory at the next GE which may well not be until 2022 and by then the Conservatives will have a new leader and different policies.

    Steve

    Thank you for your comment. We profoundly disagree with each other.

  16. JAMESB
    “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”
    I think it’s almost certain that a majority don’t have a clue on the finer details of either, or such concepts as a customs union either.

    —–
    I agree. Even a year after the referendum vote, people I talk to have no clue at all about the different arrangements of the EEA, EFTA, etc. Let alone the wider institutions like Euratom or the EU Open Skies agreement. The phrase “single market and customs union” (generally prefixed by ‘out of’) is used so often that hardly anybody bothers to understand that these are completely different things, and that membership of the Customs Union does NOT entail free movement – though it does obviously entail accepting the jurisdiction of the ECJ. Our prime minister has at times seemed to conflate the ECJ with the ECHR, And some of Keir Starmer’s interviews have left me wondering whether he fully understands that the EU principle of Free Movement relate to the movement of LABOUR, not people. (It would be easy for the UK government to bring in a registration regime similar to Holland or Germany that would make it in practice impossible for EU citizens to move here without first having employment; we don’t have to leave the EU to do that! How many people know this?)

    In short, there is still so much misunderstanding, misinformation and deliberate obfuscation about the EU, both from Conservative and labour, that I doubt any useful national debate can be had.

  17. The main problem is that the questions are not couched in terms people understand.

    For example if you explain that a population growing at the rate it is means more Grenfell Tower type housing, more dependence on foreign food imports and less access to schools and hosptials (where we already have a staff shortage), then you will get an increase in people wanting population controls.

    Increasingly these surveys are showing the effects of framing a question rather than any substance of the question itself.

  18. Milliband of course, for all his faults arguably put county and principle before party and would not agree with a policy of an EU in/out referendum. Had he done so surely enough Red Kippers would have stayed with Labour to have made a difference in enough Tory/Lab marginal seats to prevent a Con PM and possibly even a Con/LD C&S.

  19. STEANDRIVENANDY

    “I worry that the UK leaving will be a major catalyst in bringing that about and a lot sooner than 50 years time.”

    Back the Government on Brexit, and don’t worry is my advice. We will be well out of it when it falls apart.

  20. @JimJan

    I think policy can have more impact, but a lot of it is either latent or else indirect, and I am also interested in what is the broadest range of other factors that might have an impact. Most of my examples, from media assessment of demographic trends, to the power of memes, were not about policy per se.

    The difficulty with costings of course is the stuff the IFS might leave out of their calculations. Those early investments into developing the Internet for example, how many knew how much that would ultimately be worth? There can be hidden costs too…

  21. In a rational world the EU would not collapse. It would, however, change. Those with economies and political traditions that allow ever closer union based on the EURO would press on for that. Those who do not meet these conditions but who nevertheless benefit from free trade, co-ordinated regulation of standards, co-operation on security, research and so on would have a different but more or less standard relationship with the Eurozone. Everyone would benefit, including the rest of the world.

    Sadly the world is not rational,,people believe what they want to believe (see the way that even our bets at the last election were based on what we wanted to happen). So the chance that we will all drift towards a situation in which we get the worst of all worlds is far too high for comfort.

    [Snip]

    Those supporting Brexit are advised not to read either of these links [in that case, they are probably not appropriate to post – if saying it here would break the comments policy, please don’t post links to it either – AW]

  22. @ CARFEW – I need to reread how LAB intend to renationalise industry. I thought it was printing 500bn and buying them back at market prices. With low long-term gilt yields the return required to at least break-even on that investment might be achievable. Its going to impact several large companies share prices and hence my interest!

    CON tried to tap one huge money tree we haven’t discussed – capital gains on property (attack on their core vote!) This ties in with the post-Brexit largest issue for the UK (and most Western economies) – ageing population. That leads to the huge money pit known as NHS and Social Care. Dementia Tax/Death Tax etc sounds awful but someone needs to pay for every increasing cost of the NHS and Social Care (or we completely change the healthcare model in this country) – some method of tapping into capital gains on property is a “Left” policy.

    My analysis of CON votes at a seat level (YouGov’s MRP would have also picked this up) suggests rich postcodes saw drop in CON turnout (and/or switch to LDEM) so I expect CON will not attempt to deal with the ageing population issue in the revised manifesto we’ll see on Weds (ie they drop means testing Winter Fuel, keep triple lock, etc. Not sure what they do about Social Care – set up another cross party commission and avoid/delay the issue my guess). Capital gains on property is a tricky one for LAB to mess with, do some younger LAB voters view their parents property as an inheritance windfall that they want to protect? It’s a primed question with large social correctness so doubt a poll would give a “true” answer and the can will probably just keep being kicked down the road. If LAB can sell it correctly then harvesting capital gains on property might fund some of their Socialist polices.

  23. ToH – At least labour are in contention now which is obviously good for them but also for the Tories as complacency is bad and leads to things like the poll tax and the 2017 manifesto.

    IMO Labour drifted as well 2001-2005 as well as IDS encourages complacency, seeds of 2010 GE defeat sown in that parliament imo.

    Having 2 serious contenders for Government will hopefully be better for the country as it should make both better, hopefully not by outbidding each other but by sharpening the thinking.

  24. JIM JAM

    Totally agree with you, it is good for democracyas was the increase in young voters.

  25. @AW

    . “One is asking if we should stay in the single market and/or the customs union”

    This is not a question to ask. If the UK leaves the EU it automatically leaves both the Single Market and Customs Union.

  26. @Trevor

    Yes, I’m a bit vague on their renationalisation plans. I get the impression it might depend on the sector. Rail benefits from integration, so kinda need to aim towards having the whole shebang. But I had the impression that for some things, they were just going to introduce a state player into the market, to keep the others honest, eg energy prices, and to step in in a crisis, eg if we’d had a state bank it could have ramped up operations to compensate and stop businesses going under when banks were seizing up in the Crunch and ending overdraft facilities.

    Yes, windfall taxes are another tree, but not necessarily of the “left”, Thatcher taxed windfalls on banks, for example. We don’t necessarily have to see health spending as just a cost of it enables boomers to keep being economically active. Or even, simply helping their offspring out so they can be more ecomically active than before.

    The TOTAL potential costs and benefits don’t always get properly assessed…

  27. @SteamDriveNandy

    “If he’d not promised a referendum I suspect Milliband would have won and where would we be now?”

    We have no idea of course, but it’s difficult to see how we could be in a worse position than we are now. Whether you like Brexit or not, the idea of going into a difficult negotiation with a govenment balancing on a slender majority, and most of the country divided about what we want from Brexit, scares the (something) out of me. I’m perhaps not so worried for myself, but I have children who haven’t yet even had the chance to vote on this stuff yet.

  28. STEVE

    Well if there were riots in the streets (I actually expect celebrations when we leave) then I assume the police and if necessary the army will put them down and the ring leaders arrested and charged in line with the laws of the UK

  29. SAM @ AW
    If the UK leaves the EU it automatically leaves both the Single Market and Customs Union.

    Did I miss something over the EEA Article 127 challenge?
    I thought it was left in limbo by the courts. Genuine question BTW.

  30. @the other Howard

    “Remember by 29th March 2019 we will no longer be in the EU”

    this possibly might happen.

    2 things are probably more likely

    1) article 50 will have been revoked
    2) we will be in a transitional phase as it is highly unlikely a deal will have been done by then

  31. Steve

    Your first scenario is a no-starter, your second is possible although even then I assume we will have left but be in transition.

  32. if there is a GE in the next 2 years (highly likely) then Labour may well emerge as the largest party and be able to govern with the support of Libs and SNP.

    a second referendum would at that point be very likely which REMAIN would very likely win. article 50 could then be revoked.

    a lots of ifs I know…but look at the difference the last 2 months has already brought. the mood is shifting fast in the country and with a newly politicised younger voice that is unlikely to go away.

  33. @Barbanazero

    Is this link helpful?

    http://www.allenovery.com/Brexit-Law/Documents/Macro/EU/AO_BrexitLaw_-_EEA_Membership_Jul_2016.PDF

    EEA membership may be a transition point but not a destination, it is clear from what has been said by Conservatives

  34. One post-election poll tells us very little beyond providing succour to those whose main interest is to spin partisan narratives around its findings. Survaton fared well in terms of the GE result, but the credibility of political opinion polls generally has been shot to pieces once again and I’d be careful about reading too much into this first one to emerge after June 8th. Large pinches of salt required, I think. Other polls are pointing to a collapse in May’s personal approval ratings but they could be wrong too in terms of reflecting the wider public opinion. Who knows?. All that said, VI ratings taken 11 days after 30 odd million have actually cast their real vote, and probably years ahead of them being asked to do so again, are, taken in the round, the very essence of meaninglessness.

    Overall political weather seems to be this for me. No post-election win honeymoon for governing party, but no collapse in support either. That said, usually the opposite is true and there’s a short bounce for the returning government and the fact that support hasn’t drained away more is a bit of a straw to be clutched, isn’t it? Extraordinary transformation for Labour compared to where they were only 7 weeks ago. Image and public perception of May and Corbyn turned on its head. Ghastly in-tray for May, likely to get worse and this time with a rejuvenated opposition in full cry. Right wing tabloid support draining away from May’s premiership and knives, while still sheathed, ready to come out in the Tory PP when the time is right. No election landslide and minority government instead. Brexit for real starts today. Phoney war and posturing over.

    I’m trying to see where all this Tory optimism is coming from, but I’m struggling a little, I have to say.

  35. @STEVE
    “the mood is shifting fast in the country”
    Not so sure of that. The Tory VI in that recent poll is surprisingly resilient given the last few weeks. I think its a mistake to interpret the catastrophic self-inflicted damage by the Tory party upon itself as public opinion moving to Lab because people have evaluated and preferred it. The GE result was more about punishing the Tories for their abjectly awful campaign, manifesto, and weak+wobby PM than anything else. And those are all things the party is acutely aware of and not likely to repeat.

    Put another way, TM came very very close to a majority despite the car crash campaign and Lab are still 60+ seats behind. Quite a result considering.

  36. SAM

    Thanks for the very useful link. But it doesn’t say what you claim:

    “On its face, this would suggest that it would be open to
    the UK to exit the EU following the procedure set out
    in Article 50 TEU, but take no action under Article 127
    of the EEA Agreement. However, this raises the
    question of whether the UK would remain an EEA
    Contracting Party. One difficulty in that respect is that
    the territorial ambit of the EEA Agreement (as defined
    under Article 126(1)) is limited to the territories to
    which the EU Treaties apply, plus Norway, Iceland and
    Liechtenstein, creating a paradox of the UK potentially
    being party to an international economic and trade
    agreement, the territorial ambit of which does not cover
    the UK.
    This kind of detailed (and unprecedented) legal issue
    gives a flavour of some of the difficult technical issues
    that will need to be traversed carefully by Boris
    Johnson (as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and
    the Commonwealth) and David Davis (as Secretary of
    State for Leaving the EU), the cabinet ministers
    charged by the new Prime Minister with steering the
    course to Brexit.”

    i.e. , clear as mud!

    How the Conservatives would like to interpret it (or labour for that matter) is neither here nor there.

    What’s more, membership of the EEA /EFTA / Customs Union could all be on the table if the UK Government wanted them to be.

  37. Brexit talks have started today:

    “The BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler said the opening session would focus on basic issues of procedure such as how often the two men and their teams will meet and in what order items will be discussed.”

    Now excuse me for being a bit naive here but it’s nearly 12 months since the vote and now we are only just agreeing how often we are going to meet and what order we will discuss things in. Anyone who thinks this is going to finish in 2 years is a bit hopeful. Especially since the govt have just blown one eighth of the 2 year period with a pointless GE.

    I’m 56. I suspect that I might just live to see the final outcome of all this. :-)

  38. SAM @ BZ

    Thanks for the link but I read that at the time along with many other takes on it. The A127 issue came up in January this year, but IIRC was rejected by the courts on the basis that it was not relevant before EU A50 had been accepted/negotiated.

    This LSE post from January 2017 covers the issue quite well: How Article 127 of the EEA Agreement could keep the UK in the single market.

    Re your EEA membership may be a transition point but not a destination, it is clear from what has been said by Conservatives

    That depends on Cons having both a united party and the confidence of the HoC. It’s at that point where it would be political seppuku for the DUP to support them unless the preliminaries starting today in Brussels agree on a soft Irish border which is approved by all the Stormont Assembly parties as conforming to the Belfast Agreement. In the current HoC that would defeat the Cons unless Lab come to their rescue, which seems unlikely.

  39. [Ahem, read the comments policy please. This site is explicitly NOT about each others opinions. It’s about the measurement of wider public opinion, not debating each others opinions – AW]

    @ToH I know you feel like that, respect your right to do so and implicitly warned you not to read the new link. However, this is a site about people’s opinions, both ours, those of our fellow citizens as expressed in VI and potentially those of people with whom we have to negotiate. It seems to me that reading views from elsewhere is valuable from that point of view [It is – go and do it elsewhere, otherwise this place gets taken over by political debate – AW]

    Like you I feel [snip]. Unlike you [snip]

    Curiously I am somewhat comforted by [snip]

  40. “the mood is shifting fast in the country”

    The mood is certainly capable of shifting fast. In 2015 the mood changed fast in scotland and the SNP won all but 3 seats in Scotland, this time their vote share collapsed and the Tories have an unexpected resurgence. Sturgeon’s approval ratings have moved 60 points in that time!! In the rUK the conservative lead evaporated in less than 6 weeks and May’s personal approval ratings with it. Macron, I don’t need to say more. In the US, there was Trump and Sanders both of who defied expectations massively.

    The new rule in politics is “expect the unexpected”. A new election could have any result, a Tory landslide, a labour landslide or a hung parliament with the Lib dems as largest party. No one knows!

  41. As ever – this is not a place for policy debate and discussion of what housing policy should or shouldn’t be.

  42. Steve,
    ” If Brexit was dropped now I dont think there would be more than a few mutterings of discontent. ”

    I think you might be right. The politcal parties have tied themselves in knots seeking to ‘respect the referendum’. I can quite believe that polling on Brexit, 50/50 split, would turn out to be exceedingly soft in the face of a factual reality. Just like con/lab support as seen in this recent election campaign. Which facts, of course, we have still not got, and at least both main parties are studiously avoiding providing.

    I suspect this has led to a very volatile situation, where there is no serious leadership for a remain faction. The politicians are desperately trying to follow opinion, rather than lead. But that means when they eventually do start bickering over details, there is a potential flood of discontent over Brexit waiting to be unleashed.

    Fraser,
    “Tory vote holding up is because Corbyn is not a New Labour candidate”

    Tory vote holding up because 2/3 of their supporters are hard leave and labour is not.

    Neil Wilson
    ” if you explain that a population growing at the rate it is means more Grenfell Tower type housing”

    Now that’s the odd thing. The sort of population growth we have had, with lots of young adult workers coming her, ought to mean there is more net wealth and resources to build more rather nicer housing for everyone. If it has not done so, that would be down to the Uk government. Which might then lead to a falling off of voter support?

  43. Yes, sorry, AW.

  44. oh, and sorry to all reading ;-)

  45. “Marr was poor though. He failed to pick up the self-evident truth of Starmer’s reply that you could only remain in the single market if you were a member of the EU, and because we’re leaving now as a result of the referendum, that is no longer an option”

    @Crossbat, I think it is you that is having trouble with truth here, because if Starmer said that he is just plain lying…

    Norway is not a member of the EU, but is a full member of the Single Market….

  46. Hello a lovely morning here in Texas day just starting catching up with UK news another sad day hardly needs anymore comment from me.
    On the poll front I was surprised to see Labour only marginally ahead of the Tories especially after all the negative press of late and even more surprised that May is still more trusted than Corbin over brexit.
    But as I’ve said on here before those that believe the Labour surge is unstoppable may have to think again in my view that surge has peaked and only has one way to go.
    Still my thoughts are with those who have lost so much over the last few weeks sadly I suspect there is long way to go before this type of attack stops.

  47. TURK
    [J]ust starting catching up with UK news another sad day hardly needs anymore comment from me.
    ….
    Still my thoughts are with those who have lost so much over the last few weeks sadly I suspect there is long way to go before this type of attack stops.

    Somewhat premature to think that last night’s attack has anything to do with the two previous terror attacks. UK media doesn’t yet seem to know anything about the suspect who was arrested. Ultimately it may be relevant to polling, but more data is needed to put it mildly.

    Did you get the news from a UK source or a local one?

  48. Neil Wilson,
    “Increasingly these surveys are showing the effects of framing a question rather than any substance of the question itself.”

    Might be something to be said for deliberately framing it in two different directions plus a third neutral control framing, and then trying to see what the underlying trend is?

    That might give us a better idea of how firmly people hold a particular belief, whether they might easily change their mind if they perceived the facts differently?

    A lot of this assumes people want the best response based on the most information, but it sometimes seems like people actually prefer being in the dark if it means they have “permission” to hold an opinion they cherish for non-rational reasons.

  49. As well as policy, I do think that a lot of VI is driven by perception.

    How many of us [even those that supported him] saw Corbyn as prime minister material just 6 or 7 weeks ago? Maybe 10%, 15?

    He was seem UNFILTERED by people in the mainstream that had previously only seen him through the hue of the mainstream media.

    In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, the difference between May and Corbyn couldn’t be more stark.

    Coming as it does after a GE campaign where Corbyn was on the streets and May was meeting selected tory activists but, little direct contact with the public – still fresh in people’s minds, this only highlights the differences in the minds of many voters.

    This being the same joe public that punished Gordon Brown for his ‘bigoted woman’ comments (personally, I think he was right, but, comments like that don’t play well) and took one look at Milliband with a bit of bacon sarnie in is mouth and said ‘No thanks’.

    I fully expect, after the last week, to see Labour close to 10 points ahead in a very short time.

  50. Anyway, I was interested to see opinion moving gradually in favour of the Single Market (prioritising trade over immigration). That is also pretty much what the business community (including large donors to various Parties) are saying. I am pretty sure the EU would like to keep us in the Single Market as long as possible..

    Now I am hoping that since polls are sort of in the prediction business AW will allow me a prediction!

    I am predicting that at the time of the next election (even if 2022) we will still be full members of the Single Market and the Customs Union, and paying a large net contribution, via a “transitional” deal. The word “transitional” will allow everyone to claim that no promises have been broken.. And of course “transitional” can mean anything, including transition to EEA or back to full membership….

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