The quiet summer rolls on – for once we have a proper silly season with barely any domestic political news. I’m off for the next week, so won’t be updating even if there are any chunky polls to write about. In the meantime Opinium released their regular voting intention poll last night, which continued to show a small Labour lead – CON 40%, LAB 43%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 4%. Full tabs are here.

795 Responses to “Opinium/Observer – CON 40, LAB 43, LDEM 6”

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  1. Yes, it’s a big move by Starmer (Labour? Probably).

  2. SAM @ BZ

    Too late now, but i’ll read Prof. Gribben’s article tomorrow.

    I do recognise that it’ll take time, but NI will almost certainly have to remain a distinct polity, even post unification, for it to work. That will almost certainly require regional funding from the UK or EU.

    The problems you mention in your extract do need to be addressed, but NI needs to figure out how to do that for itself, as it does coming to terms with social liberalism and equality generally.

  3. @TOH – thanks for that response. You have confirmed my points pretty much precisely. You think things are going well and May has only made minor concessions, because you haven’t bothered to check the detail on what she has actually said, prefering instead to maintain your belief in what you think she has said.

    Enough of this anyway – the point is whether it affects polling. More on tha shortly.

  4. The Labour announcement is very significant and will attract the left-wing of the Tory Party as well as the business community. Whilst a long period of transition was the only way Labour could go – the opening up of a possibility of retaining access to the Singel Market long-term whilst seeking a change to free movement is going to be very interesting. Is a Corbyn led Labour Party the new centrist party?

  5. Agreed Eric. A good move by Labour. One that I am happy with.

  6. Whilst the usual suspects will say this news is of no significance and makes no difference at all, in reality it is and it will.

    It is also the first sign of really joined-up, grown-up thinking from those at the top of the Labour Party and it unites the bulk of the City with the trades unions and the majority of members of both houses.

    The country itself is already 50% [at least] amenable to this sensible compromise and it is hard to see why the EU would be against it.

    That’s a lot of ducks lined up.

  7. Agreed Paul. I suspect it has taken some time for Corbyn to come around to this. Personally I think Starmer has boxed very cleverly over the past twelve months.

    It heaps pressure onto the Tories as well.

  8. FWIW,

    I think Corbyn and Stamer have been pretty well aligned since well before the GE; timing is all and ahead of the Tory conference may be opportune for this fleshing out of policy.

    Jobs and the Economy first plus the need for a sensible transitional (interim more accurate) deal has been LP policy sense a few months after JCs re-election.

    I think the plan is to call for a ref on the terms agreed by the Tories at some point – perhaps not at the interim stage but in late 2020 early 2021 maybe if the DUP deal is renewed.

    They cant say this now though of course.

  9. I echo comments from Paul, Mike and JimJam.

    I’m constantly impressed by Starmer. It’s clear he has a plan for what he wants to achieve, and I think his stance is really advantageous in that rather than being obsessed over methodology (e.g. single market membership / customs union membership), he’s focused on outcomes. And the clear voice in that is ‘economy first’ – which I think for a Labour party which is more left than it’s been for decades, could work effectively to help them appear more competent on economic issues – an area in which they struggle – especially if it puts them in a position to call the Tories’ bluff if their plans appear to have hurt the economy.

    Ultimately, although polls show that the public hasn’t really changed it’s mind about Brexit, the one area where there is a clear trend is the type of Brexit. When asked whether voters would prioritise migration control or market access, voters are increasingly choosing the latter – I think it now leads in many polls, in fact. I can only see this going in one direction. So this is a logical stance for Labour to take electorally, too.

    That said there is a need to keep the 30% or so of Labour voters who voted leave, on-side. They’ll need to make sure that they are still paying attention to the issue of migration. But I think Keir understands this – he refers to it in his piece:

    “Labour also recognise that this transitional arrangement would – for all its merits – be imperfect and prove unsustainable beyond a limited period.

    It would not provide a durable or acceptable long-term settlement for Britain or the EU. It would not provide certainty for either party. It leaves unresolved some of the central issues the referendum exposed – in particular the need for more effective management of migration, which Labour recognise must be addressed in the final deal.”

    So – politically, this announcement today in many ways just works as effective PR – reassuring the remainer side of your coalition after a period of what appeared to be support for a hard Brexit. But the matter is far from settled within Labour – and in any case they’ll likely be fighting the next election on the basis of decisions made by the Tories, not Labour. So, in one sense, in practice what Labour argue for is less important than how the party manages the issue of Brexit so as to attempt to hold their disparate coalition of voters together….

  10. I am trying to stay out of the interminable Brexit debate on here, but can’t help myself sometimes.

    Analyst says “When asked whether voters would prioritise migration control or market access, voters are increasingly choosing the latter ”
    These are not ‘either-or’ choices. Every country in the world (except perhaps North Korea?) has access to the single market. What they don’t all have is membership, and there is a big difference. After Brexit we will no longer have membership, but will still have access, which means that tariffs may be involved. This does not mean that we will cease trading with EU countries, which seems to be implied sometimes.

    G’night all.

  11. A “more federal UK” is, of course, a nonsense.

    The UK can either continue on its present course, with more or less powers devolved to its constituent parts (including England or parts thereof), or it can be a federal state in which the powers exercised by the constituent parts are exercised through their own sovereignty – and Westminster has no power to intervene.

    That Lab/SLab want to spin the idea of devolution may make political sense, but it remains just spin.

  12. Pete B

    “This does not mean that we will cease trading with EU countries, which seems to be implied sometimes.”

    Indeed – though “terms and conditions may apply”(as those tempting adverts say – but in very small print).

    It’s a bit like all those hyperbolic scare stories about immigrants, which turn out not to have much basis in reality – though a lot in people’s fear of “others”.

    Ian McWhirter is perceptive on that

  13. My own personal feeling is that labour have shifted the Brexit position too soon. It’s being reported as a bigger shift that it is and although the shift isn’t running too far ahead of public opinion, the sense of the reporting makes this sound like a shift that is running a long way ahead of public opinion. I suspect that the real aim is to head off trouble at conference over this issue.

  14. JIMJAM
    “I think Corbyn and Stamer have been pretty well aligned since well before the GE; timing is all and ahead of the Tory conference may be opportune for this fleshing out of policy.”

    Agreed. And this has been so among the Front Bench more widely. McDonnell’s identification of a Brexit strategy which goes for jobs and the economy over structure is in line with Starmer’s statement.

  15. On the subject of Scottish seats….I’m annoyed with momentum for the horrendously unfair advert they ran against the SNP regarding rail nationalisation and the awarding of franchises. I did mail momentum telling them they should withdraw it.

    I don’t like the way that Corbyn is bowing to “moderate” pressure to go after the SNP, as far as in concerned a good SNP MP is better than a mediocre labour MP. Mostly the SNP share our values and as far as I understand have greater internal democracy than we do

    Also I’m very happy for a labour govt to be dependent on SNP support because 1) it should prevent a “moderate” hijack of a labour govt. My belief is that the SNP is to the left of the “moderates” and would withdraw support from a labour govt that tried to continue with Blairism. 2) it increases the likelihood of the adoption of PR.

  16. cambridgerachel

    While I agree the SNP are likely to vote down a Labour government don’t confuse their clothes for their purpose – they are Nationalists and their purpose is to separate from the UK, and they (not unnaturally) will tend promote “Scottish interests” as antipathetic to UK, especially English ones.

    “Going after the SNP” may or may not be a good tactic, but only in the same way as “going after the Tories” or LDs or Plaid Cymru. They are not Labour’s allies, except on some narrow issues.

  17. likely = not likely in 1st line!

  18. The dawning realisation that Brexit is really, really complicated is possibly starting to trickle through the public consciousness, and I think Labour’s move tonight is significant. Clearly this is seeking to rally remainers, and build on their growth areas in the GE, but it must also be a risk, There are a lot of voters who think we should get on with Brexit (not just leavers, according to the polls) but I suspect Labour are banking on garnering support from sectors that are very worried about the prospect of no deal or a hard Brexit.

    It’s probably a clever move to maintain the notion that they want the UK still to leave the EU, but are trying to portray themselves as wanting a better managed, if slower, exit, while leaving open the idea of remaining in the single market if reforms are made on free movement. This simultaneously makes May’s job harder but also holds out the hope to the EU that a deal could be struck that keeps UK close.

    Time will tell whether this will be viewed as a betrayal or some sensible leadership in a time when people have lost their minds, but it’s a gamble. As the leaving process ticks by, there are so many potential flashpoint issues that could go wrong for the UK, so having Labour positioned as offering a softer, low impact version may enable them to benefit.


    The SNP gains were instrumental in the South West turn from Yellow to Blue a lot of people on the door step did not want the SNP to have any power. That coupled with the LD poor 2010-2015 legislative run and complete abortion of tactics show that they blew it.

    Secondly The SNP are not to the left of the Labour party moderates. They have implemented the same sort of policies. such as 1% pay rises for nurses for example. They could increase taxation by 1p too help cover the shortfall in education and the like it would be a bold thing to do but they are banking on someone else doing the heavy lifting. Their campaign was pretty poor because they ended up with the same austerity as what you would call moderate Labour MPs so their USP is independence

    Giving them more power has not changed anything in truth because rather like your council if it cannot generate enough money it cannot spend it. Hence they desperately need a Labour party win.

    I feel that Labour will do better in Scotland because at some point you have perform and say what you have achieved. Scottish governments are like poor Northern Councils they can’t do anything without money and there isn’t any

    As to going for the SM and CU. In simple terms. The reality is that the big items are not these at the moment. it is the Financial Settlement, the NI Border and Citizens rights post brexit. I am not sure that this will be solved before the conference season since I fear there will be some big concessions coming to the fore.

    The Labour party cannot talk details on any of these other than Citizens rights, where I believe they will keep EU rights as is, but I presume the ECJ will have no say in this. Speaking to real live eurocrat in frankfurt he said the reason that the EU want the ECJ to have a say is that the UK government weak support for their judiciary after the Gina Miller win. I think they were very shocked not at the “Enemies of the State” headline per se but the feeble response from the Tories did shock them imagine if that was a German Paper and Merkel was that wishy washy over the rule of law. (it is like Trump pardoning the sheriff)

    As I have said numerous time Europeans read our papers we don’t read theirs and funnily enough I believe the UK feels they can say something for domestic consumption in the hope that it it does seem to infect their EU negotiations.

    Is this a big shift? Actually I believe it is Like you I am surprised it has happened now but something must have happened to make this decision now which either means that the they have wind of the Tories long term plan and thus look like they are leading the Tories in ideas and policies ( the replacement of the Lords with federalism is an eye catching idea ) whereas the Tories seem to be stuck in the mud.

    Personally I think the Tories will soldier on until 2022 and May will still be there because I do see anyone taking the reigns and more importantly I don’t see the brain trust of the Tories producing any policies.

  20. Alec

    Thanks for your reply. I must correct one thing though because clearly you have not read my last post. I made quite clear that I had read what she said and am quite happy with it. I do not think she has changed her or the Governments position a jot, something John pilgrim acknowledged.

    As you say let us move on. Brexit is happening and it will interesting to see the effect on polling as we move forward.


    Of course Labours position might be where there is a majority of support in the country and more importantly may well be supported by a large number of Tory backbenchers.

    I cannot see Theresa May uniting the Tory party in Parliament behind a so called ‘hard Brexit’, leaving the EU single market and customs union without a deal with the EU.

    It may well get to the stage during the early part of 2018, where Theresa May thinks about standing down as PM, as she cannot obtain any consensus even in her cabinet. It will become impossible to lead a party that is permanently split on a subject that dominates the current agenda.

    Labours decision could lead them to a position of winning a general election during 2018, if they can engineer this by defeating Goverment in Parliament, with amendments that a majority can support.

  22. Paul Croft

    “Whilst the usual suspects will say this news is of no significance and makes no difference at all, in reality it is and it will.”

    Wrong again, it could of course, although given labour’s track record on the issue the policy could change tomorrow.

    I think CAMBRIDGERACHELS analysis is correct.

  23. @ALEC

    I think you are wrong here. We have not had any new polls on Brexit of the detail of the Yougov for august 1st seems to show a hardening of attitudes and a doubling down on this.

    I also see the issue being very much party political with older voters very much more militant too. This a a strong voting block.

    The article associated with the poll seems to give remainers a similar militancy but that is not shown in the actual numbers. The emotional investment in brexit is high for leavers in the main. Lord ashcroft polls showed they were more likely to use feeling than reason to make their decision to vote leave and I think that means that they will have a hard time changing their mind.

    Thinking about Starmers statement, when I first heard it I thought it was too early but actually he is not worried about leavers at this juncture, I think they are now worried about the economy.

    In truth the brexit wars and the detail has not started yet in my view. Much of the positioning of the Uk government has been essentially for UK consumption. The position paper on NI border was essentially saying we want a open border with no controls essentially a blind eye border. There is no paper on the financial settlement and the EU and the UK are far away on the citizenship rights.

    Personally I would have gone with preserving the EU citizens rights on both sides since it is a people limited exercise( 3 million people have better rights but so what……) The financial settlement is tricky because without that I don’t see the UK getting anywhere with trade so the Uk should agree a methodology and do this fast I would have thought that the UK putting a position paper forward for this would not be too hard so there has to be a real blocking reason for not doing this

  24. @passtherockplease

    ‘re the SNP, the Scottish Government has used its powers to mitigate the effect of the bedroom tax and other Tory welfare policies when UK Labour were timidly voting with the Tories or abstaining.

    As far as income tax is concerned, the SNP policy on the basic rate at the last UK General Election was the same as Labour policy.

  25. @ R HUCKLE
    You may of course be right. There are certainly two irreconcilable groups in the Tory party, there have been for decades, but, in reality, the Labour party is similarly split.
    Cambridgerachel points out the real reason for the leave vote. What happens in the UK and indeed other parts of Europe, is well reported and discussed in the European media. The British media do not reciprocate in any meaningful way. The consequence is that they know about us but we know little about them. The exit vote was because we have never felt part of the club, and its our own fault.

    I feel I should point out that the not so subtle change in the Labour stance means nothing if the EU don’t agree. Any transitional arrangement is in the gift of the EU and all 27 will have to agree to it, which I doubt will happen.


    You are absolutely correct to point out the recent polling evidence to Alec. Unfortunately he has a habit of pontificating about the views of the British electorate without checking the evidence and he needed correcting.

    ” I would have thought that the UK putting a position paper forward for this would not be too hard so there has to be a real blocking reason for not doing this”

    I think that is clearly part of the UK negotiating stance. As I understand things Davis will ask Bernier for legal justification of any monetary demands. I expect little or no movement on this issue, its a test as to whether or not the EU actually want to negotiate. So far there have been little signs. If they don’t then I expect the majority of UK effort to be put into preparing to leave without a deal. I have considered this the most likely outcome for some time as I think the EU position is political and they mean to damage us as we leave.

    If that proves to be the case then I suspect both the UK and EU will be damaged economically, the EU will be blamed, rightly by many for the failure of talks and future relations will frosty to say the least for generations to come.

    If that’s what it takes to leave the EU then so be it. It’s up to the EU IMO.

  27. The Conservative negotiating position has no chance at all of getting agreement from the remaining 27 countries, so in reality I think it is a choice between the Labour proposals and no deal, I prefer the former.

  28. @RMJI

    Can i just point out the mutual interest between EU and UK. I am not talking about governments in this regard, but all of the companies that trade across EU/UK. Just in my small local area within 10 miles, there are dozens of companies that trade within EU/UK and rely on easy access to both markets. The amount of trade involved runs into tens of billions of Euros/Pounds.

    People need to start researching all of the complex work that would be required in administering new customs arrangements etc. UK Government is already planning on recruitment of thousands of additional Civil Servants to deal with possible extra workload created by Brexit. Companies will also need to recruit large numbers of staff to deal with all of the extra paperwork. The costs to busniess and government should not be underestimated.

  29. I think something that has generally been missing from the analysis of Labour’s shift (though PTRP hints at it) is the possibility that Labour is simply reading the writing on the wall about Tory policy. It’s looking very likely that remaining in the single market and customs union for a long transition period will soon be Tory policy. Is Labour getting ahead of the crowd, so it can clearly suggest that it is leading and fragment the Conservative party?

    The Tories right now have a choice: they can scream ‘betrayal’ in an attempt to shore up their support from hard Brexiters, and advertise for everyone that Labour are soft Brexit. But if the do so and end up in the same position re: the transition period then they’re just encouraging hard Brexiters to abandon then to UKIP. Much better just to let this one go.

  30. European tour

    just checking in from Berlin. I am just about literate in German and europe looks a different place from here.

    Good to see things the same in blighty. TOH and Alec still rowing and the remainer lobby whistling for comfort in the dark.

    strangely re-assuring.

  31. Barbazenzero

    What I take from Professor Gtibben’s piece and the other piece to which I linked is that the parties in NI have developed a mendicancy culture and for that reason might not want any additional powers that might require them to stand on their own feet a bit more.

    But standing on their own feet is what is needed in NI to encourage the development of the peace process. The powers already devolved are considerable, much greater than in Scotland. You can find the list here

    It seems clear from the problems identified by Professor Gribben that the governing parties in NI are doing very little with their powers to govern effectively and the Sec of State is content with that. the result is sterility and factionalism.

    In Scotland, the same can be observed in Holyrood. Most acutely this can be seen in the working of the present Health Committee. The transcript of the latest evidence taking on health inequalities shows a dysfunctional committee. The research in Scotland on health inequalities is clear that the remedy is the redistribution of power, wealth and income. The committee hearing resulted in all the opposition members seeking to have the NHS people giving evidence discredit the SNP while the SNP members sought confirmation that controlof welfare and economic policies were needed.

    Scotland would benefit from more powers. NI would benefit from the absence of a Sec of State.

  32. I also think, to coin a phrase, there is no change (in Labour’s position). Anyone listening to what they’ve actually been saying, rather than simply insisting Corbyn is a hard Brexiter knows that they have been saying that we need to support the economy first. People have complained that they are demanding the same cake-and-eat-it result as the Conservatives. But the point is, it isn’t them negotiating, so of choose they should demand the Tories deliver their promises.

    There has always been clear water between what the Tories have said they’d be happy with (whatever Davis brings back) and Labour (what has been promised). If Starmer realises that the only way any of what has been promised can be delivered is by remaining in the Single Market, then it makes perfect political sense to demand that and force Davis either to agree, or admit he can’t deliver on his promises.

    In 18 months’ time, Labour will say ‘remember when we said we should retain SM membership but Davis refused? And now they’re trying to sell you this terrible deal! We supported delivering the will of the people, but the Tories screwed it up by being unable to negotiate a drinking session in a brewery!’ and vote against it.

  33. Floyd Mayweather beats Conor McGregor by a TKO in the 10th.
    Meanwhile Alec and TOH start their 217th round without a breakthrough on either side

    23. NI Border
    Even with a customs style agreement the proposal giving is essentially a free for all and a smugglers paradise ( I have said that this is the only proposal that flies in the UK ) having no checks is just madness you’d have companies setting up in the Northern Ireland which would really help their economy but hell.
    I believe the EU have already answered the position papers by pointing out the UK will be a third party and even the UK has said the custom proposals will require unprecedented cooperation between the UK and the EU. Pretty much saying that it is not going to happen.”

    I don’t agree with that. The vast majority of goods going to and from the EU and Republic already does so across the physical UK. I was suprised to read that the port of Holyhead is now the second bigger ro-ro port in the UK,I really feel this whole issue is being built into something that it isn’t .

    Firstly, for people, we already have our own “mini Schengen” between UK and Eire in any place (the CTA). Once a person is in the CTA they are free to travel with minimal checks – why change that. Focus only on entry into the CTA, and trust each other.

    The EU know full well that any spiteful border restrictions and queues at North Sea and English Channel ports will affect Eire as much as the UK. Hence having a seamless “virtual” arrangement suits everyone.

  35. Details?

    So what is the nature of the transitional deal Labour will seek and how is it to be achieved?

    How will the custom control problems of NI/ Ireland be resolved?

    If it is to be an EEA transition does the Labour party accept the government position that the EEA membership of the UK will cease with Brexit?

    The Labour party has to succeed in forcing a general election, winning it and negotiating a transitional deal with the EU before 30 March 2019. If this is not achievable for the Cons, it is hardly likely to be achievable for Labour

    “Floyd Mayweather beats Conor McGregor by a TKO in the 10th.
    Meanwhile Alec and TOH start their 217th round without a breakthrough on either side
    August 27th, 2017 at 9:20 am”

    Alec won by a knockout in round 10, but TOH came back off the canvass clearly suffering concussion just stating over and over ” Brexit is happening”.

    A some stage when the concussion wears off, it might start to become clear that Brexit means Brexit is open to negotiation and further democratic decisions. One possible outcome is that a further democratic vote is held and a majority of UK voters decides to stay in the EU. Not because they are enthusiastic about the EU, but because the economic reality has hit home.

  37. Sam:
    Or they can defeat a vote in parliament on the deal that the Tories eventually come back with.


    I disagree with your analysis of the financial settlement methodology for two reasons. I do not think the UK cares about the methodology. Indeed having a methodology makes things harder for the UK in that let say the methodology comes to £80B the UK will need a very good trade deal to account for this amount If the UK believes it is £20B I would have thought the UK government would have jumped at this stating why it is £20B. So I believe the issue is that whilst the UK Government is happy to pay something it is dependent on the the sort of access it gets. The EU wants to decouple this since the amount paid they believe is independent of the future deal which I think is obvious but without linkage I am not sure it will be sold to the UK electorate by UK government.

    The reality is the rules based approach means that each item is treated separately and that does not suit the UK government as I have said previously. The UK Government is stalling to my mind until it really has a handle on what their base will live with or until it can have a clear road with little in the way of distractions (after conference season or example)

    Secondly, I do not believe they are negotiating with the EU as of yet. I feel the UK government is playing to the UK electorate trying to see what we would live with. In this case the poll mentioned gives the tories pause for thought. Essentially They have to deliver the sort of brexit that their base wants or else they will not have the level of enthusiasm to ‘win’ the next election. I think that the Labour attempt to put distance between themselves and the Tories is a gamble, let’s not forget the labour problem is that an overwhelming majority of labour voters voted remain but a good half of all their seats voted leave. However they have put a clear statement about jobs being more important, which is now their selling point.

    I don’t think the EU will move much from their positions since these have been established by the Council of Ministers. The other issue I see is that I believe that the Eastern European countries are pushing hard on the financial settlement with Poland wanting to add more items in in terms of the methodology as reported in FT earlier this year.

    As I have said previously we seem to considering this in the light as when we were members of the EU and that the EU would compromise and bend over backwards for us as members. We are not members and thus there is less interest in giving us a good deal. I still believe there is a good chance of going WTO because of the style that the UK government wants to negotiate versus the style that the EU27 can negotiate and the fact that we believe the EU will not walk away. I think the EU is very much prepared to walk away. remember Switzerland and Greece (The greeks and the UK rhetoric was similar, it was all germany fault, they were the ones that would rescue he situation, when I believe the Finns
    and the EE wanted to kick the Greeks out of the EZ).

    My point about the poll is not that Remain or Leave are any better placed but I fear that certain sections are now more proned to have hardened their stance. it would mean that Tories for example relying on older voters may have less room to maneuver than Labour.

    Lastly I can understand why leavers are please with the rhetoric that has come out from the Tory party I believe it is calibrated to them because lets be fair 70%+ of Tory voters voted Leave DD and TM are talking to these people, the concession are sold subtly almost unobtrusively. The language has been sold brilliantly. LIke BoJo repost to the £100B
    that the EU can go whistle, he know that the net amount would not be that (the figure was generated by the FT ) but it sells a sentiment well.

    My view is that we will see who is more desperate to have a deal next year, i suspect you will be saying that the EU is intransigent. come this time next year which in itself will speak volumes.

  39. @Smileyben

    But then we’ll be out with no deal whatsoever!

  40. NEIL J

    Agreed. There is only so far the Tory nationalistic approach can go. The EU Referendum was 14 months ago and they have made zero progress in defining the future for the country. Meaningless soundbites achieve nothing.

  41. ALEC
    “so having Labour positioned as offering a softer, low impact version may enable them to benefit.”
    The tenor of this and other of your posts is that the policy on Brexit stated by Starmer is primarily for purposes of party political advantage. Others, notably @Huckle have pointed to the consistent concern for the impact of Brexit on the economy in Labour’s policy.
    A question which I think is worth considering is the difference of ideology which the respective positions on Brexit represent between Lab and Con, that is, what does this say about the principles which they pursue in management of the market (of jobs as well as goods and money). And in what ways will this determine other aspects of management of the economy, including investment in business, services and infrastructure in the future.
    The degree and manner of control of migration is key: on the one hand a targeted reduction of net migration (with an underlying but ultimate purpose of discriminating in favour of domestic labour); on the other no reduction as such but controls directed towards industrial and service needs,of numbers and skills, backed by measures to enable access and benefit both to immigrant and to domestic labour, and that to enterprises, services and the economy.

    Nonsense. Then the government would fall, and Labour would need to scramble to negotiate a better deal, or possibly revoke Article 50 if possible.

    The only way we’d leave with no deal is if the Tories deliberately leave the parliamentary vote too late for any possible rescue effort, and I’m certain Labour will be flagging that possibility 6 months ahead and demanding a timely vote. Yes, the Tories could refuse, and I think that would be electoral suicide when the deal is voted down.


    I am not sure what you are not agreeing to here.
    The UK paper pretty much says we can turn a blind eye to the NI/Rep border (virtual border although I am not sure what that actually means other than no border) which is interesting situation as the Uk will become a third party.

    The issue then becomes where does the the UK set it’s border as a third party. Currently I do not see there is any enthusiasm for a formal irish sea border. The other options are the UK is a part of the customs union or Ireland leaves the EU

    essentially the UK government is proposing to ignore the issue. Whether the EU agrees would be interesting since it could argue that without consistent approach stuff will slip through now will bot side accept that? Possibly but it isn’t as simple as you pointed out especially if you’ve ever lived in the border country

  44. PTRP

    I think you are ill-informed about the SNP. The SNP relies heavily for support on the Yes movement, still alive and around 45% of the electorate. Yes wants a more fair, more equal Scotland and derides Scottish labour for Blairite tendencies. What the SNP needs is the devolution of the same powers to Scotland as currently possessed by NI

  45. @RMJ1/RHuckle

    I think this from RMJ1 is extremely important and worth repeating:

    What happens in the UK and indeed other parts of Europe, is well reported and discussed in the European media. The British media do not reciprocate in any meaningful way. The consequence is that they know about us but we know little about them. The exit vote was because we have never felt part of the club, and its our own fault.

    I feel I should point out that the not so subtle change in the Labour stance means nothing if the EU don’t agree. Any transitional arrangement is in the gift of the EU and all 27 will have to agree to it, which I doubt will happen.

    I agree completely. It’s too late to do much about the way in which the people of the UK have been systematically deprived of information about how our membership of the EU works, and the benefits it has provided. We are where we are.

    But RMJ1’s second paragraph is the telling one. At the risk of repeating myself once too often, I feel a lot of scales have been falling from a lot of eyes in EU27. The cuddly old UK they thought they knew, father of democracy, believer in moderation and pragmatism etc etc has been revealed as a rather different animal. I don’t think they’ll fight too hard to keep the cuckoo in the nest. The “they need us more than we need them” mantra of brexiteers was always wishful thinking; now it’s downright delusional.

  46. @PTRP – “I think you are wrong here. We have not had any new polls on Brexit of the detail of the Yougov for august 1st seems to show a hardening of attitudes and a doubling down on this.”

    I may well be – I make no claims to be the font of all knowledge. What I always feel is relevant in these situations is whether we are going to see a clear cut case of something going wrong, where the issue is simple and easy to understand, which leads voters to move in one direction or another.

    There are a thousand and one possibilities for such issues when it comes to Brexit, which is why this represents such a big risk for hard Brexiters and May’s apparent desire to follow this path. One relatively minor example would be the potential for permanent gridlock around Dover is we leave the customs union. Another much more significant one could be the ceasing of critical cancer treatments once we leave Euratom.

    Both of these outcomes could easily occur directly as a result of the government’s stated stance. In the case of the former, there seems to be no plan in place for any kind of customs arrangement at key ports, and the latter would be the outcome unless we can very quickly negotiate a suitable alternative nuclear deal that permits us to import the required isotopes for medical treatment.

    Just a single screw up like either of these, and suddenly the promises of a cake and eat it Brexit will fall apart in the public’s eyes. I see this as being very similar to Scottish independence, where the general tone of the pro indy campaign was that Scotland could gain all the good things, like better pensions, more jobs etc, get rid of all the bad things, but keep the stability of anything people currently had and liked, such as the currency. Had yes won, at some point this facade would have been challenged by events. I think Brexit is currently in a similar situation.

    While this doesn’t necessarily mean people would stop supporting Brexit, it would mean that those who claim to accept some level of hardship as a price worth paying would need to reassess this as a practical, physical actualite, instead of as a rather easy, glib response to pollsters based on theoretical concepts.

    That is the point when we really start to understand if the country is prepared to back hard Brexit, and if we are all being honest, the truth is that none of us really know the answer to this.

  47. As usual, imho of course, people are seeing differences that just aren’t there between the Labour and Conservative brexit positions. Both want transitional arrangements, both want much of the status quo to apply during the transition, both want out at the end.

    The huge big grey animal in the corner, that everyone is ignoring, is that this requires the politicians in all the other 27 to agree. Of course business would like it but they don’t have a vote. Most British businesses wanted to stay in, but look what happened.

  48. @HIRETON

    Come on man, Labour tax policy and the SNP tax policy is different for higher earner. They are not to the left of any labour policy. They have just given nurses a 1% pay rise.something I do not see a Labour party doing at all. You would agree?

    The point I was making is that the SNP have constrained themselves rather like any ‘moderate’ Labour MP would have done.

    The bedroom tax for example actually saved a third less than anticipated. so scrapping it was not as erroneous on the Scottish Government, although I do accept they were ahead on things like university fees and the like.

    My overall point is that they need a higher spending government to get more money to do more and hence the conflict England in the main looks badly on the SNP sharing power and I believe that a more left wing labour party may win more votes from them.

  49. @Somerjohn & @RMJ1 – I’m not so sure.

    The loss of the UK’s budget contributions to the EU is a real headache for them, and there is no question that they appreciate the UK military and intelligence capabilities and other areas of expertise. In an ideal world they would want the UK to stay, without question.

    It’s also true to say that many EU countries are facing similar pressures in athe arena of migration and free movement. There is quite a lot of common ground here. It’s also true that the EU will see a nation where 51.9% voted to leave and 48.1% to stay – a very tight margin indeed.

    One problem for the government now is that this approach from Labour provides a clear distinction for UK voters, and could encourage the EU to harden their approach to May, in the hope that an avenue opens up to negotiate a softer deal with Labour and Tory remainers.

    Nothing in this is pre determined, nothing is settled, and nothing is certain – even that we leave the EU.

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