I’ve got an article over on the YouGov website about the difficulty on polling on the Brexit financial settlement (or “Brexit divorce bill” as the more Eurosceptic elements of the press tend to call it). Brexit is obviously a very complicated issue – the Brexit deal will almost inevitably dominate the next year of British politics, yet the complexities of it mean it’s very hard to ask about until there’s actually a deal on the table.

The financial settlement between Britain and the EU should, on the face of it, be one of the more simple issues. On the face of it you might expect it to be fairly simple to ask people what sort of financial settlement the public would think was reasonable and what sort of settlement would have the public thinking Theresa May has struck a poor deal. In fact such questions give us a very poor guide, simply because most people are not particularly good at comprehending very large numbers.

If you ask a question about what a reasonable price is for, for example, a pair of shoes, it should work very well. Everyone knows roughly what shoes cost, and know the value of £10 or £30 or £100. The same does not apply for government spending – £50 billion is an unfathomably large amount of money… but then, so is £20 billion, or £10 billion or £5 billion. Most of us don’t really have any good yardstick for judging just how big or small these huge numbers are, nor whether they are a good or bad deal for Britain.

Nevertheless, if you ask people about a financial settlement people will still express opinions. Back in August there was an ICM/Guardian poll that found 41% of people though a £10bn settlement would be acceptable, up from just 15% in April. This seemed like a startling rise, but as both ICM and the Guardian cautioned, it could just be the way the question was worded. In April ICM first asked about the lower figure of £3bn, but in August £10bn was the lowest they offered.

This seemed like a more plausible explanation to me, but just to be sure we tested it at YouGov. We used a split sample – one half of the respondents got a grid of three questions asking about settlements of £5bn, £10bn and £20bn. The other half of the sample got a grid of three questions asking about settlements of £25bn, £50bn and £75bn.

On the first bank of questions 38% thought £5bn would be acceptable, 18% thought £10bn would be acceptable, 11% thought that £20bn would be acceptable. Looking at the other half of the sample, 29% thought that £25bn was acceptable, 9% thought that £50bn was acceptable, 6% thought that £75bn would be acceptable (full tabs are here.)

Taken as a whole we get the the rather perverse finding that while support generally falls as the size of the settlement increases, £25 billion is far more acceptable to the public than £20 billion. This is nonsense of course, and the reason is simple enough – people take their cues from the question itself. In the first half of the sample, £5bn was the lowest amount asked about, £20bn the largest amount, and many respondents presumably took this as an implication that £5bn was a low settlement, £20bn a high one. For the second half of the sample £25bn was the lowest figure asked about, so many respondents presumably took the implication that this was a low settlement. Whether people said a sum was acceptable or not was less about the actual number, more about whether the question implied that it was a low or high figure.

The point is that questions about what level of “divorce bill” will be acceptable to the public don’t really tell us much. People don’t have any good way of telling what is a good or bad deal and are really just expressing their unsurprising preference for a smaller settlement. When (or if) Britain and the EU do finally agree on a sum, it won’t be so much the particular figure that determines whether the public see it as a victory or a sell-out, but whether the media and political class present it to them as a good or bad deal.

Meanwhile, lastest GB voting intention figures this week are below – both show the parties pretty much neck-and-neck, neither show any obvious movement:
YouGov/Times (12th-13th Sept) – CON 41%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 7%(+1), UKIP 3%(-1) (tabs)
ICM/Guardian (8th-10th Sept) – CON 42%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 4%(+1) (tabs)

713 Responses to “Brexit Bills and latest voting intention”

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  1. first

  2. @ SAM/others – post Brexit agriculture (as example of future trade relationships)

    Sam’s article suggested sorting out issues such as quotas/tariffs between EU/UK/devolved nations and WTO would be a “herculean” task. They used the example of NZ lamb.

    Herculean!?!? :)

    To simplify for purposes of illustration.
    1/ Until 2019 – we have to adopt EU quotas, CET, etc and also have our own domestic devolved set up BUT we can start working towards the final scenario.
    2/ 2019-end transition (say 2021) – we abide by EU quotas but can continue talking with 3rd countries about future trade deals (either direct or through WTO schedules, etc). We also discuss the appropriateness of devolving various agriculture related powers to the devolved nations (and setting England or its regions up as devolved regions/nations ideally!!)
    3/ End transition, say 2021 onwards – since we’re out of EU at this point, the EU can divide up quotas however they like between the 27 – how is that relevant? Depending on the terms of EU-UK future relationship I would hope we have significant flexibility to set our own 3rd country quotas (higher) and own tariffs (lower) – the details would depend on who we want to expand trade with and should not go to 100% unrestricted free trade (Minford is wrong).
    E.G. NZ lamb imported to UK should not be sold on to EU – geographically this would be no problem although I respect technology might mean more cumbersome short-term issues if someone really wanted to try and get around it (in which case you fine them!). However, NZ lamb could have a lower tariff coming into UK in return for NZ opening up some reciprocal trade (e.g. services). EU quotas and tariffs would obviously be more punitive than UK so unlikely to see 3rd countries using a EU->UK route to exploit quotas/tariffs but if we did then we fine them!
    Within UK a progressive lowering of trade barriers would increase competition gradually (no-one likes cliff-edges) and (hopefully) encourage a devolved approach to handling some form of subsidy/protection for farmers (e.g. if the Welsh assembly want to tweak the broader UK trade terms to help sheep farmers they can via avenues that do not break the UK-partner FTA – tax breaks, etc)

    The significant conclusion from the article is that the devolved nations should ensure they are represented in parliament by a nationalist party if they want to increase the chances of powers that return to Westminster being devolved to 3 of the 4 nations that make up UK.

    Blood pressure rising on absurdity of current devolved nations relationships so I’ll wrap it up.

    It’s complicated but it is certainly not Herculean and instead of trying to frustrate the whole process LAB and the devolved nations need to get on board working out the solutions if they want a say in those solutions!

  3. @ HIRETON – (from last thread). Lots of questions so I apologies if I missed any.

    Why Leave voted as they did is complex. It was a simple question but certainly every individual had to weigh up the pros/cons and come to a decision. I don’t know if YouGov did a detailed “why” but here is Lord Ashcroft’s post mortem:

    For Leave the #1 reasons (with 49%) was “decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”

    I’ll admit that isn’t exactly the same as UK trade relationships should be taken in the UK but it does include that premise. Since it was a “package” decision it is impossible to isolate individual reasons but hopefully this satisfies my assertion about taking back control of trade.
    (side note – spending more on NHS was not mentioned as a reason by Leave voters)

    Quoting from Sam’s link:
    “Most CAP funding is no longer linked to production. Instead it takes the form of annual payments that are based on the area and type of land owned by the farmer. This form of support does not give farmers the incentive to increase production”
    (ie the absurd previous CAP model has been replaced by one that favours large land owners like SMogg and Sir James Dyson – whether that is marginally better or marginally worse is not my point)

    Great to hear Holyrood doesn’t subsidise large farmers as much as Westminster – I hope more powers are devolved and England has its own devolved opportunities in due course. My friend’s local farmer who lives in the Scottish Borders and has no problem boasting about a 58k/yr EU subsidy suggests that even in Scotland the “problem” of paying large land owners is far from fixed.

  4. @trevorwarne

    But you didn’t assert taking back control of trade. You said that Brextiers want freer trade. My point is that Brexiters might want to take back control of trade to implement more protectionist policies in the manner of Trump. That would certainly be consistent with some anti EU left wing views and I expect with a number of previous UKIP voters.

  5. @trevorwarne

    I think you may not understand how TRQs work. The quota is agreed between the EU and the exporting country which must work with that quota in its exports to the EU as a whole. The quota is not then sub-allocated within the EU to individual member states. So in order to retain something like the status quo there has to be an agreement with the EU and the exporting country about what the UK ‘s share of the EU TRQ should be. Trade and industry experts have said since the referendum that the TRQs will be very difficult to sort out quickly.

  6. @trevorwarne

    The Scottish Government is still waiting for a response on its initial proposals on agriculture and other devolved matters requiring a UK framework published at the beginning of the year. The UK Government has not convened any meetings of the Joint Ministerial Committee ( its “hotline” as it said for the devolved administrations to be part of Brexit process) since February despite repeated requests from them to do so. It has recently agreed to a meeting but has declined to indicate when that will be. Perhaps the UK Government should get on board its own commitment to agreeing a UK wide approach as part of its “precious Uinon” and not frustrate the process?

  7. @Hireton “I think that is a shrewd reading of the position regarding BoJo. As I have said upthread, the most important Brexit negotiations are taking place within the UK Government.
    …So his leadership positioning may be to try to ride two horses, pragmatic negotiator and also keeper of the true flame of free market Brexiters!”

    I’d agree with your thoughts on his positioning. It is incredibly unlikely that a “Soft Brexit Remainer” could win a leadership race with the membership. And there are enough committed Brexiteers amongst the MPs to ensure a Brexiteer will be in any run-off.

    “My point is that Brexiters might want to take back control of trade to implement more protectionist policies in the manner of Trump. That would certainly be consistent with some anti EU left wing views and I expect with a number of previous UKIP voters.”

    I’d agree with that. I am quite sure left-wing Brexiteers like Mcdonnell, Corbyn and would want to use that power for protectionist ends. The likes of Scargill want to re-open the mines and cotton mills. No way is that possible without huge subsidies and protective tariffs.

  8. Thanks, Anthony. Useful polling.

    The saddest thing is the last sentence:

    When (or if) Britain and the EU do finally agree on a sum, it won’t be so much the particular figure that determines whether the public see it as a victory or a sell-out, but whether the media and political class present it to them as a good or bad deal.

    When (or if) there is polling on the final figure, it’s likely to be a mirror of the media reports.

    It would be interesting to see polling on the reasons for quitters casting their “leave” votes.

  9. @BZ “It would be interesting to see polling on the reasons for quitters casting their “leave” votes”

    Just as interesting would be to see Remainers reasons for staying in. Polling done in the last few years has consistently shown that the vast majority of the electorate does not want to be part of a Federal EU.

    Juncker’s speech has surely put paid to any hope of Remain winning a 2nd Referendum (not that I think there is any chance of one being called)

  10. Trevor Warne

    Thanks for the response.

    You don’t think negotiating Brexit terms on agriculture merit the description of “Herculean”? I have not been able to access the reference in the linked material to C Downes 2016 but I have found the abstract which I copy below. I hope you find it lacking complexity. Another problem will be divvying out money.

    Calculation of how much of the Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS – specified by the WTO) stays with the EU or comes to the UK after Brexit remains to be negotiated. “Even with goodwill on either side, the calculation of a fair share will be complex, involving the specific additions to the EU AMS that were negotiated as new member states joined the EU. It will also involve agreeing shares for the UK and residual EU for the 55 separate agricultural products identified by the WTO which are combined to give the aggregate EU AMS. Further agreement will be required on the appropriate sterling/euro exchange rate to be applied.”

    Here is the abstract: “Quantitative agricultural concessions are generally acknowledged to be one of the more complex post-Brexit issues facing trade negotiators. The challenge is commonly conceptualized as one of ‘splitting’ existing EU-28 obligations, namely tariff rate quotas (TRQs), between the UK and the remaining EU-27. While an intuitive response to the trading system’s goal of maintaining the balance in negotiating concessions, this article questions the consistency of this approach with WTO law and reflects on the potential risks to the EU of renegotiating TRQs. The article further considers the process by which the UK will establish the post-Brexit form of its current obligations, exploring the merits and pitfalls of, on the one hand, negotiating modifications in accordance with GATT Article XXVIII and, on the other, non-negotiated certification of its revised schedules. It concludes that the UK may be prudent to seek Article XXVIII agreement with trading partners on newly articulated concessions and that the EU may be wise to leave current agricultural TRQs undisturbed. In the absence of a bilateral agreement between the UK and EU, the latter may be obliged to increase rather than reduce its quotas to remain in compliance with WTO obligations.”

    Ummm -simples


    Yes. I thought of adding a sentence or two on that very topic.

    The obvious split would be between “I am happy to stay”, “Project Fear” and “To give HMG a kicking”, but there are certainly many other reasons [eg: I’d prefer to be in the EEA and to let HMG decide on CAP, CFP and external trade issues].

    Feel free to add to the list.

  12. @ HIRETON – I’ll concede at the time of EURef some Leave voters probably wanted to take back control in order to become more protectionist (especially LAB Leave and probably the UKIP share that went back to LAB). I’ve always stated this is a huge concern for me that a far-left LAB inherit Brexit. On the flip side I knew several CON- Remain that didn’t want their mortgage payments to go up or were worried about their Tuscany villa holiday cost – real long-term view from them!!

    CON have never pushed post Brexit protectionism – see Lancaster House speech which was where the broad plan for Brexit was laid out (details subject to negotiations). CON are between push for gradually freer trade (folks like me) and the nutters that worship Minford (certainly not me). Being broad parties both the main parties have nutters – fortunately within CON they are at least a minority!

    The one piece of CON plan/policy that upsets me is the immigration target. Unfort it is a package deal: CON or LAB. As a package I’ll pick CON while Corbyn, McDonnell, etc. are running the alternative and I live in an English constituency (I’d be torn between voting SNP or CON if I lived in Scotland – would have to look at the tactical implications). I do however hope that with LAB in opposition then the balance within CON party+policy is forced (unwillingly perhaps) to a more central position – desire to win the next GE overcoming the nutter element on the right/far-right.

    I agree with your comments elsewhere that the biggest Brexit debate is within HMG. Linked to that BoJo disappointed me (as he invariably does). I had hoped the polls and slim majority would keep CON on task – May is toast after 2019 but let’s try and keep it together until then!
    Quick nostalgic thought that BoJo and Hammond were supposed to be sacked after the GE upon gaining a large enough majority – such a shame that never happened.

    TRQs – I know the concept and hence the timing I mentioned above. There is a large difference between a Herculean task (with the inference we should just give up) and a task which “will be very difficult to sort out quickly” (but that we have to tackle given we are leaving the EU)

    I agree it will be difficult to sort out
    – “very” is a relative term so depends upon your comparison
    – “quickly” is again relative but 18mths+transition (3.5yrs) is hardly a cliff-edge and even after that it will be gradual in terms of breadth and depth I hope (maybe not if SMogg becomes PM)

    The point is that we have to sort out issues such as domestic agricultural policy, agriculture within new EU FTA and new partner FTAs, immigration policy, etc – we are leaving and we need to prepare for that. We haven’t had a poll recently with the info but in older polls 70% of the public accept Brexit and want to proceed to achieve the best deal possible – something that both parties had in common until recently.

    The cliff-egde scenario only occurs by frustrating the process, ignoring the issues (or giving up because they seem too difficult) and then doing something suicidal like holding a 2nd ref or handing the Brexit process over to LAB. From a personal perspective the reason I was only just on the side of Leave at the time was because I thought we might screw it up and end up in zombie EEA land for perpetuity with a far-left govt to really finish us off – I gave that a lot of thought at the time and it still occasionally gives me nightmares!

  13. @ SEACHANGE/BZ – its not especially relevant anymore but see my above link to LordAshcroft EURef post mortem. Also attaching link to YouGov focus group findings, here:

    @ SAM – you (Remain) see challenges, I (Leave) see opportunities!
    As I just stated above to HIRETON whether you want to hide from Brexit challenges or not is not an option – we/parliament must face those challenges and do our upmost to achieve the best possible outcome. Good read on why LAB should be helping and not frustrating is on LAB-Leave site here:
    (lots of other good reads on that site)

    Blimey gone 3pm. That’s all today folks. Great chatting. Speak soon.


    I have just posted a response to you re the DUP on the previous thread.

  15. @Sam and @redecorate

    This is an interesting article albeit a little dated from a well informed advocate of CAP reform.


    Four Interesting things stand out for me ‘re Brexiters concerns – well founded in many respects – about CAP and their optimism ‘re freer tade etc:

    A. The EU no longer uses agricultural export subsidies although it retains a capacity to do so for WTO negotiating purposes.

    B. Even when it did developing countries were not necessarily against the cheaper food it resulted in as they were not prioritising agricultural development. It was the USA which principally objected despite its own questionable policies such as the use of food aid.

    C. The EU with Brazil.now seems to be taking the lead in proposing the end of agricultural export subsidies although other developing countries such as India are not happy with Brazil’s stance, partly it seems because it may restrict their ability to develop price support mechanisms.

    D. International trade negotiations are fiendishly complicated especially at WTO level and the idea that there is a huge groundswell for freer trade for the UK to exploit is debatable. Rather there are countries and associations of countries looking to regulate trade in ways favourable to them; the net effect may be freer trade but not necessarily.

  16. @MarkW

    I hardly think a £1.8 billion increase over 5 years (as welcome as that is) heralds the re-emergence of industrial-scale textiles that Scargill is envisaging.


    Also attaching link to YouGov focus group findings

    Sadly, that was seeking information about how voters felt just a month after the EU referendum. It tells us nothing about why they voted the way they did.

    Off out shortly but back later.

  18. @ Trevor Warne

    “Being broad parties both the main parties have nutters – fortunately within CON they are at least a minority!”

    It doesn’t matter how many nutters you’ve got, what matters is if it’s the nutters who are in charge. While I wouldn’t be so rude to suggest this myself, I’m sure you can find many people who would say the nutters have taken over in both Con and Lab.

  19. Sea change, I highlighted the expansion of the textile industry to challenge your notion that the sector requires vast support. How far it can expand is beyond my ability to speculate.

    As for opening coal mines that Mr S. also suggested, this is based on his hope that we burn our own coal in our own carbon capture power stations.

    Idealistic and unfashionable ideas but not impossible as you imply.

  20. An interesting and entertainingcommentary on the Boris Memorandum:


    Politically it is going to be interesting to see how the internal politics of the Tory party play out in the days leading to May ‘s speech in Florence.

  21. Boris on the march.
    The thing is Boris thinks he is another Churchill, personally I think he is much more like Horatio Bottomley, another unscrupulous journalist and demagogue.
    He ended up in jail.

  22. “Everyone knows roughly what shoes cost, and know the value of £10 or £30 or £100. ”
    The main criterion for good value for a pair of shoes is a positive answer to ‘Do they fit?’ then we worry about whether they look good, then about how long until they wear out. Their cost of £10, £30, £100 or even £300 does not determine whether you have a good deal unless the answers to the above questions are satisfactory.
    One of our local shops has a pair of Church’s shoes on offer at £190 instead of £300. Is that a good deal? Most people I know would not consider paying £300, or even £190, for a pair of shoes.

    Zero is an easily understood number.
    Article 50.3 The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
    Any “Brexit divorce bill” greater than zero will be some amount (if any) which is legally due, plus any amount paid to gain future advantage – the value of which must offset any amount paid, and in the case of a good deal, will more than offset it. Justifying a deal means evaluating the likelihood of that future advantage. It’s not simply a matter of saying that £X billion is a lot.

  23. @TRIGGUY – agree the lack of a 30+ majority for CON does mean the lunatics may take over the asylum! The most worrying thing is CON’s nutter minority actually want the extreme Brexit that Farron etc used to make out was the broad CON policy. The default situation (best achieved via frustration or some daft 2nd ref) means that those 20-30 nutters win and we leave with no deal.

    @ BZ – NI. It’s always been a chicken and egg conundrum but there is no need to be a border in the Irish Sea – special status avoids that, which is the whole point and where Barnier and DD are heading. Frankly if DUP object to what would be an amazing boost to NI economy, then *&^% ’em and CON push on without them – risking LAB voting them down bill by bill. I never wanted the DUP pact anyway and although very risky I’m itching to call Corbyn’s bluff on the faux frustration tactic (after 22Nov preferably!). At least 7 LAB MPs that can replace DUP and fed up with the tail wagging the dog absurdity of 2% of the UK holding a gun to the head of the rest of the UK.

    Why Britain voted info. The LordAshcroft data was better but since it was a “package” question (Remain in EU, Leave EU) you really need qualitative data to know the answer to why Remain or Leave voted as they did. I didn’t spend long in the archive section of YouGov so you might find better info. I’m not sure it has much relevance as the result won’t change – curiosity value perhaps?

  24. @MarkW

    It’s not impossible, but to have mass-scale textiles to export you’d need to compete on cost and quality with places in the world with much lower cost bases – thus you would most likely need tariff walls and subsidies. The alternative is some kind of technological breakthrough that made our production more efficient compared to the competition and thus our quality and cost would be at an advantage.

  25. The Irish Sea Border debate is futile, it could never happen in this Parliament for 2 simple reasons:

    1) N.I trade with the UK is much larger than it has with Ireland so it would be economic madness.

    2) The DUP would never wear it.


    Ashcrofts book on the results of the EU referendum provided a lot of clarity to some his poll.

    I think I havew written this one before but essentially his view was that the majority of people did not vote on the question placed in front of them (I do not find that a surprise from the conversations I had with people voting leave at on their doorsteps)

    Lord Ashcroft says the following: “whatever was printed on the ballot paper the question large numbers of voters heard and the answer they gave had nothing much to do with the European Union … ultimately, the question many saw was: ‘Are you happy with the way things are and the way they seem to be going?’ And their answer was: ‘Well, since you ask … no

    I found many people talking about lack of access to GP’s the A&E closing down at night in Weston Super Mare, The fact their children could not go to the school of choice the lack of train station. Nothing to do with the EU at all. At one point I said to one woman well how does leaving the EU solve these problems and see conceded “It does not but it is the only vote I have got”

    In all honesty the reason I campaigned was that I thought that people would vote leave to give some one a kick, an easy kick for some it was people down south for other it was immigrants for many it was that no one listened to them.

    What I fear has happened is that we have taken the EU referendum and tried to build on it something that it really does not represent.
    As you point out a good proportion of leave voters in the North voted for more protectionism (or fair trade as they call it, They would also say they were for “free trade, but……”

    I think the parliamentary issues basically cover the problems that we have. firstly that CON have taken the EU referendum as not a cry from the JAMs but for many Tories a release from the dreaded EU dictatorship, For many labour leavers a return to their social power, the simplistic lump of labour fallacy writ large with a cleaner I spoke to whom felt that with less immigrant she would get a pay rise have found that after the last NMW rise she got she had less ours in ‘compensation’

    As I have always said the problems of UK have nothing to do with the EU and we see pro leave trying to map ideas of leaving as a way of solving problems that we have the capability to solve now

    What did surprise me regarding May was that she talked explicitly about the JAMs and then decided to do absolutely nothing fro them and I fear that Labour are now the party that does address the JAMs issues and have set the pace in terms of debate.

    BoJo message was partly fighting the last war, condeding the idea that labour have of borrowing to improve infrastructure and the idea of if you just say it it will happen. His time as London Mayor is regarded in hindsight as a bit of a disaster lots of smoke but no fire slowly most of the thing associated with him have been reversed.

  27. @BZ and @Trevor W

    Interestingly there is a new piece behind the Telegraph paywall that touches on the subject:

    “Few people ever said the European Union was a perfect model of government. During the EU referendum the Remain campaign ran on the assurance that it was capable of meaningful reform, of allowing nation states further autonomy to govern themselves. Any suggestion from the Leave campaign that the EU was in pursuit of an ever-closer political union was rejected as scaremongering.

    “Yet with his State of the Union address last week, the President of the European Commission vindicated the very argument put forward by Leavers during the referendum – that the status quo was not an option on the ballot paper, that a tick in Remain’s box was in fact a vote for Euro-federalism.

    “The euro is destined to be the common currency of the entire European Union,” Mr Juncker declared. “By 2025 we need a fully fledged European Defence Union,” he also said. Schengen, too, must be extended; more power transferred to Brussels from the nation states. How many Remainers actually voted for that outcome?

    A survey by Demos and YouGov this time last year found only 5 per cent of respondents in Great Britain supported staying in the EU and trying to increase the EU’s powers. A mere 2 per cent supported the formation of a single European government.

    That survey can be found here by the way:

  28. @HIRETON

    Free trade in agriculture is much more complex than TREVOR WARNE make out. For example many commodity countries will never be able to grow out from their commodity exports because Free trade does not allow them to protect newly formed industries nor give them a captive market. hence they see the problem as them being a weaker partner in the negotiation and hence their attempts to created their own regional development zones and structure very much like the EU

    You should also look at the NAFTA deal and how it affected each country and what it meant for different industries in each. For example agricultural business in many rural red states prospered putting mexican corn farmers out of business and driving off the land and across the border to work in US farms

  29. Sea change, well i am no Mr.S expert but iirc he believes in investing in manufacturing in a wider context with textiles being one area.
    And coal.
    Lots of coal.

  30. @MarkW – He’s definitely keen on lots of coal, I’ll give him that!

  31. What the heck has Scargill got to do with anything? A man who has been a media recluse for 15 years bar one recent emission, and a man who ‘leads’ a national party with less members than my local ward Labour party!
    You might do better quoting Jeffrey Archer – he’s probably more influential these days

  32. @trevorwarne

    The last thing the DUP will agree to is some legal special status for NI, it is complete anathema to them.

  33. @GuyMonde – Read up, it was to do with the discussion that there are plenty of Leavers on the left of British politics who wish to take back control for Protectionist reasons rather than Free Trade.

  34. Guymonde, well yes, I just tried to frame what he does publicly say slightly differently.

  35. NI – something we are all ignoring – the true cost of pandering to 2% of UK

    How much is this special status deal for NI costing? Not the 1bn bung but the price Barnier will extract for it!!! Impossible to put a price on it but it is not zero – it might be longer under ECJ, it might be an extra 5bn on the divorce bill, it could be both! Whatever it is, it is not zero!! Of course we will never know as we’ll just see the package.

    If LAB want the DUP after 22Nov – good luck, all yours!

    PTRP/HIRETON/ETC – if you don’t accept the referendum result (and all the parliament votes since) that is frankly your problem. If you want your elected representatives to frustrate the process and see the far-right of CON succeed in an extreme Brexit then that is of course your decision. I’ve never said the issues are not complex, nor difficult – maybe some have quite unsatisfactory initial solutions that require a fix – fixes being a lot easier without QMV and 27 other nations of course, even better without DUP, SNP, etc having a voice that far outweighs their democratic proportionality.

    I’m at peace with the two most likely scenarios:
    1/ Negotiated divorce with new deal – still most likely
    2/ No deal – more likely if DUP act like spoilt idiots and/or LAB continue a frustration tactic

    I see no chance (well maybe 1%) of the process being stopped, reversed and UK staying in anything like as “good” a deal as we voted on back in Jun’16. Being allowed back on a much worse deal I’ll maybe raise the likelihood to 5% (even the most Remainer banks out there put the likelihood at <10%)


    It’s always been a chicken and egg conundrum but there is no need to be a border in the Irish Sea – special status avoids that, which is the whole point and where Barnier and DD are heading

    I agree that it is something Davis suggested, probably 2nd hand from the DUP. But do you have any evidence that Barnier is considering it?

    Even if he is, unless GB remains in the customs union there would have to be customs checks on all traffic between NI & GB.


    The Irish Sea Border debate is futile, it could never happen in this Parliament for 2 simple reasons

    I fully agree with both your points, but it’s that which makes the border problem all the more relevant. For those reasons, unless the Cons are prepared for a longish transition period in the customs union, that I believe the DUP will have no choice but to be the kingmakers for Lab, who have already asserted that the end deal is more important than than the length of time it takes to achieve.

  37. @ BZ – there wouldn’t need to be customs checks during transition as we’d still be in the CU (or NI would be in the best of both CUs – an amazing situation for their small economy). Maybe 3.5yrs isn’t long enough to sort the technology in which case extend that specific situation out a little longer.

    The concept of a phased implementation could easily permit ideal dates with some flexibility on final implementation subject to the technology being in place, etc. The important thing is to have the principles and some transition road map in place BEFORE we sign off on the money – otherwise EU (in this case, both the Irelands) have little incentive to move towards a fully workable solution. Obviously ability to agree our own FTAs elsewhere should ideally not be held up.

    I doubt the mighty UKPR will find the answer (and be able to write it out in 200 words) but given enough time, flexibility and goodwill I expect DD and Barnier will.

    Barnier mentioned special status for NI way back in May but did more recently say we can’t use NI as a “test case” (my read is the price of special status for NI went up!)

    All this talk of anathema is BS IMHO – smart negotiating on the part of DUP but ultimately a bluff. As I’ve said repeatedly if DUP don’t see what an amazing position special status gives NI economy then *^%@ ’em (provided that is after 22 Nov!) and if Corbyn wants to charm them then good luck to him! If we end up with Corbyn as PM I’d much rather we have the kind of transition deal Starmer has suggested and then when CON get back in power – we’ll finish the job properly :)

    Have a great evening, volunteering tomorrow so maybe chat next week.

  38. SEA CHANGE @ BZ & TW

    I’m not surprised at the Torygraph article or the poll findings, but they will be relevant to a new generation not ours, and may prove more or less appealing to them depending on how the rest of the world is doing. Had the EU referendum not happened, Juncker’s speech would have been very different given the UK’s veto, now thrown away. Personally, as an off and on expat who has spent more of my working life abroad than in Blighty I would be all for it, but recognise that England probably wouldn’t.

    Re their conjecture on support, perhaps the Torygraph aren’t frightening enough. Many polls still ask the referendum question or something very similar. The most recent 3 mentioned by polls in official threads here are:

    Opinium FW 15-18 August: Remain 47% Leave 44%
    YouGov FW 30-31 August: Right to leave 44% Wrong to leave 44%
    Survation FW 31 Aug – 1 Sep: Remain 50% Leave 50%

  39. A new purpose for UKIP: EWIP ?

    I just noticed a fun stat from the ICM tables. On the question of break-up of UK, on pages 19, 21 and 23 we get the party breakdown of the feelings about various parts of the UK splitting off: pleased, disappointed or no view. Stats are tiny of course, but the only voters (current VI) that would actually be pleased (on average) to see Scotland and NI leave is UKIP. Well, ‘Others’ are quite keen too, but clearly SNP and PC are going to prefer the split option. Sweetly, the UKIPers want to keep Wales. Isn’t that nice of them.

    So there you are, a party named after the UK actually has voters in favour of the break-up of the UK. Given that they are a bit lost as to where to go next, maybe they should reform as the party of the English and Welsh: EWIP (or EWNP). They can then fight with SNP and SF in the common cause of breaking up the UK.

    OK, not very serious, but on a day when Boris suggests that the 350 million for the NHS might not have been a lie, anything is possible.

  40. @ BZ – also remember before DUP become kingmaker for LAB, Corbyn needs SNP, LD and PC on board (or another GE)!! I guess we’ll see if he truly is the messiah and can work miracles (well, probably not, because like the DUP, Corbyn is probably bluffing as well – IMHO of course – he’ll wait until CON have delivered Brexit before he goes for the kill shot which IMHO I think will be too late as the Remain voters LAB picked up will have little incentive to stick with LAB once Brexit is delivered.

    As always only time will tell :)

  41. @ TRIGGUY – good spot on ICM tabs. Don’t tell BZ about the LAB VI for NI joining RoI although I doubt that kind of crossbreak is news to the DUP :)

    I hope ICM run those questions again in a few months. I reckon NI will tip over 50% (ignoring DK) by then :)

    At some point the demographics (Catholics have more kids) will tip NI over anyway – personally I don’t see much point in spending a whole lot of money and political capital delaying the inevitable.

    Thanks for spotting the info and have a great evening


    NI – something we are all ignoring – the true cost of pandering to 2% of UK

    What empathy you have for your fellow subjects!

    In practice, if indeed the UK does eventually decide to leave the customs union completely, they have done GB a great service in providing the time for the GB ports and airports to develop the lorry parks and customs facilities necessary, not to mention the recruitment and training of the officials who will need to staff them.

    I do, however, agree with you that the cost of rejoining the EU will increase as a result of HMG’s unpreparedness for a leave result.

  43. @trevorwarne

    You seem to be getting a bit overwrought.

    It is entirely legitimate for people to question what the detailed process for Brexit is not least as it is now a complete departure from what Vote Leave described in their campaign manifesto ( a measured orderly departure negotiated before Article 50 was triggered).

    Similarly with NI, Vote Leave offered repeated reassurances. Delivering on that and, on taking back control more generally, by significantly weakening the integrity of the UK and treating one part of it as semi- disposable is risible as a response ( especially as you take the Brext line that the UK voted as a whole).

    Perhaps it is about time – over a year after the referendum – for the UK Government and Brexiters to start producing some solutions which work in the real, messy world.


    also remember before DUP become kingmaker for LAB, Corbyn needs SNP, LD and PC on board (or another GE)

    I have. For once in a generation we would have true majority governance. Why do you think any of them would prefer the current Con government? Certainly Corbyn could do a Ramsay Mac and offer a grand coalition provided he’s PM, but that seems rather unlikely.

    I’m not so sure that a new GE would be on. Why would any of the small parties agree when for once they would all have serious influence? Even if they did, he would have to refuse to become PM after the No Confidence vote in the Cons. Alternatively, he could ask the Cons to vote for a fresh GE. Without them an early GE wouldn’t pass the two thirds of all seats criterion.

    Re the next UK GE, whenever it is, I agree that older ex-Con remainers might revert to voting Con but I doubt the under 50s will feel the same.


    Don’t tell BZ about the LAB VI for NI joining RoI although I doubt that kind of crossbreak is news to the DUP

    Do you really think that would be anything new to the DUP? Have you forgotten the Chuckle Brothers? The DUP are well aware that negotiating with SF has been an integral part of NI politics ever since Belfast Agreement. SF are also aware that even if an NI “border poll” was in favour of Irish unity, there’s a very significant possibility of the RoI voting NO. The reason, of course, is that despite the odd spat with the EC they’re much better Europeans than the UK has ever been, and making the most of their opportunities.

    The one thing they would insist on is that SF re-form the Stormont executive, and that Lab use all their contacts with SF to that effect.


    Thanks for that.

    Cons throwing away NI would make a great campaigning tool against the SCons.

  46. Sunday Telegraph leads with Gove and Patel backing Johnson and May allies furious. It is also reported elsewhere that Johnson did not clear his article with No 10 under normal Cabinet procedures and it had no warning of its publication. Looks like the tipping point one way or another could be looming for May and the Conservative Party.

  47. Florence and the tory machine

    May has 2 options :

    She can do no more about Ireland or citizens rights and money is the only game in town and she can go one of two ways:

    a. Offer to pay a sum to the EU. They will pocket it and say it is a good start but not enough to bring about a start to trade talks.To take this approach will result in humiliation since the UK will need to increase it time and time again;

    b. Tell the EU that the UK will pay nothing save in the context of a trade deal and that there is no point delaying trade talks because there will be no change in that position and the EU must decide what it wants to do.In other words cut through the false construct erected by the EU.This puts the onus on the 27. Trade deal or no trade deal. Let them decide.I think Sir Alex Ferguson had a term for it.

  48. S Thomas

    Fergie had lots of terms that he used at all of his clubs.

    Few of them would be appropriate for this site, however! :-)

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