Opinium’s regular poll for the Observer suggests party support is still static, despite a difficult few weeks for the government. Topline voting intention figures are CON 40%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 6%(+1). Fieldwork was between Tuesday and Thursday and changes are from a month ago. Ahead of the budget Opinium also asked about the most trusted team on the economy. May & Hammond led by 36% to Corbyn & McDonnell on 28% (as with the best PM question, the majority of respondents said either None (24%) or Don’t know (12%). Full tabs are here.

Midweek we also had ICM’s poll for the Guardian – that too showed a pretty much static position, with topline figures of CON 41%(-1), LAB 41%(-1), LDEM 7%(nc). Tabs for that are here.

A budget is, of course, the sort of major event that can sometimes cut through with the public if it contains something particularly compelling or – more likely – something particularly unattractive. As I’ve often written here, it’s very rare for budgets to result in a boost for the government, but there are plenty of examples of budgets going horribly wrong and damaging party support – they are very much a bullet to be dodged, rather than an opportunity to win support. We shall see what happens this week.

340 Responses to “Latest Opinium suggests the polls are still static”

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  1. Chris,

    “The typical Walt claims to have certain experience only to find that he is addressing someone who really does have that experience.”

    You mean like Colin yesterday challenging me on Planning.


  2. @ COLIN – thanks for highlighting The Times piece on FDP. I’ve been reading the German online press as well.
    My only real interest is how long it is going to take and it seems two options:
    1/ This is all just brinkmanship and a deal will be done, possibly in next few weeks?
    2/ We do end up with new elections which will probably end up in the need to form a coalition or end up pretty much in the same situation as they have now – probably no resolution until at least end of March

    I think the lead article from Times is a little worrying. We need to at least try to break the deadlock and not play more games. Whether or not they take the offer or not is then up to them and then between them and their electorates. Whether we could get away with 30bn or 40bn I doubt is a factor. They want 60bn and they think they’ll get it. I think May has already overstepped what a lot of CON MPs feel is acceptable – are they giving her enough rope to hang herself?

    It seems Ireland are vetoing the 40bn.

    Do you think May has pushed it as far as is politically possible? What do you see as happening if (or more likely when) Barnier refuses the new offer?

    Important vote tonight in HoC as well!

  3. MarkW re Walt

    “Macavity, Macavity, there never was a
    Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity”

    If the ‘cat’ fits wear it!

  4. PTRP @ 1.24pm

    Thanks – I agree the Murray amendment was badly written.

    But with the Tories voting against in bulk, there was no danger of the absurd customs situation arising.

    So a strong gesture of support for staying in the Customs Union could have been made.

    The SNP MPs showed this, and I don`t believe they weren`t aware of the literal result if the amendment had passed.

  5. @chris Riley What you say about rural voters is very interesting. It seems to me that, for example, sheep farmers in Wales or Cumbria might be one of the few groups where the links between Brexit disaster and their own incomes might be sufficiently clear for them to change their minds on Brexit itself rather than on the culpability of others involved in it, Do you know of polling evidence on this kind of shift or is your opinion based on your hard won experience (which I certainly don’t deride!).

  6. Of Peter`s 4, I think C the most likely.

  7. Pass the rock please,
    I might agree with you critique of government negotiating strategy except that you have assumed certain goals as per the national interest. But the goal is the interests of the conservative party, and that means placating a minority of the nation most might disagree with. The conservatives need a breakdown of talks, and as Trevor keeps begging for, labour to intervene and rescue them.

    Trevor Warne,

    You advocate an alternative parallel customs union but I am a bit at a loss how such a thing could be compatible with the eu one unless it is in all practical respects identical. So you reckon the solution is a lot of spinning?

  8. Davwel

    It’s clear from Murray’s comment in the House last night, and since in the press, that he is severely irritated with his front bench that they didn’t (with the greater expertise that they should have available) to frame a better amendment to achieve the same purpose.

    I noted that the other 6 SLab MPs kept their heads down and abstained. Being newbies that may have made sense.

    I did like Alison Thewliss’s intervention –

    The right hon. Gentleman is making a good point about border crossings. I have spoken to someone who has the border going through their kitchen. Does he agree that that would pose a practical difficulty for them, should they wish to get to their cake and eat it?

    I agree with you on Peter’s questions, that C seems most likely, but given this Government’s demonstrable inability to understand the position of others, D is a distinct possibility.

  9. Peter cairns,

    I think your opinion d the most likely. The government needs a breakdown in negotiations. It cannot u turn and survive the fallout, so it needs to precipitate a crisis and force labour involvement.

    The government would be happy attempting to implement it’s manifesto promise of no deal and being defeated by labour implementing it’s manifesto commitment to protecting the economy.

  10. @ DAVWEL – C can’t last much longer. May will at some point have to chose to go to D herself or it’s A followed by D.

    @ DANNY – Ireland have vetoed the 40bn offer before it has even been formally offered so giving up on responding to the NI issue. Was this always May’s expectation (and the reason Boris+Gove accepted it)? I’d rather see that 40bn spent at home and I expect a lot of voters would as well. If 40bn isn’t enough then time for Plan B.

  11. Mugabe resigns.


    A good, peaceful outcome and a hope for a better future.

  12. Trevor Warne

    “I’d rather see that 40bn spent at home”

    The cash isn’t down the back of a sofa in No 11, waiting to be spent on whatever takes the Government’s fancy!

    It can be printed, borrowed, or raised in taxation – or not be found at all (I don’t think there’s much family silver left to sell).

  13. Charles

    “Brexit disaster”

    What brexit disaster, I’m not aware of one? I assume you are just pushing your view of Bexit.

    Many people, possibly still a majority are happy we are leaving.

  14. CMJ

    If resignation allows him to keep the loot (which impeachment would have meant being confiscated) then the outcome might be peaceful, but not necessarily good.

  15. @ OLDNAT – I don’t tend to go in for correcting tiny errors but it gives me oppo to show good ways to find info.
    Martin Whitfield (LAB, East Lothian) backed Ian Murray.

    if anyone ever wants to hear the dialogue of HoC debates then theyworkforyou.com covers most. Last nights one:

    I tend to go to the public whip site (see earlier post) to see how MPs voted then if I want to see who actually said what then go to the theyworkforyou site (use “find” function to see what any specific MP said)

    The publicwhip site has some other useful functions to see how any specific MP has voted in the past – rebellion votes, etc.

    I hope folks find that useful – can’t remember who pointed it out to me, possibly a UKPR post, if so thanks again.

  16. As it was raised earlier – a good part of the German election outcome could have been predicted from the last Eurobarometer. Perhaps the only exception is The Left Party’s result.

    The UK is also interesting, perhaps underpins some of the polls. I don’t really want to write a narrative, but some of the points are interesting:
    * The EU is not more distrusted than the government or parliament (mainly because of the massive drop in trust in government)
    * Intra-EU movement doesn’t seem to be a big thing, although bigger than anywhere else.
    * There is a very pessimistic outlook
    * Social services (including health) are an overwhelming issue.
    * The affinity with the US remains strong.


  17. @ OLDNAT – the issue is “money trees”. There was uproar about finding a money tree to give DUP a 1bn bung (which I agreed should not have happened). So we find 40bn to pay the EU? 40bn isn’t enough so where next?

    Do you not see the implications and how this might be a way for min.deal to be pursued?

    How much more time do we need to waste to see we are not going to get a good deal?
    How bad does a deal have to be before people see it as “bad”?

    This is why tracking LAB votes and CON rebels are so important. Tonight’s vote will be a key one to watch.

  18. @Charles

    I live in a rural area with a lot of sheep and dairy farming. Now, it’s slightly unusual in that a number of local sheep farmers took their lead from the NFU (and their own experiences) and actually campaigned for Remain based on their concerns about the industry. I am told that many of their fellows who went the other way are now experiencing significant Leaver’s remorse and that there is a lot of bitterness at a political elite who seem, to them, to be playing games with people’s lives.

    I also work extensively around the country in a job related to local economies (that’s as far as I’m willing to go on that) and have spent a lot of time in the south west of late. Down there the local business community was very strongly Remain but the final vote was Leave – but split strongly along party lines. The local business community are even more concerned as the region is unusually dependent on trade with the EU and they say that a lot of local people, especially in farming, are very worried indeed now.

    (Hinckley Point is a very significant concern too as it is a huge employer)

    There is a body of thought that holds that a Brexit that did not meet the expectations of Devon and Cornwall that they would, at worst, not be worse off, and would preferably benefit, would have the effect of, if not eradicating the Conservatives from that part of the country, certainly making some hitherto ultra-safe seats relatively competitive. It might be that the majorities of SE Cornwall, St Austell and Newquay, SW Devon and Central Devon, and the character and popularity of the honourable member for Totnes might make their seats safe, but it could well otherwise turn a Tory stronghold red with splashes of yellow, with all the long-term implications that ensue.

  19. @ToH

    “Many people, possibly still a majority are happy we are leaving.”

    Over a year from actually going and you’re no longer sure a majority are happy about it.

    What do you think the country should do if, as you suggest, there is no longer majority support for Brexit?

  20. It seems to me, as a complete non-“expert” that the problem with the current talks in largely one of language and the conflation of two distinctly different elements.

    The financial side [referred to as a divorce settlement] is presumably supposed to be based on criteria which is a mix of objective and subjective – as in a real divorce.

    Trade talks are entirely separate to that but, because they are seen as conditional – which is a reasonable enough request I think – the media, some politicians [and some here] have begun talking about the money as though it is an upfront payment that we have to make to be able to qualify for new trading rights.

    I [probably, it seems to me, the person who should have been sorting this out right from the start] have always said that the figures for any debts we have should have been itemised from the very beginning – as they would be in a divorce – then there would have been no conflation or confusion.

    On the plus side I am still available.

  21. If resignation allows him to keep the loot (which impeachment would have meant being confiscated) then the outcome might be peaceful, but not necessarily good.

    In the context of African politics, a peaceful resolution is a good achievement.

    There still needs to be change and reform, but at least it’s a good start :-)

  22. Old Nat – 4.19

    ‘I agree with you on Peter’s questions, that C seems most likely, but given this Government’s demonstrable inability to understand the position of others, D is a distinct possibility.’

    Sadly I have to agree. The UK government has failed to address the issue of the divorce settlement in all three sectors:

    it has refused to come out with a clear and precise statement on what it believes the UK has to pay to meet its commitments. Commitments are commitments; they are not dependent on a future relationship. That is obvious to anyone with an understanding of logic and language;

    it has failed to offer a clear set of proposals on the rights and responsibilities of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU;

    it has failed to show any understanding of the realities of the Northern Ireland situation within the context of the Good Friday agreement, still less any understanding of the point made earlier regarding the passage of the international border through someone’s kitchen.

    The UK has failed to take any of this seriously and will get the full support of the right-wing press in blaming the EU. History, however, may not be kind to Mrs. May and her failure to stand up for the UK’s best interests.

  23. @Paul Croft:

    Is it a reasonable “request” for the EU to put the financial settlement first?

    If it were a simple, obvious sum, then yes. But it is utterly contentious. The EU’s approach is not a gentlemanly “let’s sort out the sordid subject first, old boy.” It is basically that we agree their approach or their idea of an orderly Brexit is to dump our supposedly pooled Sovereignty in a skip, and precipitate a civil air embargo (they expect our military flag guts will continue).

    All of which is fine, coz it’s our fault.

    The EU want us to go first in admitting what we will pay, when in every legal case it is the other way round. That way they pocket admissions, and move onto the rest.

  24. PeterC
    not B, probably not A.

    Otherwise absolutely no idea, it’ll probably just bumble along as it has until it runs out of time and then a way will be found to extend it.

  25. Joseph 1832 – 5.40 p.m

    Then let the UK government come out with a clear statement about what it believes its commitments to be. That way we shall at least know where the common ground is, as it is unlikely that the UK government will claim that it has commitments where the EU does not believe it has.

  26. mine of 5.39

    add the word ‘government’ after the penultimate ‘UK’

  27. Trevor

    Thanks for the correction. I’d forgotten that source.

    Hansard is authoritative, but can be a bit of a pain to navigate through.

  28. Chris in Cardiff summed it up for me this morning with.

    ”However the bigger issue is that the UK position on this, wanting CTA and to leave the CU without a border of sorts between NI and GB is literally impossible and there are no easy (or pleasant from a Tory or DUP perspective) solutions”

    Re the Murray amendment, was only a 1 line whip and not a thought out position at all imo.

    Labour will move to membership of the CU position should (as seems likely) no other solution that satisfies the referendum result and putting jobs and the economy first is found.

    For now saying they may move to such a position if concessions offered is enough.

    Think mainly the unreconcilables (to Corbyn) mainly supporting from the Labour benches

  29. It’s not just TW who seems to want Labour to throw its settled policy position (such as it is) in the bin to rescue their failure to argue their case.

    Because it seems to me that the Labour front bench could not have supported Murray’s amendment without doing so.

    Limited and fluid as the overall Starmer strategy sometimes is, there have been two consistent positions at least:
    that “Labour accepts the referendum result”;
    and that “nothing should be taken off the table”.

    Since any amendment that mandates a negotiating outcome takes the alternatives off the table by definition, Murray’s amendment is evidently inconsistent with the latter position.

    And since the amendment is evidently unworkable, and would leave the bill with it attached similarly unworkable, one could argue it is in reality just a wrecking amendment anyway, so hardly consistent with the former position.

    I think Labour’s position is logical, pragmatic, and not even devoid of principle, But even if you disagree, it is, on the above points at least, clear, and it is unrealistic to expect them to throw it away on such a self-indulgent and ill thought out gesture.

  30. That should be “throw its settled policy position (such as it is) in the bin to rescue others’ failure to argue their case” I think.

  31. Trevor Warne

    ” Ireland have vetoed the 40bn offer before it has even been formally offered ”

    That doesn’t accurately reflect the Irish position, which remains unchanged by the 40bn number.

    The only thing that will stop Ireland exercising its veto is a written guarantee from the UK that there will be no hard border within the island of Ireland.

    Despite May’s claim that the UK is “Zimbabwe’s oldest friend” few ex colonies would trust the UK Government’s word!

  32. Should we give any credence to the new Kantar poll?

    CON 42
    LAB 38
    LD 9
    UKIP 5
    GRN 3
    SNP 2

  33. Peter W,

    Very fair and accurate summary of the Murray amendment and why Labour had to vote against.

    People can get frustrated with Stamer and wish for further developments from Labour and that is there prerogative but to suggest inconsistency or U Turns is just inaccurate.

    I am supposed to add imo but I actually think it is factually true.


    Definitely leave, thereby honouring the referendum result.


    @”Do you think May has pushed it as far as is politically possible? What do you see as happening if (or more likely when) Barnier refuses the new offer?”

    The honest answer is I don’t know.

    What intrigues me is the way the Press reports Financial Settlement discussions. It is always in terms of a number-whereas the EU position paper doesn’t ask UK to provide one.

    Barnier has never asked for a number.

    What they have always asked for is agreement that their list of categories is accepted as a Legal Liability.-to be evaluated later.

    We know that DD has said that his team responded line by line on Legal Liability. So in a sense we have apparently given them all they currently need. What we do not know is whether Barnier’s continuing request for a response on Financial Settlement is simply an indication that DD has rejected a large proportion of the EU items as Legal Liabilities & Barnier finds this unacceptable. My guess is that this is the position-noteably & most significantly on RAL.

    Even in the Florence speech , no number was given. But of course TM said this :-

    “Still I do not want our partners to fear that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave.”

    The item she refers to is in fact to be found in the EU list. It is their item 2 :-

    ” (2) The financial programming for the period between the date of withdrawal of the United Kingdom and the end of the MFF 2014-2020; ”

    And so the Press conclude TM has accepted that as a Legal Liability & it is a simple matter of arithmetic to cost out our remaining Budget contributions.

    So what is it that TM is taking to them now?

    My guess is two things which might be put to them in these terms:-

    1) We still do not accept any of your items other than item 2, as Legal Liabilities of the UK.
    2) But we know that RAL is a big number & we were members when all these project promises were made. So notwithstanding 1) above, we make an off of £x in full & final settlement of all UK liabilities alleged in your lists ( with the exception of no. 2-which we have already agreed to pay.) For this offer we expect phase 2 talks to commence forthwith & an implementation period after Mar 2019 to accepted subject to detailed conditions.

    I find it difficult to imagine Barnier suddenly switching, in response to this, from his very formal approach to agreeing Legal Liability first as a hermetically sealed stage-to a down & dirty horsetrade on numbers.

    Maybe I’m being naive & all that haughty French diplomat stuff is just a front for a “give us the money” approach in reality.

    So I remain very unsure as to what response May will get. If it is an agreement to move forward to future relationships I will relax somewhat because Barnier starts to look human & a bit more Anglo Saxon.

    But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear him telling us that the UK hasn’t agreed ALL his items as Legal Liabilities & he can’t tick that box yet-so see you all in March next year.

    If that happens, British Industry is going to start making their own plans & the brown stuff starts hitting the fan.

    I hope May has a plan for that eventuality.

    In answer to your question about May’s performance on Brexit-I actually think these two teams have been pretending to play the same game whilst operating to different rules.

    The cultural divide between us & them has been a big problem imo.

    To conclude on a more optimistic tone BBC,News’ bloke in Brussels has been emphasising how Barnier has switched to talking about a future trade deal-something he has avoided like the plague hitherto.

  36. John B

    “Commitments are commitments; they are not dependent on a future relationship. That is obvious to anyone with an understanding of logic and language;”

    Legally there are very few and the sums involved are relaytively small. We should pay those, nothing else.

  37. John B: History, however, may not be kind to Mrs. May and her failure to stand up for the UK’s best interests.

    For those of us who are around to see it, the historical verdict on this strange period will be very interesting. We will all have our own views on how it will look in retrospect. But I’m pretty sure no-one will be calling it our finest hour.

  38. New thread on the Kantar poll

  39. Trevor Warne,
    ” Ireland have vetoed the 40bn offer before it has even been formally offered so giving up on responding to the NI issue”

    i think it asier for the government to precipitate a crisis over the money than over the border, where there seems to be no solution. A payment is a one off hit. A hard border is an eternal annoyance.

    Trevor Warne,
    “How much more time do we need to waste to see we are not going to get a good deal?”

    Quite a lot, it seems. Barnier and the EU said at the outset – and long ago people like Ted Heath agreed – that the only good deal is EU membership. There still does not seem to be consensus on this.

    ” It is basically that we agree their approach or their idea of an orderly Brexit is to dump our supposedly pooled Sovereignty in a skip”
    I dont understand. We are the ones withdrawing from pooled sovereignty?

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