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. Astonishing Brexit quote of the day from The Guardian;

    “The subcommittee, which also includes the chancellor, Philip Hammond, the home secretary, Amber Rudd, and the business secretary, Greg Clark, spoke at length about what that future relationship with the EU might look like. One cabinet source said it was the first time a formal discussion had tackled that matter.”

  2. Is the “Brexit Bunch” like the “Brady Bunch”: a naïve group of people thrown into a situation where they suddenly have to compromise with those who have entirely different outlooks, which overcomes all obstacles with youthful enthusiasm and unbelievable plot twists?

  3. I’m with @TheexterminatingDalek on the importance of the border question; it’s Eire’s key card and key demand and it can’t from their PoV be left until stage 2 (though I understand DD’s logic in saying it should be) because it was identified as a stage 1 issue in the summer. The rigidity of the EU processes means that if it is left to stage 2 the IR position will be much weaker within EU 27 so they have to go hard on it now. It also has the advantages of bringing some of the trade issues inadvertently to a head quicker which will reduce the chances of them just dragging on and on.

    The EU team’s recent briefings over the last 2 months that cash was the real barrier to moving to stage 2 was really misleading and unhelpful to the whole process.

    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.

  4. @GARJ

    Your analysis of the way in which affordable housing is promoted is spot on. Very well done.

    The affordable industry has been allowed to promote their position unchallenged for far too long.

    Peter makes a very fair point about building half a dozen mansions rather than thirty smaller homes on the same site. But the way to control this is by encouraging greater densities through the planning system.

    The national obsession with affordable homes, along with the same preoccupation with gazumping, are the main reason why the housing market is malfunctioning.


    Regarding SHLAAs, England is different, but then it is not. Some LAs go out to identify the owners of suitable land, others do not. It appears to be random. I stick to the idea that planners should choose the best sites and see what can b e done, rather than pass all the advantages of the system to those who know how best to exploit it.

    As to GARJ’s suggestion and your response, I would be interested to know why building 30 market houses is less successful at providing homes than 30 affordable houses. Please don’t come back with second homes, as this is a small component of the market place.

    My argument is that 30 market homes will make a much better addition to the quality of the national housing stock than 30 affordable. And as GARJ points out, with a lot less hassle and distortion.

    But I recognise everything you say about planning committees!

  5. @ DALEK – I don’t know how many lollipops can be bought for 1bn but it was obvious from before the EURef that NI could only be settled once everything was settled (UK wanted parallel talks but caved in).

    I understand the fanatic Remain camp see NI as the way to stop Brexit but it has nothing to do with HMG’s interpretation of the Leave vote – it comes down to “sufficient progress” and if EU actually want to do a deal or not. A final outcome that is deep and special (as HMG want) might not require customs checks and certainly a 2y transition kicks the can down the road a bit. However, most Leave think it is about money and even then doubt the EU would give us anything like a good deal.

    The “divorce bill doesn’t matter” poll and post from AW phrased the question “as part of the process” (ambiguous phrasing?) but even then if you looked at the breakdown and especially the CON VI breakdown then paying a large bill “as part of the process” was not very popular and that is before a (new?) CON leader points out the money would be better spent on NHS, etc (new CoE quite possibly required).

    Personally I had always hoped we’d offer something very generous and have that refused. Having been overly generous and then been snubbed then we can get on with the min.deal planning and implementation. The EU leaders can then get on and discuss their future without UK or our money, Merkel can hold new elections, etc.

    As I’ve repeatedly said, the burden falls on LAB to do something as CON are tied to the Leave mast. If LAB genuinely want to remain then they should be able to get enough CON rebels and possibly a DUP abstain to do so.
    From the votes we are seeing LAB seem quite happy to go along with Brexit – which is hardly a surprise given Corbyn+co.s history on EU.

  6. @ KEITHP

    “Coalition talks in Germany seem to have collapsed due to the FDP walking out. Oh-oh, looks like minority government or new elections.”

    Much ado about nothing…a month from now, Merkel will be in charge of a coalition government. The British media are being premature in rubbing their hands with glee. The German rhetoric is all a part of the coalition negotiations.

  7. Super – Canada deal it is then.

    NI / Ireland hard border.



    “Another vote winner. Do away with faith schools. All they do is cause division in society and encourage weird wizards to brainwash kids.”

    I would vote for that….

  9. @ JOSEPH1832

    “The polls are possibly static because the Tories have lost all they really can to the Labour party, and Labour has few remaining sources of defectors.”

    ‘Static’ is a curious way of describing the fact that Labour continues to lead in the polls.

    YouGov – CON 40%(nc), LAB 43%(+1), LDEM 6%(-2).
    ICM – CON 41%(-1), LAB 41%(-1), LDEM 7%(nc).
    Opinium – CON 40%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 6%(+1).

    There’s only one party that would be upbeat about contesting another GE next year, and that’s Labour. The Tories are running miles from the prospect of another GE any time soon.

  10. @ ROGER – FDP made it very clear why they walked out. A lack of trust overall but specifically:
    – immigration (family members, etc)
    – the Green’s demands on coal

    Those were red lines for the FDP and they are sticking to their principles and the desires of the voters.

    I’ve mentioned the AfD in 3rd place as being the issue for SPD coalition before so no point repeating it. Numerically the least difficult realistic outcome from new elections is a collapse in SPD to boost CDU/CSU and either Greens or FDP.

    CDU/CSU + Greens currently = 313
    355 is the majority threshold

    Thats 42 seats combined that those two parties need to win! With FDP the number is lower (29 extra seats) but has that relationship been too damaged?

    I haven’t heard anyone consider a CDU/CSU + Lefts + Greens coalition option (at 382 it is numerically possible based on last election results). From what I understand the Lefts are a long way from CDU/CSU policy.

    IMHO trying to make a min.govt work and then blaming the other parties if it collapsed and required new elections would generate a higher ‘sympathy’ and tactical vote for Merkel but I will fully admit to having a biased view on that as I had wanted May to try that route in UK (ie not do a deal with DUP). Maybe Germans are very different but as you pointed out calling new elections when they don’t need to be is unlikely to be popular with voters.

  11. @ SAM – and spend the 40bn divorce bill domestically plus the 10bnish per year – as many CON MPs want (quite probably more than 48 if it came to it)

    I expect we’ll need a new CON leader (and almost certainly a new CoE unless the Jan-Mar Hammond can return). After that we might also need a ref on that option versus whatever LAB want to support (EEA+CU with a 60bn divorce bill or some vague hope to Return to EU on unknown terms?)

  12. To me it looks like lines are currently hardened around the Brexit issue.
    Those who are still strongly in favour of Brexit are sticking with the Tories. Those strongly against are going to the anyone but the Tories (or UKIP) option.
    The rest are moving as they would under normal circumstances.
    I don’t think we are likely to see a great deal more movement in the polls until it is clear what sort of deal the UK gets and how good/bad that is.
    For the Tories a bad deal could see the party support collapse and a possible split, while a good deal may harden their support.

  13. @trevorwarne

    “A final outcome that is deep and special (as HMG want) might not require customs checks …..”

    The UK Government has said the UK is leaving the Customs Union. Consequently, there will be customs checks. It is the choice of the UK Government.

  14. @ HIRETON – leaving THE CU is different to not forming A future CU that maybe covers much the same things. Given UK can’t produce enough of its own food and EU export a lot of food to us a CFTA would likely avoid tariffs/quotas on food at least but we won’t know that until we get past phase1.

    I full understand Remain (and possibly the EU) want to make this far more complicated than it needs to be in an attempt to stop Brexit (or get UK to pay a lot more).

  15. @ OLDNAT – you bought up the HoC votes. As we saw last week on the EEA (SM) vote and last night on the CU vote Corbyn LAB (which I called ELAB) are very happy to go with CON and abstain even when it is a true SLAB amendment (Ian Murray)

    Hence I’m standing by the view that a vote for LAB in Scotland represents the desires of Corbyn’s (English) Labour party and hence why this is a great opportunity for SNP to regain some of the left vote they lost in the GE.

    Despite all the talk of huge increase in SLAB members, Corbyn touring Scottish seats, etc we saw in the very low vote numbers for Leonard (who won chiefly due to the Unions) that Corbynism doesn’t seem to appeal in Scotland. Since Scotland wants to stay in EU (or at least in EEA+CU) then Corbyn’s LAB are IMHO making a huge tactical error by abstaining in these votes.

    The votes would fail based simply on CON+DUP so LAB are foolish to abstain on devolved, EEA or CU type votes since that shows they are bluffing over Brexit. LAB will make a stand on rights, etc (vote today) as that kind of frustration tactic plays better with the broad public and might get enough CON rebels to cause May problems (although I doubt it and expect enough LAB rebels to offset if required).


    @”Those were red lines for the FDP and they are sticking to their principles and the desires of the voters.”

    An analysis in THe Times suggests FDP are playing a dangerous game.

    They pulled out to trigger a GE so they can pose as the reasonable centre on immigration between AfD & Merkel/Greens.

    Could backfire badly.

  17. @trevorwarne

    “…leaving THE CU is different to not forming A future CU that maybe covers much the same things. Given UK can’t produce enough of its own food and EU export a lot of food to us a CFTA would likely avoid tariffs/quotas on food at least but we won’t know that until we get past phase1.”

    If the UK enters a new CU it will not be able – by definition – to negotiate and conclude its own trade agreements with other countries which you have previously said at length and repeatedly is the way in which any negative economic effects of Brexit will be

    While it is heartwarming to know that you fully understand the motivations of millions of people and the EU, it would be even more heartwarming to know that you understand the basics of what you are talking about.


    I think that Merkel problem is spanning the views of the greens and the FDP is going to be hard and the Federal level my understanding is it has only worked once in at the state level and hence the issues become more complex. I think that some people see the politics in europe in the smae light as politics in the UK but for example in Germany you could have a Labour Tory coalition but in the UK that would be unheard of outside wartime.

    I believe the AfD makes it hard for the SPD to go into coalition with the CDU because it make the AfD the opposition. I reckon that they would prefer that Merkel went it alone and they did a confidence and supply arrangement which means that CDU would get be able to block out the extremes and the SPD may actually have better leverage.

    What does amaze me is that there is such autism towards european politics that they all seem to forget very few german governments these days are not coalitions of some sort


    I think the issue is not that the NI border I believe the UK solution is to turn a blind eye to it and just forget it. technology or no technology you just cannot control the border of the style of NI/ROI without massive infrastructure investment.

    So I sense it will be a fudge, but it can only be a fudge if the UK either follows the EU regualtions and directives and makes them thecentre piece of all their FTA so you will have less differentiated non trade barriers. Which basically mean we will forever bein the EU but outside it just following the regualtions but paying no money as best case.

    My view is that the UK will get a good only deal because that is what most FTA are we will still trade in services but would either have to pay into common regulations or just accept what comes out of the EU.

    As to the whole payment thin you know my view on it all RAL will acoount for some 40B euros and 25B euros for staying until 2021 whatever you want to call it transition or implementation.

    On the positive side it looks like there is less rhetoric and slighty more detail forthcoming. In the end the NI border will be a messy compromise which will be laughable

    My view is because nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. I think the UK made a huge strategic mistake. I would have offered the RAL additions that I could cope with early and and held the idea that a CETA type deal would handle goods as a minimum and have gone from there you could still move to a no deal minimum deal but it puts pressure on the EU, the whole issue of EU citizenship is a one time issue for 3million people I just gone for accepting that the EU citizens keeping all there current rights since that make sense in end if Brexit is about the ong terms those 3 million will be dead, gone back home but the number would not expand beyound a limited spousal transfers. In the end it all goes away It would leave trade and then you could have spent all the time pushing trade and if you don’t like it then you could defaulted to WTO/minimum deal but I fear that May played the leaqver ploy of they need us more than we need them mainly for domestic reasons and to be fair I think she was thinking of the breaking the Labour party because she felt that Labour Leave supporters would vote Tory to get brexit. and looking at the polls superficially it seemed right.

    For all our sakes I hope they get it right my ability to pay my mortgage rests on it in no small measure.

    As to the Budget: A couple of things, At some point the Tories have to declare austerity is dead. At the moment Javid has argued you can borrow money tob build houses and we are now talkiong about having more debt but I think the problem is deeper and if you can spend 50B on housing you can spend 50B on investment in innovation and 50B on infrastructure so the problem is how much we borrow and what we invest in to get the best bang per pound. It may mean from a Tory perspective of actually not spending more on the NHS but more on innovation and new product generation, late stage start ups but I don’t think that Hammond has the political manoverability that people claim or else it is just Ed Miliband or Corbyn lite.

  19. @ HIRETON – it all hinges on achieving a CFTA agreement (e.g. CETA style) at which point the customs issues can be resolved (or for many products possibly fall away as like Canada we’ll have free trade in many sectors). That is the catch22, chicken+egg, whatever you want to call it conundrum.

    I’m good with a new ref on the terms if/when it comes to it and never wanted a pact with DUP.

  20. if anyone wants to see the full breakdown on the CU vote the list is here:

    Soubs and Clarke were the 2 CON MPs that voted with Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray. 18 LAB MPs voted no (ie with CON) but the vast majority of LAB are playing the abstain game hoping no one notices?!?

    Tonight’s vote will probably be very close and the first real test of number of CON MPs willing to rebel (and the number of LAB MPs willing to offset).

  21. @trevorwarne

    “it all hinges on achieving a CFTA agreement (e.g. CETA style) at which point the customs issues can be resolved (or for many products possibly fall away as like Canada we’ll have free trade in many sectors). That is the catch22, chicken+egg, whatever you want to call it conundrum.”

    It really doesn’t. I’m afraid you show a complete lack of understanding of free trade, a free trade area and a customs union.

  22. @ PTRP – The Swiss and Canada deals are evidence that you are wrong. Swiss+ or CETA+ was my hope from beginning but since it became clear talks were going nowhere I adjusted my view in Oct to abandon the current approach and reset talks from a minimum up basis – possibly ended up at CETA+ but at a much cheaper price.

  23. @ HIRETON – so how do Canada and Switzerland manage it, not to mention all the other countries with trade deals with the EU?

  24. TW, I think you should start your own blog.
    Your a walt imho.

  25. Public Finances to Oct:-

    YTD Deficit £38.5bn vs LY £ 42.6bn


    October deficit £0.5bn up on Oct LY…….because Debt Interest up £1.2bn in the month-an increase of 25% on LY.
    Reason ?

    “In October 2017, the debt interest paid by central government was £6.0 billion, while this represents the highest October interest payment on record it remains less than the highest recorded monthly payment of £7.2 billion in April 2017. This increase in debt interest payment is largely due to the movements in the level of the Retail Prices Index (RPI).
    Index-linked gilts, a form of government bond, are indexed to the RPI. When the RPI rises, the inflation uplift that applies to index-linked cash flows (both regular coupon payments and final payment at gilt maturity) also rises. ”

    This is a clear sign of the risk Hammond has to balance-the uncertain cost of servicing £1.8 trillion of Total Debt ( 88% of GDP) vs Spending demands.

  26. Thank you, Trevor @ 11.16 am

    I am very disappointed to see those 18 LAB MPs voting NO against their own party`s motion. At least there were no Scottish NO voters.

    Voting NO with the Tories and DUP rather than abstaining must reflect their real wishes.

  27. @trevorwarne

    “so how do Canada and Switzerland manage it, not to mention all the other countries with trade deals with the EU?”

    They are not in a Customs Union with the EU so there will be customs between them and hence they can conclude their own trade deals.


    The talks are going nowhere because the EU will not do a Swiss deal ever again they have said that numerous times before the idea of the leave referendum. Just because something was done once it does not mean that same people will do it again (my Iraq war thing…..if we could go back to 2003 I don’t know too many people that would be for invading Iraq). May has already ruled out a canadian style FTA as you keep saying you want a ‘place your agreement here plus’ because without the plus it becomes less than we have now I call it the ‘TW cake’ solution. Politically the EU will not give us what we have now, since politically we are not giving them what they have now. That is why I believe you miss the whole issue, we are both agreeing to have less. We took a political decision. You are arguing that they need to rescue us from our decision.

    What I have said is look at the EU negotiating history, Look at the political requirements of the EU and tell me what you see: You can call them arrongant, bullies, immoral, unelected dictators but the cold light of day says the following

    1. Either we end up paying some 60B Euros or there is no deal

    2. The trade deal would be biased to goods and strong regulations or we end up in WTO plus minimal deal, Most all FTA are basically goods based with non tarrif barrier being as important as tarrif barriers.

    3. The EU does not rescue countries from themselves. (Greece, Switzerland,Ireland,Portugal,Spain) neither does it hinder (The eastern european countries are doing rather well in terms of growth in GDP and wages, France has a similar economy composition to the UK believe it or not)

    I have seen May move quite a bit in the last few months but our initial position was untenable (a waste of time considering the amount of time we have). Look at how far we moved: We started from we do not owe anything to (the famouns dinner leak), well we might have moral obligationto pay something , to OK 10B a year for a transition deal, to well lets look at £40B or whatever the figure is going to be. We are still trying to duck and dive where as the EU is playing a rules based game.

    it has been poor negotiation strategy and is somewhat tiresome to watch because either they will do the deal outlined above in the short terms or we will arrive at that deal after a longer period in the WTO wilderness slowly moving to that position (I’d say 10 years )

  29. Trevor Warne

    “Hence I’m standing by the view that a vote for LAB in Scotland represents the desires of Corbyn’s (English) Labour party”

    I wouldn’t disagree with that, but that’s not the same as saying “SLab are “ELab” (which was how you expressed it earlier, and with which I disagreed).

    Smaller polities always have to make a judgment as to how they can best squeeze advantage from allying with powerful groups elsewhere.

    Probably why 62% of Scots voted to remain in a union with rEU (including E&W) – whether or not they also saw a closer union with England being useful.

  30. @DAVWEL

    If you read the bill it was badly written the shadow treasury minister said in effect it would make the situation worse. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-john-mcdonell-votes-tories-labour-customs-unions-amendment-protection-a8066411.html

    I think the headline is attention grabbing but the reality is meh. I believe we are going through procedural gymnastics at the moment and the people pushing some of these bills are pretty crap.

  31. @COLIN
    what would be a good level of national debt to GDP? 60%? 70%? 100%? 120%?

    before we used to say a certain percentage and once we burst through that barrier be decided to put up another one until we burst that one. Look at the GOP and the country debt ceiling. It is a political ruse. Basically they give tax cuts and then say the deficit is too high wheen they are out of power and when they have all three branches they find they cannot cut medicare and defence but they have to have tax cuts.

    We have the same thing here. Out debt to GDP has been much higher from the after effects of the WWII and even though we were a supposed to be terrible it is all about confidence in the economy. If it keeps ticking over like Japan and most of the debt is home owned you can keep recycling it as we have the Japanese do. If not and you have no viable economy (Greece) or people don’t trust the government even though it has huge assets (Venezuela) then no one will lend you money.

    So in truth it is just the belief in ones ability to pay the money back that makes borrowing viable and in a globalised economy you don’t get much in the way of wages inflation in developed economies so things stay fairly static.

    Now sentiment may allow Hammond to borrow £50B to build houses and yet McDonald may have to have capital controls to do the same thing basically because of that belief. In the end it is all a confidence trick.

  32. On New Year’s Day, Brexit will start in earnest, in this small policy area. The UK government will grant 61 million permits to hundreds of companies and claim they are valid. The European Commission will say they are not. Confusion will reign. Unless the government reveals how it wants to regulate carbon dioxide emissions after Brexit, almost £400 million will fall over the cliff edge.

    Hopefully, this will serve as a wake-up call. Many government tasks have been off-shored to Brussels. Brexit means that these tasks will be repatriated. That requires a functioning and competent government, which has been lacking for a while now.


  33. Labour’s backbench amendment may be a symptom of internal ructions.

    Ian Murray is a member of Progress and iirc was active in the efforts to undermine JC.

    This article from the progress friendly Labour list certainly pulls no punches.


  34. remain leaders (Cameron and Osborne) offered voters prosperity and low immigration. This was (in my view rightly) disbelieved by leave voters.

    Leave leaders offered voters prosperity and low immigration. They were, in my view wrongly, believed by their voters.

    It is now apparent that the government don’t think you can have reasonable prosperity and control of immigration without paying a very hefty sum to the EU. This was not what leave voters wanted or expected. So what will they do?

    My guess is that they will continue their support for leave and justify this position by blaming the EU. castigating the government for feebleness, and continuing to believe in the entirely illusory benefits that will accrue from our ability to make new trade deals and the like.

    The fact is that this debate is all over illusions. Absolute sovereignty in the sense of a complete ability to control our affairs is impossible in this day and age. Prosperity always attracts immigration from within a country if not from outside. And in the end whether you export to China does not depend on a special trade deal but on whether you make goods they want at a price they can accept.

    IMHO We were stupid to spend all this energy on rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. What we now need is some sense of what the new arrangement is going to look like and we can then get on with trying to deal with the real issues..

  35. COLIN

    “This is a clear sign of the risk Hammond has to balance-the uncertain cost of servicing £1.8 trillion of Total Debt ( 88% of GDP) vs Spending demands.”

    The solution I would recommend is to sneak in to the B o E at night, print the money in low denominations, stick it in a bag and say to the people we owe it to [who must be ever so stupid anyway to risk lending it to us in the first place]

    “Are you ok with cash?”

    Then start borrowing from someone else.

  36. @MARKW

    As I said in my comment above it was badly written and would have had unintended consequences. It is why it was voted down. One of the issues was that re could not perform retailotory tariffs on people that place punative tariffs on opur goods for example.

    What people are trying to do is in a an amendment that is a couple of paragraghs implement the CU and Single market most of them just fail because you cannot do it as an amendment. What they should try to do is what the Tories are doing tag on bit by bit amendment by amendment. It pretty much shows that the Anybody But Corbyn crowd are just not really organised and have a good understanding of how to do the politics rather than feasting on the emotion of remaining in the EU for remainers that is disappointing

  37. PTRP

    THere are a number of opinions on that.

    It is a question of the risk levels. 90% of GDP with Interest rates at 1% & Tax take of 40% GDP-Interest costs are only 2.5% of your tax revenues. If interest rates are 5% it goes to 11.25% of your tax revenues.

    There is no definitive answer -but at 90% GDP and with interest rates at ultra low levels there is a risk to public spending.

    The WW2 debt always gets quoted-it was funded by “friends”-we didn’t pay them off until 2006.

  38. re @”but at 90% GDP and with interest rates at ultra low levels there is a risk to public spending.”

    …………..when interest rates rise.

    And if your Debt is financed with index linked instruments, higher inflation hits you too.

  39. commons vote

    To vote for it was the most stupid thing anybody could have done with the exception of having proposed it in the first place. Soubry and Clarke are now so far beyond the pale.

    Who could support the view that would prohiibit the UK imposing tariffs on EU goods coming into the UK whilst allowing the EU to impose tariffs on UK goods entering the EU.?

  40. StT
    Well Soubs and Ken C for starters.

  41. MarkW
    What’s a “Walt”?

  42. Just heard my favourite Tory MP ( it is a VERY short list) John Penrose talking about the current negotiating situation on Brexit, he sounded reasonably optimistic. Maybe the Adults are about to take over the asylum at last?

  43. RJW

    “What’s a “Walt”?”

    In Scotland it can be used to describe a shirker-

    “He disnae dae onything”

  44. @Charles

    “This was not what leave voters wanted or expected. So what will they do? My guess is that they will continue their support for leave and justify this position by blaming the EU.”

    Tory Leave voters who are largely unaffected will. Non-Tory Leave voters will blame the Governmentl.

    The problem for the Conservatives is that there are not enough of the former and too many of the latter for a ‘blame the EU’ strategy to be a very effective fall-back position except to shore up their base.

    The second, possibly even bigger problem is the third group. This is Tory Leave voters who were assured they’d be fine but who find themselves in badly-affected sectors. I have a lot of experience of late talking to rural Tories who look set to find things very difficult indeed – not at all what they expected. The Tories are gambling – and to an extent they are gambling their own viability as a national political entity – that if all goes south this group won’t blame them.

    I fear that they are wrong. Most rural voters could see a route whereby they could have a Brexit that would not cause them undue harm by having a version of the customs union, and in their strong view that is in danger of being scotched by Tory backbenchers.

  45. @RJW

    “Walt” is a very useful phrase which I think comes from army circles, from ‘Walter Mitty’, to describe the sort of person who pretends to have experience in the Armed Forces but who is really a fantasist.

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

    It’s useful to remember that it’s best not to pretend to expertise you don’t have. Someone who really does have that expertise might be reading.

  46. Oldnat ChrisR MarkW
    So that’s what a “Walt” is.
    If I was TrevW I would be distraught!

  47. @ HIRETON – with the smallest amount of flexibility and common sense NI can be in both Customs Unions (UK + EU) for transition, possibly for a lot longer – this is more commonly referred to as “special status”.

    The two polar opposite alternatives are the Minford plan (which a lot of CON MPs want and is the most likely default outcome) or hoping we can somehow Remain

    @ PTRP – 1. Either we end up paying some 60B Euros or there is no deal ( agreed, although I think it would be a min.deal. I’m happy with a new ref if it comes to it )

    2. not allowed to start on that, hence the problem!

    3. all EU countries are still currently democracies so can chose their own path if they wish to

    @ MARKW – thank you for posting something useful.

  48. RJW, I value the posts from genuinely experienced and involved people here.

    We all have expertise and knowledge to share in many different areas.
    I recognize my own areas of knowing but also my limitations.

    I learn much from reading here and try to avoid arguing for pleasure.

  49. Ok so very roughly the timeline is this.

    Florence Speech May offers £20bn but no role for ECJ on desputes or EU citizens in the UK and asks to move to stage two.

    The EU says know and things are stalemated through to the October Talks.

    Then at the start of December EU gives the UK effectively to come up with a better offer on the 3 main issues, EU citizens, Financial settlement and the NI border.

    With a week or so to the deadline the UK offers “upto” £40bn and “some sort of role” for the ECJ, nothing new on NI and all only if we move to trade talks.

    Regardless of what you think of the outcome which of the following do you think will happen in the next week or so;

    A) A Brexit Tory rebellion with 48 names going to the 1922 committee to remove May as PM.

    B) The EU will accept the UK offer as sufficient and twin track negotiations will commence.

    C) The EU will reject the issue as insufficient and we will continue much as we have been with the EU hoping that moving into 2018, the last year for a deal, the U.K. Will give further ground.


    D) The EU will reject the deal and in return the UK will walk away, even if only temporarily as a gesture, from the Talks and the prospect of a No Deal will become very real.

    A,B,C or D???


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