Another week, another Brexit poll for partisan twitter to get overexcited about. In this case the fuss was caused by a YouGov poll that appeared to show people backing Brexit by 48% to 39%. This survey was actually the GB answers to question asked to several EU countries – the intention of it wasn’t to measure UK support for Brexit, but to see whether or not the public elsewhere in Europe still wanted Britain to stay, or whether we’ve got to point that they’d really just like us to hurry up and go away (for the record, most of the German, Danish, Swedish and Finnish public would still like Britain to stay. The French are evenly divided). There was also a question earlier in the survey about Martin Schulz’s vision of a federal Europe which may or may not have influenced answers – however, this post isn’t about the specific question, but about all the Brexit surveys we tend to see.

As ever, when a poll comes out that appears to show public support for Brexit it is excitely retweeted and shared by lots of pro-Brexit voices. When a poll comes out that appears to show public opposition to Brexit it is excited retweeted and shared by lots of anti-Brexit voices. Both of these create a deeply misleading picture. To start with, there are three different questions about current attitudes to Brexit that people often treat as being measures of public support for Brexit which don’t always show the same answers…

1) Questions asking how people would vote in a Brexit referendum tomorrow
2) Questions asking whether people think Brexit was the right or wrong decision
3) Questions asking whether people think we should now go ahead with Brexit or not

Starting with the first type of question, BMG and Survation both ask EU referendum voting intention regularly, and ICM, Opinium and YouGov have asked it on occassion. BMG’s most recent poll showed a ten point lead for Remain and got a lot of publicity, but this was something of an outlier. Typically these polls have shown a small lead for Remain of between one and four points.

Any question asking about voting intention in a referendum or election is really two questions – it’s working out who would vote, and then how they would vote. When polls ask how the public would vote in an EU referendum tomorrow they tend to find not much net movement among remain and leave voters, the Remain leads are down to those who didn’t vote in 2016. This raises all sorts of questions about whether those past non-voters would actually vote and whether they are actually representative of 2016 non-voters, or are too politically engaged and likely to vote.

There’s also a question of how useful a referendum voting intention question is when there isn’t actually a second referendum due. The most likely route to a second referendum is a referendum on the terms of the deal…which obviously aren’t known yet. In my experience, most people who contact polling companies asking whether we’ve asked a Brexit referendum question aren’t primarily interested in how people would vote in a second referendum, but really want to see if the public have changed their mind about how they voted in the first one…

YouGov regularly ask a direct “Bregret question” to get at that question, asking whether people think voting for Brexit was the right or wrong decision. The results here are quite similar to referendum questions, but because it is a question about public attitudes as a whole rather than voting intentions concerns about likelihood to vote don’t arise. Looking at the regular YouGov tracker, there has again been a slow movement towards Regret, meaning that for the last three or four months the poll has consistently shown slightly more people thinking Brexit was the wrong decision than the right decision.

The final group of questions is “what do we do now” questions. No company asks a regular tracker along these lines, but there are several questions asked on this sort of basis. By stating with “at this point” the question in the YouGov poll this week tilts toward this sort of question, but there are other more explicit examples asking what people think should happen next – for example, YouGov have a semi-regular tracker that asks how the government should proceed with Brexit, which this month found 52% thought the government should go ahead with Brexit, 16% that they should call a second referendum, 15% that they should stop Brexit and remain in the EU. The reason for the difference in these questions is that a substantial minority of people who voted Remain in 2016 consistently say that the government should go ahead and implement Brexit (presumably because they see them as having a democratic duty to implement the referendum result).

It is true to say that more of the public now tend to think Brexit was the wrong decision than the right decision, and say they would vote against it in a referendum. It is also true to say that most of the public think that Brexit should go ahead. Neither measure is intrinsically better or worse, right or wrong… they are just asking slightly different things. If you want to understand public attitudes towards Brexit, you need to look at both, rather than cherry pick the one that tells you what you want to hear.


1,317 Responses to “On measuring support for Brexit”

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  1. On balance we think that Brexit was a bad idea but we are pretty clear that we should go ahead with it nevertheless.

    My guess is that a government that wants to be popular would go for the softest (least change) Brexit compatible with the thing appearing to be Brexit at all.

    If it can’t get this it has a dilemma.

  2. You have a very good point there Charles. It seems that the Government have got themselves hoisted on a three pronged dilemma. They want a middle way because they realise that a hard Brexit will be unpopular even with many Brexit voters. They can’t perform a u-turn and opt for remain but the EU will not let them have an easy middle way, for self preservation reasons. In other words the Government is on a hiding to nothing with no rabbits to pull from a hat.

  3. Thanks for the clear analysis of the different types of question, Anthony.

  4. Various somewhat simplistic analogies have been used (eg a marriage, or leaving a golf club) for leaving the EU.
    Try this for a sufficiently complex one: a husband and wife debate whether it is better to continue in a rented house or buy one of their own. One partner feels strongly that ownership is the best way forward. The other is much concerned about whether that can be afforded, not just in pure financial terms, but in the responsibilities taken on for matters such as repairs, and commitment. One is worried about having enough money to provide for their children’s current needs. The other sees owning their own home as the best way to ensure their children’s future. But they have decided to buy, given notice to their landlord (who has made plans to renovate the rented house for new tenants) and have committed themselves to making an offer to buy a new home.
    Did they make the right decision? How will it be affected if house prices rise or rental rates change? Is it realistic to ask their landlord if they may stay on under the old terms? Might they rent a different house from him? Should they not rather both put their energies into seeking the best outcome from the decision they made? If they don’t, is their marriage in danger?

  5. On the other hand, the latest YouGov poll of Labour supporters shows that Labour can’t win an election on a Brexit ticket, so the pressure is mounting for the leadership to make clear its stance.

  6. @Strabilla

    Are you referring to the G**rdian story?

    I can’t find anything on the You Gov site relating to this poll.

    I want to see the tables before accepting the stories premise from that paper, as it is one side of the debate quite happy to spin polls in certain way to suit (as the Brexit supporting do in their own way).

  7. CMJ

    I was just reading that Best of Britain/YouGov poll article.

    I hope AW does a thread on it.

    It certainly looks interesting.

  8. @steamdrivenandy

    Is an additional difficulty fact that the government are papering over their own divisions with the belief that hard choices can be avoided and everyone have more or less what they want?

  9. @Colin

    A position of not really having a position, but being bendy so you can point in any direction, can tactically avoid short term difficulties. However, at some point a decision has to be taken which way to go.

    If you are lost in your car and stop someone to ask for directions, being told ‘I wouldn’t start from here’ isn’t particularly helpful.

    I would be interested to see a similar poll for Conservative supporters being done.

  10. The last paragraph of the Guardian story is telling – the survey gives no clue as to how likely Brexit policy is to influence votes, it simply reveals that more floating Labour voters are remainers than leavers. Until you know how much their decision rests on Brexit you can’t draw any conclusions, but I suspect that the leavers are more likely to jump ship over it and of course they’d jump to the tories which is twice as big a problem as jumping to a minor party in a marginal seat.

  11. CMJ

    @”I would be interested to see a similar poll for Conservative supporters being done.”

    Indeed.

    Its back to that Curtis finding about the Brexit mediated Social Conservative/Liberal divide which has predominated-what happens when that imperative is gone?

    I presume the Brexit outcome will have some effect though-so “normal” party allegiance may still be a while returning ???

  12. JO

    “I suspect that the leavers are more likely to jump ship over it and of course they’d jump to the tories which is twice as big a problem as jumping to a minor party in a marginal seat.”

    I imagine that would be true in many English seats where Labour might hope to win.

    In the Scottish polity, things are (obviously different) – not that that is likely to affect thinking at Lab HQ.

    The recent Panelbase Full Scottish poll does have some detail on attitudes to a 2nd EUref

    https://wingsoverscotland.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/euref2-1.jpg

    and the keenness (or rather lack of it) for an early UK general election

    https://wingsoverscotland.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nextelection-1.jpg

    So since there isn’t much belief here that Corbyn will ever be UK PM (Yes 25% : No 52%), I don’t think that the matters that will decide voting are anywhere near the front of most people’s minds.

  13. Jo/ON,

    Yes in most England and wales Labour would be the softest Brexit offer available to remain voters with a chance of taking the seat.

    2 thoughts.

    Labour are likely to come out and state explicitly that staying in THE CU and SM during the transition period is their position as they cant see a better option for that period of time (leaves a little wriggle room for an imaginative solution).

    Will this lose them Labour leave support and if so how much? Could it gain them some more Tory remain support as compensation.

    I expect the language of leave on the start of transition day 1 and that staying in the CU/SM for a bit longer is for business etc will be enough for now to keep both Labours leave and remain supporters on side and the real crunch will come when the post transition position has to be clear.

  14. The Best for Britain poll is not surprising – 67% of Labour Supporters voted Remain, and a majority of Labour Members also want Remain. I cannot however find the poll, only the Guardian srticle. Does anyone know where it is.

    Corbyn is afraid of losing out in ‘traditional’ Labour seats if he opposes Brexit – but seems to ignore the fact that 2/3rds of Lab voters/supporters are for REMAIN – so he needs to find a way through the middle, and the use of vaugeness of not the answer.

    Surely his best approach is to advocate remaining in the EEA? This ‘respects’ the referendum result, whilst maintaining most of the benefits of EU membership. Also the UK was a founder member of EFTA which is now the EEA, and the Government failed to trigger Article 127 (leave the EEA) along with Article 50 (leave the EU) – whether acciedently or otherwise on BREXIT day legally we are still in the EEA. Or in any case some lawyers will make a lot of dosh finding out.

    It would also be interesting to see a similar poll of Tory supporters, especially as so many major Tory politcians are openly talking abour ditching BREXIT.

    EEA membership (e.g. Norway) could be a strong non-partisan policy position

  15. eric.

    In E&W who would remain voters for whom avoiding a hard Brexit is a key issue vote for in all but perhaps 50 seats max
    As long as Labour are meaningfully softer than the Tories re their Brexit position they will retain these voters imo.

    Not losing that part of the 1/3 Labour leave that Brexit is a key issue for is potentially more of an issue but detailed polling re saliency for this group of voters is not available.

    Not an anecdote but suffice to say I know Labour leavers who will vote Labour whatever and others for whom not delivering a ‘proper’ Brexit as they would see it is potentially vote determining.

  16. @EricGoodyer

    EEA Article 127
    Each Contracting Party may withdraw from this Agreement provided it gives at least twelve months’ notice in writing to the other Contracting Parties.

    So, technically, unless the UK notifies in writing all the countries in the EEA before 29th March 2018 it will still be in the EEA after it leaves the EU.

    Article 128 shows that the EEA is formally separate from the EU and EFTA (even though all its members are members of one or the other) in that a country joining either the EU or EFTA, separately has to apply to join the EEA (and is not required to apply to join the EEA if joining EFTA).

  17. Eric and JimJam

    yes, Labour’s dilemma over Brexit, and the division among labour supporters, is well known territory by now. My own suspicion is that behind the pragmatism on votes, the labour Leadership is split on very similar lines to the membership – a majority (including Starmer and Thornberry) in favour of something on Norway lines, but key figures- Corbyn, McDonnell, Gardiner – wanting as complete a break as is possible without economic implosion. As a labour voter who won’t vote for a Brexit party I’m in wait and see mode – but expect Corbyn’s side to win out.

  18. As a labour voter who won’t vote for a Brexit party I’m in wait and see mode – but expect Corbyn’s side to win out.

    The question is where do Labour voters who won’t vote for a Brexit party go?

    Is leaving the the EU, but being in the CU and SM still count as Brexit?

    Would you vote for as non-Brexit party that doesn’t share Corbyn’s policies?

  19. “On balance we think that Brexit was a bad idea but we are pretty clear that we should go ahead with it nevertheless.
    My guess is that a government that wants to be popular would go for the softest (least change) Brexit compatible with the thing appearing to be Brexit at all.”

    Or just can it altogether. I somehow doubt that those who are inhabiting the somewhat irrational mindspace of ‘it’s the wrong thing to do but we should do it anyway’ are going to be up in arms about it. They just don’t want to make that choice themselves.

    Or course, politically things are more awkward as leave support is more efficiently spread on a constituency basis. The remain support is clustered in the cities.

  20. CMJ

    Good questions – for me personally, being in the CU and SM would tip it. If I don’t vote Labour I’ll probably vote Green. Or possibly Lib Dem depending on the candidate. Or not vote, which would have exactly the same effect as the previous two choices!
    I’m not aware of much polling about this though.

  21. If Politico has it right , the whole “stay in CU/SM” option will become redundant.

    They are reporting a Sector by Sector FTA approach with mutual recognition of regs and/or common targets. Consequences of Failure to meet agreed standards to be attached to each chapter, so as to avoid the “Swiss” problem-failure of the whole FTA.

    https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-must-name-its-price-for-post-brexit-trade/

    Sigmar Gabriel talking about a new “smart” deal with UK as a model for Turkey/Ukraine. This flies in the face of Barnier’s “existing model only” offer.:-

    https://www.politico.eu/article/sigmar-gabriel-post-brexit-britain-can-be-model-for-turkey-and-ukraine/

    If May really can get EU to accept the principle of a bespoke sector by sector model , it can differentiate Cons from policy platforms essentially based on existing membership.

  22. The problem with brexit is that it not about brexit any more.

    In many ways it has not been about brexit. it has morphed into everything but brexit. As in many ways it was about everything but brexit before.

    it is why as I say a lot of the time it reminds me of Iraq. it will have to be seen as a failure for people to change their viewpoint of it. LEAVE or REMAIN is actually a value decision between a social conservatives and social liberals in part and those that have been successful and those that have not been successful in the current economic climate

    Lord Ashcroft book about the referendum speaks to this when he wrote that people no matter what was written on the ballot basically voted in respect to if they thought things were going well. What you saw was people whom had not been seen to be winning in both social and or economic battleground politically coming together to vote.

    Now the problem is that for many the reasons for voting to leave the EU is varied. Immigration, control of fishing, a deep aversion to sharing sovereignty some of the reason contradictory and so making policy based on this is going to be difficult. The point is that people do not change their values easily and sometime the values that we porport to believe are not really owned by us as a society but actually are owned by just part of a society.

    As an example Mory Tories voted against Gay marriage than voted in favour of it. Now this is a party which has voted against a right that It Scottish leader then presumed that the DUP would take away for me show how weird the political situation is.

    Labour’s struggle is not what they want from brexit it is the fact that most of their voter and most of their members do not want brexit in any form. Electorally however that leaves Corbyn in a quandary of the fact that a key constituency see brexit as a way forward and more over see it as a method for their own economic success.

    In my view not winning the election was kind of winning the toss and putting the other side into bat.

    My view is the looking at stage 1 shenanigans is that no matter what happens in stage two Leavers would declare it a success and each side will fall behind their political partY. Brexit will be seen as a wash. May has a good chance basically leading the Tories in 2022. I expect a hung parliament again and who is in control is anyone’s guess.

  23. Headline :-
    “Jeremy Corbyn: Labour will not support a second Brexit referendum”

    Actual Quote:-
    ““… our position is that we are not advocating a second referendum,”

    Hmmm

    Not ………..ever.?

    or

    Not……………at the moment ?

    https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/jeremy-corbyn-labour-will-not-support-second-brexit-referendum/

  24. @colin

    The Politico article makes clear that the sector by sector approach is that taken in the EU/Canada FTA. So it is one of the Barnier “existing models”. And, of course, Turkey is in the Customs Union for agricultural goods so that is also an existing model (but the UK Government red lines rule out being in a Customs Union).

  25. Colin: If Politico has it right , the whole “stay in CU/SM” option will become redundant.

    They are reporting a Sector by Sector FTA approach with mutual recognition of regs and/or common targets. Consequences of Failure to meet agreed standards to be attached to each chapter, so as to avoid the “Swiss” problem-failure of the whole FTA.

    Sigmar Gabriel talking about a new “smart” deal with UK as a model for Turkey/Ukraine. This flies in the face of Barnier’s “existing model only” offer.:-

    If May really can get EU to accept the principle of a bespoke sector by sector model , it can differentiate Cons from policy platforms essentially based on existing membership.

    This reeks of unreality to me. The sector by sector idea is no more and no less than cherry picking. I don’t think it is so much a serious proposal as some kind of a placeholder for the ‘new and special’ relationship with the EU which the UK expect to be turned down and be able to point at the unreasonable EU for rejecting a new and special relationship. Really, it rides a coach and horses through the idea of a single market fragmenting it from goods, services, capital and labour into any arbitrary number of separate sectors. It looks more like a Trojan Horse for tearing EU members away from full membership

    Ultimately, if it gets too much traction as an idea and they all want it, then everyone will be out of the EU having this new and special relationship with an EU of precisely 0 remaining members. Sigmar Gabriel might appear to be buying into it, but I could expect the French if not others to call a halt.

  26. A new trade deal

    people seem obsessed by a new trade deal being as close to the old system as possible. Why?
    As a third country we ought to be looking at a trade deal which is deficit neutral. What idiot of a country negotiates a deal which essentially locks in a trade deficit.The only way we can move to deficit neutrality is through services. We need to concentrate on that aspect.
    The starting point for negotiations ought to be that neutrality. Bank the Canadian option and seek negotiations on the service sector only.

  27. On the previous thread, several people were showing much confidence in Michael Gove`s ability and judgement in shaping a better CAP and fishing arrangements.

    But what has actually been happening as a result of the Tory November budget, is severe cutbacks in the SG 2018-19 funding for rural services. This will be reduced by 24% compared to 2017-18, including animal welfare funding, veterinary provision, and the agriculture advice and support services.

    The SLAB spokesperson said this is devastating for Scotland`s farms, since these services play a vital role in ensuring livestock is healthy.

    Maybe in 2019-20 we will see a 5% boost, and then Tories claiming this shows they care for the farming industry.

    As for Michael Gove and PassTheRock`s worries about his judgement on education, I recall that when the Tory Cabinet met up in Aberdeen in 2014 he was scheduled to appear at a private school for interview.

    The only problem for Michael was that the school was closed the week before due to its shocking low standards, and he had to turn up instead at a public school.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-26294473

  28. It could be Labour far from being astute over brexit are in fact digging themselves into quite a political hole.
    Given that the next GE will be a close thing based on current polling, whatever side Labour eventually arrive at they are going to disappoint a significant proportion of Labour supporters.
    I think it would be fair to say the young new voters mainly in the London area are expecting Labour to have a second referendum vote in which they hope brexit will be overturned,on the other hand the older Northern Labour voter expects Labour to respect the original vote and go ahead with brexit.
    Of course this is a generalisation but some of these seats are so finely balanced that losing significant support say 10% because you haven’t made it clear by being ambiguous over brexit seems far from being clever.

  29. Poll in RoI shows a significant increase in voters being pro-unification (especially those under 45 – now 68%) and willing to take on the cost of supporting NI from the UK.

    The last wouldn’t save the UK taxpayer anything, of course, but it would save the Treasury from borrowing €9bn a year to support NI.

    https://extra.ie/news/irish-news/poll-dramatic-surge-in-support-for-a-united-ireland

  30. @St Homas

    When I see TV commercials advertising a shampoo as ‘German Engineering for your hair” I conclude that the British contempt for our own products is probably irreversible.

    A German car manufacturer turns to British Engineering to design and build both the car and the engine that have allowed it to dominate the highly engineering intensive F1 championship for 4 years but us Brits don’t trust our engineers to provide smelly hair detergent

  31. London Times reporting that Davis is being replaced as chief negotiator by an unelected bureaucrat.

    (Giggle)

  32. HIRETON

    @”The Politico article makes clear that the sector by sector approach is that taken in the EU/Canada FTA. So it is one of the Barnier “existing models””

    Thank you for the correction.

  33. @GUYMONDE

    I think the UK now specialises in doing niche things. it means that those doing the niche thing do very well but it also means that German engineers concentrate on doing things for the masses which may not be so exciting but actually allows them to pay the English engineers to do the niches stuff and also give lots of germans jobs. Also the Germans doo the niche stuff themselves it is often lost in the noise of the mass production.

    @OLDNAT

    I am not sure that he was ever in control of the situation as it is it needed May to intervene to get past stage 1. I was surprised since the point of the exercise was to keep the CoM and May aloof from the fray. It appeared that May was down in the weeds as it were.

    @S THOMAS

    What would a FTA in services look like? For example I sell design services, often my customer would want me to work on their site sometimes for months at a time as a contractor I would either need a visa or if it is in the EU a just get on a flight. The restrictions on visa is now such that I do not sell my services to the US. which is why I ask the question.

    The big things that we seem to have accepted is that we need to control our borders and that we need to do our own thing on trade and regulations and oh we want a deal in services.

    My view is that we are after contradictory thing and therefore will have major difficulties reconciling them it is part of the reason why I felt there would be no deal. the contradictions are huge. and a comprehensive deal on services will have to include something on labour movement Since that is what the chinese and the indian would bring to the table.

    Ifear part of our problem is brexit is seen as a solution for all our ills as the EU was seemingly blamed for all our ills. The interesting discussion on agriculture and fishing to my mind are seemingly blamed on the EU without much understanding of the issue and even in the case of Gove’s reversal of government policy on pesticides seems to me to show our muddle thinking as to what we really want and why we really want it. We are pretty much feeling our way in the dark here and what worries me is that we as a society forget the complexities that we surrounded by

  34. @COLIN
    @HIERTON

    I think that the term sector by sector is used to mean different things by different parties and sometime meaning different thing by the same parties.

    For example the Canada deal is not as comprehensive as people might think

    https://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/what-could-the-eu-canada-free-trade-deal-tell-us-about-brexit/

    So I see sector by sector meaning the carve outs that will not in the agreement or it could mean specific regulations for specific markets which may need special treatment or it could mean something completely different.

    As I said above my worry is that we are layering what we ant to happen without recourse to the fact that it may not even be possible to agree on this. much of what is wanted is essentially contradictory and I suspect the contradictions are on both sides but the reason I am pessimistic is that politically this has to be sold in some quarters and economically it has to answered for too. It is why I believe that a deal in goods will be easy annd a deal i services will be much harder. given the interconnectedness of the two economies

  35. PTRP

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Davis had been replaced, either.

    It’s the “unelected bureaucrat” replacing him that is delicious.

    Brexiteer bums must be ridden with tooth marks, given the number of their slogans that have returned to bite them there!

  36. QI has tweeted Tatler magazine’s poshest baby names for 2017 –

    Estonia, Gethsemane, Hum, Scar and Koala for girls, and Euripides, Innsbruck, Quail, Yak, Mao and Wigbert for boys.

    Just so none of you young folk in England will be surprised at the names of your future leaders,

  37. PTRP

    @” the reason I am pessimistic is that politically this has to be sold in some quarters and economically it has to answered for too. etc etc ”

    I don’t really understand what this means.

    I am more inclined than you to assume that what you refer to as “we” are pretty clear on what we want and that those sectors where the “costs” of level playing field alignment are low because of existing integration, will go into an easily agreed FTA.
    Those sectors where alignment restricts UK or is perceived to involve high “costs” , or where existing integration is at a low level, will be excluded from the FTA.

    I really don’t know how things will go on Services because the EU does not itself currently operate a Free Market across the sector. CETA involves access of course-but with licences & regulatory recogniition procedures attached I believe.( though I don’t know the detail)

    I assume Financial Services will be the Biggy from both sides’ point of view -I have no idea how or if mutual objectives on this sector will be reconciled.

  38. BZ
    Just watched Attenborough up in the Jura investigating a gigantic ant colony, didn’t see you though!

  39. Colin,
    You seem to be forgetting that in order to discuss trade at all we have agreed to maintain close alignment in every sector that affects NI (practically everything, I would have thought), and also a de facto customs union with the EU to maintain a frictionless border. What is more this agreement will be signed in blood or trade talks will not start in March.

    We are already almost certainly going into a transitional deal of full Single Market and Customs Union membership, and it will eventually (IMO) become apparent to everyone that this is the only viable option going forward from there without tearing up the Good Friday Agreement.

  40. @Colin – Merkel gone by 2021 ??

    It seems that T. May is a lot more secure than Merkel as 2017 draws to a close. You’d have got long odds indeed on that after the UK GE.

    @leftieliberal Article 127 EEA

    Been over this ground before, but it was over a year ago.

    Article 126(1) defines the territorial scope of the EEA Agreement namely, “shall apply to the territories to which the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community … is applied and under the conditions laid down in that Treaty … , and to the territories of Iceland …, the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Kingdom of Norway …”

    Thus our membership will lapse whether we give notice or not. If we don’t give notice we could be in a legal minefield as breaking a treaty provision. I certainly can’t see how we can enforce rights once outside the mandated territories the treaty applies to.

    @ericgoodyer “EEA membership (e.g. Norway) could be a strong non-partisan policy position”

    Can you really see the Tories and Labour both binning their manifestos and voting for a key plank of the SNP’s one?

    It’s a novel idea however, there would be an outcry if that was to happen from most Leavers and many Remainers.

    Indeed one EU federalist MEP said of the Norway option: “EEA means no customs union, steep payments to EU, free movement of labour, diktat by Brussels & no democracy.”

    Surely Remain needs to hold its fire and allow Brexit to happen in full and hope it becomes an unmitigated disaster with a rejoin campaign in 5-10 years time. Any soft Brexit (code for Brexit in name only) with staying under the rules of the internal market will be portrayed as sabotaging Brexit and will likely backfire badly down the road.

  41. @Sea Change
    Oddly enough I don’t wish for an unmitigated disaster. My concern about proposed Brexit is that it will be a disaster, even if it is somewhat mitigated by drawing back from the full lunacy.
    I remain pretty hopeful that it will not happen at all, though of course the country has already sustained severe damage and the longer the farce goes on the worse it will get.

  42. @Andrew111 “We are already almost certainly going into a transitional deal of full Single Market and Customs Union membership, and it will eventually (IMO) become apparent to everyone that this is the only viable option going forward from there without tearing up the Good Friday Agreement.”

    Politically impossible. Even worse than the Norway Option where you can at least sign trade deals and be outside the CAP and Fisheries.

    What would the point be of a transition period if we were simply transitioning to being a vassal state?

    I don’t think you’ve fully thought about the consequences of such an end state.

    For starters, we’d have no veto over the EU suddenly deciding to tax all financial transactions, the city of London being a juicy tax target. In fact, they could systematically pass laws that were not in our interests and very damaging.

    In my opinion, if a typical EU fudge is not found for the Irish Border then the Good Friday Agreement is likely to be changed possibly alongside a unification referendum.

  43. @Guymonde

    That’s fair enough. I don’t think it solves the problem though. If Brexit doesn’t happen there will be some apoplectic Leavers who will have righteous indignation to fuel the fire. That would solve nothing. Brexit can only be proved one way or the other, by fulfilling the Referendum mandate and then tasting the results.

  44. SEA CHANGE

    Yes.

    There is some really interesting stuff on Germany on POLITICO.at present.

    The EU’s future is not simply an extension of the status quo. This never gets examined in the polarised Brexit debate in UK

  45. ANDREW111
    @”You seem to be forgetting that in order to discuss trade at all we have agreed to maintain close alignment in every sector that affects NI (practically everything, I would have thought”

    The joint accord on Phase 1 was a fudge with convenient ambiguity. The sectors in question are those which impact the Peace Agreement…………..???
    The final text as a Treaty for signiature ( presumably) will have to be more specific I imagine.

    @”We are already almost certainly going into a transitional deal of full Single Market and Customs Union membership,”

    No-it won’t be membership because we will no longer be members . But the transition will probably mirror large chunks of current trade arrangements because its purpose is to provide UK plc with more time & only one change.

    My own feeling is that much of the transition period will be used to complete the detail of the TA-so UKplc will not know what they are transitioning to when they enter the transition period.

  46. Greetings from a very snowy bit of Ayrshire.

    The Panelbase Full Scottish poll results continue to be released.

    While the latest question on attitudes to Gaelic will hardly excite interest furth of here, the underlying polarisation of attitudes on social issues seems to resonate with a similar polarisation in E&W on other issues – and it is proceeding outwith official party political positions.

    https://wingsoverscotland.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/gaelicwide.jpg

    Attitudes to expenditure on Gaelic –

    Pro 40% : Anti 43% : All respondents
    Pro 53% : Anti 32% : 2014 Yes voters
    Pro 31% : Anti 54% : 2014 No voters
    Pro 50% : Anti 36% : 2016 Remain voters
    Pro 29% : Anti 58% : 2016 Leave voters
    Pro 44% : Anti 38% : Aged 16-54
    Pro 35% : Anti 53% : Aged 55+

    Wings comments “More and more in Scotland, voters are choosing to politicise even the things that the political parties themselves (mainly) don’t politicise. It’s an interesting and probably not hugely healthy state of affairs”.

    I suspect the same is true elsewhere in the UK and the rest of the Western world for that matter.

  47. Colin
    “No-it won’t be membership because we will no longer be members . But the transition will probably mirror large chunks of current trade arrangements because its purpose is to provide UK plc with more time & only one change.”

    You are listening to the monkeys not the organ grinder. We will be in the SM and the CU with all the obligations that entails.. That is the only deal on the table.

    From the Daily Express, Dec 20th:
    During a press conference this morning, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said the UK will retain the benefits and obligations of being in the EU during the transition period of four years.

    Prime Minister Theresa May had formally asked for a transition to last around two years.

    Mr Barnier said: “We need this transition period. It is useful, it will enable the British administrator to be prepared.

    “Britain will keep all the benefits, but also all the obligations of the single market, the customs union and the common policies during the transition period.”

    But he told the news conference there would be no “a la carte” transition for the country.

  48. @Colin “The EU’s future is not simply an extension of the status quo. This never gets examined in the polarised Brexit debate in UK”

    Indeed. And when various end states are polled, they are almost universally not liked as being not compatible with how the British see themselves and their relationship with the rest of the EU.

    It’s probably why Government policy for the last 50+ years has always been to talk up the economic benefits of membership rather than discuss the political, legal, judicial, cultural and environmental consequences of being in the EEC/EU.

  49. Sea Change
    “Politically impossible. Even worse than the Norway Option where you can at least sign trade deals and be outside the CAP and Fisheries.

    What would the point be of a transition period if we were simply transitioning to being a vassal state?

    I don’t think you’ve fully thought about the consequences of such an end state.”

    I have thought quite “fully” about it. I agree it is significantly worse than what we have now. But consistent with the words on the referendum ballot, and supported by significant numbers of Leavers I have spoken to. I think we would be able to leave the CAP and CFP like Norway and still be in the Customs Union (after all, Turkey are not in the CAP as far as I am aware). The end state of Brexit was never defined and perhaps people like you should have been more careful what you wished for when casting your vote…

    “In my opinion, if a typical EU fudge is not found for the Irish Border then the Good Friday Agreement is likely to be changed possibly alongside a unification referendum.”

    Well, that is certainly not going to happen without the Tories winning a General Election outright. The DUP will never agree to a Border Poll.

    I do think the way that Theresa has tied her own hands so comprehensively to a supersoft Brexit is quite likely to lead to a General Election, but the likelihood of the Tories winning that outright is much smaller..

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