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. I don’t often venture onto the DM website, but was persuaded to do so this morning by my wife who was appalled by the vitriolic comments under a story headlined “Brussels has passed EVERY law Britain has opposed since the Brexit vote”.

    The standfirst under the headline stated “Since Brexit vote UK has taken part in 102 votes of EU’s Council of Ministers. In 17, the country either abstained or voted against the proposed measures.”

    What also annoyed my wife was that the article didn’t mention how many of those 17 failures to support were actual votes against. Or acknowledge that getting your own way 85 times out of 102 is actually pretty good going.

    For my sins, I ploughed through the btl comments until I found one giving the actual figure of 2 no votes and 15 abstentions.

    So the underlying situation – the UK lost 2 votes out of 102 – is spun into “Brussels has passed EVERY law Britain has opposed since the Brexit vote”.

    I post this because this sort of (surely deliberate) misrepresentation must have a bearing on the curiously slow decline in support for Brexit.

    Anyway, at my wife’s urging (“better to reach thousands of brexiters on the DM than a dozen on UKPR” – heresy!) I registered and made some comments. Maybe casting my bread upon those turbulent, fervid waters will have some effect.

  2. Still looking for data for the You Gov poll about Labour voters and Brexit.

    It’s surely not usual to delay the publication of the table this long is it?

  3. Always interesting to see what appears among the State Papers released under the 30 year rule.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/british-proposed-east-german-style-border-for-ireland-files-reveal-1.3339833

    Always depressing to remember that, at any time, Civil Servants can take the files back and “lose” them – as they have done with 1,000 plus.

  4. @Andrew111

    Turkey is not in the EU Customs Union. The Ankara Agreement forms a separate Customs arrangement between the EU and Turkey governing certain areas. According to Barnier that is not on the table. No cherry picking! (Of course I think that’s guff because all trade deals are basically choosing what cherries you allow the other side to pick in return for your picks)

    Brexit was defined during the campaign of returning control to Parliament over our laws, courts, border, and money. How that was to come about was of course not laid out as that would be a negotiation during our withdrawal from the EU.

    To suggest the Referendum mandate would be complied with by keeping everything exactly the same except having no vote on anything I believe is politically impossible. How would MPs defend that in the 421 constituencies that voted leave? That just isn’t going to happen.

    You avoided talking about the consequences of vassal statehood. They are alarming and would almost certainly trump not amending the Good Friday Agreement to reflect the reality of the UK as a 3rd country. I agree a border poll is less likely which is why I mentioned it as only a possibility. All would depend on who was in power in the UK and Ireland and how the trade negotiations go, what’s going on at Stormont etc.

    As an aside, the GFA will need to be amended anyway even with vassal statehood as it specifies our EU membership.

  5. @seachange

    Barnier’s and EU leaders’ “cherry picking” comments are about the Single Market and the four freedoms which underpin it. It is not about the trade offs between different economic sectors and activities in a trade agreement.

  6. @seachange

    “Turkey is not in the EU Customs Union. The Ankara Agreement forms a separate Customs arrangement between the EU and Turkey governing certain areas. According to Barnier that is not on the table. No cherry picking!”

    No, Barnier has said that the UK Government’s red lines rule out anything other than a Canada style trade agreement. The customs union aspect is a case in point: the UK Government has ruled out a customs union arrangement by its insistence on having freedom to conclude its own trade deals.

  7. @seachange

    “To suggest the Referendum mandate would be complied with by keeping everything exactly the same except having no vote on anything I believe is politically impossible. How would MPs defend that in the 421 constituencies that voted leave? That just isn’t going to happen.”

    Well, it is possible to envisage Single Market membership which would mean that the UK could conclude its own trade deals and would be outside the CAP and CFP so everything would be far from exactly the same. It could well be that remain voters and part of brexit voters would see that as a reasonable way forward so it would be quite easy to explain to a majority of voters in all UK constituencies other than to extreme ideological brexiters like yourself.

  8. @Seachange You once told me that in relation to Brexit in the end ‘wise heads would prevail’. As I take you for a rational and well-informed Brexiter I found this reassuring. Are you still of the same opinion? At present the various sides are not agreed on what a ‘wise solution’ would be and insofar as there is one it is probably not on offer. Both major parties then paper over their disagreements by claiming to pursue goals that in the end are not going to be achieved,

    To be honest I am not that reassured by your current advice that I accept Brexit, hope it is a manifest disaster and then aim to rejoin in 5 to 10 years time. This is because a) I doubt committed Brexiters will accept that it is a manifest disaster, claiming instead that the true policy was never properly implemented and b) I suspect that we would not get back without agreeing to a lot of things that even I would see as a bad idea (e.g. joining the EURO).

  9. I should add that even I am not wanting Brexit to be a disaster. I don’t even expect that. I do, however, expect that it will make the UK a less good place in which to live than would otherwise have been the case.

  10. Remainers and Brexiteers

    one of the intriguing features of the brexit debate is that there is seemingly no debate.It is 2 tribes shouting at each other. One group shouting chalk and the other cheese.On the one hand the remainers point to the practical difficulties and shout that we will suffer economically and besides there is no sovereignty political or economic in the modern world. we have more freedom in the EU. best accept our fate with an imperfect EU as we in Europe decline and fade.Brexiteers on the hand come equipped with more hope than hard evidence on the economic front but with greater faith in the certainty that whatever the world throws at us in the future we are best off being in control of our own destiny constrained as it is. As to freedom they say that we have all the freedom of the tethered goat.Free to eat grass
    but only within the length of his leash
    It is like a colonial nation wanting its freedom from the colonial power. Look,say the remainers, it is a big bad world out there and we will suffer economically if we leave the comfort blanket of our protector. Best stay a colony. The independents say economics is important but it is not everything and although it may be tough when a nation wants to be in control of itself then that wish must be respected.
    The two sides are destined,i fear, never to agree,

  11. SThomas: It is like a colonial nation wanting its freedom from the colonial power. Look,say the remainers, it is a big bad world out there and we will suffer economically if we leave the comfort blanket of our protector.

    Yup, Zimbabwe of the North sounds good to me. It may be poor, but better that than a vassal state, eh?

    All we need now is a spiffing new name to reflect our glorious independence. Britannia, perhaps? Or would Bankruptia be more accurate?

  12. @ S Thomas

    “The two sides are destined,i fear, never to agree.”

    Well, you’re not wrong there. But to address some of the rest of your post, while, there’s a lot of truth in it, it is of course an over-simplification of the reasons for many people’s votes. I, for one, did not vote on economic grounds at all. I’ve said before, I don’t understand economics and wouldn’t have a clue whether Brexit was good or bad for the UK economy.

    I had two major reasons for voting remain. First and foremost, my wife is from NI (and now, partly due to Brexit, fully Irish) and that means I know a little (only a little) more of the problems there than some people in the UK, and feared that leaving the EU might cause further disruption. My fears haven’t diminished yet. Secondly, I’ve spent most of my working life working and collaborating with people from the EU and elsewhere, and I do not regard the EU as a colonising power as some seem to. Imperfect (and no doubt corruptable) as the EU institutions undoubtedly are, I still felt it was an expression of an attempt to work together for mutual benefit in the same way as my various collaborations have been. I doubt many colonies during the British empire felt that the relationship was collaborative or that they had any power to be involved in the decision making process, as we have in the EU now, but won’t have very soon.

  13. “Remainers and Brexiteers
    one of the intriguing features of the brexit debate is that there is seemingly no debate.It is 2 tribes shouting at each other….”

    Such lack of self awareness is very amusing.

  14. I prefer Hireton @ 2.44 pm to the black-and-white ignore-democracy outlook of Seachange.

    There is much that the UK can change while remaining in the Single Market.

    As for a trade deal with Trump, many of us would totally avoid any dealings with the US if it insists on US standards instead of EU protocols and safeguards.

  15. SEA CHANGE

    @”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.”

    Not just us :-

    https://www.politico.eu/article/united-states-of-europe-germans-french-most-in-favor-poll/

    I sometimes wonder whether a UK/Nordic bloc may coalesce in the future after Brexit is over.

    You might be interested in this too :-

    https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-puts-germany-first-defense-politics-foreign-policy/

  16. Just watched this on tv. Seriously scary. What an unmitigated disaster caused by our species.

    When the medics do get round to answering the question-what effect on us ?-perhaps we will wake up & smell the PET

    https://news.sky.com/story/microplastics-in-seafood-could-be-a-health-risk-experts-fear-10739835

  17. Proper Brexiters and proper Remainers are two sets with no overlaps, so they can’t convince each other, they can’t even have a meaningful conversation as the premises on which the sets are created are incommensurable.

    Yet, contrary to the Kuhnian mistake, it doesn’t mean that they cannot be judged – this task is given to the reality.

    You see, if analysis cheats, it ceases to be an analysis. If ideology cheats it is still an ideology.I

    So, the whole thing is partially an analytical , partly an ideological debate between non-set members and the two sets, and as the reality is a chosen judge, it is colourised by practical considerations.

  18. Laszlo: Proper Brexiters and proper Remainers are two sets with no overlaps,

    I’m not sure about that.

    First, of course, is the difficulty of defining “proper” holding of these two opposed positions.

    But whatever definition you choose, there will surely be overlaps.

    For instance, whilst I would be happy to wear a “proper remainer” badge, and I suspect most UKPR regulars would be happy to brand me as such, there are areas where I agree with Brexit. For a true europhile, the prospect of the UK leaving the EU has considerable attractions.

    So whilst I am in no doubt that anything other than an ultra-soft brexit will prove disastrous for the people of Britain – and especially those segments of the population that voted most heavily in favour of Brexit – that has to be weighed against the benefits for EU27.

    If you feel, as I do, that the continued success and coherence of EU27 is a necessary condition for peace and democracy in Europe, and that the avoidance of a third European civil war is more important to everyone in Europe (including the UK) than the future prosperity and wellbeing of the UK, then even an ardent remainer holding those views is forced to the conclusion that Brexit may be for the greater good. Which is quite an overlap.

  19. Somerjohn

    For the reasons you have I ascribe (apologies) you as a proper Remainer, and for the same reasons I put @Colin (apologies) in a different set of the two,so someone who can talk to and being talked to by the other two sets. It’s not good or bad, it is just the way in which processes split people.

    It is also interesting how ideologies overrule other considerations. If Britain helped the EU to kick out Hungary and Poland (actually it would have been very easy to force them to change) I would have been a Remainer, but as the EU did nothing about it (or about Austria,although that may evolvr), I’m a Brexiter as I don’t want to be in the same club. Then I don’t want to be in the same camp with the xenophobes, so I may be in the third set, but then I’m quite convinced the analytical outcome (rather negative) of Brexit, so I’m a Remainer.

  20. Laszlo

    The people you should feel really sorry for are the Brit Nats (outwith England) who are Brexiteers

    All the “sovereignty” and “take back control” arguments are closed to them, since they would equally apply to independence of their bit of the UK – unless they choose to apply them selectively in a “Blood & Soil British Nationalism” format (which is what they tend to do). [1]

    In Scotland, for the majority who aren’t fussed about sharing sovereignty (whether that’s with rUK, rEU, or both) there isn’t that existential conflict driving them to extremes.

    [1] Similar considerations apply to pro-indy Leavers, but they are a rather small group.

  21. @Laszlo

    I think your post illustrates two things:

    1. The more deeply people think about the future of Europe, and the UK’s place in it, the more difficult it becomes to call them “proper” remainers or leavers. As your point about Hungary and Poland illustrates, issues that most people are completely unaware of can become of paramount importance to the better informed. (Incidentally, I saw a btl post on the DM site today from a brexiter who said that the EU’s threat to remove voting rights from Poland proved that it was an anti-democratic dictator).

    2. Even “proper” remainers and leavers can have a productive dialogue as long as both are playing by the same rules of debate, ie listening to the other’s points and responding substantively. Only if one side refuses to engage does the dialogue break down.

  22. @OLDNAT
    “The people you should feel really sorry for are the Brit Nats (outwith England) who are Brexiteers
    All the “sovereignty” and “take back control” arguments are closed to them, since they would equally apply to independence of their bit of the UK”

    I think this is a false distinction. All sovereigntist arguments are in the end about vesting administrative control in a personally preferred geopolitical entity, be that Europe, the UK in its current incarnation, the UK in one its previous incarnations, England/ Scotland, Yorkshire/ Shetland or whatever.

    The arguments tend to become entirely circular. Once you have defined your preferred geopolitical entity it kind of follows that you’d like it to control itself. That, in this context, is all that “preferred” can really mean.

    But they’re the same circular arguments whether you self identify as a BritNat, a ScotNat, a YorksNat or a EuroNat.

    Unless you believe one of these entities was somehow pre-destined, the choice between these various accidents of history or aspiration is entirely arbitrary. All nationalisms are obsessions with ephemera.

  23. @Seachange

    If you start at the beginning of the document, you will find the list of contracting parties as follows (in capitals in the original):

    THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY, [comma]
    THE KINGDOM OF BELGIUM, [comma]

    THE KINGDOM OF NORWAY, [comma]

    hereinafter referred to as the CONTRACTING PARTIES;

    What is important is that ‘The European Community’ is followed by a comma; it doesn’t mean that the following countries are subsumed within the European Community, it means that the European Community has an equal standing to the individual countries named. So the Article 50 letter met only part of the requirements to leave the EEA.

  24. “SThomas: It is like a colonial nation wanting its freedom from the colonial power. Look,say the remainers, it is a big bad world out there and we will suffer economically if we leave the comfort blanket of our protector.

    Yup, Zimbabwe of the North sounds good to me. It may be poor, but better that than a vassal state, eh?

    All we need now is a spiffing new name to reflect our glorious independence. Britannia, perhaps? Or would Bankruptia be more accurate?”
    @somerjohn December 29th, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Brexsh1tland?

  25. I’m not going to learn Polish or read through reams of EU legislation, so I wonder if anyone can answer the following question?

    I understand that the EU is threatening to withdraw Poland’s voting rights because of the latter passing laws to control the judiciary, which sounds a bad thing to most of us. Does anyone know what treaty or other document the EU is using to justify this?

  26. PETERW
    What a great post!

  27. PeterW

    ” All nationalisms are obsessions with ephemera.”

    Perfect!

  28. Pete B

    It’s article 7

    It is a long procees, and it will not go through as Hungary and Austria will vote against it (Hungary already said it, and although it will have a general election next year, the current government will be duly reelected).

  29. “All nationalisms are obsessions with ephemera.”

    Ephemera that can last for thousands of years.

  30. PETER W

    “All nationalisms are obsessions with ephemera.”

    Whether this claim makes any sense at all depends on the meaning of “nationalisms”. OLDNAT (I am certain of this) and myself regard our versions of Scottish nationalism as meaning supporting an independent Scotland. This support is not an obsession with ephemera. PETER W is a blether

  31. Pete B

    Sorry, 7th article of the Treaty of the European Union.

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A12012M007

    As I said, it won’t go through as the other two fascist member states have veto power at stage two.

  32. @peterw

    “Unless you believe one of these entities was somehow pre-destined, the choice between these various accidents of history or aspiration is entirely arbitrary. All nationalisms are obsessions with ephemera.”

    There is no need to consider that one of these entities is “pre-destined” to consider that they are viable and sensible political units for self-government and self-determination for a number of reasons. The choice between them is not at all arbitrary but very practical and significant.

  33. Sam

    Peter W may (or may not) be a blether. However, he seems not to have actually read what I said – rather given a knee jerk response to what he assumed I must have said (given his initial prejudice).

    My point was precisely the opposite of what he assumed.

    Most Scots, regardless of where we stand on the degree of autonomy required from Westminster or Brussels, aren’t that fussed about sharing sovereignty with others.

    That he, apparently, is wholly ignorant that different territorial sovereignties can exist within the same territory for different functions and at different levels may (and I only suggest may) be a consequence of a very limited education and an obsession with such ephemera in his own jurisdiction.

    Sadly, that his post received such rapturous approbation from enthusiastic Brexiteers, who are also obsessed with such ephemera, suggests that this may represent a more underlying flaw within education in the English polity.

    However, his demonstration that the confusion in Brexiteer Brit Nat minds also extends to England, is a welcome addition to my original post – so thanks for that Peter.

  34. Laszlo
    Thanks. I see that Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty refers to breaches of Article 2, which says
    “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

    I don’t know enough about Polish politics to determine which bit of this the Poles are supposed to have breached, but it seems so vague that it could be used to justify action against anything the EU disapproves of. However so many different parties have to vote for it that only the most extreme regimes would ever be punished.

  35. Only an hour to wait before we see which Tory donors got which honours! (though we’ll have to wait a bit longer to hear how much they paid for them, to determine the going rate for 2018).

  36. PETER W

    @”Unless you believe one of these entities was somehow pre-destined, the choice between these various accidents of history or aspiration is entirely arbitrary. All nationalisms are obsessions with ephemera.”

    I’m just reading Yuval Noah Harari’s incredible book “Sapiens”.

    The author examines how H. Sap crossed a critical threshold which his evolutionary forebears are stuck at.

    Chimpanzees-our nearest relative- live in social co-operative groups too. The maximum number observed before a breakaway group is formed is around 150. This is the upper limit at which personal knowledge of every individual can facilitate a hierarchy of leadership to be worked out & accepted by all.

    How did H. Sap acquire the ability to found , organise & accept co-operative armies of thousands and cities of tens of thousands , when most of these individuals can never know each other?

    Harari’s answer is -by inventing commonly held myths.Things that do not really exist but which can accepted by a large number of individuals who devise & transmit the information about them & the rituals which maintain them..

    Tribal Spirits, Gods, limited liability companies, nations , human rights, ………..

    I quote from the book :-

    ” Ever since the Cognitive Revolution , Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand , the objective reality of rivers, trees & lions ; and on the other hand the imagined reality of gods , corporations & nations. As time went by , the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today , the very survival of rivers, trees & lions, depends on the grace of imagined entities. “

  37. Colin

    “Harari’s answer is -by inventing commonly held myths.Things that do not really exist but which can accepted by a large number of individuals who devise & transmit the information about them & the rituals which maintain them..”

    He’s spot on with that, I think.

    Whether these myths relate to a religious, clan, or any other kind of “community”, they still need some form of creation myth, and subsequent tales of confirmation, to allow them to feel different to other groups.

    Without those tales, why would people continue to support leaders who operate in their own interests (while claiming to personify the group), as opposed to those of “the people”?

    Much of the Brexit rhetoric was a retrogressive appeal to those myths and tales of English exceptionalism.

    Progress comes when folk are prepared to share common governance with other groups for the common good.

    (Naturally, a new set of myths needs to be created to sustain such common purpose).

  38. SAM
    I know you strongly disagree with PETERW and think him a bit of a blather, but could you perhaps find it in your heart to disassociate yourself from OLDNAT’s remarks to you implying that he is ‘ignorant’ and ‘prejudiced’ and that this is probably due to a ‘flawed’ and ‘very basic’ English education?

  39. ON
    ‘Progress comes when folk are prepared to share common governance with other groups for the common good.
    (Naturally, a new set of myths needs to be created to sustain such common purpose).’

    Perhaps that’s why the EU is in trouble. There is no modern EU myth. The only common heritage that much of Europe shares (apart from recent warfare) is the Roman Empire. And yes I know that Germany, Scandinavia etc were outside that, but they still inherited some of the culture.

  40. What I’ve always found striking about the ‘get back control ‘ argument is that generally most people appear to have no time for the very UK politicians they are giving control back to. It seems the mantra is that they’re b. awful, but at least they’re ours. Personally I’d rather stuff was sifted through 28 legislatures, rather than just our inept one.

  41. Pete B

    “There is no modern EU myth”

    Certainly not in the UK, where even the state-influenced media have determinedly set their face against, routine reporting of EU activities – preferring instead to repeat propaganda from the anti-EU brigade, which fed into the pre-existing English myth system.

    The recent accession states haven’t had time to “buy into” the shared belief system – and may never do so.

    The imposition (as opposed to acceptance) of a common mythology [1] requires the kind of Government that Spain or the UK has – as opposed to the structure that the EU has.

    However, the reality of EU membership does seem to have embedded itself in many EU countries, so extrapolating from the English experience to elsewhere may be inappropriate.

    [1] The best myths have a foundation in fact.

  42. David Colby

    That would be an odd response, from anyone else.

    Peter W is either ignorant of co-existing territorial sovereignties in a given area, or he isn’t. If he is, then his post (which you were so keen on) was meaningless in that regard.

    If he isn’t, then that raises other questions as to why he wrote as he did.

    Colin’s post gives insight into such inability to internalise the comments of others.

    The propagation of myths has been a core purpose of Government controlled education and media for a long time.

    A good example is the Scottish history curriculum which, until the 1960s, was centred on the version carefully crafted by Sir Walter Scott.

    Another would be the manifestations of the National Curriculum in England – where the detailed involvement of Government Ministers in specifying details of the History and Literature components has been of amusement elsewhere.

    I would describe such political intervention in the curriculum as “a flaw”. It wouldn’t surprise me if you saw that as a strength.

  43. SteamDrivenandy
    “It seems the mantra is that they’re b. awful, but at least they’re ours.”

    Or, but at least we can kick the b*ggers out!

    ON
    So do you have any suggestions for possible EU myths?

  44. John Curtice gets a knighthood

    Roger Scully gnashes his teeth in frustration.

  45. Pete B

    Off the top of my head, the ones I already see are that, due to the EU,

    there have been no major wars in Europe since 1945
    there is free movement of people across all member states
    richer states contribute to the economic development of the poorer ones.

  46. ON
    I can see why those things wouldn’t have great appeal to many English voters. I can’t speak for other places, but
    1. Can be at least argued is down to NATO.
    2. We were always able to go on holiday to Europe, but the downside of unrestricted EU immigration has been argued here many times.
    3. As we are one of the richer states, that’s not a great positive either.

    G’night all. The Test’s on, and we could still win.

  47. Pete B

    Your myths just contradict those myths, and English myths of exceptionalism are very old (as may be those who were schooled in them).

    Your myths may want you to have little contact with foreigners (other than in conflict situations) but this isn’t a “battle of the myths”!

    As to “we could still win.” – that’s probably the most pervasive English myth of all. :-)

  48. @Hireton “Barnier’s and EU leaders’ “cherry picking” comments are about the Single Market and the four freedoms which underpin it. It is not about the trade offs between different economic sectors and activities in a trade agreement.”

    No that’s not the case. He has specifically ruled out a deal on financial services in a trade deal and is saying it is Canda or Norway – off the shelf. Basically, he is saying there can be no bespoke deal.

    Now I personally think that is just an opening gambit and reality will be different because it is in the interests of France, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden to have a deal as there is very significant trade with the UK. Not so much the rest of Europe, however the City of London is the prime place that companies from all over Europe raise Capital.

    @Hireton “Well, it is possible to envisage Single Market membership which would mean that the UK could conclude its own trade deals and would be outside the CAP and CFP so everything would be far from exactly the same. It could well be that remain voters and part of brexit voters would see that as a reasonable way forward so it would be quite easy to explain to a majority of voters in all UK constituencies other than to extreme ideological brexiters like yourself.”

    You are advocating the Norway option. My discussion was with Andrew111’s belief that we’ll stay in the Customs Union and the Single Market as a solution for the Irish border. Essentially no change at all except complete vassaldom. And as I pointed out that would be an impossible sell in my opinion.

    The Norway option is better than total vassaldom, for sure, but then you can’t control your borders, you are still under the ECJ via the EFTA court over broad swaths of your law and you have no say over those rules. That would again be a very difficult sell, and certainly I think nigh-on impossible for the Tories, rather than “easy to explain to a majority of voters in all UK constituencies other than to extreme ideological brexiters like yourself.”

    If Brexit is a return to the same kind of control over our laws like some 170 odd of the world’s countries is “extreme” then I am guilty as charged. However, I rather wonder who is the ideological extremist!

  49. seachange.

    Careful there will be ructions on Mount McOlympus where so many of our friends from the far North have their crofts if you challenge their exceptionalism or that they,horror of horrors, are the ideological extremists.

  50. @LEFTIELIBERAL – EEA agreement.

    The contracting parties are not the most important consideration – what is fundamental is the stipulations of the contract. The treaty only takes effect in the territory outlined in Article 126(1).

    Of course with all legal uncertainties, this could be challenged in court. However, both EU and UK officials have pointed out you cannot be in the EEA and not be in either EFTA or EU.

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