The latest YouGov poll for the Times has topline figures of CON 43%(+1), LAB 39%(-3), LDEM 8%(+2). Fieldwork was Monday to Tuesday, changes are from last week. The full tables are here.

The big risk when watching opinion polls is to pay too much attention to exciting looking outliers and not enough to run-of-the-mill polls showing not much has changed. Polls have a margin of error, and normal sample variation spits out unusual results sometimes even when public opinion is actually unchanged. Before one gets too excited about an unusual or interesting looking poll one should wait to see if it is replicated in other polls or is just a blip. Sure, this could be the start of the Tories opening up a lead, but it could just be random noise. Given the government’s current travails, I think it’s more likely to be noise, but we shall see.

As ever, the thing to watch is the trend across the polls as a whole. So far 2018 has produced two polls showing small Tory leads, three polls showing the parties equal, five polls showing small Labour leads, suggesting that the actual picture is that the Conservatives and Labour have very similar levels of support. That itself is interesting – the Conservative government often seem paralysed by infighting and are doing very little except for Brexit (which most people think they are doing badly). Yet they remain equal with the opposition when past governments stuck in similar mires – such as those of Gordon Brown or John Major – trailed badly. I can see a couple of possible explanations – it could just be that the public aren’t paying attention, there is so little happening in politics and they are so turned off that they aren’t noticing this stuff. Alternatively, it could be that people are just lined up along EU divisions – for now, the Conservatives are the party that’s delivering Brexit, so those who want Britain to leave are sticking with the Tories. A third possibility is that Labour have reached a ceiling in their support – Jeremy Corbyn may be very popular among Labour supporters, but he is anathema to others and the alternative of Corbyn’s Labour is propping up Conservative support that might otherwise be faltering. Naturally, these are not mutually exclusive.

Meanwhile, in the interests of reporting the non-exciting poll figures, the YouGov tracker on whether Brexit was the right or wrong decision has returned to normality after an unusual figure last week. 43% think it was the right decision, 44% the wrong decision – typical of recent months.


553 Responses to “YouGov/Times – CON 43%, LAB 39%, LDEM 8%”

1 8 9 10 11 12
  1. Sarah Wollaston (Conservative MP) has apparently coined the word “Mogglodytes” to describe the ardent Brexiteers, using it when asking the PM to be brave and stare them down to take the EFTA route.
    When internal party politics starts getting this personal (see Anna Soubry last week too) the fault lines become more obvious, the real question is this how many Wollaston’s are there on the green benches? If there is a large enough group then the Government is doomed, this is because no matter what is said the two stances EFTA/Clean Brexit are irreconcilable.

    On a different point, yesterday on Peston, John McDonnell argued that he didn’t want to see a second referendum because it was likely to deepen division as opposed to healing it. Leaving aside the source and anyone’s views on his motives what do other Remainers like me think of the proposition. On a personal note I think that there is a need to compromise to achieve some sort of rapproachment between Leave/Remain supporters, however I’m not sure how this can be done but I am certain that a second referendum at this stage will not achieve that, whether circumstances change to alter that I am not prepared to prognosticate upon.

  2. SEA CHANGE

    If the SPD membership scupper the coalition, I agree-she may be toppled in her Party.

    The most incredible downfall though is Shulz- to go through all that negotiation & not be in the Government because his Party lost confidence in his integrity-what a story!

    The shift from Schäuble at finance to the SPD is , I think, the central pivot on which EU change rests.

    But if Sholz’s new policies , together with Macron’s ideas begin to look anything like a Debt Union, the new German Government will not have an easy time in Parliament.

  3. @Garj – “So, let me get this straight, you think that Brexit will cause wages to go up, particularly for the low paid, and that’s a bad thing?

    I don’t agree with TW on all his points, but he is right that it’s not beyond the wit of mankind to invent some kind of seasonal workers’ visa.”

    I think there is a bit of confusion here, both between us and internally in your post. To be clear, I am talking specifically about the agricultural sector, as this is an area where there are limits to technical innovation, resulting in a demand for labour, while the industry itself is increasingly globalised.

    Personally, I’d love to see higher wages at the bottom end, but at the same time Brexiters want us to sign free trade deals with the rest of the world, so it’s hard to see how we can increase agricultural wages and still compete in a global market with producer countries where labour costs in general are so much lower. These two points aren’t very compatible.

    The result would be a loss of the labour intensive production to overseas suppliers, with UK farmers switching to alternative crops that demand less labour. Presumably, as the current crops are optimal (in theory) for the farms in question at present, this would mean a loss of overall output, and certainly a loss of diversity and food security.

    It’s important to note that recruiting farm workers is a significantly difficult thing throughout the western world, and this is a complex financial and cultuaral issue. My critical point however, was that the Brexit case is all too often based on childlike simplicities, assumptions of easy solutions, and a false understanding that certain things will happen simply because we want them to.

    Different sectors will face different issues, but the option of a seasonal workers visa is one of those simplicities. Workers can come here already without visas, but they’ve stopped coming because of exchange rates. Same as nurses.

    We can solve these problems by higher wages. For agriculture, that means a loss of profitability and either higher shop prices for goods that can’t be supplied from elsewhere, or more likely the shutting down of parts of the industry. This is what has already happened since June 2016.

    For the health service, it means higher wages, which will eat into the simpletons £350m per week Brexit bonus. Or higher taxes. Or fewer cancer operations.

    Somewhere, sometime, somehow, those who think Brexit is the dogs [email protected] need to appreciate that amidst all the complexities there will be problems, wih many of these unable to be brushed aside with simple and false assumptions.

  4. @ ALEC – you see challenges and want to give up. I see an unsustainable current UK economic model with both challenges and opportunities and hope we can arrive with a better model using Brexit as part excuse, part opportunity

    If you want to work through the seasonal worker issue then:

    As always firstly we need the facts:
    “Labour Force Survey estimates suggest 27,000 people from other EU member states worked in UK agriculture in 2016. A further 116,000 EU nationals worked in the UK’s food manufacturing sector.”
    http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7987

    Food manufacturing has far more investment opportunity to become more productive and less reliant on cheap labour (e.g. ARLA’s new plants):
    http://www.fwi.co.uk/business/arla-opens-world-s-biggest-milk-plant-at-aylesbury.htm
    It’s also more realistic to “move production to the workers” for food processing

    Agriculture has more limited opportunities for productivity but they are not zero. Let’s also assume not every migrant worker will be banned forever and a visa system comes into place. So I’ll be generous and suggest the “problem” is maybe about 10,000 “vacancies” from E.Europe workers or 0.5% of the number of students mentioned in the ONS survey.

    Some ideas:
    – semester system or “crammed” workweeks (some courses have 5hrs or so a week, bucket those and free up time for students to earn money so they don’t have so much debt)
    – employers assisted and encouraged to use domestic labour (carrot and stick policies).

    Not beyond the wit of humans although possibly beyond the wit of some politicians I’ll confess – it is a challenge and requires sufficient energy from HMG.

  5. @WB

    The “Arch-Remainers” are a much smaller faction than the “Hard Brexiteers”. Some 75% of the Tory MPs don’t agree we can stay in the Single Market.

    I always thought the most sensible staging-post strategy (while a trade deal is hammered out) was to join EFTA instead of trying to negotiate a transition. The hurdle was/is getting the likes of Norway to agree to that. I thought that opportunity had gone but perhaps both sides may see it as a face-saving way out of the undoubted obstacles in the transition negotiations. They’ll have to spend a small fortune on the Northern Island border to replicate something along the lines of the Norway-Sweden/Finland border if that is to be reasonably frictionless.

  6. Brexit is an excuse/opportunity to fix so many things. May finally getting the “road map” roadshow going. IMHO the roadmap should have some simple key objectives and hence suggesting the 3Rs of internal and foreign trade/competitiveness – aka “getting of the sofa” and making our economy fit for purpose.

    Rebalance:
    a/ Tackle the current account deficit (combination of more exports and less imports, ideally less public deficit but deal with after 2022!)
    b/ Not bothered about % of services as such but we are overly reliant on one sector and there are many reasons why we should not be so dependent on imports in certain critical sectors.
    c/ Look at internal rebalancing (e.g. Robin Hood tax on winners of the “postcode lottery” and “lottery of birth”, remove CAP on public sector pay and remove 1+ LOCKs on pensions, etc, etc, endless examples where HMG can directly or indirectly tackle current imbalances)

    Realistic:
    a/ “Cake and Eat it” was an opening negotiating position but EU aren’t prepared to show any flexibility so start Plan B implementation. Also small chance that encourages EU to adopt a slightly more flexible approach and allows UK compromise (not capitulation) – either way most of the implementation plan has little directly to do with Brexit, we should be doing a lot of this stuff anyway!
    b/ Accept the World of humankind does not work the way textbooks suggest. The playing field is not level. Humans will seek advantages, fair or foul. Regulations, etc can help but let’s stop being n4ive and accept the World displays a little bit of “dog eat dog” tendency. Don’t go “full Trump” but put UK first and foremost in UK’s policies.
    c/ Know our strengths (financial services, fin-tech, flexible workers, etc) and our weaknesses (skills imbalances, etc)
    d/ Know we are not ready to face the World with zero tariffs because we’d be wiped out on weaknesses and unable to take advantage of our strengths (the key word in UFT is Unilateral!!!). Understand the opportunities and threats of Brexit
    [Anyone who has been to business school (ie most of the consultants HMG has hired!!) could draw up a SWOT analysis as starting point on being ‘Realistic’]

    Reciprocal
    a/ Follows from above about being realistic, take the Old testament view not the New testament view. “Generous TFT” in due course but start with reciprocal relationships especially with our current largest trade partner. Put the horse before the cart and ensure the workhorse is ready!
    b/ Work with the uneven playing field in the short-term and then in due course work to level the playing field. Hatch a chicken in the current climate and then let it lay the eggs for the future.
    c/ As and when we start our own trade talks review UK SWOT analysis and start small. This means (re)finding trade partners that have reciprocal reasons to want to trade with UK (ie they sell what we need and we sell what they need). Make use of existing relationships where possible (not Empire2 just common sense). Do not “warm-up” with China or the US.
    d/ Understand the ne0liberal model (mid 80s-2008ish) had lots of unintended consequences (e.g. asset price bubbles, creation and strengthening of monopolistic pricing power (the rats in a barrel analogy), capitalism has a “dark side” (specifically greed), etc). Ensure there is a reciprocal relationship between the needs of business and the needs of society (please, do not send me the Youtube link showing I’m a “shy” Corbynista)

    [A party political broadcast by the Centre Leave Party ;)]

  7. @Trevor Warne – “@ ALEC – you see challenges and want to give up.”

    You do say the silliest things sometimes.

  8. ALEC

    I can appreciate that Brexit will have consequences for agriculture, as well as all sectors of the economy, and what those consequences will end up being is far from simple. Food security is one of those things that I think agitates older generations with a WW2 mentality (which makes it ironic that Brexit might threaten that), but I’ve always thought that UK agriculture needs to find its way to higher value-added crops rather than trying to compete on bulk supply of produce. Japan and the Netherlands are two countries worth taking a look at in that regard (the latter uses an awful lot of technology to produce incredible yields, so it’s not as impossible as you seem to think), but getting to that point is going to take some serious doing, I don’t disagree there.

    When it comes to wages in the NHS, I’ve long felt that one of the things holding back recruitment is the cosy stitch-up between unions and central government to set all wages nationally, and that by rejecting a market mechanism we harm the entire health service. It means spending, and therefore taxes, will have to go up, but that problem exists anyway.

    I suppose that my fundamental position is that freedom of movement has held down wages and working conditions, particularly at the bottom of the heap, and driven up rents in particular. The people who have benefitted from it (aside from the immigrants themselves, who mustn’t be overlooked) are the already wealthy, who see returns in the form of property prices, shareholder value, and cheaper labour. As it’s possibly the most serious cause of the issues I have with the way our economy has been going for the last few decades, then I see removing it as a positive thing overall. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some negative impacts that will arise from that, but I’m hopeful that a combination of government and private sector innovation can mitigate them.

  9. I think the potential failure gives enough reason for anxiety.

    A lot of people joined the SPD recently with the aim of voting against the coalition (they are mainly leftists), but irrespective of the vote of the membership on the coalition, the SPD will probably continue sinking – the membership is largely public employees and graduates, and its policies and the presentation of the policies are mainly for them, so they are losing their skilled workers base. But it goes much further.

    The Linke has started to move to an ethnicist rhetoric with their new leader (which happens everywhere east of the River Elbe in quasi-leftist parties). The FPD’s election programme is barely different from the AfD (apart from the different social target group), the CSU uses the language of AfD, and the CSU negotiated with the AfD in the three East German states before the elecrions. So, if the SPD falls apart, pluralism could cease in Germany (as it happened in Austria, where the only opposition to the FPÖ is the press and some civil movements).

    But afterall, it was Merkel who said quite a few years ago that multiculturalism (tolerance, humane treatment of the disadvantaged, liberal-secular state, human rights) was over. So she is harvesting it now (she didn’t sow it, that has much deeper causes).

    Considering Macron’s attempts in France for eliminating democracy – the state of Germany (and it’s potential alliance with Macron) makes me quite sad and a bit anxious.

  10. The potential failure of the coalition in Germany (somehow the tablet managed to cut out a few words. Apologies.

  11. “On a personal note I think that there is a need to compromise to achieve some sort of rapproachment between Leave/Remain supporters, however I’m not sure how this can be done”

    The link that SAM posted right at the beginning of the thread is interesting:

    http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2017/08/13/the-british-are-indifferent-about-many-aspects-of-brexit-but-leave-and-remain-voters-are-divided-on-several-key-issues/

    The biggest issues for leave voters is freedom of movement and ECJ jurisdiction, the biggest for remainers is EU citizens’ rights. Even on those, the two groups are actually pretty closely aligned, as they are on most other issues:

    Both groups prefer some level of control over EU migration
    Both groups’ preferred option is for us to take account of ECJ rulings but not be bound by them
    Both groups would be happy with EU nationals retaining rights to stay in some form
    Both groups are happy with some administrative barriers to trade in goods and services with no tariffs on goods
    Both groups would be ok with customs checks but no passport checks in NI

    So, that suggests the kind of Canada+ style of agreement with no CU and an end to freedom of movement that the government is currently aiming for. If we end up with something like that then the great majority of people will probably be ok with the result, and it’ll just be the hardliners at either extreme who wind up disappointed. The real issue is whether the EU will let us have it.

  12. @ WB

    “Leaving aside the source and anyone’s views on his motives what do other Remainers like me think of the proposition.”

    I wouldn’t welcome another referendum, particularly a binary one. (Even as someone who would definitely vote remain again if it did happen.) I feel it would just be a nightmarish re-run and wouldn’t solve anything – we already know the country is very divided, and the exact percentages of division are not that important. It is time for the politicians to take responsibility and decide the best way forward, even if they know whichever way they go, they are going to make a lot of people unhappy on the other side. Another referendum is just a way for them to try to push the responsibility back onto the electorate and save face for themselves, and tempting as that may sound, I wouldn’t be surprised if it entirely back-fired.

  13. Sorry, that last post should have been directed at WB.

  14. @WB and others

    Andrew Rawnsley in ‘The Observer’ yesterday was putting forward the idea that there could well be a parliamentary majority for coming out of the single market but staying in the customs union.

    This would solve the border problem in Ireland but still allow the UK to restrict free movement of labour. The only apparent ‘disadvantage’ would be that Liam Fox wouldn’t be able to negotiate separate trade deals with third countries – judging by his ministerial career to date, that’s probably a good thing.

    Obviously, this will only happen if the LAB leadership adopt such a policy, but it seems the basis for a reasonable compromise.

    I’d be interested to hear what Leavers and Remainers have to say about this possibility.

  15. I as a Remain voter would welcome another referendum.

    When we voted in June 2016 there were some serious distortions of the facts, more by the Leave campaign than Remain. But in a second referendum the facts and likely outcomes would be better understood.

    Also the rules would surely be better set out in a new referendum. E.g. no change if there was not a majority of 55% plus for it; no change if a 60% vote in a polity rejected Leaving.

    To me it is a sad reflection on the UK and the Tory government that a 62% vote to remain in Scotland can be totally ignored, despite it being promised by David Cameron that the Tory government would heed and respect the votes in each UK polity.

    So hopefully a campaign of total civic disobedience come spring 2019 on Poll Tax scales, will occur if we are forced to leave by the Tory government with no deal.

  16. @COLIN SEACHANGE LASZLO

    I think you’re too pessimistic about the SPD. They’ve driven a very hard bargain with Merkel in the coalition negotiations, and got three big ministries and large increases in infrastructure and inequalities spending. It seems that Merkel needs them more than they need Merkel.

    The younger members seem to take their inspiration from Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, and they may well be right that a period of dynamic opposition will be more popular than propping up Merkel for 4 more years.

  17. TONY EBERT

    I reckon that most leave voters aren’t that concerned one way or another about the customs union, it’s the Brexit ultras who are really exercised about that. Politically the government could get away with it, providing they could get it through the commons. The issue is what exactly you mean by ‘staying in the customs union’. Turkey is in a cutoms union with the EU, but the consequence is that they have to apply EU tariffs to non-EEA goods but have no access to the EU’s own trade deals or ability to strike trade deals of their own with other countries. Maybe not a problem for Turkey, which can get better growth from attaching itself to the EU in this fashion, but pretty harmful to the UK in all likelihood. If we had full access to the EU’s trade deals then I personally think we’d probably be better off, but then what are the prices that they’ll want to attach? Freedom of movement? Continuing ECJ jurisdiction? Acceptance of EU rules and regulations with no input on them? Ongoing payments?

    The government has said that they want a ‘customs arrangement’ with the EU, it’s really the same kind of thing. Until you know what the details will be you can’t really judge it one way or the other.

  18. I realise that it won’t happen but what I would be happy to see, in terms of a referendum, is a very simple one with a binary choice: stay in the EU or leave on whatever daft terms have been cobbled together.

    My big BUT would be – no bleedin’ campaigning: I think we pretty much should have all decided by then what we feel is right, without the press and other groups with vested interests distorting the arguments yet again.

    It seems to me to be self-evident that, with such a complex break, very few people had a specific end-point in mind. It therefpre seems entirely reasonable to say, very simply: this is what we have negotiated, is that alright with you?

  19. I have just returned from the US, and the scale and automation of agricultural production is just astonishing. I think British agriculture will struggle to replicate what is happening over there.

    But there is considerable potential for high end and value added product, and for technology: Iceland grows its own tomatoes…

  20. “Iceland grows its own tomatoes…”

    Frozen ones?

  21. Millie

    The Icelanding tomato is interesting – it is a cultivar developed during the second world war by the Americans to supply their navy units who stationed there.

    However, I’ve been to Heinz’s largest tomato farm in Canada (Leamington) – it was largely (but not all) for fruitpickers (migrant labour).

  22. @Tony Ebert “The only apparent ‘disadvantage’ would be that Liam Fox wouldn’t be able to negotiate separate trade deals with third countries – judging by his ministerial career to date, that’s probably a good thing.”

    Where do I start…

    Firstly whatever you think of Liam Fox, he is a transient minister, there will be many more Trade Secretaries in the future so his usefulness or not is hardly a reason for making a decision on the future of this country.

    Secondly having no control over your trade policy and having no way to influence it is untenable in the medium to long-term. Nobody can seriously suggest this is a good idea. And the ones that are advocating it see it as a staging-post to rejoin the EU one day by cutting any hope of Brexit being a success with a global trade policy designed for the Uk economy. It would strangle Brexit at birth.

    Thirdly any new trade agreement that the EU made would be entirely asymmetrical. We would have to comply on tariffs with this third country for the free movement of goods within the Customs Union but would gain no benefit for exports to that country as we would not be an EU member.

  23. MILLIE

    The big one is the Netherlands. They get five or six times the yield of tomatoes per acre farmed compared to the next most productive country in the world (which is Spain). Dutch greenhouses grow ten times as much lettuce per acre as traditional open fields. There’s no way we can compete with Canadian or Russian grain production, but we can certainly invest in those kinds of technologies.

  24. LASZLO

    Thanks for your thoughts on SPD etc.

    Very interesting perspective.

  25. Garj

    Indeed, the Dutch productivity, including the soilless technology used is astonishing.

  26. GARJ

    So, that suggests the kind of Canada+ style of agreement with no CU and an end to freedom of movement that the government … The real issue is whether the EU will let us have it.

    Highly unlikely, I suspect, given the NI border issues it would require addressing.

  27. Sea Change: the ones that are advocating it see it as a staging-post to rejoin the EU one day by cutting any hope of Brexit being a success with a global trade policy designed for the Uk economy. It would strangle Brexit at birth.

    As far as I can see most of the “ones that are advocating it” see it as a damage limitation exercise, trying to make the best of a bad job.

    I may not be typical of other brexsceptics, but I think the best route to rejoining the EU is via a hard brexit that leaves no room for doubt as to its effects, and leaves no room for the propagation of a “brexit would have been a success if only it had been harder” myth.

    BTW, referring to soft brexit advocates as “ones that” (rather than “who”) strikes me as a way of dehumanising them. Paranoia, no doubt

  28. @ Tony Ebert @ Sea Change
    See what I mean, not even a hint of compromise!

    @ Garj I see what you mean about the possibility of uniting the nation, the problem is that it would need to be done by politicians with “views” on Brexit one way or the other and as you can see from the exchange between Tony and Seachange it is generally the case that Leaver and Remainer politicians are so far apart on basic principles that each side sees it as necessary to “win” within the confines of what they can sell to the public as respecting the referendum result.
    IMO No good can come of this!

  29. SEA CHANGE @ WB

    I always thought the most sensible staging-post strategy (while a trade deal is hammered out) was to join EFTA instead of trying to negotiate a transition. The hurdle was/is getting the likes of Norway to agree to that.

    Agreed that that would be the leasworst option if HMG can persuade the Westminster parliament. Given that we are in the EEA already I suspect Norway’s government would have their arm twisted by the EC.

    There would be continuing grumbles from re:smog [©RJW] and chums, of course.

  30. Colin

    My thoughts became a bit more depressed on Germany because I talked to a (kind of) friend in the higher echelons of IG Metal on Saturday. He is a left-wing social democrat (in Continental European sense).

    Although his union is performing well (and relatively protected) he thinks that German unions in general are a) being defeated (essentially they are provoked into strikes that cannot be won); which then turns members off the union; b) have no proper support from the SPD, in spite of the coalition government, which then turns members to the right (especially as the argument with management often goes, as he said, you either accept our offer or we open a factory in Poland, Czechia, etc. which doesn’t quite help the spirit of the last sentence of the Manifesto of 1848).

  31. LASZLO

    I was particularly interested in your thoughts that Kevin Kuehnert, & the youth of SPD membership are trying to scupper things-being followers of JC.

    Set alongside the AfD ‘s rise , this seems to indicate that Germany’s long post-war consensual centreist coalition politics is coming to an end. All that bland no-change stuff was fine until Merkel took the German voter’s tolerance for granted on mass immigration.

    If the coalition survives , I think the next test thrown down for Germans will be their tolerance of a post Schäuble shift in fiscal rectitude towards EU Debt Union.

  32. @WB

    “John McDonnell argued that he didn’t want to see a second referendum because it was likely to deepen division as opposed to healing it. ”

    Anyone mistaking John McDonnell for a starry-eyed idealist needs to proceed directly to their nearest opticians.

    McDonnell said he wanted an election. Of course he does. If we had another referendum we would likely end up staying in the EU and he wouldn’t be Chancellor. If we have another election it will likely end with him easing himself into Number 11, after which he can take his pick.

  33. ……………”from” fiscal rectitude………..

  34. @Somerjohn “I may not be typical of other brexsceptics, but I think the best route to rejoining the EU is via a hard brexit that leaves no room for doubt as to its effects, and leaves no room for the propagation of a “brexit would have been a success if only it had been harder” myth.”

    I agree with that, a disastrous Brexit with no excuses is the best way to win a rejoin campaign. But the Arch-Remainers are true federalists and believe Brexit should be killed now, either overturned or smothered at birth. What gives them nightmares is Brexit being a success and then their dream will be dead for decades, perhaps forever.

    “BTW, referring to soft brexit advocates as “ones that” (rather than “who”) strikes me as a way of dehumanising them. Paranoia, no doubt”

    Definitely a bit of paranoia there. Plenty of fresh air, exercise and cut down on the lysergic acid :)

  35. I have been contemplating the Belfast Agreement and in the part relating to constitutional issues at section 1(vi) the following is set out:
    (1)The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, they will —
    (vi) recognise the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.

    It seems to be arguable on that basis that, given that Irish Citizens are EU Citizens as of right, and anyone in Northern Ireland is permitted to hold a European Passport (through Ireland) and a British passport, that UK subjects who move to live in Northern Ireland could argue at the ECJ for a right to retain European Citizenship regardless of what happens in the caase currently about to go to the ECJ.
    Irish Law limits who might obtain an Irish passport (although it is quite generous in its terms) which would exclude most UK subjects (other than those born in Northern Ireland or have lived there with a spouse for a number of years) from obtaining a passport. However the undefined wording of the “People of Northern Ireland” is open to significant interpretation, it could mean that this is an argument that remains open to people who move to live in Northern Ireland even after the UK leaves the EU.

    This is an unlikely scenario but I raise to show that the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement has the potential to create huge legal difficulties in the Brexit process, such difficulties running in both directions!

  36. I do agree with posters here that the hardcore Leavers and Remainers have gone past the referendum as such and are really just interested in ‘winning’ the argument and making their foes miserable, not in what is best for the country.

    We could probably agree a deal that the majority of the country would support (albeit grudgingly) relatively quickly. The polls state that something that preserved as much of the customs union as we can and thus minimising economic impact whilst making our ability to control immigration stronger and more visible would be relatively popular. Indeed, this is probably the *only* compromise that can lead to successful Brexit.

    But the problem is not the hardcore Remainers, who are loud but lack real influence. It’s that this deal would pass the country but not the Conservative Party, and the hardcore Leavers are no longer able to consider the national interest.

    Indeed, they seem to have got to the point where they’ll block any deal that satisfies the electorate precisely *because* Remainers, who they have identified as their foes in the culture war they are now fighting and with whom they will not admit any compromise, might accept it.

  37. @ Chris Riley

    “Anyone mistaking John McDonnell for a starry-eyed idealist needs to proceed directly to their nearest opticians.”

    Chris I was careful to say:
    “Leaving aside the source and anyone’s views on his motives what do other Remainers like me think of the proposition”

    I was interested in the views as to whether a further referendum would lead to more division and therefore exacerbate current tensions rather than heal them.

    As to John McDonnell I see him for what he is but still prefer him to centrists in the Labour Party, he has beliefs they tend to have positions.

  38. Back to recent polls & the apparent slippage in Labour’s Women VI.

    Well-here’s an interesting take on it. You don’t mess with Mumsnet if you want to get elected :-)

    https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/02/jeremy-corbyn-has-a-new-enemy-mumsnet/

  39. @garj

    “The real issue is whether the EU will let us have it.”

    I think it’s more an issue of is it practical rather than them ‘letting us have it’.

    The answer is likely no, it’s double cake territory, and ends up being littered with loopholes and inconsistences that make it unworkable.

    A greater amount of economic integration requries a greater amount of soveriengty pooling in order to work.

    @Tony

    “Andrew Rawnsley in ‘The Observer’ yesterday was putting forward the idea that there could well be a parliamentary majority for coming out of the single market but staying in the customs union.”

    If you stay in *the* customs union it becomes completely impractical to leave the single market. You can be in the SM but not the CU (see norway) but the otherway around doesn’t work.

    The UK could come to a lesser customs agreement that would fit whatever lesser trade agreement it agrees with the EU.

  40. WB

    I think that the citizenship issue is fairly basic and the EU can’t really stick its oar in there (not that that’s stopped them elsewhere), all it allows is for people from NI to have dual nationality. That’s something that seems to be well within the competence of individual European states.

    BARBAZENZERO

    Thing is, the Good Friday Agreement doesn’t actually commit anyone to getting rid of borders, it just talks a lot about cross-border cooperation and alignment. The customs checks weren’t removed as a result of the peace process, they were removed along with all the other customs checks throughout the EEA in 1993. The EU isn’t insisting on no border in Ireland because of any reason in the treaties, they are insisting on it because Ireland is (because we account for half of their EU trade), and as leverage in negotiations to force us to accept what they want. There is no legal obstacle to some kind of Norway-style customs barrier, only political.

  41. @ Colin

    Re: mumsnet
    My wife went online once to find what it was all about she left the site visibly angered saying that it was “just the Women’s Institute online” (her views on the WI have been expressed to me often and are unprintable). When she had calmed down she told me that the views she had seen expressed there would have put a drunken bigot to shame. Don’t know if she saw it on a bad day, but if I asked her to take account of views expressed there as reported by the Spectator, I would have to be sure to wear a tin hat!

  42. @Sea Change

    Good to have agreement that, as you say, ” a disastrous Brexit with no excuses is the best way to win a rejoin campaign.”

    But I don’t agree that “Arch-Remainers are true federalists and believe Brexit should be killed now, either overturned or smothered at birth. What gives them nightmares is Brexit being a success and then their dream will be dead for decades, perhaps forever.”

    A true federalist is likely to believe not that the UK must be kept in the EU at all costs, but rather that the UK has been a cuckoo in the EU nest, steering it away from federalism in a neo-l¡beral, globalist direction. In that view, a period out in the cold with its far-flung friends might lead to a change of attitude in the UK. Meanwhile, the EU can intensify co-operation and co-ordination, and build itself as a bastion of mutual self-help in an increasingly dog-eat-dog world. If the UK eventually sees the light and wants to re-sign for that sort of enterprise, all well and good. If not, 27 members is more than sufficient.

    Just as arch-brexiteers have faith that the UK will succeed once freed of the shackles of EU membership, arch-europhiles have faith that the EU will succeed once freed of the shackles of UK membership (of the EU).

  43. CROFTY: “Iceland grows its own tomatoes…”

    Frozen ones?

    Allows for automated harvesting. You shake them off onto a conveyor belt rather than picking them

  44. @Garj

    Seem to be triggering auto mod, and a bit busy, but just quickly, keeping public sector wages higher can have the benefit of pulling up wages elsewhere, with associated health benefits.

    On the other hand, wage increases may just be soaked up by opportunistic increases in the price of essentials, rent, energy etc.

  45. Sea Change: [@Somerjohn] … I agree with that, a disastrous Brexit with no excuses is the best way to win a rejoin campaign. But the Arch-Remainers are true federalists and believe Brexit should be killed now, either overturned or smothered at birth. What gives them nightmares is Brexit being a success and then their dream will be dead for decades, perhaps forever.

    I have nightmares about brexit, but let me assure you that brexit being a success never features

  46. WB

    I’m not really interested in what your wife-or anyone else -thinks about the WI & Mumsnet.

    I am interested in their political influence.

    On the Spectator Article , I was very struck by the Kristina Harrison critique of the latest fad-self defined gender. It sums up how I feel perfectly.

    But the question is- does it reflect the opinion of significant numbers of Labour voting women?

  47. CARFREW

    “On the other hand, wage increases may just be soaked up by opportunistic increases in the price of essentials, rent, energy etc.”

    Energy and food prices are more do do with international markets (and trade tariffs) than they are to do with disposable income. The area that could soak up wage increases is housing costs. The main driver for those, particularly rents, has been the increased demand as a result of immigration. If you take London as your example, where the issue is most acute, the numbers of owner-occupiers and social tenants are almost the same as what they were in the mid 1990s, it’s the number of private renters which has gone up enormously, from under half a million households (or 15% of the total) a few decades ago to nearly a million households today (out of three and a bit million in total). We haven’t built half a million houses for in London in that time period, let alone for private letting, so the result has been spiralling rents. That’s without getting into the enormous increase in overcrowding in the private rental sector. The same picture has played out on a smaller scale elsewhere in the UK.

    If the added demand impact on rents from higher wages is counterbalanced by reduced demand from population growth then the two will cancel each other out to some degree, meaning that people ought to keep more of their increased earnings in this scenario as disposable income.

  48. Colin

    Yes, I agree on the end of post-war German consensus on the centre. I also think it was a longish process – moral and ethical values could keep it up only this long. The migration crisis was the obvious trigger, but in my view it wasn’t the cause (if the crisis hadn’t happened, it would have been something else to pull the trigger).

    Both Zeit and FAZ have been publishing editorials on wasting Schaüble’s inheritance, but I think there is enough informal power in the German institutional regime to stop the Debt Europe. The reason is that it’s largely a French move (obviously Macron is in a strong position) but it ignores their many failures with debt financing since the 1970s (and that it runs out of steam in a couple of years) and that under Chirac (as PM) most institutions to carry it through have been weakened or destroyed (as Hollande learnt it in the hard way – and JC would learn it if he had a chance to implement his “ideas”).

    I also think that Brexit is a main catalyst to the upheaval in the EU members.

  49. WB: … yesterday on Peston, John McDonnell argued that he didn’t want to see a second referendum because it was likely to deepen division as opposed to healing it. Leaving aside the source and anyone’s views on his motives what do other Remainers like me think of the proposition. On a personal note I think that there is a need to compromise to achieve some sort of rapproachment between Leave/Remain supporters, however I’m not sure how this can be done but I am certain that a second referendum at this stage will not achieve that, whether circumstances change to alter that I am not prepared to prognosticate upon.

    I am with Somerjohn on this. There has been a vacuum on the Remain side for 2 years now, since the referendum campaign. Opinions have hardened and I believe that a good hard brexit is needed to dispel the delusions as the only practical way to stop brexit.

    I fear that a referendum now will entrench divisions even more deeply. Even worse if it is a binary referendum when a 3 way referendum is required to encompass all choices I would like to see Scotland and NI set free to plot their own courses, not shackled by the results of the 2016 referendum which they did not endorse.

    Of course if the Cabinet could say that brexit would not work and the Opposition endorsed that position, I would be answering the question very differently.

1 8 9 10 11 12