One year to go

You will unavoidably have noticed that today marks one year until Brexit day, when the article 50 timetable runs out and the British government has signalled its intention to leave the European Union. I’ve written a long piece over on the YouGov website here about where public opinion stands on Brexit which I’d encourage you to read, but here is a brief take on where we are.

Firstly, there has still been no big shift in opinion since the referendum. Since last year there has been a gradual drift, but nothing substantial. However, given the original vote was so close, that still means that you tend to find marginally more people saying Brexit is a bad thing than a good thing. YouGov ask a regular question asking if Brexit was the right or wrong decision – until the middle of last year it was typically showing an even split, in recent months it’s typically showing slightly more people think it was the wrong decision than the right one.

While it’s right to say people have moved against Brexit, it’s not right to say that most people want it stopped. If you ask people what the government should do now, the majority still want Brexit to go ahead in some way. The reason for this apparent paradox is that there is a minority of Remain voters who say the government should go ahead with Brexit – presumably because it is seen as democratic duty given the result of the referendum. One should be careful when interpreting individual polling results for this reason – you’ll sometimes find pro-Brexit sources representing polls showing a majority want to go ahead with Brexit as indicating majority support for Brexit, or anti-Brexit sources representing polls showing people disapprove of Brexit as opposing it going ahead. Neither appears to be true – looking at polling evidence in the whole the position appears to be that the public want Brexit to continue, despite starting to think it’s a bad idea.

Secondly, as ever it’s worth remembering that most people are really not that fussed about the details of Brexit. I could apply this caveat to almost any political issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth repeating. One reason that the ins and outs of the Brexit negotiations don’t make an impact on views is that people aren’t paying that much attention. 55% of people say they find news about Brexit boring (36% interesting). 47% of people say they are following Brexit very or fairly closely (itself probably an exaggeration) – 48% say they aren’t following it closely or at all.

Thirdly, support for a second referendum. Different polling companies produce very different results for this question, some (including the YouGov poll today) show more support than opposition for a second referendum, others show more people now support one. It seems to depend how the question is asked – wording along the lines of “asking the public” tends to provoke more support.

If a referendum was to happen, it would most likely be because of a government defeat in the Commons on the Brexit legislation or deal. The new YouGov poll asked whether people thought it was legitimate or not for the MPs to vote against Brexit. On the deal, the balance of opinion was that it was legitimate for MPs to block it – 42% thought it legitimate, 34% thought it was not. However, if it came to actually blocking Brexit itself the position swaps over – only 33% would see it as legitimate, 45% would not (as you might expect, it is mostly Remainers who see blocking Brexit as legitimate, most Leavers do not).

Finally the poll included some questions about whether the campaigns cheated in the referendum and the impact it had. Once again, people largely viewed it through the prism of their existing support for Remain or Leave.

  • 66% of Remain voters thought that the campaigns had cheated (39% Leave only, 3% Remain only and 24% both), and 45% of Remainers thought that if the campaigns had followed the rules Remain would have won.
  • 47% of Leave voters thought that the campaigns had cheated (14% Remain only, 4% Leave only and 29% both), but only 7% of Leavers thought that if the campaigns had followed the rules Remain would have won (16% thought Leave would have won more convincing had the rules been followed).

The full article on the YouGov website is here and the full tables are here.


218 Responses to “One year to go”

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  1. Cliff edge?

  2. “Ooooooh, Jer-em-y Coooooor-Byn!!”

  3. Thought Garj would like it

  4. 55% of people say they find news about Brexit boring (36% interesting).

    ——–

    36% find Brexit news interesting? Should please Howard!

  5. 32% find news about allotments interesting, compared with 3% who are interested in opinions that the polls overstate the Lib Dem vote and the 24% who find the use of the word polity irritating

  6. Good evening all.
    NICK P
    Hello to you.
    IMO the article yesterday by D.Finkelstein (the Times) and today by D Aaaronovitch are fine summaries of the case against the new Labour Party on the issue of anti-semitism, holocaust being a ‘hoax’ and on Jewish conspiracy theory.
    I think we can tell the character of a person from the company she or he keeps.
    Your mention of the Lady Chakrabarty report reminds me of the treatment meeted out to Ruth Smeeth by members of the audience there and the subsequent joking conversation between the LP leader and the person who shouted appaling things at the Jewish MP

    You will Know that the CPGB supported the Stalin-Hitler pact, the far left and far right are very close sometimes, as Orwell warned.

    On BREXIT there seems to be a disagreement between the Shadow Foreign Sec and Shadow Chancellor.

  7. Good evening all.
    NICK P
    Hello to you.
    IMO the article yesterday by D.Finkelstein (the Times) and today by D Aaaronovitch are fine summaries of the case against the new Labour Party on the issue of anti-semitism, holocaust being a ‘hoax’ and on Jewish conspiracy theory.
    I think we can tell the character of a person from the company she or he keeps.
    Your mention of the Lady Chakrabarty report reminds me of the treatment meeted out to Ruth Smeeth by members of the audience there and the subsequent joking conversation between the LP leader and the person who shouted appaling things at the Jewish MP

    You will Know that the CPGB supported the Stalin-Hitler pact, the far left and far right are very close sometimes, as Orwell warned.

    On BREXIT there seems to be a disagreement between the Shadow Foreign Sec and Shadow Chancellor.

  8. Good news, Yulia Skripal, the daughter of ex-spy Sergei Skripal, is improving rapidly and is conscious and talking, the BBC understands.

  9. CARFREW

    Let’s not give me cause to get back onto my opinion (by which I mean 100% hard scientific fact) that Corbyn is just left-wing Trump.

    Anyway, the polling supports my broad feeling for Brexit, which is that most voters are just fed up with the subject and want it over and done with. It remains a pity that the government didn’t try to cook up a cross-party approach, but then the opposition is split between those who might have been willing to work with the Conservatives but are staunchly against leaving the EU, and those who are ok with leaving the EU but wouldn’t help a Tory if they asked them to save a drowning puppy.

  10. CHARLES & POINTER

    Responded to each of you on the last thread.

  11. TOH

    Small point from previous thread.

    The original “Project Fear” was how the Better Together people described their own operation in the 2014 Scottish referendum.

    Cameron & Osborne’s inept attempt to replicate that in the EUref was, therefore, PF2, and all subsequent similar attempts also have to be raised by one digit.

    To anticipate any concerns that “raising one digit” is a vile and offensive gesture, I would simply point out that that is the lazy American way.

    In the UK, with our proudly muscled fingers, two digits must be extended to produce the same effect.

  12. CL 1945

    Two interest & informed articles-I agree.

  13. What I find fascinating as ever is the herd process applying to posters, even on this website (which is often quite techical and interested in facts).

    Here we are, because of the impending local elections discussing a programme designed to destroy the reputation of one of the political parties, rather than any policy actually relevant to the voters and their issues in that election.

    Tells you how well democracy is working in the UK. Tells you why most people wont vote. But then, thats the aim of the campaign.

  14. @Garj

    “Let’s not give me cause to get back onto my opinion (by which I mean 100% hard scientific fact) that Corbyn is just left-wing Trump”

    ——-

    Wouldn’t bother me if you did. From gun control to healthcare there’s a world of difference between Corbyn and Trump, and many people would put him rather closer to Sanders, but I doubt it’s the most contentious thing you’ve ever said!

  15. “Two interest & informed articles-I agree”

    ——–

    Hang on, I haven’t read them yet!…

  16. guymonde

    ” 24% who find the use of the word polity irritating”

    Wot! Only 24%?

    Actually I doubt if more than 0.5% have ever had to read it.

  17. yes but is that 24% across posters from all polities?

  18. CARFREW

    The similarities are nothing to do with policy, I would have thought that was pretty obvious.

  19. @OLDNAT

    The other thing that tends to get overlooked about Project Fear is that it was really a failed strategy both times. Indeed PF1 perhaps more so.

    There is a common but fallacious (or at least simplistic) tendency to see a policy or a strategy as successful merely because it was employed by the winning side. And PF1 was the core strategy of the winning side so it ticks that narrow box.

    But a successful one in reality? When it saw a frequently 20% plus starting poll lead evaporate by the last weekend? At which point project panic, project bribe, and project wheel out Gordon took over of course.

    The test of a successful strategy is surely whether it improves your side’s position. PF1 did not, and then some. I’d liken those who think it did it to a football coach going into the away leg of a European tie with a 3-0 lead, packing the defence, finding himself 4-0 down with time up, throwing three strikers on, getting an injury time away goal, and claiming his defensive strategy is thereby vindicated.

    I suggest that the main reason we had the Leave the EU outcome is that Cameron and Osborne fell for the fallacy when they ran PF2, but didn’t have a big enough starting lead when its relentless negativity produced the same steady loss of support as PF1 had, and so they lost instead of sneaking home.

  20. @Garj

    Oh, sorry, it’s just that politicians are quite often concerned with policy. But yes, it’s easier to try and make the case they’re the same if you rule out all the salient differences, like policy for example. You’ll be ruling out hiring family members, liaisons with porn stars and Twitter flame wars next!

  21. @Garj

    Oh, sorry, it’s just that politicians are quite often concerned with policy. But yes, it’s easier to try and make the case they’re the same if you rule out all the salient differences, like policy for example. You’ll be ruling out hiring family members, liaisons with “actresses”and Twitter flame wars next!

  22. Danny

    Sun journalist –

    Jeremy Corbyn’s senior policy adviser Andrew Fisher told a meeting of Labour Shadow Cabinet political advisers today that people who continue to leak would be sacked.
    And that threat has now been leaked to me.

    Assuming that is true (and assuming truth from the Sun is not a given) then who is running the “programme designed to destroy the reputation of one of the political parties”?

  23. Mothers are amazing. Just watched a brief video on BBC of a mother sloth bear chasing a bleedin’ enormous tiger away from her cubs and she was sort of jumping up trying to look bigger than she really was.

    Amazing courage and maternal instincts.

  24. Have just read Aaronovitch and Finkelstein.

    The former seemed to be mainly just rehashing the mural and Facebook group issues, keeping them alive. Finkelstein had a different take, seeing it as a kind of conspiracy theory, then as you read further you couldnt help noticing that maybe Finkel was talking as if hatching a bit of a conspiracy theory himself.

    Also, these are things from some time ago? Corbyn was a backbencher when the mural thing happened and he left that Facebook thing three years ago? Maybe we should dredge up Omnishambles for a few weeks…

  25. CARFREW.
    Good Evening to you.
    Interesting news on twitter, or at least speculation news that the Lady Chakrabarti report recommended a 2 year statute of limitations on allegations to be investigated, which would allow Ken’s case to be dismissed.
    Intra Labour politics has often been marked by bullying but as Bernard Donoghue wrote today in his letter to the Times the LP has a unique crisis on its hands now.
    As a just-about practising Catholic and one time member of the LP, in fact a born member I have been reflecting that the self inflicted wounds of the two institutions on which i have based my life are causing them to fade away to relative insignificance, and i do not feel clear about what will replace them.

  26. Peter W

    “I suggest that the main reason we had the Leave the EU outcome is that Cameron and Osborne fell for the fallacy when they ran PF2, but didn’t have a big enough starting lead when its relentless negativity produced the same steady loss of support as PF1 had, and so they lost instead of sneaking home.”

    That’s a good point. Not understanding the process of a campaign can lead to very bad decision making.

    I’d add a further point.

    In Scotland, Better Together were intent on reinforcing a decades old narrative of Scotland being “too wee, too poor” for independence. The long campaign that the Yes side wanted, and got, allowed many people to look at the issues in some detail, rather than just going along with the narrative.

    In England, the narrative from the media over decades had been negative about the EU, and the short campaign that Cameron insisted on did not allow any detailed examination of the issues, so the old narrative continued in the minds of many.

    Different preconditions should mean different strategies being adopted. Much is made of Corbyn’s political ineptitude (and a lot of that seems fair comment) but it pales into insignificance compared with that of Cameron!

    England (and I’m only using that polity in this case, because it only has the Con/Lab leader duopoly as meaningful choices) hasn’t been blessed by competent political leadership for a long time.

    Under Major, and Blair in his early years, it had leaders who did seem to feel the pulse of the electorate.

  27. @Chrislane

    Ah well, I’m not really one for institutions myself. In any large enough institution you’re liable to find some stuff you could do without. (And in quite a few smaller ones too). It’s important to bear down on this stuff, but to temper it with a regard for whether the media etc. are being even-handed about it.

  28. CROFTY

    What a dreadfully misleading headline in this Guardian article:

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/29/labour-mp-apologises-for-social-media-abuse-aimed-at-tory-activist

    To be fair, if they had headlined it “Jess Phillips Tries to Make Something All About Herself – AGAIN”[1] no one would have bothered to read any further.

    [1] Yes I know they wouldn’t have used so many capital letters, but some of us have standards.

  29. Ok – first proper post.

    I’m watching Simon Schama in Civilisations at the moment. The multiple connections he’s talking about between countries, East, West and so on puts the lie to anyone who claims their country is ‘different’ or ‘pure’. The ideas behind Brexit seem to make less sense as time goes on. We affect each other all the time and links forged between countries (as with the EU) are an honest acknowledgement of this.

  30. Interesting article on Slugger about the distribution of wealth and poverty across the island of Ireland.

    https://sluggerotoole.com/2018/03/26/is-northern-ireland-dramatically-poorer-than-the-republic/

    “Whilst GDP per capita is much higher in the Republic of Ireland than Northern Ireland, the incomes of people living either side of the border are similar. Much of the reason for the discrepancy is attributable to the accounting practices of multi-national companies; the large proportion of the Irish population who live in or near the economic powerhouse of Dublin is another.

    The British and Irish governments must realize that any new barriers to the movement of goods or people across the Irish border will likely be economically disastrous in regions that are already amongst the poorest of both jurisdictions. The accounting treatment of intellectual property in Dublin-domiciled multinational firms might not make any difference to the prosperity of people in County Donegal; being unable to trade freely across the Irish border certainly will.”

    Those resident in GB, of course, may not give the proverbial fig.

  31. Amusing precis by Michael Deacon of an interview with wor PM:

    “BBC: “How will you pay for your NHS pledge?”

    May: “What I’m clear about is we do want a multi-year funding settlement for the NHS.”

    BBC: “How will you pay for it?”

    May: “Yes, it will be partly about money” ”

    And you can’t say fairer – or clearer – than that.

  32. That’s just classic May!!

    “How will you fund your pledge?”

    “Dunno, but clearly it needs funding. Over multiple years even!”

    “How will you pay for it!”

    “With payments, silly!!”

    If Corbyn rambles, then May is content-free. Brexit means Brexit, payments mean payments, strong and stable etc.

  33. CARFREW

    Funny you should mention hiring family members, as Corbyn has been known to do that too, as have several others in the present leadership of the Labour movement. Anyway, the similarities aren’t all negative:

    Takes over an existing party against everyone’s expectations and in the face of strong opposition from the party establishment
    Fractious relationship with the traditional media
    Populist policies which are regarded by much of the commentariat as unrealistic
    Strong social media performance
    Lots of support from traditional non-voters
    Teflon ability to shrug off past gaffes which would have sunk other politicians
    Some (not all) of his supporters are prone to vitriolic abuse of their opponents on the internet (and Antisemitism, for that matter)
    Outperformed polling predictions in an election against a dull and inept establishment opponent

  34. @Barbazenzero Thanks
    @John Pilgrim = I don’t really foresee total gloom and doom. It’s more that I don’t see any major economic upsides to Brexit and certainly none that we couldn’t obtain in other ways (e.g. it may make us more serious about training but that we could do anyway). I do, however, see a much greater number of potential downsides,

  35. Crofty/Carfrew

    Do I detect a note of cynicism in your comments on May’s earnest desire to solve NHS England’s funding problems?

    Naturally, the solution is only partially about money. Reducing the burden on the NHS by ensuring a peaceful (if somewhat accelerated) end to patients’ suffering is a really imaginative approach to the problem of these rather expensive sick, disabled or elderly burdens on the community.

  36. Oldnat

    If we can get them to ‘move along’ while they are in relatively good health, we can hit our targets for organ donation as well!

  37. Alan

    Not only that, but since the remaining population will have less need of organ transplants, the organs can be an excellent export opportunity.

  38. @Garj

    Lol, half of them are facets of the same thing: i.e. The media didn’t think much of him and hence didn’t expect much.

    – Takes over an existing party against everyone’s expectations and in the face of strong opposition from the party establishment

    – Fractious relationship with the traditional media

    – Populist policies which are regarded by much of the commentariat as unrealistic

    – Outperformed polling predictions in an election against a dull and inept establishment opponent

  39. @Garj

    These two, yes, they both have the ability to rally the troops regardless.

    – Lots of support from traditional non-voters

    – Teflon ability to shrug off past gaffes which would have sunk other politicians

    But the methods are rather different. Trump is a bit more like Theresa in terms of repeating the same phrase ad infinitum. String and stable, MAGA, etc.

  40. I see Leave.EU and all involved in that group’s communications have excelled themselves. They seem to think that 1. Muslim voters are antisemitic and 2. Muslim voters deserve to be attacked.

    Along with the repugnant ‘punish a Muslim’ campaign in recent times, the Havering local election leaflet and Boris Johnson’s own attendance of the campaign launch involving that same advertising, it seems we’re facing an ugly problem. It’s time for racism and religious bigotry – including Islamophobia – to be taken much more seriously.

  41. @Garj

    “Some (not all) of his supporters are prone to vitriolic abuse of their opponents on the internet”

    ——-

    If it isn’t people pretending to be his supporters, of course. It’s not confined to Corbyn anyway. Other parties have followers who are unpleasant to others, it’s just that their supporters see it as fair enough, simply not being PC etc.

    I thought what you wrote to Nick P earlier was quite rude and provocative. But you seemed to think it was fine!

  42. Trivia point on May’s day-long tour round her vast empire.

    All of the places she visited were south of Berwick.

  43. @oldnat

    “Do I detect a note of cynicism in your comments on May’s earnest desire to solve NHS England’s funding problems?”

    ——–

    Cynicism? It’s more like relief really. That she realises it needs funding, and for more than just one year, and that funding means paying money in.

  44. I’ve just updated my region model. Here are some graphs by region:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vjcATnsgwgGojt6FmYcS4IkmooH9BFbJ/view?usp=sharing

    Current model prediction:

    Con 302 (-16)
    Lab 273 (+11)
    LD 14 (+2)
    SNP 38 (+3)

    Conservatives 24 short of a majority.

  45. Carfrew

    “It’s more like relief really. That she realises it needs funding, and for more than just one year, and that funding means paying money in.”

    Like most decent people, you would probably be prepared to pay more in taxation for the NHS, though like most egalitarian people you would want the rich to pay more, and the poor less.

    However, if taxes (on someone) aren’t to rise, then additional funding for the NHS will have to come from some other area of public expenditure.

    So, if you weren’t being cynical, perhaps you should have been?

  46. @oldnat

    Well in the full quote, she does talk about keeping taxes “as low as possible for families”.

    So maybe she’s planning on taxing the multinationals!

    And there’s always some variant of QE…

  47. Phew! That was close:

    Council by-elections: Labour HOLD Page Moss (Knowsley)

    Lab 657……78.8% (+2.4)
    Grn 74……..8.8% (-15.4)
    UKIP 64……8.1% (+8.1)
    Con 41…….4.9% (+4.9) (Only by-election today)

  48. Carfrew

    Given that “families” bit, maybe everyone without kids should be deeply worried, but then “as possible” allows May total freedom to do anything at all.

    Along with “I have made it clear” its one of her favourite qualifications. It means absolutely nothing.

    ToH will want to spend as much time “as possible” in his allotments, as I will want to in my garden.

    The amount of time actually spent in these locations will be limited by what is “possible” and could be as little as zero.

  49. Norbold

    What was the turnout – and is Page actually Kate’s sister?

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