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. The Home Office continues to show an institutional incapacity to deal with immigration issues and that does not bode well for the huge task it will face after Brexit:

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/30/antiguan-who-has-lived-59-years-in-britain-told-he-is-in-uk-illegally

    It is interesting that somebody can be issued with a British passport and then be told that they are in the UK illegally.

  2. Having a longer Indy campaign didn’t seem to help some Indy folk get their head around the oil price thing…

  3. CROFTY

    Glad I got your intent correct.

    Re-your “pass the shovel”-it is all so utterly predictable.I can see the headlines now if JC loses the next GE-” Corbyn supporters blame the Jews for Election defeat”.

    When is Labour going to learn that this sort of factional infighting is a big turnoff for voters. They should have a chat with John Major about it. Its bad enough when the schisms are purely policy based. But when Faith , Religion & WW2 get mixed up in it that is suicidal.

    ps-I like Jess Philips a lot-there was a time when the word “authentic” was bandied about on the Labour side. She has it in spades for me.

  4. @alec

    “Scotland did not look at the issues in any more detail because they had a longer campaign. They just had longer to go along with whatever narrative they thought, with a distinct lack of detailed thinking in evidence throughout.”

    Any actual evidence on that or does that just reflect your view that some people took a different view to yours?

  5. “When is Labour going to learn that this sort of factional infighting is a big turnoff for voters. They should have a chat with John Major about it.”

    ——-

    But that’s the point. As with the Toroes under Major, Labour contains within it elements who would rather trash the party’s electoral prospects than see the party succeed, because don’t want to see Corbyn’s policies succeed any more than the rebels wanted Major’s pro-EU policies to prevail.

    Cameron would have suffered more but he caved to a referendum after which they got rid.

  6. Alec

    “I think rather gave the game away”

    The perils of reading too much into a comment!

    Since you clearly misunderstood, let me clarify –

    To change a long standing narrative is likely to take longer than to confirm an existing one. Hence, the Yes campaign wanted a long campaign to give their arguments time to effect the change.

    For Cameron to go for a very short campaign handed an immediate advantage to the Leave side, as they wanted no change in the established narrative about the EU.

    That Cameron also misunderstood the effect of a Fear campaign (as Peter W pointed out) didn’t help.

    You may disagree with my thesis, but your “They just had longer to go along with whatever narrative they thought” could only be correct if there was no shift in opinion between the start and the end of the campaign.

    As Peter W also pointed out, there was a very significant shift towards Yes.

    That these people didn’t agree with your arguments, doesn’t mean that they had no detailed evidence. It just means that they found your arguments less persuasive than other ones – just as others were persuaded that their original assumptions were correct.

    The original exchange of posts (prior to your rather irrelevant intervention) wasn’t about the rights or wrongs of the arguments of any side in any referendum, but as to the tactics of deploying (or responding to) a Project Fear strategy effectively.

  7. @CMJ

    Many thanks for the update on your regional model. I see that your figures and those from Electoral Calculus are quite close together:

    EC
    Con 297
    Lab 276
    Lib 14
    SNP 40

    but they have yet to update their figures to include polling since 20th February, so they could be closer still once their March data is added.

    What particularly interests me is the London breakdown, where Con have been steadily rising over the last 9 polls, while Lab have been slowly declining since the GE. I think that the Tories have been quite cute in going along with the line that they could lose Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster because they have successfully reduced expectations to a level at which they could hardly fail; on the other hand a failure to win more than Barnet, which is already on a knife-edge, could lead to a re-opening of Labour’s wounds.

  8. I find the whole Labour in-fighting debate par for the course.

    I think people forget that Labour has been far more prone to open fratricide than the Tories for the past 100 years. The Major years aside, the Tories are generally pragmatic and more outwardly cohesive, thus their ideological battles mostly fly below the public’s radar.

  9. @Sea Change

    The Tories recently deposed their leadership and now have Osborne picking away at them from the sidelines.

    It’s not that their was less fighting, more that the Conservatives within the party were more ruthless and got rid of the liberal leadership rather summarily. Cameron wanted six more weeks for an orderly transition and didn’t even get that.

    It’s also the case that how much the rebels can attack depends on media support. It’s the willingness of the media to keep fanning the flames that makes the attacks worthwhile.

    This was true in Major’s day too. He was too pro EU for some of the press, hence the relentless attacks.

    Press turned on Cameron for a while over Levinson, Omnishambles etc. and stuck his VI in the toilet. They might have carried on if he hadn’t caved to the referendum.

    If your policies go against what the press want, you’re vulnerable to these ad Homs etc. from factions within the party.

    And both Labour and Conservatives have a Liberal faction, which first made itself felt in the late Sixties. Conservatives have recently seized back the reins and Labour are busy doing so.

  10. Davwel

    “Maybe you could dig out the claim, or just withdraw it with your dignified hat on.”

    No, the number is correct too busy to find the source.

  11. These reports of a “hypothecated NHS tax” (whether as a new tax or a supplement to Income Tax) seem rather unclear on a fairly basic point.

    Is this to be a UK wide tax? an England only tax? or will the other 3 Parliament/Assemblies in the UK, responsible for NHS & Social Care in their jurisdictions, be required to set their own NHS taxes?

    There could be significant problems with any of these.

  12. Charles

    “They feel that the die is cast and it would be undemocratic to question it.”

    A second referendum would be IMO. Remain should accept we are leaving, once we have of curse they can work for a referendum to return and the best of luck with that.

  13. ALEC

    “Scotland did not look at the issues in any more detail because they had a longer campaign. They just had longer to go along with whatever narrative they thought, with a distinct lack of detailed thinking in evidence throughout.”

    You cannot know any more than I can know how all of Scotland thought and behaved during indyref. In making the claim I have copied above what’s your sample size? How representative is it?

  14. @CROFTY

    “Wurfa read”

    ——

    Why? I read it and it was a load of sixth form sophistry. Feel free to cite something good in it…

  15. @Leftie Liberal

    Thanks.

    My model for London now puts the Tories gaining two seats, Kensington and Battersea. The Lab to Con swing from the GE is +3.9%.

    This is a London-wide generalisation, and how Grenfell may affect any London swing in that specific Borough is unknown.

  16. Being in a good mood after two excellent rugby derbies this afternoon, I will forgive ToH his memory fail on the detail of his notion that London financial employment has increased since the EU referendum. I sympathise on too much to do, though my excuse for not doing garden jobs was snow lying and a nasty wind.

    But that deciding try for St Helens when the scores were tied after 70 minutes was superb – the ball going from wing to wing with accurate passes and the winger squeezing in a meter from touch. Then the young debutant half kicked the goal, and a few minutes later a clinching drop. But Wigan weren`t done, their England RU cast-off getting another excellent try. I hope Chris`s family members were watching.

  17. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-4907674/City-jobs-gone-Brexit-vote.html

    Davwel

    I’m not sure if above is what ToH is referring to or even if I’ve managed to copy it properly.

  18. @CMJ
    I agree with you that Kensington is a difficult one to call because of Grenfell. The council elections this year should help to clarify how much support the Conservatives have lost because of it.

  19. I would also be amazed is some of the Southern constituencies where many remainers lent their vote to Corbyn didn’t go back to the Tories on the present polling as these remainers abstain or go to the LDs (given Labour’s firm no remian position).

    There are 20 constituencies won by Labour in 2017 with a majority of 2000 or less which could quite easily switch back with a tiny swing. This would put Labour on just over 240 seats.

    If pollis don’t start showing a robust Labour lead, I am struggling to see how they can possibly expect to form the next Government.

  20. andrew

    “If pollis don’t start showing a robust Labour lead, I am struggling to see how they can possibly expect to form the next Government.”

    What, with hardly much more than four years to go to the next GE you mean??

  21. @Andrew Myers

    Based on YG data, currently I get a Con -> Lab swing in the Rest of the South of 1.62 %.

    On a uniform swing that nets Labour Hastings, Milton Keynes North and South, Norwich North, Southampton Itchen and Thurrock.

    St Ives also goes Lib Dem from Conservative.

    (The data shows a fall in the Lib Dem VI from the GE too.)

  22. Crofty

    “What, with hardly much more than four years to go to the next GE you mean??”

    Perhaps saying “currently scheduled GE” would be more accurate.

    I’m sure people were making comments like yours in 2016.

  23. ON

    Obvieusement, oui.

    I just find such definitive statements about politics rather pointless.

    And actually I would suggest that there is a “once bitten” element likely to be at play for a while. I suppose if the Tories felt they could use the EU negotiations to engineer a GE that they felt they could definitely win they might risk it.

    Alternatively we’d have to suppose that somehow Labour managed to force and win a vote of no confidence. But I can’t see it.

    Add the fact that the government probably think they’re best leaving things hanging for a while since things are looking a bit brighter for them.

    Personally I haven’t a clue how it will go. Anybody have the odds on three new leaders before another GE?

  24. Crofty

    “Personally I haven’t a clue how it will go.”

    Me neither.

    Watching an internal power struggle in a party is always an interesting spectator sport, though.

  25. @Triguy Not sure why you replied to my post against your better judgement! I personally agree that a second referendum would again reveal that the country was split more or less evenly. I don’t however think this means that we shouldn’t have one

    To me the split state of the country means that whatever the government is able to get there is going to be a substantial number of people who will think they have been cheated (leavers) or needlessly seen their country sadly reduced (remainers). It’s quite likely that both views could be held in large numbers, This seems to me part of the case for getting people to face the real choices and choose between them i.e. choose on what Is known of the options on offer and confirm or reject the government’s choice,.

    TOH consistently thinks that any such referendum would be undemocratic. Suppose, however, that the deal on offer was a really soft Brexit in which we were rule-takers, In such a case would he want a referendum so that the people could vote for WTO terms?

  26. I’ve been perusing the how Labour 2017 GE voters have shifted (YouGov polls).

    I took a random sample of one poll per month and plotted the data for Lab -> Con, Still Lab (Lab -> Lab) , Lab -> WNV and Lab -> DK.

    Here are the graphs and data:

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1XVp-N23VjYlCRigk_JjcX6conq-qDE2p

    Bear in mind 1% of Labour 2017 is about 0.4% VI.

    Lab -> Con

    This has moved from Dec 2017 from 2% to 3.25% (that about 0.6% of VI).

    Still Lab

    This has clearly moved from Sep 2017 from 8.25% to about 7.25% (0.4% VI).

    Lab -> WNV

    No significant change (maybe a 1% increase), maybe a VI change of 0.4%.

    Lab -> DK

    A change of 9% to 14% from September 17. (2% VI).

    So that’s a rough change of 3.4%.

    Labour’s VI has fallen from about 45% to about 39% over this period. Given I’ve looked at partial evidence, I don’t expect my analysis to answer the whole drop in Labour VI.

    Given the huge amount of negative press at the moment for Corbyn and Labour, the fact that there has been so little change is remarkable in my view.

    That leaves one of two explanations:

    1) The Salisbury stuff and anti semitism claims are not believed largely by Labour’s 2017 voters or

    2) They don’t really care.

    I think it demonstrates the sharp division between Labour and Conservatives (and their supporters), and the huge difficulty in one side tempting the other side over.

  27. Correction

    I’ve been perusing the how Labour 2017 GE voters have shifted (YouGov polls).

    I took a random sample of one poll per month and plotted the data for Lab -> Con, Still Lab (Lab -> Lab) , Lab -> WNV and Lab -> DK.

    Here are the graphs and data:

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1XVp-N23VjYlCRigk_JjcX6conq-qDE2p

    Bear in mind 1% of Labour 2017 is about 0.4% VI.

    Lab -> Con

    This has moved from Dec 2017 from 2% to 3.25% (that about 0.6% of VI).

    Still Lab

    This has clearly moved from Sep 2017 from 83% to about 73% (4.0% VI).

    Lab -> WNV

    No significant change (maybe a 1% increase), maybe a VI change of 0.4%.

    Lab -> DK

    A change of 9% to 14% from September 17. (2% VI).

    So that’s a rough change of 7%.

    Labour’s VI has fallen from about 45% to about 39% over this period, the data matches up.

    Given the huge amount of negative press at the moment for Corbyn and Labour, the fact that there has been so little change is remarkable in my view.

    That leaves one of two explanations:

    1) The Salisbury stuff and anti semitism claims are not believed largely by Labour’s 2017 voters or

    2) They don’t really care.

    I think it demonstrates the sharp division between Labour and Conservatives (and their supporters), and the huge difficulty in one side tempting the other side over.

  28. @Charles

    I think a softies Brexit will be acceptable to the majority, leavers like me included.

    I just want an end to the environmental damage of CAP and CFP, and an end to the charade that we’re bought in to European Federalism.

    Cheap labour from the EU, along with skilled workers we may want to make more effort to encourage, will still come.

  29. Given the literal meaning of the word “endemic” I find it absurd that Lord Winston suggests that that is what anti-semitism is within the Labour Party – when that is quite clearly not true.

    I’m actually quite impressed with Corbyn’s latest, “passover” response to the issue.

  30. @ Charles

    It’s against my better judgement, since I’ve been exercising a policy of only one Brexit post per month, and having enjoyed that so much, I was thinking of cutting it out entirely. Well, I can try to do so again after tonight.

    (I do allow myself to post if it’s directly related to Brexit polling, rather than Brexit opinion/speculation/crystal-ball gazing.)

  31. Turk:

    You may be right on that article being the source of ToH`s 12,000 extra City jobs.

    It actually says 11,000 extra in the most obvious position, and as most of us know, ToH will usually gild the lily a little.

    But if you read closely, there`s only 3,000 extra jobs compared to June 2016. The 11,000 was only a seasonal shift.

  32. @Andrew Myers

    “If polls don’t start showing a robust Labour lead, I am struggling to see how they can possibly expect to form the next Government.”

    ———-

    Just because polling doesn’t show a Labour lead, doesn’t mean Labour are entirely failing.

    Firstly, because Corbyn can’t reveal too much policy before an election or the government will just snaffle the best bits.

    Secondly because in the meantime, the government may move more in Corbyn’s direction anyway.

    We are seeing elements of this already, in the moves to curtail energy prices, and now talk of NHS funding.

    We might expect to see more of this as the demographics change, and boomers are replaced by younger voters. And also because the demise of the LDs* means the left’s vote isn’t split quite as much as it was (though things like the rise of the SNP have offset this a bit of course).

    So Labour might be kept out of power, but by moving more in their direction, as in the case of the Macmillan era when they sought to outdo Labour on housebuilding etc.

    One interesting facet is the extent to which, in the effort to suppress Labour’s vote amongst the elder, the press are trashing their future readership.

    * The LDs split the vote by pretending to be more left wing than they really were. They’re still trying only few are buying it any more.

  33. “I’m actually quite impressed with Corbyn’s latest, “passover” response to the issue.”

    ———–

    Hopefully Corbyn will learn to be a lot more careful what he comments on.

    It’s all very well wanting to give support to the oppressed, or to support freedom of speech.

    But you have to be careful about supporting art that might contain some disguised symbolism, and about joining Facebook groups that can get hijacked or become something other than what you thought.

    You might get away with it as a backbencher no one gives much of a stuff about, but once you’re leader of a party even eating a bacon sandwich can be the subject of scrutiny.

  34. CMJ

    Many thanks for the movements of votes (intentions) analysis. Probably the individual items are statistically problematic, but the resultant looks convincing.

    I think both the top end and the bottom end are a bit high, but this is what the data says.

    You could use some visualisation software – even if I have a preference for the numbers, visualisation of the narrow strips, but overall substantial would come out better.

    (People forget that in a n essentially two -party system as in England (apart from the third party – will not vote, and the fourth: others), 3% is actually 6%

  35. @Catman

    Do you have an age breakdown of the voting shifts? Is it older people shifting away from Labour, or younger, or is it spread evenly between them?

  36. Hard work getting a handle on these finance jobs numbers.

    City UK says that in April 2017 there were 2,2m jobs in finance and related industries, with 2/3rds of these outside London.

    However, the ONS lists employment by sector, with the Standard Occupation Classification 1150 for Financial institution managers and directors suggesting a figure of 97,000 in Aug 2016, falling to 92,000 in Aug 2017.

    However, under the SOC 353 Business, Finance and Related Associate Professionals, the ONS finds employment rising from 723,000 to 737,000 over the same period, although this includes around 300,000 ‘financial accounts managers’ and ‘business and related associate professionals’ – large groups not really exclusive to ‘the city’.

    Essentially it seems that you can carve out numbers how they suit your case, but it seems that there has been a fall of 5% in the most senior managers and directors actually working in financial institutions.

  37. @Laszlo

    R graphics are limited for sure. I should at some point look at better graphical outputs.

    @Carfrew

    I may look at the age breakdowns over the weekend (writing an election leaflet is my first prioritythough!)

  38. @Catman

    That’d be great if you have the time, if not then no biggie!

  39. Was skimming through a BBC4 programme of covers of Dylan songs just now – most pf them excruciating [special mention for Cliff plus Nolans and Lulu] and felt that Peter, Paul and Mary actually created a version that had it’s own identity, whilst respecting the original, and worked.

    Later, I browsed them online and discovered that Mary Travers died nine years ago, There’s something inexplicably sad about finding out about someone’s death so long after it happened, and I suppose that’s compounded by the fact that one has had a permanent image of them in their twenties so isn’t really a witness to the aging process.

  40. Alec

    That’s a useful bit of work on finance employment statistics.

    As you say “Essentially it seems that you can carve out numbers how they suit your case”.

    ‘Twas ever thus in any political discussion!

    Perhaps, of wider interest than the effect in London, might be some indication where job losses/gains in the sector actually happen (though I don’t know of any analysis on that).

    Top level jobs in the industry are always likely to be in London (or in a major EU city), but it would seem equally possible that middle/lower ranking jobs could be drawn to the centre in London, or dispersed to cheaper locations elsewhere.

  41. Davwel (10:40)
    “But if you read closely, there`s only 3,000 extra jobs compared to June 2016.”

    Surely the point is that jobs have increased, rather than the meltdown and mass exodus that was predicted by the Remain campaign?
    ————————-
    Off Topic
    What on earth has happened to Australians? I always admired Aussies as being very tough people and there were even jokes to that effect – e.g. American, British and Australian tanks break down in the desert in WWII. The Americans wait to be rescued, the British try to fix the tank, and the Aussies fix bayonets and charge!

    There are also true-life anecdotes like the one about Keith Miller who was a Spitfire pilot in WWII. When asked whether he felt pressure when playing Test cricket he said words to the effect of “Having a Messerschmidt up your a*se is pressure”

    Now, re a minor cricket incident the guilty parties break down in tears when giving a press conference! I can see why they regret being caught, but TEARS? Really? If the Aussies are now that feeble Western civilisation is doomed.
    ————————-

    G’night all.

  42. Catmanjeff,
    I cant tell you why voters might have moved, only make suggestions. Presumably one needs to find people who have changed their position and then ask them why. I dare say someone interested is ingenious enough to have commissioned that.

    But for what its worth, my guesses.

    Labour had two big blocks of support. Traditional always vote labour, and remain supporters. The always vote labour would probably be heartened by the traditional reasons why people incline to the left, NHS, service cuts, and so on. This background has not changed.

    Remainers I imagine are mindfull of tory gibes that Corbyn is really a leave supporter. This rather remains to be seen, but is certainly a reason why remain voters might be withdrawing support and registering as dont know. But this group is easily recoverable in an election, provided labour announce a remain policy. This option is clearly still open to them, indeed polling shows the nation has noticed both parties are falling over themseves to remain opaque and uncommitted about what they really want for Brexit.

    Labour’s best course is probably to wait until the maximum amount of tory veering towards remain has taken place, and then go hard remain themselves. Not too soon, not too late. Overall its a no brainer they have more to lose by supporting leave than supporting remain, but both parties are agreed if they never make a definitive statement, they will avoid scaring away whichever group loses out. If they must choose, labour offends fewest by going remain, and tory by going leave.

    BUT, the question of who are offended now must be moderated by who will feel offended in 5 or 10 years time, once the consequences are in. Its pretty clear tories are afraid of the consequences of Brexit, otherwise there is no reason why they havnt just got on with it. They have plotted a course for Brexit so soft it includes the option to remain. If they could pull this off, they woud totally outflank labour and bring back onside remainers.

    As is always the case, if one side adopts the other’s policy, their own side has nowhere to run. Will remainers flee back to UKIP? Could it rise from the dead? If the tories can hammer leaving to death so the public never wants to revisit the idea, they might seal UKIP back in its coffin, though inevitably it will, like all horror film sequels, rise again one day. The reverse is also true: that if brexit happens, there is a demographic time bomb as well as the economic one, both demanding we rejoin. Endless future pain.

    Proving that Brexit is untenable and then cancelling it is probably the tories optimum outcome. Labour need to be very careful not to delay shifting to remain themseves too long, such that they end up as the leave party.

    Tory policy is to extend negotiations as much as possible, be as vague as possble, but be forced by circumstances more and more towards remain, until remain becomes the only option. Thus minimising the blame from leavers, who hopefully will accept the tories had no choice. Thus DUP are a godsend. Noises off from industry are a godsend. Obviously they dont want industry to start leaving the Uk, because once it begins it might become unstoppable even if Brexit is cancelled. But they will allow things to proceed as far as they dare so the public becomes convinced the danger is real.

    I dont know what they believe about the best balance of advantage between hit to the UK economy under their governance (damaging) and switching early to remain to halt the losses (similarly damaging).

    Catmanjeff, I go for your option 2. Voters dont care about either Russians or religion. They might care somewhat, but it isnt top of the list. The two big factors are Brexit and tribal loyalty, for most of the voters.

    Of course, elections are won by that little bit extra, so for the less firmly committed it might matter. Apart from that, tories have very little with which to attack labour, so what choice do they have. There arent any other weapons except to attack the integrity of their opponents.

  43. Jonesinbangor,
    “I think a softies Brexit will be acceptable to the majority, leavers like me included. ”

    I dont. The BBC did some pieces about the EU this week, and I noticed the argument about whether the EU is heading for a federal state emerge again. I think people who argue this are right, but I also think a federal state contains defined limits between the federation and its members, which prevent growth of the federal powers. The EU has not reached that stage, it has not called a halt to merger, but it will. It is already a federal state, and most people are unconcerned at the extent of its powers, the election arguments have largely centred on their future growth. It is perfectly possible the next big reform of the EU will be to formally declare it will not extend its reach. The result of this will be to defuse this nebulous part of the leave argument.

    But against this, are people like myself who are bemused by this argument about surrendering control to a united european state, and dont see what the fuss is. It might be that leaving the EU would change the outlook of new generations coming along, but in the kind of soft brexit heading our way, I dont see much changing which could cause this. So rather than this being the last opportunity for leavers to prove there is an alternative to membership, I see the only result of Brexit now being massive dislocation to the Uk economy, before the new genertion insists we rejoin. We are just passing peak leave.

    No, I dont think a soft brexit will be acceptable. Ironically, I think it will be least acceptible to those who are now hard leave, and will end up with the worst of both worlds. Accepting EU rules but having no control. The argument will be that Britain must regain full membership so as to assert control over its destiny.

    This being forseeable, its time leavers climbed down and switched to remain. The tory party seems to have already done so, privately. It did so 50 years ago and has not changed its view. The referendum was never meant to result in a leave vote, but tories overestimated their margin of safety by which they could deliberately run a half hearted remain campaign so as to minimise damage to the party.

  44. I’m not convinced that Lord Sugar’s twit has done much to move intelligent debate forward.

    I’ve long wondered what it is about this boorish thug and Clarkson wannabe that the Beeb consider worthy of admiration, so realise I am not his target audience, but frankly I am of the opinion that he has gone a bit far.

    I’m struggling to get excited about this strand of public debate, but I a bit of faux outrage and the cancellation of his awful series were to result I suppose good may come of it.

  45. ANDREW MYERS

    Way too early to be writing off Labour’s chances at the next General Election which may not be until June 2022 So what if they are behind in the polls over the coming months. An awful lot of water will flow under many bridges over the next four years.

  46. Davwel

    “Being in a good mood after two excellent rugby derbies this afternoon, I will forgive ToH his memory fail on the detail of his notion that London financial employment has increased since the EU referendum.

    And in the same spirit I forgive your use of the word “notion” above. Not a notion, but fact, I have seen the figure in print at least twice recently. I cannot remember where and I cannot be bothered to spend time finding the references. You either believe me or you don’t, it matters not to me.

    Turk

    Many thanks for taking the trouble. That is a rather old reference the figure is over 12,000 now.

    Charles
    “TOH consistently thinks that any such referendum would be undemocratic. Suppose, however, that the deal on offer was a really soft Brexit in which we were rule-takers, In such a case would he want a referendum so that the people could vote for WTO terms?”

    I’m not alone in thinking that, a number of commentators think the same thing. Anyway, to answer your question my answer is no because a second referendum would be undemocratic in my view, as would the votes of the MPs who voted for us not to leave the EU in the fullest sense (in your scenario). If that happened then people like me and democratic MP’s dedicated to leaving the EU would have to work to withdraw from any deal signed with the EU on that basis. As I said some time ago most treaties have get out clauses and even if they don’t it is still perfectly possible for withdrawal to happen. Very few treaties last forever.

    Danny
    “This being forseeable, its time leavers climbed down and switched to remain.”
    Rubbish, it’s time that Remainers switched to Leave to support our negotiations for a proper Brexit as my son has done for good democratic reasons.

  47. Yes, Lord Sugar did something really stupid, there. Jeremy Corbyn is either an inspiring and principled man who dreams of a better future us all, or he is a doddering old fool who hopes to succeed with ideas that have failed in the past. But either way, he’s certainly not Hitler.

  48. Mike Pearce

    “An awful lot of water will flow under many bridges over the next four years.”

    Absolutely, personally i have not got a clue what will happen at the next election. No doubt events will decide in due course. All the polls are showing is that Labour is not helping itself very much at the moment.

  49. Well if we believe that social media and feet on the ground can influence an election, we won’t know till it happens, will we?

    Polls are almost irrelevant now.

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