While there hasn’t been a lot of voting intention polling in recent weeks, there has been quite a lot of Brexit polling – those organisations campaigning for or against it used the summer holidays to get a good bite of publicity. This included some large polls from YouGov for Hope Not Hate and the People’s Vote campaign showing Remain at 53% and Leave at 47% if there was a referendum now. Today there was a new NatCen poll that showed Remain at 59%, Leave at 41% (though do check the important caveat from John Curtice’s report that the sample itself had too many 2016 Remain voters, so it actually implied a position along the lines of Remain 53/54%, Leave 46/47%) and a Survation poll showing Remain at 50%, Leave at 50%.

In terms of what to make of this, I’d give the same advice on support or opposition to Brexit as I do on voting intention. There are an awful lot of polls asking about support for Brexit, and a lot of people inclined to cherry-pick those which they agree with. Don’t pay too much attention to individual polls (especially not “interesting” outliers), watch the broad trend instead.

There are four regular tracking polls that people should look to to judge whether or not the public have changed their minds (the data is all nicely collected on John Curtice’s WhatUKThinks website here. First there are polls that ask how pople would vote in a referendum now – regularly asked by both BMG Research and Survation using the original referendum question, and using a more generic version by YouGov in their Eurotrack series of polls. BMG have been asking this since late 2016, and where early polls tended to still show more people would still vote Leave, that has gradually changed and since 2017 they have consistently shown more people would now vote to stay. Their EU referendum polls this year have averaged at Remain 49%, Leave 44% (Remain 53%, Leave 47% without don’t knows)

instead.

The Survation series didn’t start until 2017 – since then their polls have varied between neck-and-neck and small leads for Remain. On average this year their referendum polls have shown Remain 48%, Leave 46% (51% Remain, 49% Leave without don’t knows). Unlike the other two referendum polls Survation weight their referendum question by likelihood to vote which, given that previous non-voters tend to split in favour of remain, probably explains the slightly lower remain lead.

The YouGov Eurotrack poll is part of a regular poll across several EU countries on how people would vote in a referendum on their country’s membership of the EU, so doesn’t use the British referendum wording. Nevertheless, the results show a similar pattern to the BMG polling – results late in 2016 continued to show Leave ahead, but since then Remain has been fairly consistently ahead. The average across their five polls in 2018 is Remain 45%, Leave 41% (52% Remain, 48% Leave without don’t knows)

The most regular comparable poll isn’t asked as referendum VI, but is YouGov’s tracker for the Times asking if people think Britain was right or wrong to vote to Leave the EU, normally asked weekly. The pattern should be familiar – in late 2016 the poll consistently showed people thought Britain was right to leave, in early 2017 it began to flip over, and it now consistently finds more people think Britain was wrong to vote to Leave. On average this year 46% of people have said Brexit was the wrong decision, 42% the right decision (without don’t knows, it would be 52% wrong, 48% right).

So while the movement across the polls has not been massive (was are generally talking about a swing of 3 to 5 points from the referendum result), given the closeness of the 2016 result that is enough to mean polls are consistently showing slightly more people opposed to Brexit than in support of it. There is one important caveat to add to this. If you look at the breakdown by 2016 referendum vote you will often find the number of Leave voters switching to Remain is that that much larger than the number of Remain voters switching to Leave (if it is larger at all!), this is because polls generally find those people who did not vote in the 2016 referendum tend to split in favour of Remain.


270 Responses to “Bregret – an update”

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  1. From the Boundary Commission final report:

    6. The law dictates that the Government is now responsible for laying the report in Parliament. There is no prescribed timetable for this to happen – it is entirely up to the Government when it chooses to lay the report, and the Boundary Commission has no say in this matter?.

    7. The report and the final recommendations contained within it cannot be publish until the Government lays the report in Parliament. Once the report has been laid in Parliament, the report and its contents become public, and it will be published by us on our website, and can be reported on

    We might be waiting a while to see the details…

  2. I think tonight’s 2 polls (YG and BMG) do show that Survation got the Lab/LD balance wrong. Two 11s for LD put Survation’s 6 beyond margin of error and their 41 for Lab now looks odd.

  3. Labour MP Joan Ryan who narrowly lost a vote of confidence yesterday:
    “Labour needs to decide. It’s either an aspiring party of government, focused laser-like on the priorities of the British people: Brexit, an economy which works for everyone, and rebuilding our austerity-starved public services.
    Or it’s a party fighting with itself about ideological purity, arguing with the Jewish community about what constitutes antisemitism, and going down a rabbit warren of deselection, purges and harassment. It can’t be both.”

    I wonder if we are the sort of country that really wants to get involved with grassroots politics. I think politics is important, am interested and often angry but haven’t the slightest intention of becoming involved behind the scenes.

    If that is typical, then Labour having over half a million members maybe just means that they have definitely got over half a million votes sewn up – but with no guarantee that the numbers needed to put them into power for two or three consecutive terms is on the cards.

  4. @Trigguy @OldNat the Brexit Welsh polls you mention are not of course the first suggesting Bregret here – indeed @OldNat has mentioned them before and the tide seemed to turn here sometime last year. Given that public commentary here is almost entirely about which bit of the economy is even more screwed than usual by Brexit that’s not especially surprising and there’s effectively no counter argument as the Tories have been having a leadership election and the Secretary of State is about as credible as his NI counterpart without quite the same potential to learn

  5. @Rosie and Daisy

    Like other posters have stated in recent weeks, I think both main parties are poorly led, and too obsessed with internal naval gazing. Brexit is going pear-shaped, and major policy areas are crying out sustainable long term solutions. What are we being fed at the moment? A load of BS.

    If there was a GE in the near future there is no way I could consider voting for either. They are both pretty terrible at the moment.

    I have been active politically since 1992, but I’m done with activism and party politics now. Getting rid of the whole lot and starting again from scratch would be a good start :-)

  6. R&D

    “focused laser-like on the priorities of the British people”

    If “the British people” had a single set of priorities then that comment might make some sense – but they don’t, and it doesn’t.

    Translated into realpolitik, she wants the sole purpose of her party to be getting enough votes in (mainly English) marginal constituencies under FPTP to get a majority in the HoC.

    Under EVEL (which IIRC was rather a popular action in England) whatever priorities that little group have will be mainly in domestic issues, so an absolute majority of English MPs is a pre-requisite to make changes in England’s public services.

    If, on Brexit, she does actually want to act on “UK” priorities, then accommodating the priorities of those outwith England, makes her task that much more difficult.

    I suspect that she is another Karen Bradley in that respect (just as Corbyn is, in his continuing demand to bring Scottish & NI Water “back into public ownership”, or ignoring Welsh Water’s mutual status).

    Campaigning, throughout GB, on entirely or largely English matters makes sense when you are actually entirely focussed on English votes).

  7. When everyone is piling in on a politician for some verbal mishap, it’s always worth trying to find out what exactly they did say, rather than what the media think they said or what they would like them to have said. So if you look at what Bradley actually did say to House magazine at the end of the interview[1]:

    https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/uk-regions/northern-ireland/house/house-magazine/98026/karen-bradley-%E2%80%9Cim-not-here-headlines

    she said:

    “I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought for example in Northern Ireland, people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice-versa. So, the parties fight for the election within their own community. Actually, the unionist parties fight the elections against each other in unionist communities and nationalists in nationalist communities. That’s a very different world from the world I came from.”

    So she’s talking about how politics operates in NI rather than admitting ignorance about Catholics voting for some Parties and Protestants for others.

    Now I’m afraid that I would still regard this as pretty ignorant from a backbench MP – or indeed any adult with an interest in politics and a bit of common sense. At the same time I would have to admit that you do frequently get exactly such ignorance from English politicians and (even less forgiveably) from English political journalists, who frequently express surprise and bafflement when NI politicians act in certain ways. Their actions do make sense when you realise that they are aimed at advancing their personal or party cause in their own community, rather than more widely within NI or the UK.

    But the Westminster-based politicians and journalists, rather than realising that something subtle (if unedifying) is going on, dismiss it as the Irish being incomprehensible again. The attention that they would lavish on all sort of minor parochial matters (Boris’s divorce statement or machinations on Labour’s NEC) simply isn’t judged worthy of being bestowed on such outsiders. So Bradley’s ignorance is more a function of the political culture she operates in than a personal failing. We see similar attitudes of incomprehension on a daily basis regarding EU matters. The idea that other polities operate to other priorities and different rules doesn’t really register or if it does is deemed unworthy of much attention.

    Which does give rise to the question of why Bradley has been getting such criticism. I suspect in part it’s frustration, particularly in (both parts of) Ireland, with the generally lackadaisical approach with which Brexit issues are being handled. But within Westminster it may also be because Bradley is seen as being very much in May’s camp and so they are indirectly attacking both the latter and also trying to discredit another possible rival in any succession process.

    [1] Judging by how low this came on Google it’s quite possible that Neil A and I are the only people to have done this. Mind you it’s quite difficult to copy and paste from House magazine for some reason.

  8. Today’s YouGov tracker shows another 6 point lead for ‘Wrong to Leave’. That’s the 14th successive poll showing ‘Wrong to Leave’, and the gap appears to have widened in the past few weeks.

    https://whatukthinks.org/eu/questions/in-highsight-do-you-think-britain-was-right-or-wrong-to-vote-to-leave-the-eu/

  9. The day before Christmas I was discharged from hospital, and told I needed an operation urgently and should go home and expect it within 15 weeks, Ringing up after 15 weeks I was told it was subject to indefinite delay. More recent enquiries have revealed estimates of waiting time of between 12 and 18 months and the fact that a lot of operating theatres have been closed for lack of nurses, and the priority is rightly given to those who have cancer or who can be dealt with on a day surgery basis, neither of which categories I fit My inclination is naturally to blame Brexit for all of this, my hospital used to be a great user of EU nurses and they are no longer coming But then again it could be other things, and I may be duped by project fear. Anyone know how widespread this kind of thing is and what the explanation for it is?

  10. NEIL A (from last night)

    As for the idea that the government is exaggerating the Skripal affair as some sort of deflection, I think that is crass. A foreign government almost certainly murdered one of our citizens. That is a very grave issue.

    Well of course any charge relating to the death of Dawn Sturgess would be manslaughter at most as the Met statement:

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/uk-charges-russians-skripal-novichok-nerve-agent-attack-180905101911944.html

    says “We do not believe Dawn and Charlie were deliberately targeted” but in actual fact they don’t seem to have made any charges relating to her death at all. The arrest warrents are for “conspiracy to murder and attempted murder of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia”

    So it’s not ‘grave’ enough to charge these suspects with – or more likely what evidence they have simply doesn’t support any possible charges. It’s a long and very circumstantial chain with some big missing links.

    But there’s so much about this affair that simply doesn’t add up. Although I don’t agree with all Craig Murray’s points:

    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/09/skripals-the-mystery-deepens/

    he’s right to point to the oddity of them continuing with the doorknob story when their own timings suggest it would have been tight at best and that there is no real evidence that the Skripals returned to the house. but he misses out the obvious way in which it can be discovered what the Skripals did during the time their phones were switched off. They could ask them.

    That’s the trouble with the way this case has been dealt with. It became so political so quickly (both internationally and nationally) that it’s very difficult for the government line to be altered to cope with the unearthing of new (at least to the public) information.

    And now of course there are continued questions as to why there is such a contrast between the treatment of the Salisbury events and the laidback way in which the various deaths of other Russian exiles were dealt with. It’s all very odd and suggests at least there’s a lot we’re not being told.

  11. RM:

    Thanks for this clear-thinking message.

    My hunch is that the two Skripals met someone associated with our spy organisations or with Porton Down, Yulia having arrived with some new information.

    Alternatively, the murderers could have been trying to embarrass and weaken the Putin government.

    And before Colin comes on with more cheap jabs, RT only means Radio Times to me – I wouldn`t waste any of my time sampling Russian politics.

  12. I haven’t ben following the details of what Karen Bradley said or didn’t say, so my comments are not based on a detailed textual analysis It’s also fair to say that I have never been particularly impressed with what I have seen of her, and she represents the wrong side of politics as far as I am cocnerned personally.

    The twitterfest reaction is fairly typical in such matters, and as ever, seems bewilderingly over the top. It seems part slip of the tongue, part honest statement of her initial lck of knowledge.

    I do wonder how come a man like Boris can make comments regarding his lack of knowledge about a key subject, and it’s laugh, but when a woman does it, it becomes a comlete howler.

    I’m not sure if this is part of the undercurrent here, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it was.

  13. Roger Mexico

    “That’s the trouble with the way this case has been dealt with. It became so political so quickly (both internationally and nationally) that it’s very difficult for the government line to be altered to cope with the unearthing of new (at least to the public) information. ”

    It’s now 30 years since the Lockerbie/Pan Am disaster. In that too, there are many unexplained matters, but we’ll all be dead before “the truth” (whatever that is) emerges.

    Such matters are, of course, not new. Some may remember learning about the “War of Jenkin’s Ear”. One wonders what term some future Thomas Carlyle will come up with – “The Spat of Skripal’s Knob”?

  14. @EOTW – indeed, that is exactly what Barnier has said, but many leavers, including it appears @Trevor Warne, have again made a subtle adjustment to their position.

    Previoulsy we were told that the WA wouldn’t include things we had already agreed to in principle but they didn’t like – such as paying the money if we didn’t get a trade deal.

    When it became obvious what signing the WA actually meant, they went quiet on that tack and instead we were told that it hasn’t been signed yet so nothing is agreed, and not signing it means not having to put up with all the things we don’t like in it.

    Now we are being told that if we don’t get an agreed WA to sign, as there is so much agreement on most of it already, we’ll get some kind of multiple mini deal set up with lots of this and that sorted out, maybe with a transition as we’ve already agreed this, and a bit of chat about whatever, so things will work out.

    I don’t really think many of them have ever actually realised what this process is about, and what the consequences of not getting a withdrawal agreement in place really are.

  15. @Charles

    Intinctively I blame Osborne, Clegg and Cameron….

    Realistically? This amalgam of a country lived well beyond its means through 00s, and it is hangover time.

  16. The Bradley thing is pretty remarkable even with the most generous interpretation of her words.

    I wonder if she realises the bloke the Unionists really dislike is a Catholic?

  17. I understand that we are leaving the EU next March, with a two-year transition period. Has anyone (other than possibly Charles) noticed any actual effect on their lives?

    We hear news from time to time that this or that company may moves jobs to or from the EU, but does that affect anyone other than those employed by those firms and their families?

    One would expect that big companies would be well down the road to preparing for the possibility of a No or Bad Deal. The only sign I’ve seen in my daily life is that Tesco no longer have such a large range of foreign cheese, but then they no longer seem to supply Camp Coffee either, so go figure (as I believe the modern idiom goes).

  18. Jones in Bangor

    “This amalgam of a country lived well beyond its means through 00s, and it is hangover time.”

    Not sure that I agree that these amalgamated nations were living “well beyond its means”. The means were there, if the political will had been there to tax wealth as well as income.

    Instead, we had post-neo-classical endogenous growth theory and PFI bumping debt on to future generations.

  19. Pete B

    I hadn’t heard that any deal had been made, or any transition period agreed.

    Had that been the case, I’d have expected the media to be triumphantly proclaiming the brilliance of May’s strategy.

  20. ALEC

    I do wonder how come a man like Boris can make comments regarding his lack of knowledge about a key subject, and it’s laugh, but when a woman does it, it becomes a comlete howler.

    I’m not sure if this is part of the undercurrent here, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it was.

    I’m sure it is, but class and background are involved as well. Bradley is vaguely Northern, lower middle class (her parents ran a pub, but it is in Buxton and they owned it), went to a comprehensive and then Imperial, married to someone outside politics. A female profile of Home Counties gentry / public school / PPE / married to someone met at Oxford would undoubtedly have been granted greater leniency – whatever Party they were in. But of course being one of the boys would trump even that as ‘Good Old Boris’ continues to prove.

  21. “I do wonder how come a man like Boris can make comments regarding his lack of knowledge about a key subject, and it’s laugh, but when a woman does it, it becomes a comlete howler.“

    ———

    Well people take this p1ss out of Boris because in addition to howlers he’s a bit pompous with it. That doesn’t mean they’re not aghast though. Many have been aghast at some of his foreign policy gaffs.

    Boris does have a knack of playing it for laughs though. As Cameron pointed out, if anyone else got stuck on a zip wire it’d be a disaster, but for Boris it’s a triumph.

    But it’s also priced in. He makes so many howlers it’s what you expect. Like, we know Theresa seems to need scripted answers to be confident. Like, you expected Prescott to have an “interesting” take on the English language.

    There may not be too many howlers of Bradley’s magnitude however, though if any one can think of any politicians who did similar or worse it’d be fun on a Friday night.

  22. The usual pattern of the weekly YouGov being sneaked out late on Friday or the following Monday seems to have been re-established. The headline VI is:

    Con 39% (-)

    Lab 35% (-2)

    Lib Dem 11% (+1)

    SNP/PC 5% (+1)

    UKIP 5% (-)

    Green 4% (+1)

    BNP 0% (-1)

    Other 1% (-)

    Tables are here:

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/j73mcdcj1w/Times_180904_VI_Trackers_W.pdf

    WNV/DK/Ref is 31% again quite high. A one point Con lead in the original sample gets transformed to a four point in the headline by LTV and rounding.

    Otherwise the issues are pretty static, but further small drops in the Conservatives’ ‘best Party to handle’ figures made me decide to look at the relevant trackers to put these in context:

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ctuorxg9st/YG%20Trackers%20-%20Best%20Party%20On%20Issues.pdf

    In nearly every case the latest rating is their worst or equal worst since the questions started in July 2016. The NHS 19%, Education 22%, Unemployment(24%) and Brexit (19%) are all at there equal worst level. The Economy (30%) is a point below its previous minimum (which was last week) and Housing (16%) is also a new minimum. Even traditionally strong Tory issues such as Asylum and Immigration (22%), Law and Order (28%) and Taxation 26% are only a point above their worst ever.

    This isn’t really at the benefit of Labour, which isn’t near its lowest on any of these topics, but has done better in the past. But it does indicate that the vulnerability of the Conservatives isn’t just Brexit-related – it’s on everything.

    There are two extra questions with this set. Asked:

    Thinking about the next six months, before the Brexit negotiations are complete, do you think Theresa May should remain as leader of the Conservative Party, or stand down now and let someone else take over?

    May gets a 43% to 34% vote of confidence (though it’s not quite the same as PM) and 74% among Conservatives. However asked:

    And once the Brexit negotiations are complete, do you think Theresa May should remain as leader of the Conservative Party, or stand down and let someone else take over?

    She loses 28% to 45%, though still winning current Tories by 57 – 33. It’s not exactly enthusiasm, but she is perhaps trusted more than the alternative. Interesting, despite the accusations of betrayal and inevitable partisan skews, she does similarly with Leave and Remain voters, especially given that Remain voter are more likely to say DK, possible as they hope Brexit won’t happen and so the question will become meaningless.

  23. “At the same time I would have to admit that you do frequently get exactly such ignorance from English politicians”

    ——-

    Feel free to give examples, could use a laugh.

  24. As usual Craig Murray has got it completely wrong. His essay reads very convincingly, because through the traditional way of misleading he makes lots of tiny little assertions that aren’t actually correct but which guide the mind towards accepting his overall account.

    For example, when he talks about the Skripals’ car being seen at “three different locations” in Salisbury in the morning, these roads are actually contiguous. In other words, the car drove along a single route and was caught on three different cameras along it. They weren’t travelling all over the city, they’d simply gone out somewhere and were probably travelling back home.

    He says there was “never any indication” that they’d travelled home and if they did so they avoided “all CCTV cameras”. But are there any CCTV cameras that would have captured them doing so? There are no cameras in their own street. No evidence of something doesn’t equate to evidence of nothing. He says they were caught on “three CCTV cameras on leaving” – well, no. They were caught on three CCTV cameras on the other side of the town centre after they’d left. That’s not the same thing.

    Then he says the Russians were “seen frequently on arriving”. Well no, that’s not true either. They were caught on CCTV on Wilton Road, vaguely in the vicinity of the home address but there’s no CCTV images from the Skripals’ street or the immediate surroundings. Besides which CCTV is a lot better at capturing images of pedestrians, both because it is usually focused on the pavement not the road, and because it is usually recording a frame every few seconds and it is more likely that a slow-moving pedestrian will appear on a frame than a fast-moving car.

    Then “why was the Skripals’ car caught so frequently on leaving but not on returning?”

    Well if you look at a map of Salisbury you’ll see that this isn’t true either. The hits on London Road, Churchill Way and Wilton Road aren’t necessarily them leaving or returning. Simply a partial record of an unknown journey. The hit on Devizes Road fits with them heading in to town from the home address – but that doesn’t really fit with Mr Murray’s reluctance to accept that they had been home before they went out to eat (as that would give them a chance to touch the doorhandle and get poisoned).

    As for the fact that there were no charges announced relating to the Sturgess/Rowley incident – this was explained at the press conference by the police and CPS. It took a very long time to have all of the evidence reviewed and the file prepared for the Skripal case. The Sturgess/Rowley case was much more recent and isn’t ready for CPS review yet. Anyone with a grasp of the Criminal Justice System will know that this is a perfectly reasonable explanation. No reason to be suspicious unless, like Mr Murray, distrusting the UK government is your raison d’etre.

    Then he comes on to this oft-repeated theme of the “incompetence” of the attackers.

    Why did they use public transport instead of driving? Well driving isn’t exactly foolproof. You can get stopped on the road by the police. You have to produce a driving licence and credit card at the rental company (doable – but additional false documents you need and a valid card that can be traced). And the UK’s main roads are festooned with ANPR cameras. It is actually far easier to track the movements of criminals that use cars than of criminals who use trains. In my professional judgement, using train or car was probably a 50/50 call – and taking the train in no way signifies incompetence.

    They left the “clearest possible CCTV fingerprint”. Well I am not sure what this even means. There’s CCTV cameras pretty much everywhere. Some are dummies. Some aren’t switched on. Some are broken. Some over-record in a matter of days. How much CCTV there is of a person is pretty random. It could certainly be clearer than that released (and probably is – I wouldn’t expect the police to release every image they have). But how exactly does a super-duper expert Russian spy avoid those cameras?

    “They failed in their assassination attempt” – So? They very nearly succeeded. It was only extremely good care that saved the Skripals, and if Yulia wasn’t with her father (which they may not have anticipated as she was still in Russia when they did their dummy run) then he almost certainly would have died. The idea that a “proper” assassin would definitely succeed is daft. First of all, how would Mr Murray (or anyone commenting here) have any reasonable basis for making that judgement? How much first hand knowledge does anyone have of assassination techniques? And besides, human bodies are very unpredictable. I once investigated an attempted murder where a young medical student was stabbed a total of 15 times, including four wounds that punctured his lungs, and a laceration to his liver. He survived because he was taken to his own hospital where they recognised him and called in the director of A&E to operate on him personally. I dealt with another case where a teenager was stabbed once in the stomach with a small knife and died within minutes. Ask the Trident Gangs Command how many people get shot and survive?

    “They left traces of Novichok everywhere” – Did they? In their hotel room, and on the door handle. That’s not really everywhere – but it sounds nice and dramatic. And yes they risked getting poisoned themselves, but presumably they had been briefed on the toxicity of the stuff and knew not to touch it. We don’t know what the trace found in the hotel was about. Perhaps it was something like a test-spray with the bottle on a doorhandle? Followed by cleaning it off with tissue and flushing it? Totally incompetent that, making sure that the applicator actually works after your long flight from Russia.

    And then the “timings in Salisbury were extremely tight”. Sounds really unlikely, doesn’t it. I mean obviously proper spies would hang around for an extra 12 hours just to make sure they didn’t miss their train or something would they? And besides, it simply isn’t true that the timings were extremely tight. They were in Salisbury for two hours. It’s a 23 minute walk from the station to the Skripals house. That means they gave themselves an hour and 15 minutes leeway. And their train got back to London over five hours before their flight took off. Is that tight? Not really.

    Murray is using smoke and mirrors to convince people who really, really want to be convinced. Don’t be fooled.

  25. The Lib Dem VI breaking 10% (Survation not withstanding) is interesting in light of Vince Cable’s speech yesterday.

    One is left wondering what the effects of a new dynamic leader, new and fresh policy announcements and possibly (as has already been suggested) a rebrand, would be.

    That is even before a further purge of moderates in Labour.

  26. A very nice piece of work Alec. Congratulations.

    It won’t impress the Craig Murray addicts though-Conspiracy Theory & the Perfidious UK Security Apparatus is the oxygen they breath.

    There is an interesting piece in today’s Times about the ultimate source of Authority to carry this out. It harks back to the Na8i era in Germany when the various organs of H’s power vied with one another to please him & stay in his good books.

    Putin runs Russia in such a fashion-the various security organisations are in competition to please The Leader.

    Its a great way of getting dirty stuff done with complete personal deniability.

  27. NEILA

    Profuse apologies -those congrats were meant for you !!

  28. New Survation done yesterday

    Con 38 (+1)
    Lab 37 (-4)
    LibD 10 (+4)
    UKIP 4 (-3)
    GRN 1 (-1)

    Looks more in line with the other polls compared with the one earlier in the week.

    https://twitter.com/britainelects/status/1038204127170441216

  29. BMG too, done Tuesday-Friday

    Lab 38 (-1)
    Con 37 (-)
    LibD 11 (+1)
    UKIP 7 (+2)
    GRN 4 (+1)

  30. OK, scratch what I said yesterday, the polls are converging again! The only remaining observation which looks slightly out of statistical variation is the fact that YouGov consistently get a slightly lower figure for LAB (over the course of several polls). But on an individual poll basis, all look within MoE. Funny thing, statistics.

  31. @Pete B – “I understand that we are leaving the EU next March, with a two-year transition period. Has anyone (other than possibly Charles) noticed any actual effect on their lives?”

    OK – here’s my story.

    My wife and I witnessed a significant squeeze on our living standards due to the Brexit devaluation. We’re around 5% worse off now I estimate, due to this alone.

    I’ve just wrapped up two of my three micro businesses. Both relied heavily on grant funds and local authority work, which has effectively been removed since Brexit. We haven’t been able to refocus these, so closure was the best option. It’s only led to one redundancy, but I personally used to earn an average £20,000K from these businesses.

    My main business has seen turnover fall by around 30%, partly for the same reasons, but also because I’ve had a couple of major private sector clients go under due to a loss of government contracts.

    My wife has had her offer of a part time post in academia rescinded in the immediate aftermath of the referendum vote. It was due to the budget implications of Brexit on her top flight university, and for the last two years she has been scratching around continuing her research on a voluntary basis, picking up short term fill in contracts and working as a cleaner to support herself. She’s a doctor, cleaning toilets.

    Nothing wrong with that, but please don’t try to pretend that Brexit isn’t having an impact out here.

  32. @Oldnat

    “Instead, we had post-neo-classical endogenous growth theory and PFI bumping debt on to future generations.”

    The N£o L1b dream, shoveling current and future taxpayers money to the private sector, who run things so efficiently….as long as the profits are rolling in, if not, they hand back the keys…..

  33. Survation basically “correcting” previous poll.

  34. Neil A. Charlie Rowley found the perfume bottle in a charity shop bin 3.5 months after the Russians left the country. It is widely reported that he has said that the box was sealed in cellophane. I would assume that there are no charges relating to this because there is nothing to link the perfume dispenser directly to the two men. In fact i would say that not being in the country for 3.5 months is a pretty good aliby, assuming that the charity shop bin was emptied more frequntly than every 4 months. Note that the Met are asking for information as to the whereabouts of the box between 4 march and 27 june.

    Frankly i find this aspect of the case genuinely disturbing. It seems to me that the intention of leaving a sealed perfume box in a charity bin is for it to go on sale. Why would the russians do this? I cant help but imagine the outcry if an ‘ordinary middleclass family’ had been the ones to be poisoned, and thinking some very dark thoughts about who would benefit from this.

  35. @ EOTW – I knew what Barnier said on Monday on Tuesday. Did you by chance spot something new he said y’day?
    (Maybe that hasn’t reached Planet Remain yet)

    ALEC has repeatedly said we’d have to sign the WA before we could move talks on (ALEC even started from the point of believing we’d stay in the EU if we didn’t sign it!). We then fudged phased 1, we got a transition agreement agreed in principle and we’re clearly talking about the framework for future relationships. That is 0-3!

    Personally i don’t trust a word any negotiator says but the “cherry picking” of Barnier’s statements is quite comical.

    We’ll wait so see what happens but since..

    Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed

    If we can’t agree everything then what?

    A/ Scorched Earth No Deal
    B/ EU Council “tweak” Barnier’s mandate and “redefine” “everything” in a slimmed down WA with a bunch of fudge and can kicking (e.g. link divorce bill payments to a future trade deal – aka “timings and triggers”)

    IMHO both are possible, how ’bout you?
    (Several of our resident Remain “experts” have already declared for A but TRIGGUY was correct and I shouldn’t extrapolate from a single data point)

    Within B there is also the opportunity to put what has been agreed in principle into an association agreement (I’m pretty sure EU would be keen on the security parts but that would be cherry picking!). EC have done tonnes of association agreements over the years – it’s hardly a novel concept!

  36. Neil A,
    I accept that Craig Murray’s attempts to muddy the Timeline are dubious – of course it is easy for him because so many different stories about the crime, and how something that is so deadly as Novichok can fail to kill people (eg. the “shower of rain” theory), have been leaked to the press by people purporting to be “in the know”.

    However you have not dealt with the competence issue. Of course like most people my views on the competence of spies are based on what I read, much of it fiction. But avoiding passive surveillance if you are not approaching a security target or an airport security gate does not seem so hard. Here is a helpful map of CCTV in London, for example https://thecctvmap.wordpress.com/. I am sure that in a coupe of days I could map all the CCTV cameras in the relevant bits of Salisbury, but I might want to avoid the station…

    If I was an assassin employed by a State on a well planned operation I would not be caught on random overhead cameras like some petty criminal. I would not travel on a Russian passport directly from Moscow. If I wanted a car I would not be hiring it, but borrowing it in some less obvious way. I would have third parties scouting my route in advance to avoid CCTV. I would change my clothes and perhaps don a simple disguise, and not be seen always with the same person. I would not be taking the risk of smearing Novichok on a doorhandle in broad daylight when the Skripals might well be in (I would do it in the night and then hop back in my third party owned car..) So I repeat: if the GRU were in charge of this operation they must have wanted their operatives to be discovered.

    On the other hand if I was a Russian oligarch with a grudge against Skripal, I might hire a couple of mercenaries to do the job. Of course there is little risk to the operatives because they know it is Russian policy not to extradite them, whether they are GRU or not, so they don’t need to be too careful provided they get out quickly.

    So then we are left with the motive for Putin. Well, it may be that he wanted to send a warning to other spies, yes. On the other hand, why wait till now, unless Skripal was a direct threat in some way we do not know? Just when many EU countries were wanting to lift the post-Crimea sanctions, and when he had the publicity coup of the World Cup, and when even his actions in Syria were beginning to be seen be some as the only feasible solution to a civil war that had been taken over on the rebel side by Islamic extremists.

    Ok, let’s assume he did order it. The use of Novichok would be enough to warn any spies (even though it is far from clear that the Russian government is the only source of Novichok, it is certainly the most obvious). Does he want to leave a clear evidence trail back to Russia so that even the Trump-led Americans start taking action on it? Does he want the GRU to appear incompetent? Where is the pride of an intelligence agency in this? Putin is a ruthless leader who does not believe in Western ideas of democracy. He wants to expand Russian influence in the way the Americans try to exert influence in all corners of the globe. He is happy to keep Ukraine in a state where it cannot join NATO or the EU. He thinks the West has been interfering in Russian elections through NGOs for decades and sees nothing wrong in returning the favour. He does find ways to discredit (and possibly assassinate, but that is less clear) opposition leaders, but his popularity in Russia is based mainly on economic success and progress that would make any leader popular (particularly when compared with Yeltsin). He is far from stupid, and calculates and weighs up the pros and cons of every action, and not every bad thing that happens to a Russian should be automatically attributed to him…

    Anyway, it will be interesting to see what our allies actually do this time. Last time most of them sent a clear signal of business as usual by expelling the minimum possible number of diplomats consistent with friendship with the UK…

  37. @ PETE B – you could always try official statistics like unemployment rates, drop in zero-hours contracts, etc.

  38. Richard North has a precis of the speech given by Sir Ivan Rogers in Dublin.

    This link is to the entire speech.

    http://www.eureferendum.com/documents/RogersDublin.pdf

    “There is now, in my view, a higher risk than the markets are currently pricing of a disorderly breakdown in Brexit negotiations, and of our sleepwalking, into a major crisis, not because either negotiating team actively seeks it, but precisely because each side misreads each other’s real incentives and political constraints and cannot find any sort of landing zone for a deal, however provisional.

    There are, of course, those who have always wanted “no deal”, primarily because they actively do not want even a preferential free trade deal with the EU, for fear of the inevitable constraints they know any FTA the EU would ever sign would bring with it.

    Its advocates are now terming this a “WTO deal”. There is, of course, no such animal. But their aim is to offer the public comfortingly plausible reassurance that there is either no cliff edge, or that there is an all-weather mattress for all parts of the economy if the UK simply walked off the cliff without a deal.”

  39. The Irish Times reports the opinions of some Belfast people of Ms Bradley. Some may not know who she is.

    “People in Belfast, nationalist and unionist, expressed astonishment that Ms Bradley was put in charge at an exceptionally sensitive time, with Brexit and the breakdown in Stormont’s power-sharing government putting the Belfast Agreement under strain.

    “It’s ridiculous that she could know nothing about it and still get the job. Usually you have to show knowledge to get a job. I did,” said Leona Orr (24) a child care worker from Clogher Valley.

    Henry McCarthy (76) a retired community worker, said: “I was absolutely horrified that she could be in a position where she was so terribly ignorant of a situation in which so many people were killed, it just baffles me.”

    Among those who died in the Troubles was Airey Neave, a Tory MP blown up by a republican terrorist bomb at Westminster in 1979, yet Ms Bradley had risen through the party ranks with no clue about Northern Ireland, said Mr McCarthy. “To come here without even primitive knowledge reflects very badly on the prime minister and the Conservative party.””

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/i-hire-a-driver-i-check-he-can-drive-belfast-reacts-to-karen-bradley-remarks-1.3623032

  40. Where is Allan Christie to tell us about the Lib Dem surge of 4% in the Survation poll??

    More about the poll here: https://www.survation.com/boris-johnson-theresa-may-leadership-survation-for-daily-mail-september-8th/

    No tabs as yet. Not much good news for Boris. Remain 51%, Leave 49%.

    It will be interesting see when we get the tabs if the sample demographic corrections are smaller than the huge ones in the previous poll

  41. B&B,
    It looks probable that the Novichok found by the Rowleys was not the same Novichok used to poison the Skripals.. Perhaps two bottles of the Novichok were dropped in advance in secret locations for the assassins to pick up? Perhaps the unused one was found by a member of the public and put in a charity bin (I might well do that if I found an unopened box of perfume).

    The most worrying thing is that the remains of the Novichok used against the Skripals may still be out there somewhere, probably in the bottom of a river or in landfill by now… It is hard to believe the assassins took it home with them…

  42. The admirable Tony Connelly explores the state of health of the Chequers plan (it’s life, Jim, but not as we know it) and the Irish backstop. It does not fill me with confidence that there will be an orderly Brexit.

    https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2018/0908/992329-brexit-chequers-may/

    “The Chequers White Paper has been called a zombie. Yet Theresa May and her negotiating team are grimly insisting it lives.

    So, blood-stained and ghoulish, it will stomp through the Tory Party conference at the end of the month. “

  43. ANDREW111

    “Where is Allan Christie to tell us about the Lib Dem surge of 4% in the Survation poll??”

    If I recall correctly, rises in LD score have led to “Not worth getting out of bed for” and “Not worth pulling back the curtains for” from AC. In the absence of pulling back the curtains he must be unable to find his computer!

  44. @Andrew,

    In response to most of your post I am disinclined to do much more than quote back your own sentence “Of course like most people my views on the competence of spies are based on what I read, much of it fiction” and recommend that you leave it to the professionals. After all, 250 detectives from every part of the UK have been drafted in to exhaustively examine these lines of enquiry (to the detriment of serious investigations everywhere else) and money and time will be no objects.

    I have made it clear in the past that I have no background at all in terrorism or national security issues, so like everyone else here (unless one of you is hiding a “very specific set of skills” – which is possible) I don’t really know the answers to all of this.

    But I am in a slightly better position than most. I have investigated murders and attempted murders, plotting the movements of criminals using flight records, ANPR, CCTV etc is about 30% of my day job, designing and running covert operations is about another 30% of my day job.

    I do reconnaissance, I work with surveillance teams, I profile suspects, I have taken dozens of cases to trial and been cross-examined extensively, I have designed and explained timelines (including the use of CCTV images), I have attended planning meetings with forensic scientists to work out forensic strategies, I have attended case conferences with the CPS and barristers to plan prosectuions, I have worked on investigations where it was necessary to try and defeat the efforts of criminals to avoid detection (Dark Web, false identities, encryption etc).

    It seems to me that mostly what is happening is that journalists and their pundits (quite often muppets, although normally just well-meaning retired folks) come up with all sorts of theories to fill column inches, and those that want to believe that the Russians didn’t do it treat this as if it is the official government line. Politicians don’t always help as – like Ms Bradley – they are generally not subject experts and take their cue from the media, or at best from short summaries prepared by their assistants, who are probably not experts either.

    My advice would be to wait and see. Don’t jump to conclusions, or else as new evidence emerges we won’t be able to assess it dispassionately because we will see it through the prism of what we’ve already decided.

  45. @Pete B

    “I understand that we are leaving the EU next March, with a two-year transition period. Has anyone (other than possibly Charles) noticed any actual effect on their lives?”

    ——

    I’m guessing, but it’s possible that…
    – you’re not as foreign as some of us
    – you don’t buy many synths
    – stuff like studying in the EU doesn’t feature in your future plans
    etc. etc.

  46. “The most worrying thing is that the remains … may still be out there somewhere…”

    ——-

    Well there are more worrying things tbh, like how easy it was to bring in, and how much more there may be out there, will Clegg find a way back into power, etc.

  47. “I would not be caught on random overhead cameras like some petty criminal“

    ——-

    Unless, you want the deterrent effect of people suspecting it might well be Ruskies!

    If no one has a clue who did it, It won’t deter other potential spies from spilling the beans, yeah?

    Like, if no one had known who did all the u-turns, people might still be voting Libdem like they used to. Do you see?

  48. Sam

    Thanks for that link. Tony C is a rare thing at the moment, a journalist that covers the position in a very balanced way.

  49. My comments on Bradley concerned the timing of the article and that someone thought she was a Leaver. Anyway, I had 5mins so thought I’d risk another comment.

    NI GE election results – hollowing out of the centre (moderates) since immediately after GFA

    2001 GE (seats, (change), % vote)

    UUP 6 (-4), 26.8%
    DUP 5 (+3), 22.5%
    Subtotal 11, 49.3%

    SF 4 (+2), 21.7%
    SDLP 3 (uc), 21%
    Subtotal 7, 42.7%

    2017 GE

    DUP 10 (+2), 36%
    UUP 0 (-2), 10.3%
    Ind* 1 (uc), 2%
    Subtotal 11, 48.3%

    SF 7 (+3), 29.4%
    SDLP 0 (-3), 11.7%
    Subtotal 7, 41.1%

    Most seats are “safe” Unionist or Republican so the biggest change is clearly the hollowing out of the centre (moderate) vote. In terms of seats we still have 11 Unionist, 7 Republican and even the % vote split hasn’t changed much (ie little evidence of “demographic drift”).

    Over the years the more moderate parties on both sides have seen their vote% and seats drop with the two more extreme parties now holding all but one seat.

    For a simple UNS change the Sinn Fein targets are:
    http://www.electionpolling.co.uk/battleground/targets/sinn-fein

    #1 Belfast North (majority 2,081, 4.5%). UUP/UCU-NF didn’t post a candidate in 2015 or 2017 making it easier for Nigel Dodds to keep the seat. (ie “pulled” candidate is helping him and hence an ABU “arrangement” would help SF win the seat in next GE. For UUP to recontest the seat would not be a good idea!).

    #2 Upper Bahn (majority 7,992, 15.6%). David Trimble UUP lost the seat to DUP in 2005 but UUP remained 2nd until 2017 when their vote share collapsed (fair to assume most of the 12.5% drop going to DUP).

    Conclusion: Seems fairly clear that we’ve seen hollowing out of the centre/moderate ground from both sides going back to immediately after the GFA.

    Unionist seats are still Unionist seats just more DUP, no more UUP*

    Republican seats are still Republican seats just all SF with SDLP down to 0.

    This information is easily accessed on the internet

    * Sylvia Hermon (North Down, formerly UUP, saw her majority drop from 25.6% to 3.1% in last GE with DUP in 2nd place)

    [1] Stormont is different as the voting system is not FPTP and other complicated issues come into play.
    [2] There are other factors at play as well (e.g. SF are generally assumed to be further left than SDLP)

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