What sort of Brexit?

I’ll be taking a break from the blog over the next week while I have a summer rest (I may pop in if something interesting happens, but I’m going to try not to), but before I go a quick pointer to something I wrote over on the YouGov website on what the public think about Brexit.

The type of Brexit the public want is a tricky subject to poll. It will obviously be one of the dominant issues in British politics over the next few years, yet we also know so little of it. We don’t yet know with any confidence what the government’s aims or negotiating position will be, nor what other European countries will be willing to offer (or what they will want in return). Public opinion will be one of the limitations upon the government’s negotiations so it’s certainly important, but it’s hard to measure it at this stage when people have so little information about what’s on offer.

We tried to explore the issue in two ways. The first was to ask whether people thought various things would be acceptable trade-offs in exchange for continued British free trade with the EU. That suggests that the public would accept having to follow some EU trade rules, could be persuaded on immigration (33% think freedom of movement is desirable anyway, 19% a price worth paying, 33% a deal-breaker), but would object to Britain making a financial contribution to the EU (41% think it would be fine or a price worth paying, 44% think it would be a deal-breaker).

However, taking things individually risks being a little misleading. When it comes to it a deal will be a package of measures and will be judged as a whole. On that basis, I think the questions that present people with various scenarios and ask them to judge them as a whole are more enlightening.

By 44% to 32% people thought it would be bad for Britain if we simply left and had no trade deal with the remainder of the EU. A Norway-type deal, with Britain joining EFTA and maintaining free trade with EU in exchange for free-movement, a financial contribution and following trade rules is seen a little less negatively (35% good, 38% bad)… but perhaps more importantly, by 42% to 32% people would see it as not seen as honouring the result of the referendum. Finally, we asked about a Canada-type deal, where there is no freedom of movement or financial contribution, but only a limited free trade deal that excludes services. That was seen as both honouring the result of the referendum, and as positive for Britain.

Of course negotiations haven’t yet started and the actual deals that end upon on the table may very well differ from these examples. I suspect views are not very deeply held yet, and people may very well change their minds when deals start to take shape and politicians and the media start to debate them. The public’s starting point, however, seems to be that a limited trade deal is both the best solution and a solution that respects the referendum result. We shall see how that changes once the negotiations actually begin.

The full tabs are on the website here.

920 Responses to “What sort of Brexit?”

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  1. Kentdalian

    “Not sure what relevance it has to UK Government debt though.”

    True, but the incompetence of successive UK governments in managing (or rather, not managing) the revenue flow does have a lot to do with the UK’s debt and deficit.

    While I haven’t checked the following data myself, the numbers seem reasonable

    “In 2015 Norway produced 1.95M barrels a day
    In 2015 the UK produced 0.965M barrels a day
    In 2015 Norway got £9.5B
    In 2015 UK got £76M”

  2. Re political engagement by younger people.

    The ScotCen survey found that “Younger people were more likely to have taken part in a referendum-related activity, with 44% of 18 to 29-year-olds engaging compared with 26% of those aged 65 or over.”


  3. @ Oldnat

    that may all be true but my point was that to equate a the budget of a sovereign government that is the monopoly issuer of its own curency with a household budget is total nonsense.
    … as David Carrod would have found out to his cost had he tried generating the wherewithal to pay his credit card bill with his very own John Bull printing set !

  4. Kentdalian

    I recognised your point, but thought it worth adding some more data on why the UK has got itself into an almighty mess, entirely due to its own incompetence!

    David Carrod’s miscalculation pales into microscopically small levels in comparison with the UK’s decisions.

  5. @OLDNAT
    David Carrod’s miscalculation pales into microscopically small levels in comparison with the UK’s decisions.
    I wish I’d made contact with you about 40 years ago. I could have used that sentence in a letter to my credit card company, they might have written off the debt ;)

  6. From Britain Elects

    “Labour leadership voting intention:
    J. Corbyn: 62%
    O. Smith: 38%
    (via YouGov)”

  7. @ Oldnat

    ” .. the UK has got itself into an almighty mess, entirely due to its own incompetence ! ”

    Ahh if only it were incompetence rather than deliberate government policy.

    Norwegian governments appear to have decided early on that a windfall public asset should be used for the benefit of all its citizens … British governments clearly took a different view.

  8. David Carrod


    Sadly, your bank was funding the UK Government that was happily selling off its assets to the financial sector.

    They doubtless considered both you and the UK Government to be mugs that they could exploit to their own advantage. (Of course, I was also a mug back then, owing far too much to the bank).

  9. Kentdalian

    If unforeseen things happen, that’s unfortunate.

    If utterly predictable consequences flow from decisions you make – that’s incompetence.

    It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that successive UK administrations were totally incompetent in dealing with the revenue from a depleting asset.

    It’s not as if no one warned them of the consequences of their monumental stupidity!

  10. @Alen, Laszlo

    “If not Google, then who?”

    There is a vast amount of work being done worldwide on the issues discussed above, including how to effectively link data, and how to extract meaning. UK universities are world leaders in the complex epidemiological analyses required, boosted in no small way by UK Biobank funded by a combination of (government funded) research councils and charities.

    To of the major problems with selling data to Google are

    (a) selling them – this is not just a question of payment for access, there are questions about who owns the result of analyses, and what restrictions are placed on use of the same data by others;

    (b) anonymisation – this is a far more complex question than simply removing names, addresses etc. The analyses depend on having detailed individual level data about such things as age, locality, educational attainment, height, weight… It doesn’t take many such parameters to provide sufficient info to unambiguously identify someone, and then find out things about them.
    There are major research projects ongoing about how to truly anonymise data, by encrypting the entire dataset and doing the analyses on the encrypted data, then de-encrypting the results. But this needs the data to be collected/interpreted in a coordinate fashion – and UK Biobank is providing a major stimulus for this.

    (c) Google obviously have major expertise in handling big data on the scale that is needed to extract value, but this should be a partnership. Instead handing over the data will undermine ongoing research in the UK, effectivey destroying the competitive advantage that UK Biobank provides (there is no project of a similar scale at a similar level of maturity that is not also run from the UK)..

  11. From NumbrCrunchrPolitics

    “Of members that joined before last year’s contest, Smith leads 68-32. Of those that joined after, Corbyn leads 86-14”

    Sadly, no one seems to have bothered to ask either candidate, or the selectorate. whether it is a clever idea to piss oil revenues up against the wall, or to invest them for the public good.

  12. @ Oldnat

    I cant help feeling you’re being a little over generous describing it as incompetence.

    If predictable consequences flow from decisions you make and you proceed regardless, then I would call it showing a reckless disregard for all that follows

  13. Oldnat

    Do you have a link for that poll?

  14. @CambridgeRachel

    No link to hand, but it’s on The Times’s front page. (If that means anything.)

  15. Old Nat

    Assume the YG poll just headlined is of the LP leadership electorate, many of whom like my daughter have already voted online,which is very easy even though I haven’t voted myself yet, and neither has Mrs Borderer. Depending on precisely how many of us lazy ones are left ( and I’m voting for JC) it does look like a genuine prediction of the outcome. How those Coup leaders hiding behind the curtains must be regretting their destructive actions. Interesting times ahead. Democracy is democracy …

  16. Oldnat


  17. The questions on staying in the party if your preferred candidate loses and the one about splitting are interesting

  18. New thread

  19. @Alan

    Everything seems to be wonderful in your scenario. There are no misuses of data, no proprietary ownership to worry about, everything is unfailingly anonymised etc… but of course peeps may live on the alternate planet where corporations at some point may take the mick. That’s what peeps are worried about…

    Also, while it’s true that people agree to cede data in the T&Cs, that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it, it may well mean they have no choice. With stuff like social media, where network effects come into play, you can’t just jump to another new rival platform with better T&Cs, because it’s not much cop if no one else is using it.

    Even if everyone jumped ship to the spiffy new data-safe platform, you just know once they become dominant that they’ll take advantage of their new market power, change the T&Cs and snaffle the data. This is one of many examples where you can’t just leave it to the market. Especially once the big firms start hoovering data up…


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