Ian Warren of Electiondata had published a new YouGov poll of Labour party members. Overall, it looks as if Jeremy Corbyn’s suppport among the Labour membership is down a bit since last year… but that right now he’d likely be re-elected again. To some degree a fall in support among existing members has probably been mitigated by the gradual churn in membership as pre-Corbyn membership falls and newer, more pro-Corbyn members join. Back in August 2016, 53% of paid up Labour members thought Jeremy Corbyn was doing well, 45% badly. The latest figures are 51% well, 47% badly. The figures are not directly comparable because of changing membership (a substantial proportion of members joined post EU referendum and they were some of the most pro-Corbyn members). Nevertheless, the net effect is that Corbyn’s support really hasn’t fallen much.

If we go back and look at Corbyn’s historical ratings among party members the big drop appears to be at the time of the EU referendum and the attempted coup, but since then things have steadied. In Nov 2015 66% of Labour members thought Corbyn was doing well, by May 2016 that had risen to 72%. Straight after the EU referendum and Hilary Benn’s sacking it it fell to 51%, in July 2016 it stood at 55%, by August 2016 it stood at 53%, today it is back to 51%. Some of those ups and downs are because the polls were seeking to measure those Labour members entitled to take part in the election and there were back and forths about cut-off dates, but you can see the broad trend – a sharp fall, then a pretty steady position.

Neither has there been much change in attitudes towards Corbyn’s future. Opinion has moved a little against Corbyn fighting the general election and in favour of an organised transition. 44% of Labour members now think Corbyn should contest the general election (down from 47% last August, but up from 41% in June 2016), 14% think he should stand down at some time before the election (up from 6% in August). The proportion of members backing his immediate ousting has actually fallen, now just 36% (from 39% in August 2016 and 44% in June 2016)

If there was an election now, 52% of Labour members say they would definitely or probably vote for Corbyn in a fresh leadership election, 46% said they would probably or definitely not. To put this in context, when YouGov asked the same question in June 2016 50% of Labour members said they would probably or definitely vote for Jeremy Corbyn, 47% said they would probably vote against him.

In the event the leadership election that followed was not a close thing. By July 57% of Labour members were saying they’d probably vote Corbyn (40% probably would not) and Corbyn’s lead among full party members ended up being 18 percentage points. Of course, it may be that the 2016 leadership election could have panned out differently with a different anti-Corbyn candidate or a different strategy, but comparing these figures to the polls before last year’s leadership election does not suggest there has been any sea-change in Labour members’ support for Jeremy Corbyn.

So what, if anything, would change the mind of Labour members? Ian’s poll asked if Corbyn should stand down in various circumstances. A substantial majority (68%) of Labour members said he should go if Labour lose the general election. A majority (55%) also said he should go if he loses the support of Trade Union leaders, and 50% said he should go if he loses the support of the shadow cabinet.

The problem is these are theoretical questions. In practice people tend to see events through the prism of their existing support, so Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters will tend to explain away negative events and blame then on other people (that’s not intended as a comment about Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters in particular, but on human nature in general. It happens in all other political parties too). There’s a lovely example of this in Ian’s poll – asked who or what was most responsible for losing the Copeland by-election, 85% of those Labour members who voted for Owen Smith said Jeremy Corbyn. Very few Labour voters who voted for Jeremy Corbyn last year put any blame on him though – among Corbyn’s 2016 voters the main causes of the Copeland defeat were seen as the media (46%) and Tony Blair’s speech (35%). Only 14% blamed Jeremy Corbyn. Don’t imagine that all those hundreds of thousands of members who have supported Jeremy Corbyn, who have been enthused by him and brought into the party by him will easily be disuaded from supporting him.

384 Responses to “Election Data poll of Labour members”

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  1. ALEC

    @”Not too sure about the budget damp squib.”

    I’m very pleased with its dampness ( & Hammond’s wry sense of humour)

    Fiscally neutral over the 5 years:-

    Biggies over 5 yrs.:-

    Give Aways :-
    Education £ 2.1bn
    Social Care & NHS £2.9bn
    NICs £2.1 bn
    Reduction in Dividend Allce for Incorporated Individuals £ 2.6bn

    and retaining £30bn of net forecasting gains as reduced deficits.


  2. WB

    I suggest you do a bit of up to date reading on TM’s outlook-start with the Thoughts of Nick Timothy.

  3. @Colin

    I don’t think any of this is certain, but that appears to be the direction proposed.

    I agree that no-one would sensibly take this approach if they thought they would be blamed for a loss of living standards, but the Republicans didn’t expect Reaganomics to crash and burn either.

    There is still a sizable constituency of the establishment that strongly believes in ‘trickle down’ (I meet them every day and believe me, I hear it) despite all the historic evidence that as an economic policy it is a crock of sh1t…

    It is the same logic as climate change denial – ‘the reality is uncomfortable therefore I will pretend that it does not exist’.

    In this case the reality is that ‘me and my rich friends being empowered to become even richer is not actually a good thing for society in general’.

    It’s just an updated version of the 19th century landowners’ view that all will be well for the working classes if the landed gentry are allowed to continue making artificially high profits from their produce, supporting the wealthy in spending their money on servants, horses, luxury goods and the like, and thus providing jobs for said working classes….

  4. @ Colin

    I realise that there is a range of views in the Conservative party, but any leader is required to keep the coalition of views together (a large part of the failing in the Labour party that began with Blair and ends with Corbyn). As such her personal beliefs will inevitably be subject to compromise with those who hold different positions (see for instance the core beliefs of one Dr Liam Fox) or she will end up as Major once did (or in the extreme situation the Tory party will begin to Mirror Labour).
    Once article 50 is triggered UKIP’s only possibility of relevance will be to yell betrayal of the people at each and every compromise with the EU, TM will be wishing to prevent that, arguably that will require appeasing the right of her own party. I don’t see why you dismiss my question with such alacrity and suggest that I am somehow ignorant of the political thoughts of our current Prime-minister.

  5. BFR

    @”There is still a sizable constituency of the establishment that strongly believes in ‘trickle down’”

    If that gives you comfort in your conviction-fine.

    My response is-but the Prime Minister doesn’t.

  6. The bulk of self-employed people vote either Conservative or LibDem according to the following graphic:


    I think the Chancellor is gambling that they won’t switch to Corbyn if they’re cross.

    Be interested to see the post-budget opinion polls.

  7. Does seem to be an immediate adverse reaction to the budget – ‘omnishambles’ has appeared in a few tweets.

    Really not too sure we’re on that level yet, but the self employment tax, increase in beer duties and failure to live up to the pre budget hype about building up a Brexit war chest seem to have put the Chancellor on the wrong side of the post budget analysis it seems.

  8. @ Candy

    That may be the gamble, however what if they switch to Lib Dems? A revival in the seats where they lie second could cause problems in achieving a Conservative majority, such a gamble may appear less of a dead cert then.

  9. @ Alec

    A lot of the criticism I am picking up on is the failure to mention the Elephant in the Room (psst. Brexit)

  10. BTW why do so many politicians have a difficulty in saying Brexit and end up saying Breakfast? Is it Freudian? Are they thinking of the phrase “a dogs breakfast”?

  11. @WB

    I think the high-end self-employed lot ( such as the proverbial BBC “employee” who works as a sole-trader) are already LibDem voters.

    With the ordinary Joe – it depends on whether they voted Leave in the ref, and would rather rather swallow the tax-rise than give the EU a vote via the LibDems.

    It is worth noting that in previous budgets, Osborne clamped down hard on the buy-to-let brigade, who also tend to vote Conservative, but despite their clear anger, they haven’t switched vote (probably because they regard Corbyn as hopeless and the LibDems as unacceptably europhile).

    The risk of course is if you annoy too many of your own voters, eventually there are enough of them to give you a bloody nose.

    Hopefully there will be some polls out on the budget tonight.

  12. @Alec

    I think we both know that there is no budget that Hammond could have presented that wouldn’t have resulted in some Tweets using the word “Omnishambles”.

    Having found a line of attack that worked so well once, it’s inevitable that it will be rolled out over and over again.

    Previously you’ve very astutely mentioned that the true picture of the overall reaction to a budget doesn’t emerge for a day or two afterwards. I’d stick with that approach with this one.

    My personal view is that the very welcome boost to Social Care budgets may insulate Hammond against the NI rise. It will be hard for opposition spokespersons to criticize both in the same breath I think.

  13. Good evening all from a damp but very mild Central London.

    Catching up the budget…..

    Top 1% now contribute 27% of all income tax in the UK. Sounds good!!

    Top 1% own 25% of all UK wealth…

    It might be a little disproportionate….poor wee souls.

    Moving on….Peeps on low incomes and claiming Universal Credit will now be able to keep 36.5% of their UC instead of 35%, an increase of 1.5%.

    I think a budget should be judged by what it means for the lowest earners at the bottom and those at the very top.

    One word….Shocking!!

  14. CANDY

    “Hopefully there will be some polls out on the budget tonight”

    There might be polls out tonight but I’m assuming only the tail end of that polling will have captured the budget. Friday might be the best date to get a clearer picture from what the polls are saying with regards to the budget.

  15. Interesting tweet from Hampshire police..

    Hants Roads Policing? @HantsPolRoads 6h6 hours ago
    20 people on phones so far this morning.8 were lorry drivers from outside the UK.Maybe we need posters on the boats/train ?#HantsCVU


  16. “…and consequent denial of a manifesto promise being broken by use of a technical argument about what the promise was, seems to be the immediate headline.”


    Seems to be the fashion. No top-down re-organisation etc….

  17. Apparently even schools might have to start paying business rates if they have solar panels. But not private schools it seems?…


    “Budget 2017: Solar industry facing devastating 800% tax increase
    Some businesses and schools that generate electricity from rooftop solar panels will have to pay rates for the first time, while others will face a massive tax rise”

  18. Theresa having Jo Chamberlain as a model, is possibly heartening to business, given how he made space for business in Brum’s city centre.

    Possibly not quite so heartening when considering how many of those displaced got properly rehoused…

  19. Colin

    I agree with you. A good budget speech and I also liked his jokes. Exactly what was wanted as we move towards Brexit. I must say so far I am very impressed with May and her Government

  20. @Alec

    The actual problem Hammond has is that absolutely everyone realises that the tax take needs to increase but in the brave new economic reset we have been promised it appears that the concept of raising income tax must never, ever be raised.

    So poor old NI has to take the strain.

    As noted, it appears that the people’s revolution of a new form of politics appears very similar to the way it’s been done for 35 years. It would seem that Brexit was a vote *for* globalisation and for workers to be fully exposed to the chill winds of multinational corporate bottom lines.
    How odd. I look forward to seeing how that explanation goes down in the post-industrial North.

  21. TOH

    I have always liked Hammond. Today’s Red book was about one third the size of normal apparently. Just the job as far as I am concerned.

    The November Statement will be much more interesting ( and the only statement in future) after the two big reviews on Taxation of Employment,( Mathew Taylor) and Social Care.( Green Paper) I hope Hammond follows through with fundamental reform then-though we will be experiencing the real Brexit negotiations by then ( as opposed to the ones on UKPR :-) )

  22. Colin

    I must say i have been impressed with Hammond since he became CoE, I knew little about him before. He seems just the right sort of man for that role as we steer our way through Brexit.

    I agree the autumn budget was always going to be the interesting one. This is just a series of holding measures. I will be interested in the IFS view tomorrow. The initial comments from their spokesman seemed rather positive I thought.

  23. @Joseph1832

    “To date N Ireland has proceeded on the basis that it is vital to know what retired and dead British soldiers or politicians did, but absolutely irrelevant to know what actual serving MLAs and ministers did. If a soldier fired unreasonably, it must be investigated. But the actions and orders of a serving Deputy Chief Minister is irrelevant. That approach is justified on the basis that the state must behave with higher standards – but not enquirer at all into the fitness of those occupying high positions in the current state makes a bizarre contrast.”

    If the Widgery report is compared with the Saville report it could not easily be argued with success that “it is vital to know what dead and retired soldiers did…”

    There is not enough evidence to prosecute Martin McGuinness for whatever part he played in Bloody Sunday or any other act of violence. I think it is certain that PSNI will pursue the evidence and seek to act on it appropriately. Getting evidence can be difficult.

    Letters sent to IRA people “on the run” under the Blair administration do not amount to an amnesty.

    There is clear evidence of collusion by the UK security forces with terrorists in the murder of other terrorists and innocent people. That will certainly attract attention. It will be used for political capital, no doubt.

  24. @Neil A – Agreed. I don’t really think there is anything too dramatic in this budget so far. The NI changes are justified, in many ways, in terms of equity at least, as the self employed now get the same pension rights as employees.

    What no one seems to care about is that the new flat rate pension is a huge cut in pension rights for everyone, which has been used to justify raising NI on the self employed, rather than reduce everyone’s NI to reflect the fact that we will all be getting worse pensions.

  25. Alec

    “to reflect the fact that we will all be getting worse pensions.”

    Well, most of you will. Some of us will continue to do very well – especially since those of us still working don’t pay NI anyway – that being a tax on working people.

    It just shows the value of voting. If you young folk also voted at the rate that we oldies too, you too could lots of goodies that aren’t justified – alternatively, the goodies might just be shared out rather more equitably.

    I’m off to open a rather nice bottle of Chianti Classico, which I could never have afforded when I was working and bringing up 2 kids.

  26. “as opposed to the ones on UKPR”


    Ours are much bettah!!

  27. Looking at the detail of the NI changes, they’ve abolished Class 2 NICs, which used to kick in at £5965, and have raised the rate for class 4 NICs which kick in at £8060.

    Abolition of class 2, plus raising the personal allowance for income tax should mean the gig economy self-employed come out ahead, while raising the rate for class 4 NIs should bring in a bit of money from the media contractor self-employed types.

    On reflection, I don’t think the govt will take much of a hit on this at all, though white van man might be tempted to go back to UKIP. However, count on media types to rant about the changes in the next few weeks…it affects them personally!

  28. A glimpse of the future for CETA?


    “The European Parliament has approved the CETA Canada-EU trade agreement.

    The 58% vote in favour allows provisional application of nearly 90% of the agreement later this spring.

    Centrist party members generally voted in favour, with opposition coming from left-leaning socialist, Green, right-wing, and nationalist parties. Of the 695 MEPs present in the 751-seat legislature, 408 voted in favour, 254 against and 33 abstained.

    Opponents include Ireland’s Independent MEP Marian Harkin, who said an extra 50,000 tonnes of tariff-free Canadian beef will hit countries like Ireland hardest.

    However, this must be high-quality, hormone-free beef. And with the US and Canada currently taking up only 3% of their combined 11,500 tonnes tariff-free annual quota of high-quality, hormone-free beef exports to the EU, it is likely Canada may be unable to avail of the CETA quota.

    Sources in the Canadian beef industry say it is unlikely any of their larger processors will have much interest in trade with the EU, because the EU also rejects antimicrobial washes used in Canadian beef plants.

    EU farmers and their co-ops, represented by the COPA and COGECA groups, welcomed approval of CETA, and called for progress also in EU-Japan trade negotiations

    In particular, they welcomed recognition of EU production and quality standards, such as full traceability of cattle, and hormone-free beef.

    The European Commission said CETA will create jobs and growth, and explained the benefits for farmers, and the further steps for CETA ratification.

    What opportunities will CETA offer to farmers, food producers and makers of Europe’s traditional food and drink products?

    Many customs duties on farm produce, processed foods and drinks will disappear.

    Europe will be able to export nearly 92% of its agricultural and food products to Canada duty-free. European exports to Canada’s market of high-income consumers will become cheaper.

    This will create new export opportunities for EU farmers and producers of wines and spirits, fruit and vegetables, processed products, cheese, and Europe’s traditional specialities (known as ‘geographical indications’).

    In areas such as wines and spirits, CETA will also remove other barriers to trade.

    This will make it easier for EU exporters to access the Canadian market.

    Removing customs duties will give the EU food processing industry better access to Canadian fish. In parallel to lifting customs duties, the EU and Canada will develop sustainable fisheries in parallel by monitoring, control and surveillance measures, and fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

    CETA will help both sides export agricultural products.

    Under CETA, Canada has agreed to protect 143 Geographical Indications (GIs), which are distinctive foods and drinks from specific towns or regions in the EU. They include things like Roquefort cheese, balsamic vinegar from Modena, and Dutch Gouda cheese.

    Many of these products are among the EU’s top EU food and drink exports. Producers are often small or medium-sized rural businesses.

    Canada will protect these traditional European products from imitations in much the same way as the EU does. So, for example, cheese sold in Canada as Gouda will have to come from Gouda.

    There’ll be limited quotas for a few sensitive products such as beef, pork and sweetcorn for the EU and dairy products for Canada. CETA won’t open up the market for poultry or eggs in the EU or Canada, and it’ll respect the EU’s entry-price system.

    All imports from Canada have to meet EU rules and regulations. For example, only hormone-free meat will ever be imported into the EU.

    How will consumers benefit?

    Opening markets has the potential to keep prices down and give consumers more choice.

    But free trade doesn’t mean lowering or changing EU standards that protect people’s health and safety, social rights, their rights as consumers or the environment.

    We’re not going to change these standards. Imports from Canada will still have to satisfy all EU product rules and regulations — without exception. So CETA won’t change how the EU regulates food safety, including on GMO products or the ban on hormone-treated beef.

    What happens next?

    Now that the EU and Canada have signed CETA, the deal still has to go through one main stage of democratic oversight before it comes fully into force.

    This involves parliaments in EU countries. Each country’s approval procedures may take several years, so in the meantime EU governments can decide in the EU Council to provisionally apply the agreement (‘provisional application’).

    Provisional application ends after all EU Members notify the Council that they have completed their internal ratification procedures. Only then can CETA fully enter into force.

    Which parts of CETA will the EU provisionally apply?

    The EU will provisionally apply most parts of CETA.

    The main exclusions from provisional application are investment protection; investment market access for portfolio investment (but market access for foreign direct investment is an exclusive EU competence); the Investment Court System; and an article on camcording.

  29. Sam

    Sadly, after Brexit, “Scotch whisky” made in an industrial plant in Mexico will be legal in Canada – as will Stornoway Black Pudding made in Argentina, and “Arbroath Smokies” from Oregon.

  30. Oldnat

    I think everyone knows anyone with any sense of taste in Canada will buy their Scotch Whisky from…

  31. I enjoyed those Oregon Smokies but the Black Puddin didn’t travel.

  32. Alan

    Only their malts!

  33. Old Nat

    And black pudding from Lancashire, I’ll give you the smokies though, yum!

  34. The IFS has said that schools are facing an effective average fall in budgets of 6.25% by 2020.

    Will the extra £2.1Bn for education compensate? Probably not.

  35. Sam

    Argentinian Black Pudding might travel very fast – through your digestive system! :-)

    However, as I think you understand, the whole point of “protected geographical status” is to establish reputation as a high quality premium product – and to be able to maintain that.

    I doubt that many Brexiteers give a damn about that, as they aren’t directly affected; they are wholly ignorant of the economic benefits to the producing country; and such matters never entered their consciousness – filled as it was by the rantings of the Mail, Express, et al.

  36. @Alec

    “Agreed. I don’t really think there is anything too dramatic in this budget so far.”


    Wot, you not bothered about the solar panels thing then?

    BTW read the other day that one of the guys behind Lithium ion batteries, is now involved in a new battery that has three times the power density, charges faster, and uses a glass electrolyte which being solid doesn’t explode like the liquid ones. It’s not so environmentally suspect either. Guys is in his nineties!! There’s hope for us all…

  37. What is going on here?


    “johnny lately • an hour ago
    I suspect the British government don’t want to go down that road else they become the focus of compensation claims from all those victims families who’s loved ones were murdered with weapons imported into Northern Ireland by British intelligence and their agents.”

  38. Jim Jam

    “The IFS has said that schools are facing an effective average fall in budgets of 6.25% by 2020.”

    I presume they are talking about schools in England? Have they said anything about the Barnett consequentials – where the effect will be a slightly smaller cut to Wales, but bigger ones to Scotland & Northern Ireland?

  39. Chris – I can’t recall disagreeing with a post of yours and was surprised by.

    ”absolutely everyone realises that the tax take needs to increase”

    I don’t get this as a neo-Keynsian approach would allow larger budget deficits for longer. A perfectly respectable position if one that is a minority at present since austeiity became vogue.

  40. As the dust settles on the NIC changes, it appears the the Government has chosen to fight on only one front in this budget battle and to prepare the ground properly. Regardless of the merits of the policy and the political awkwardness of reconciling it with the 2015 manifesto this offers a welcome impression of strategic professionalism, in contrast with Osborne. So far Hammond has measured up to the expectations aroused by his resemblance to the Conservative Party’s idealised image of itself.

  41. The net affect ON would be similar in the devolved administrations, perhaps varying in the way you suggest, but of course the virement freedoms may mean worse or better, I would not know?

    Key point is that a big thing is made about extra money for Education (UK Wide) when schools are facing real terms cuts in which I expect are greater?

  42. Jim Jam

    They would vary the Grant to the devolved administrations in the way that I suggested.

    Of course, the consequentials are simply part of the Treasury calculation of the total – so no virement is involved.

    That something happening in England is assumed to be “UK wide” isn’t surprising – its the normal set of assumptions by very ignorant researchers and press corps.

    Why is it so hard for these folk to say “England” – are they ashamed of the place?

  43. ON – would there not be a proportion of the extra money for Education going to the Devolved nations?

  44. Good evening all from rural Hampshire…


    I can easily join you both in congratulating Philip Hammond on his budget. Unless I start drinking whisky and start smoking, then financially I don’t think I will be any worse off as a result of today’s announcements.

    Maybe the majority of us will benefit from the budget…I don’t know? I just look over my left shoulder at the people that are being left behind.

    Not part of the budget today but the scrapping of housing benefit for 17-21-year-olds has to be about the lowest of the low. We can send the very same age group to die on a battlefield yet we can’t offer them basic assistance. That’s what my grandfather said to me on the phone tonight. He also said he fears that this Tory government risks alienating the younger generation who will grow up resenting their older peers. And he’s a card-carrying member of the Conservatives.

    Up until now, I had always thought I would be “lending” my vote to the Tories in 2020…I’m all for aspirations and people making a real go of life but I also have a conscience…Difficult decision in 2020.

  45. Jim Jam

    “would there not be a proportion of the extra money for Education going to the Devolved nations?”

    I presumed that you were talking about a net effect. Otherwise, it’s a pretty pointless exercise by the IFS!

  46. Barnett Formula

    There is little understanding (on either side of any of the borders) of what Barnett is all about (and poor Joel gets the blame!)

    It dates back to 1888, when the UK was grappling with how to deal with Irish Home Rule, but Whitehall couldn’t escape from its Anglo- centric (properly E&W-centric) thinking.

    Taxation from all parts of the UK (then E&W, Scotland, Ireland) were to collected by the Treasury, then returned by grant to Scotland and Ireland on the basis of a proportion of what Westminster chose to spend in E&W.

    There remains confusion about the calculations that Lord Gosschen used to determine his formula, but his initial allocation was very favourable to E&W, somewhat favourable to Scot-land, and bloody awful for Ireland.

    In subsequent decades, most of Ireland left the UK, the population of England rose, while that of Scotland and NI declined.

    By 1978, the Goschen Formula was hopelessly out of date, and devolution proposals meant that Wales could no longer be ignored and treated as “an appendage of England” (as Tancred so charmingly described it).

    Sadly, Barnett chose just to tinker with Goschen’s system. Wales was included as a separate entity, and the proportions of what the Treasury chose to define as “identifiable expenditure by country” in England then became the allocations for the devolved administrations (only administrative devolution then, so the budgets for the relevant Secretary of State).

    The system is poor in any number of ways, but the fundamental errors lie in relating public expenditure in the devolved nations to whatever the Treasury decides is English “identifiable expenditure” and not the effects of total revenue and expenditure across the regions of the UK.

    No thought was ever given to the idea that better governance would be achieved through a UK in which each region would raise its own revenues for a number of services, and that (as the EU does) additional contributions would be taken from the wealthiest regions (London, SE England, Scotland) and given as infrastructure and development grants to the poorer areas.

    Inventing the “Ex-Regio” region of the North Sea was part of that centralist agenda – heaven forfend that UK statistics would ever make Scotland look economilly strong!

    Of course, Unionists (having sold the idea to Scots since at least the 1950s that we did well by king English taxes) were stuck with that proposition – hence their “Vow” that Barnett would not be altered.

    If the UK further disintegrates, a large part of the responsibility will lie with the Anglo-centric, unimaginative attitudes of those in Westminster/Whitehall.

    Incompetence brings its own rewards!

  47. Colin,
    “It isn’t ” Hammond’s view”. It is TM’s response”

    May’s speech need not have mentioned ‘threats’ at all. To mention them as an issue is to indirectly make a threat. We shall see what we shall see, but the position of the EU has always been clear. It has a fixed offer for membership or associate membership, take it or leave it, and May has made preconditions which amount to her saying she will leave it, thank you. To change that impasse, either the EU must break its own rules, or May must change her precondtions. The demands of the two sides have always been irreconcileable.

    I think it quite possible the negotiations could be over in six months with no deal. May believes she must hold to her terms for electoral reasons, The EU must hold to its for reasons of maintaining the existence of the EU. Talk of the EU punishing the Uk is ridiculous, its stance has always been exactly the same. It might change its rules, but if it does then it will be as a reform for the whole organisation and not as an exception for the UK. I even see certain advantages for the EU if the Uk departs.The only disadvantage identified so far seems to be the budget shortfall due to missing Uk contributions, but compared to other costs its a drop in the ocean.

    Whether the UK might then make a comprehensive trade deal with the EU is apparently a separate question. We are told these things take ten years, and the EU has made noises that its task is not to negotiate one now, but to do this separately after the Uk departs.

    This strategy has significant merit for them. I imagine that trade between the EU and UK will continue in a reducing form post cold Turkey exit. A few years will see industry readjusting to its new costs, including relocating into the EU. After sufficient time to get the benefit of this, then the EU might see the benefit of more relaxed trading terms with the UK so that those relocated companies can more readily sell back to the UK. The picture I see for the EU is short term pain for long term gain. For the Uk, managed decline.

    Whether May will be able to blame this on the EU remains to be seen. I’d say we have three groups, as ever in an election. Those diehards for A (ie those who hate the EU and blame it for everything), those diehards for B (the reverse who love the EU and blame it for nothing), and the floating voters who will and did decide the issue. They are likely to recall the leave promises and compare them to the new reality. A bad Brexit will therefore cause a swing to a majority in favour of Remain, but whether staying in the EU will be possible by that time is another question.

    Electorally the conservatives do not need majority support. Indeed at present they enjoy a record high in the polls with only 30% voter support. UKIP has another 10% who are presumably in group A. If UKIP can be destroyed as a party, presumably the conservatives would hope to inherit those votes. Thus, they could afford to lose 1/3 of their existing supporters and still be in as good a position as now. About half their supporters are on either side of the membership question, so potentially more might be against the party line than for it. However, given the then reality of having already left the EU, the question becomes how best to deal with the reality of a disaster, and they might reasonably think their party would handle it better than labour.

    It is therefore critical to conservative success that 1) they be absolutely firm on hard Brexit (so as to eliminate UKIP), 2) there be no possibility of halting Brexit or reversing it thereafter. So antagonising the EU nations as much as possible is probably a good strategy for them as a party.

    In particular, there needs to be no possibility of parliament seizing control of failed or failing negotiations and demanding a new moderate course. May’s plan requires that parliament be kept out of the loop. Requires that they not be told how badly things are going until too late to change them. Currently Labour in particular is walking itself into disaster by failing to support parliament’s involvement in negotiations.

    There is nothing to be gained for the nation by secrecy in the negotiations, only for the conservative party in hiding how matters are progressing. Though of course, if negotiations were going well it would benefit the government to announce it and no doubt they would. It is bad news they need to hide.

  48. @Jim Jam

    Mea Culpa, you articulate a perfectly respectable position there. Given the shirty headlines Hammond got this morning, it will be interesting to see how he approaches it in the autumn.

  49. @Oldnat

    There is another side to cheap foreign imports and EU Protected Names Scheme.

    There is this: “The EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF, uncovering allegedly one of the biggest fraud rings in its history, concluded that British customs played a central role by repeatedly ignoring warnings to take action over Chinese textiles and footwear pouring into the EU at a tiny fraction of their cost of production.

    OLAF calculated that U.K. customs’ “continuous negligence” deprived the EU of €1.987 billion in revenues in lost duties on Chinese merchandise. ”

    The EU will add this figure to whatever amount it thinks the UK owes. The story can be found at Politico.


    It is taken up and covered more broadly by Dr Richard North

    Here is a bit of this morning’s post.

    “The Olaf observation that the “organised groups” perpetrating the frauds have “excellent knowledge of the weaknesses of controls, logistic circuits, false invoice systems and clandestine financial flows”, suggest that the UK might have been specifically targeted by criminal gangs.

    The issue here is that there are underlying flaws in UK systems at certain ports, and in particular the stress points of Felixstowe and Dover. These, to coin a phrase, are creating “chinks in the armour” that are leaving the entire system vulnerable.

    An HMRC insider, with specialist knowledge of customs fraud, did not disagree with this view. He told this blog that there was a dearth of experience in dealing with valuation fraud, and little political will to resolve issues. On the other hand, there would have been a lot of pressure to keep the system moving.

    He believes that a lot of the problems stem from Gordon Brown’s merger of revenue and customs. The smaller department, customs, has been subsumed and its functions weakened.

    In particular, dedicated Customs Investigation Teams have been weakened and, since 2000, are no longer responsible for serious fraud case work. A huge amount of organisational knowledge and expertise has withered. He also cites poor leadership as part of the problem. ”


    “The inability to address problems even when they are detected – especially in terms of the alleged failures to introduce risk profiles as a fraud detection aid – points to underlying weaknesses in the customs service.

    Those weaknesses were already evident from the failure of the HMRC to secure a timely replacement for its CHIEF system. With Brexit on the horizon, it is clear that the customs function is going to need considerable strengthening to cope with a massively increased workload under unprecedented circumstances.”

    “There again, there are deeper issues at play, which could also have a significant influence on the Brexit talks. As the problem started in 2005 when the EU lifted quotas on Chinese goods, we are now seeing the Chinese dumping goods on the market, as they have been doing previously, in what amounts to a naked act of economic imperialism. The primary effect of this is to drive other producers into penury. Not even Bangladesh can complete, and the Africans have been severely disadvantaged.

    Thus, the tariffs are as much to protect other producers on less developed countries. We have very few volume producers in the textile sectors left. But, with the Chinese Government turning a blind eye, the trade has been taken over by the Chinese crime gangs. They do so with the complicity of established criminal organisations in Europe, such as the Mafia. On a huge scale, criminals are subverting the trading system.

    The customs are in the front line here – not only engaged in revenue collection, but acting as guardians of government trade policy, helping to ensure that it works as intended. The trouble is that, in this case, the “government” is the EU. The UK Government, under pressure from retailers to let cheap goods in, and anxious to keep inflation low, has lacked commitment to the tariff policy. It has refused to put the resources needed into breaking up the criminal gangs.

    Hence, EU players are seriously angry. They see themselves in the front line, holding the line against unfair competition from the Chinese and pushing back the gangs. In response, the criminals have moved to the UK where, in the view of the Europeans, they are being given a free ride by the HMRC as long as they kept their noses clean on our side of the Channel.. Unsurprisingly, EU Member States are after blood, wanting to extract revenge for what they feel is a betrayal.”

    In addition to HMRC being understaffed and lacking the expertise to train additional staff adequately there are infrastructure problems. More space will be needed at ports to park lorries/trailers in order to allow the customs people to do their work.

    Exporting our Black Puddins will have to be via Border Inspection Posts with Dunkirk currently unable to process the expected increases in volume with Brexit when the UK becomes a “third country”. No doubt the EU will seek to make the UK pay for any expense needed to upgrade Dunkirk, for example.

  50. ALLAN

    I have some sympathy with you on Housing Benefit for the under 21s.

    I think it has at its heart a feeling that the “family” has that responsibility. Unfortunately, today, the caring nuclear family does not exist for many youngsters-or they are just a member of a family which is too big for the house they live in .

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