The Mail on Sunday today had a new Survation poll on Brexit, YouGov had a longer Brexit poll in the week. After a general election that was supposed to be a “Brexit election” but didn’t really contain much debate about Brexit, the agenda is now moving back onto the subject.

Public opinion on Brexit tends to be a bit unclear and nebulous. It’s one of those subjects where the impression created by a poll depends an awful lot on the questions asked and the wording used. With complex issues where people’s opinions are fairly uncertain it does makes an awful lot of difference how you ask the question. As ever, the best way of understanding it is to look at all the polling, not to jump on bits that appear to tell you want to want to hear. So in the spirit of that, what can we tell?

What sort of Brexit people want

Questions about the sort of Brexit people want come down to a couple of different patterns. One is asking if we should stay in the single market and/or the customs union. Other questions frame it as a trade off between immigration control and free trade. My preference is generally for questions that ask about Brexit packages are a deal, but there are even countless different ways of doing that (most notable degree to which they are described using terms like “soft” and “hard Brexit”).

There is also a question of what criteria you measure Brexit preferences by. It’s not just whether the sort of Brexit that the government delivers is seen as being good for Britain, it’s also a matter of whether it is seen as democratic. Are the government honouring the referendum result? This is most evident in questions about what the government should do now. 48% voted for Britain to remain a member of the EU in June 2016 and if you ask if that result was the right or wrong thing to do, or how people would vote if the referendum was repeated, you tend to find not much has changed: about half the country would vote to stay. However, questions asking what the government should do NOW generally paint a very different picture. YouGov consistently find around half of Remain voters now say that while they don’t support Brexit, they think they government is duty bound to go ahead with it. A new question on their poll this week asked what the government should now do on Brexit following the general election – 66% wanted to proceed with Brexit (43% on current plans, 23% for a softer Brexit), 17% wanted a fresh referendum, just 7% wanted to stop Brexit completely.

That’s not because only 7% of people would, ultimately, like to remain in the European Union (later in the same poll YouGov asked people to put their favoured outcomes in rank order and 35% of people would still, ideally, like Britain to remain a member), it’s because a substantial proportion of people think that the government has a duty to go ahead an implement the referendum result, even if they personally disagree with its outcome. For anyone campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU, that’s probably the more difficult obstacle… not convincing the public that Remaining would be good, but that it would be democratically legitimate.

Soft v Hard

If we are to leave, that brings us to the question is the balance between “hard” and “soft” Brexit. The terms themselves are a problem – personally I try avoid using them in questions as it’s unclear what people understand by the terms (Note how opponents of hard Brexit have started to call it “extreme Brexit”, rather than “hard Brexit”). I’ve always assumed that there is a majority to be found in favour of a “soft Brexit”: 48% of people voted to stay in the EU as it was and would presumably be fairly happy with a soft Brexit. Equally some minority of Leave voters would prefer a soft Brexit to a hard one. Even if the vast majority prefer a harder Brexit, when combined with the opinions of Remainers it only takes a few percentage points of soft Leavers to build a majority for soft Brexit.

Just asking about whether people would like to keep free trade or stay in the single market rather misses the point. I suspect the single market is just being seen as a euphemism for free trade, so the vast majority say they want to keep it. Equally when it is asked in isolation a large majority of people want to end the right of EU migrants to freely come to Britain. To give one example, a poll by NatCen earlier in the year found 68% in favour of treating EU migrants like non-EU migrants, and 88% in favour of free trade with the EU. These don’t tell us much beyond the the fact that ideally people would like all the benefits of EU membership without the responsibilities – of course they would. The interesting questions come when we start asking people to make trade offs.

There have been lots of different questions asking people to pick between free trade and immigration control when it comes to the Brexit deal. The wording makes a difference here (I am suspicious of questions asking about “freedom of movement” and the “single market” because I’m not sure people know exactly what they mean), but there is a clear pattern. To give some examples:

  • Opinium ask a regular question asking people to choose between the single market and ending free movement of Labour, typically the split is down the middle (in their last poll 37% preferred staying in the single market, 38% preferred ending free movement).
  • NatCen in February found 54% thought we should “allow people from EU freely to come and live and work” in return for “allowing UK firms to trade freely with the EU”, 44% did not.
  • In February Ipsos MORI found 40% of people thought EU citizens should continue to have the right to free movement in return from British access to the EU single market, 41% thought they should not, even if that meant losing access to the single market

These questions all assume, of course, that the public see this as an actual choice. That is not nececssarily the case – some people think it is a false choice, and that Britain will indeed be able to have its cake and eat it:

  • In March YouGov asked a version of the question that asked people to choose between it being more important to control EU immigration than keep free trade, more important to keep free trade than control immigration… but gave people the option of saying that it’s a false choice and that it was possible to do both. 16% thought it was more important to control immigration, 24% that it was more important to keep free trade… 40% that it was possible to do both (when forced to choose the 40% split down the middle, so overall more people wanted to keep free trade)
  • Opinium have a question along the same lines asking how likely they think it is that Britain could both stay in the single market AND stop free movement of labour from the EU – in their last poll 16% thought it was likely, 37% either didn’t know or didn’t think it likely or unlikely.

Looking overall at the questions, they tend to show it either very close or slightly more people valuing free trade over immigration control. However a substantial majority do think that both are possible, so actually selling a compromise as necessary may be tricky for the government.

Another caveat is that these questions do rather assume that the public’s big sticking point is going to be immigration. That’s not necessarily the case – for example, in April ICM asked in what areas the government should be willing to make compromises in negotiations: 54% said that a transitional deal on immigration would be acceptable, 48% said giving preference to EU immigrants over non-EU immigrants would be acceptable. On contrast, a majority thought that it would be unacceptable for the government to compromise on paying towards the outstanding costs of EU projects agreed when Britain was still a member. YouGov found similar in polling last summer – 51% thought allowing EU immigration was a price worth paying, but only 41% thought a financial contribution to the EU would be. Don’t necessarily assume that immigration is the trickiest obstacle.

Equally, before assuming that costs would necessarily be a deal-breaker for the public, the Survation poll at the weekend asked a different trade off – whether people would be willing to pay a fee in order to secure membership of the Customs Union. 27% would like Britain to leave the customs union, 37% would rather Britain pay a fee to remain a member.

Some other polls have asked wider ranging questions, asking about whole Brexit packages. My general assumption is that this is likely to be a better guide – in the end the Brexit deal is likely to be judged by whether it sounds good overall, rather than on a sum of its parts.

Before Theresa May set out her negotiating stance at the start of the year YouGov asked people about various Brexit scenarios. These suggest more problems with selling a “soft Brexit” to the public: a Norway style soft Brexit where Britain became a member of EFTA, stayed in the single market with EU immigration and a financial contribution was seen as good for Britain by 35%, bad for Britain by 38%. However only 32% thought it would respect the referendum result, 42% thought it would not. Compared to that Theresa May’s version of Brexit is popular – asked this week 52% still think her version of Brexit would be good for Britain (compared to 51% in March), 61% think it would respect the result of the referendum. By promising a trade deal AND controls on immigration she is presenting a version of Brexit that people would be happy with. The question is whether it is realistically possible. If May fails to secure the sort of Brexit she has asks for and returns with a deal that involves only limited free trade and customs checks and tariffs on British people think it would be bad for Britain by 42% to 31%.

Has the election changed the situation?

Given the variations you get from different question wordings on Brexit, the only real way of measuring if attitudes to Brexit have changed in face of the general election result are long term tracking questions. The YouGov survey this week was mostly made up of repeats of questions that were last asked before the election was called, and with a few important exceptions, opinion hasn’t changed much.

Directly comparing people’s preferences on Brexit there does appear to be a little shift towards a softer Brexit. Last November a hard Brexit of some sort was the first preference of 52% of people (26% favoured no deal at all with the EU, 26% only a limited deal), a soft Brexit or remaining a member was favoured by 48% (17% a soft Brexit, 31% remaining a member). Now only 45% support a hard Brexit (23% no deal, 22% a limited deal), 54% either a soft Brexit or Remaining (19% and 35% respectively).

The more drastic change has been confidence in Theresa May to deliver Brexit. Obviously this is not Brexit specific – the public’s attitude towards May has nose-dived across the board. Nevertheless, back in January 47% had confidence in May to negotiate the sort of Brexit she wanted, that has now fallen to 37%. In April 40% thought the government were doing well at negotiating Brexit, that is now only 22%.

This change is important – ultimately when Theresa May comes back with a final Brexit deal, she will be the person selling it to the British public (if she is still there, of course). Any political message depends a great deal on the person making it, and the Theresa May the public mostly thought very highly of in April 2017 would have been a far more effective saleswomen than the Theresa May we have now. To put it bluntly, she doesn’t have much political capital left to spend on selling her Brexit deal.

A second referendum?

Polling on a second referendum is somewhat mixed. The Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday at the weekend found 53% support a referendum on the final dead, 47% opposed, compared to 46% support and 54% opposition when they asked a very similar question in April. I should add a minor caveat in that the first question was asked online and the second by phone, but the important thing is the result: this appears to be the first poll that has shown more people supporting a second referendum than opposing one, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on to see if it’s a consistent pattern.

The YouGov poll this week asked a different question on what should happen after the final deal was agreed, offering options of a referendum or a Parliamentary vote, though it again appeared to show some movement. Only 25% wanted a referendum on the deal, 23% want a Parliamentary vote on the deal, 37% want the government to go ahead without any further. The proportion wanting a referendum or vote after the deal is up two points since the start of the month, the proportion thinking the government should just steam ahead is down five.

What next?

If there is public support for a softer Brexit out there, it does not mean it’s necessarily easy for the government to take advantage of it. The biggest obstacle for a soft Brexit is probably the politics of the Conservative party. The figures in most of this article are for the public as a whole. However, Theresa May’s position and her party’s position depends on the views of Conservative voters and those who might plausibly support them in the future. If you look at the answers for Tory voters, they think that a hard Brexit is preferable to a soft one, that May should plow on with the current targets rather than reconsider, that immigration control is more important than trade.

It would be interesting to see the same split amongst Conservative MPs (given the proportion who backed Remain it may not necessarily be in favour of hard Brexit), though the more pertinent question may be whether there are enough Conservative MPs who are wedded enough to the idea of a hard Brexit that they would trigger a vote of no confidence to remove Theresa May if she changed course. That, however, is steering away from this site’s focus on public opinion and polling into political commentary for which others are far better equipped than me. For now:

  • There has not really been much change in the overall proportions between Remain and Leave
  • But even if there is a fairly even split between people who think Brexit is good or bad for Britain, the proportion of people who think Brexit should go ahead is higher, as many of those who voted Remain think the referendum make it the government’s duty to go ahead with it
  • The ideal Brexit for much of the public one where Britain has its cake and eats it, where we control immigration AND have free trade – a substantial minority think this is possible
  • The version of Brexit that Theresa May laid out in January, with immigration control and the “freest trade deal” is still popular with a majority of the public
  • But trust in Theresa May to actually deliver it has plummeted over the last few months and most people don’t think other countries would agree to what she wants
  • If the sort of deal that May wants isn’t possible then most people think a harder Brexit would be bad for Britain. In contrast a Norway type deal risks being seen as not respecting the result. There is potential for either to be unpopular (especially for those people who think a cake-and-eat it deal was possible)
  • If push comes to shove, when people are forced to choose more people would opt for a soft Brexit rather than a hard one, for free trade rather than immigration control. However among Conservative voters the preference is the other way, and the political obstacles towards the Conservatives making such a change in their approach could be formidable.

915 Responses to “Public opinion on Brexit”

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  1. @CR

    Here is a genuine comment from The Red Flag Facebook page:

    “In my opinion Jeremy Corbyn has messianic qualities and the sharing of initials with the son of God is more than just a coincidence. Like Christ he had his deniers and non believers. Like Christ he has been crucified and resurrected. And like Christ he is showing true believers the light and converting the doubtful. God bless JC”

    I remember being nonplussed when one of our Momentumites castigated us at a branch meeting for having not remarked that tomorrow was Christmas Day, sorry, I mean JC’s birthday

  2. @guymonde – v. droll – greatly enjoyed – though I’m guessing it might be Son of God as opposed to son of God if you’re a Trinitarian!

    General Query:

    I take it though it is not reported that Irish Citizens in the UK will continue to be treated differently – as they are now being for example able to move and work without restraint and vote in general as opposed to local and EU elections. I guess determined EU migrants might do their residency in Ireland under their rules and enter the UK as full citizens….thus the Irish border issue is not just about hard and soft borders whatever they be…

  3. PAUL
    “So this might be as good as it can ever get [or as bad, depending on your viewpoint].”

    Incumbency, dear boy. the incumbent PM has the advantage of demonstrating that they can be it.

  4. CR
    It’s affection, not adulation. They might just as well be singing “Why were you born so beautiful,why were you born at all…”

    “Here is a genuine comment from The Red Flag Facebook page”

    So.genuine bollocks then?

  5. You have to smile !

    “Beata Szydlo, Poland’s prime minister, has accused Emmanuel Macron of “hostility” after the new French president said eastern European governments and others treated the EU “like a supermarket”.
    Ms Szydlo, who is set to meet Mr Macron along with leaders from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia on Friday, responded sharply: “Poland is open to co-operation but it depends on Macron what it will look like: whether he will want to show off his hostility to eastern Europe in the media or have a fact-based discussion.”
    The comments made by the French president were part of a wider discussion on the future of the EU, a topic on which Mr Macron campaigned heavily. In them, he linked Britain’s vote to leave the EU with the arrival of large numbers of workers from eastern Europe.
    “What did Brexit play on?” said Mr Macron during the interview with the Guardian and other European newspapers earlier this week. “On workers from eastern Europe who came to take British jobs. The defenders of the European Union lost because the British lower middle classes said: ‘Stop!’” ”


  6. TOH: “every time I have given you backup information about the problems facing the EU, from reputable sources such as the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz or the LSE report that I posted you poo poo them.”

    I think you’ve got me mixed up with someone else. I’ve never debated Stiglitz’s views with you, though I may well have rubbished Minford.

    FWIW, like most remainers I don’t deny that the EU has its problems in economic governance. In particular, it is far too much in thrall to neo-lib deficit control, imposing on the eurozone in general and Greece in particular the sort of deficit reduction and spending cuts which you want (or professed to want) to see adopted in Britain.

    But whatever problems the EU may face are nothing compared with those that will assail a go-it-alone UK. In a stormy sea full of sharks, you’re better off in a leaky boat than swimming on your own. I think we’re seeing that reality increasingly sink in: it will be interesting to watch polling track this.

    And if public opinion does decisively shift against full Brexit, will you still maintain that a chance to think again is undemocratic?

    After all, as David Davis once said, “if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy”.

  7. cambridgerachel,
    ” I’ve always laughed at the personality cult narrative but it’s starting to look very much like it. Very strange!”

    Then you shouldn’t have been laughing ever. Its a thing. Helps he is out on a limb so there is no competition.

    trevor Warne,
    ” we voted to leave, we’re leaving.”

    With respect, isnt that a little naive? This is a website devoted to analysing political trends and strategies. Manifestos never translate directly into laws. What a politician says today is the opposite tomorrow. We all know that. What both the referendum and election have demonstrated is at best luke warm support for the latest plan which politicians are pushing, while we know those same politicians don’t believe in it anyway!

    ” #2 of Barnier’s 3 points hopefully ticked off quickly.”
    Better to get the easy bits done than do nothing. Clock ticking.

  8. This is interesting from recent YouGov:

    Not sure if it’s already been posted here – sorry if it has, but worth posting again anyway I think.

  9. The thing is the far right of the Tory Parliamentary party want the whole pie as far as Brexit goes, one of them, I forget which one, said before last year’s vote that he was prepared to see his family eating grass in order to ensure a full unequivocal Brexit. How much ‘trimming’ as they would see it will the 30-40 ‘hard’ Brexiters put up with?


    “So this might be as good as it can ever get [or as bad, depending on your viewpoint].”

    “Incumbency, dear boy. the incumbent PM has the advantage of demonstrating that they can be it.”

    Well, I put “good”, meaning for Corbyn, first because, if at this juncture he’s just managed to creep ahead there must be a 90% chance now that the only way is down.

    That’s a simple, dispassionate observation on my part and is based to an extent on a feel for how this country deals with popular figures.

  11. No opinion polls since the election?

  12. Rob Riley

    There have been two survations for different media outlets so not comparable to each other I think the first was lab 45 con 39 soon after the elections . The second was lab 43 con 40 I think! That’s all I seen and I lurk here most days.

  13. @ DANNY – “What a politician says today is the opposite tomorrow. We all know that”

    Could you provide a link to the poll showing 100% of people believe that whatever a politician says today is the opposite tomorrow.

    AW has posted a huge back catalogue of polling info, another good summary is here:

    Quote: “This means that overall the public think Brexit should go ahead by 69% to 21%”
    (not quite the 85% to 7% we saw in the GE as obviously voters select the party that has the overall package that they prefer and many (especially LAB voters) placed UK domestic issues higher on their priority list – LDEM manifesto was light on sweeties so maybe that is why they got less than 21%?!?)

    Leaving the EU is a fact. We triggered Article50 and are now on a course that will mean we leave EU on Mar’19 UNLESS the EU27 unanimously agree that we can revoked Article50 – requiring a different set of negotiations about the return deal.

    Frustrating the Brexit process is most likely to result in the default situation of no deal come Mar’19. Another GE with LAB forming a govt is not going to change the facts or the Brexit timetable – it will simply tick down the clock increasing the probability of no deal. LAB MPs are split on Brexit but Corbyn/far-left need to move outside ECJ jurisdiction to enact their state intervention plans – although maybe they didn’t really mean that and would do the opposite !?!?! Being in opposition means you can make up impossible cake and eat it scenarios knowing it is not you that has to deliver on them. Being in govt is different – you have to work within the realms of possible outcomes.

    I’ll allow you the final say. From my perspective the matter is closed (or as Corbyn says “Brexit is settled”) but I’m happy to acknowledge you have a different view and I’m happy to agree to disagree.

  14. Somerjohn

    I think what we are seeing is a continuation and indeed intensification of Project Fear by the Remainers. It has little to do with reality sinking in as you put, because we don’t know what the reality is. It’s just an attempt to try and get the British people to change their minds. It’s interesting that Tusk said yesterday that we could always change our minds, confirming my view that the EU is desperate that we don’t leave, because of course it could be the beginning of the end of the EU project. I suspect there is some form of collusion between the EU and some in the Remain camp. No evidence but that’s how it “smells” to me.

    “ In a stormy sea full of sharks, you’re better off in a leaky boat than swimming on your own.”

    Loved your analogy, but I think many would see the EU as the sea of sharks and the UK as the leaky boat. What we need to do is beach her, repair the leaks and sail of to a golden future.

    I have never had any illusions about Politicians and indeed the voters so anything is possible and I certainly agree with David Davis. That is why I have always said I would support the holding of a referendum to rejoin the EU at some time in the future once we have left provided public opinion was clearly in favour.

  15. Trevor Warne

    Thanks for the link. I think that’s about as good as the Tories could expect at the moment. The country remains totally divided on Brexit with no significasnt movement either way, the Tories are still seen as the best party to negotiate it but are not seeing to be doing well at that so far. Hardly surprising since the negotiations only began on Monday last.
    I am surprised Labour lead on unemployment as I think their manifesto would lead to a significant increase in unemployment but that’s just IMO of course.


    Thanks for the Thunderer snippets. I couldn’t live with myself if I paid a Murdoch organisation anything, but have their free daily email which allows viewing two full articles per week if you register.

    Today’s “Border is a special case, Coveney tells Europe” was my choice and includes:

    Mr Coveney[*], who met Mr Barnier on Wednesday, said that an unprecedented “political solution” was needed to keep the status quo and an effectively invisible frontier. “What we are insisting on achieving is a special status for Northern Ireland that allows the interaction on this island, as is currently the case, to be maintained,” he said.

    “It is not so much about a soft or hard border, it is about an invisible border effectively. To achieve that, we need to draw up a political solution here as well as a technical and practical one, which doesn’t really have any precedent in the European Union. This is not going to be a straightforward problem to solve.”

    Mr Coveney said the solution would have to respect the territorial integrity of Northern Ireland but that the government would not countenance customs checks of any kind.

    “I’ve heard talk of ensuring we don’t have a hard border and some people seem to be talking in the context of using technology to ensure that is not the case. For me that misses the point totally. This is not about finding a way of avoiding queues on roads through the use of cameras or permits,” he said.

    While the government has argued for the unique circumstances to be reflected in the eventual deal, Mr Coveney’s use of the words “special status” represent a significant change of language in line with the demands of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.

    [*] Coveney is the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Deputy Leader of Fine Gael

    NB: There’s a similar article in the Irish Times, which anyone can read for free. See All-island approach to Brexit vital, says Simon Coveney.

  17. TOH: “I think many would see the EU as the sea of sharks”

    I think you’ve summed up the essence of the divide pretty well. At heart, it’s an emotional thing. If you see the wide world as the stormy sea and the EU and its 28 passengers as the safe refuge, you’re a remainer. If you see the EU 27 as a bunch of sharks eyeing us as a tasty meal, then you want us to sail off on our own.

    So we can agree on that. But what I think you underestimate is the degree of bewilderment, incomprehension and incredulity with which the EU27 have come to regard the UK’s behaviour. From the conversations I’ve had, an awful lot of people elsewhere in the EU think we’ve gone completely bonkers and they’ll be better off without us. I can sympathise with that, and so (you may be glad to hear) I’m coming round to the view that Brexit might be for the best. I’ll be sad to see my country going down the tubes, though.

  18. @RJW

    “IIRC J P Morgan (the Plutocrats’ Plutocrat) came out in favour of a Labour win just before the GE!
    Also there was no criticism of the Labour manifesto from ‘the usual suspects’ in the CBI .
    How long can she hang on?”


    The Press pulled their punches a bit too, during the election I felt. Have they decided Corbynism isn’t that scary? I mean, he’s only winding things back to the Thatcher era…

    Imo there will almost certainly be a transitional deal which the Govt may call interim with a sunset clause perhaps to appease the hard Brexit Tories.

    That’s pretty much what my guess would be. If they don’t do just that, they’ll have a mountain to climb to reclaim the votes of previously Con voters who voted Lab this month.

    Whatever the DUP might say in public, they really don’t want a hard Irish border and would go along with that. If the anti-EU Cons prevent such a transitional deal from happening, they’ll have little choice but to bring the Con government down and let Lab have a go.

  20. @Philotes

    “This is interesting from recent YouGov:

    Not sure if it’s already been posted here – sorry if it has, but worth posting again anyway I think.”


    Well it IS interesting, especially the figures on those who are prepared to let EU peeps have right to live and work here if it means business can maintain free access to the EU. 58%!! Versus those who think we should keep control of immigration even if it means business losing free access: 42%.

    (It’s nice to see some of you sticking around after the election btw., Trevor too etc. If Porroman pops back I wonder what guitar he bought with his Canterbury winnings…)

  21. A quarter of Tory voters think we’re wrong to leave the EU and nearly a third expect us to get either a bad deal or no deal at all.

    All of those votes are in play in the event of an unsatisfactory Brexit. The electorate is now also clear that the economy should be prioritised over immigration.
    That should concentrate minds, especially those on the Right who are determined that the only acceptable form of Brexit is the one that they, personally, want.

    We’ve barely started. Only half of *Tories* expect a good deal. These are not good figures for the Tories. These figures represent an existential threat to the party.

  22. I may or may not have just experenced the first direct impact of Brexit on my family. My son’s biotech start-up company was founded to exploit an idea of his and was poised to get a needed £3 mllion cash injection from some venture capitalists. The ‘due dligence’ seems to have gone very well and everyone was optimistic. Now, however, the VCs have pulled out with the consequence that most of my son’s colleagues, possibly all, will lose their jobs.

    Clearly this could have happened for all sorts of reasons. However, the BBC this morning had a piece on the impact of Brexit on the Bio-tech industry and said that investment decisions were being put on hold or going elsewhere. So I wonder and will never know.

    All of this underlines the importance of gettng beyond slogans like ‘project fear’. Clearly Osborne threatened the UK with consequences that were far more immediate than were ever going to occur. In this sense ‘project fear’ had a ring of truth. However, as far as I know the vast majority of think tanks etc who looked into the thng at time said its impact would be bad. Gove effectively rubbished these by saying that we have had enough of experts.

    In my view ‘project reality’ involves lookng carefully at what experts say and then, if one disagrees, producing reasons for this. So I would genuinely be grateful for a link to someone who puts forward a reasoned case for the economic benefits of Brexit and then I will be in a better position to make up my own mind.

    At present all I have is an unpleasant set of scenarios and some uncertainty as to which one is most likely to play out.

  23. Somerjohn

    Thanks for that I think we clearly understand each other now. My own conversations with friends in and from the EU countries have been more mixed than your own. Some have expressed surprise and bewilderment, others are supportive of the UK’s position, and some also want out of the EU. Because of our political leaning I suspect the people we befriend have somewhat different profiles. It is the differences which make the World interesting of course.

    I don’t agree with your last sentence of course but i guess you take that as a given.

  24. Further to what was said above….

    Jeremy Corbyn has overtaken Theresa May for the first time in a poll asking who would make the best prime minister.

    The YouGov survey for The Times found that 35 per cent of respondents thought the Labour leader would make the country’s best leader.

    Ms May was a point behind on 34 per cent, while 30 per cent said they were unsure.

  25. @Danny

    “Thanks for the Thunderer snippets. I couldn’t live with myself if I paid a Murdoch organisation anything, but have their free daily email which allows viewing two full articles per week if you register.”


    Yes, I try and post some bits for those who don’t care to indulge Murdoch’s empire. Regarding the border thing, I confess myself to be still very much behind the curve on the matter; don’t appear to have the “border” gene, but am beginning to piece it together from your discussions. The bit you just posted does seem to make things a bit harder if ruling out clever technical solutions?

  26. @Charles

    The disruption to international research collaborations is very real and very serious and is already having a significant effect on any R&D intensive industries. In time, many of these collaborations will be re-established but the key word is ‘time’. Our native R&D efforts have been under severe pressure for some time due to our extraordinarily blase attitude towards flogging our industrial crown jewels to overseas investors and the chase for short-term shareholder value being prioritised over long-term investment and this adds to that burden.

  27. CARFREW @ Danny BZ
    The bit you just posted does seem to make things a bit harder if ruling out clever technical solutions?

    Agreed. Davis mentioned technical approaches very soon after he was handed the poisoned chalice and will need to face reality.

  28. BAS75
    I do question whether the EEA option is really there and whether the EU would be prepared to offer it. It’s actually shocking how little people have grasped that it’s not just about what we want.

    I’d be more unsure about the EU27 letting the UK withdraw A50 than preventing the UK switching to EEA. If it were not for the Irish issue, they might well be disposed to offer no deal and let the UK get on with destroying its economy pour encourager les autres.

    As it is they have to support the RoI’s aspirations to retain a soft border and will be solidly supporting them and the Belfast Agreement. However, it will have to be spun as an interim or transitional deal.


    I agree that US use of imperial measurements is pretty minimal and would help trade very little.

    More to the point, perhaps, is that component issues in the manufacturing industry tend to use AF rather than BS standards for nuts and bolts – an issue very relevant to anyone in Europe who, like me, owns a Harley Davidson motorcycle. To what, if any, extent they have changed over things like jet engines I have no idea and would be interseted to hear from anyone who knows.


    If a sample was truly representative it would get turnout close.

    Well tautologically so, but my point (probably well disguised in my digressions) was that a truly representative sample is neither possible or necessary. All pollsters will have ‘too many’ people in their samples who vote and vote regularly, simply because those are also the sort of people who answer surveys.

    If you look at some of the last polls for the percentage absolutely certain to vote, MORI had 79%, ICM 76% and so on. Even these will be underestimates because most of those who said 9/10 will also vote.

    The real problem lies in assessing low-information, low-interest people. Those who are less likely to respond to surveys and don’t take much of an interest in politics and the news. They’re less likely to vote, but they sometimes do. For example it was clear that many turned out in the EU Referendum, even though they might not normally, especially say in a safe Labour seat.

    YouGov have made an effort to recruit more of such people to their panel and other pollsters have possibly done similar.

    Otherwise (as I said) the sample was lucky in being equally wrong across the main party split (Survation over estimated LDEM and UKIP, just happened to be closest on CON lead over LAB).

    Actually as well as getting Con and Lab nearly right, Survation were the only pollster to get UKIP’s 1.8% as well (2% when everyone else was on 4-5%) and, like most others were pretty correct on the Lib Dems 7.6% (they said 8%, but most were 7-9%):,_2017#2017

    Though they did overestimate other smaller Parties a bit, so did every other pollster (this seems true of most elections. So that final Survation phone poll was indeed pretty accurate, despite the 81% certain to vote. It was also extremely large for a phone poll (2798) which must have helped.

    One of the little-discussed aspects of polling over the last few years has been the decline of phone polls and their near universal replacement by online ones (I suspect this is mainly a UK phenomenon with online polls still being treated sceptical in the US for example). So pollsters such as ComRes and ICM who used to publish both now only produce online ones.

    A lot of this is because of cost of course. Phone polls are more expensive, but it has also become increasingly difficult to get people to take part as well (I’ve seen one in 20 quoted) and the move to mobiles as people’s main (maybe only) type of phone.

    So there were only two phone polls that I can see – Survation’s and the MORI poll published on election day. At the time I was amused by the raw sample having exactly the same number of Con and Lab voters (439) but after MORI adjusted for “All 9/10 certain to vote + always/usually vote/depends + turnout overclaim adjustment + refused reallocated”, they ended up with Con 44%, Lab 33%, LD 7%, UKIP 4%.

    However if you ignore all their adjustments except using 9-10 likely to vote (see column 8):

    you get Con 42%, Lab 40%, LD 7%, UKIP 2%.

    So it looks as if phone polls haven’t quite lost their power.

  31. @Chris Riley

    Surely the votes of the 50% of Tories who expect a good Brexit deal will also be in play when/if it transpores that no such thing can be delivered (by the Tories)?

    I see two possible scenarios if the Tories stay in charge:

    1. A bad deal (including no deal). A large number of voters will feel they have been l88d to, and will blame the Tories (who else will there be to blame?).

    2. An EEA style arrangement (whether transitional, interim, or permanent). A large number of voters will feel betrayed at being denied the hard Brexit they wanted, and will blame the Tories (who else will there be to blame? Yes, I know some will try to blame the EU, but surely the Tories should have anticipated how those dastardly Europeans would have behaved?)

    Meanwhile, all those against Brexit will also blame the Tories.

    Unless something remarkable happens, the Tories could be lining themselves up for a major defeat and another long spell out of power. I wouldn’t be surprised if some Tories (particularly the younger ones with an interest in the party’s longer term prospects) can see this, and are seriously thinking about how to engineer another election soon so as to pass the poison chalice to Labour.

  32. New poll from Yougo saying that Corbyn has overtaken May as most preferred PM.

    Corbyn 35%

    May 34%

    So taking that with the latest polls showing Labour ahead in terms of voting intention, I guess we have crossover on everything now.

    Compete turnaround from only a few weeks ago.

    Usual caveats etc, only one poll etc.

    NB. The poll is being widely reported in Independent, Guardian, etc, etc. But I am unable to find the actual poll on the Yougov site.

  33. “More to the point, perhaps, is that component issues in the manufacturing industry tend to use AF rather than BS standards for nuts and bolts…”


    Well, that is an issue, no doubt, but set against Blowers having just announced his retirement…

  34. “I wouldn’t be surprised if some Tories (particularly the younger ones with an interest in the party’s longer term prospects) can see this, and are seriously thinking about how to engineer another election soon so as to pass the poison chalice to Labour.”


    Well Corbyn could always decide to go on holiday again if he thinks he’s gonna win. (Maybe announce a care package to make sure…)

  35. Carfrew

    Having read Guymondes earlier report from Corbynista land I suspect Corbyn is getting some practise in walking on the Thames although I believe he’s still available for some random hugging and being very angry about something.

  36. AC
    ‘I said it just after the election that Scottish voters might go back to split ticket voting. .SNP for Hollyrood and labour for Westminster although I do think the days of Labour hitting 41 seats in Scotland are well and truly over.’

    I can see Labour winning 30 seats in Scotland next time – having looked at the results!

  37. @ROBIN

    It really wouldn’t be a poisoned chalice for labour though. Labour would just aim for an EEA style deal, and having already lost all the hard brexiteers to the conservatives and UKIP, I can’t see how such a deal would cost them many votes. The labour voting remainers would at this point be happy to settle for such an outcome (though we’d certainly prefer to remain), while the soft brexiteers who don’t like freedom of movement but still prioritize jobs and the economy would also grudgingly settle for such an outcome.

    Moreover its the conservatives who would lose the most under such an arrangement being negotiated by labour, or even by themselves. Their hard leavers who would want out of such an agreement, and would jump ship to UKIP if the conservatives didn’t promise to end it. While their softer leavers would jump ship if they did leave an EEA style arrangement, given the extreme negative economic impacts cutting our selves off from the single market would have.

    Either way the conservatives have created a situation for themselves where they are the long term big losers. zugzwang indeed.

  38. TonyBTG

    Trevor’s already posted a link to the tables above:

    Though there doesn’t seem to be an article on the poll yet on YouGov’s website, it’s possible there is something in today’s Times or there online.

    It’s a tracker poll, measuring how opinion changes over time. Fieldwork is 21-22 June which is (for most questions) compared to the previous one (5-7 June). As that was before the election, there will have been some adjustments in the political weighting of the poll (ie to 2017 result not 2015), so figures may not be completely compatible.

    The headline is the Best PM question with May at 34% (-9) and Corbyn at 35% (+3), so most of this is loss of faith in her. It’s still double what Corbyn was getting a few months ago though.

    There’s a on How well or badly do you think the government are doing at negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union? which only 24% think Well and 51% Badly. Even less than half Tories think Well and that the government will get “A deal that is good for Britain”[1].

    45% (v 26%) say that they would be happy with a transitional deal and in a forced choice question 58% prioritise trade over immigration control – similar sort of figures to we’ve seen with other pollsters. The trouble for the government is that their own supporters don’t agree, so any movement that way will cause problems.

    [1] I know this is a GB-only poll, but given all the problems over the Border, it might be wiser to use UK here.

  39. The BBC in NI have resurrected an article on the border from May, which is well worth a glance as the issue starts being discussed in Brussels. See Brexit: Irish border councils to work together

    To put it in context, all the border seats were won by SF, which may help explain the DUP’s technocratic views on the subject. See the BBC election map here.

  40. Turk

    “he’s still available for some random hugging”

    Hugging is the new “reaching out”.

    Anyway, it seems that May’s “generous offer” is perceived in the same way as “strong and stable”. If she continues like this she may end up at the ECJ.

  41. PAUL
    I mean that,when he has become PM, peeps will think, “Oh yes, he’s doing OK.”
    Some will go on singing “There’s only one Jezza Corbyn, there’s only one Jezza Corbyn”, implying not adulation but that he is one of us rather than one of 57 young farts in the PLP.

  42. Robin,
    “I see two possible scenarios if the Tories stay in charge:
    1. A bad deal (including no deal). A large number of voters will feel they have been l88d to, and will blame the Tories (who else will there be to blame?).
    2. An EEA style arrangement (whether transitional, interim, or permanent). A large number of voters will feel betrayed at being denied the hard Brexit they wanted, and will blame the Tories (who else will there be to blame? Yes, I know some will try to blame the EU, but surely the Tories should have anticipated how those dastardly Europeans would have behaved?)
    Meanwhile, all those against Brexit will also blame the Tories”

    As a party leader once observed, this is the problem with popular but impossible promises.

    Massive spending increases (popular) from a magic money tree (impossible). Massive trade increases (popular) from a magic trade tree (impossible).

    When people try to point out these impossibilities, they are shouted down as being elitist, out of touch or part of “project fear”.

    No one seems to want a rational, dispassionate conversation about what the economic options are for this country. Everyone seems to think voting should be about emotional response and that no one should have to have any deference to experts. This is deeply worrying because it means voters are actively disconnecting from physical reality.

  43. Just curious ,does anyone know when and what the highest percentage of don’t knows /neither of above for best pm?


    Just curious ,does anyone know when and what the highest percentage of don’t knows /neither of above for best pm?

    Actually it’s very often around 30% or even higher. Here’s the Corbyn v May figures for the last year:

    the current ones are May’s lowest and Corbyn’s highest, but the DKs are lower than normal if anything.

  45. @robin

    Quite. There are presently no good scenarios here for the Tories.

    The polling numbers do also tell us that any Labour figure who wants to form a Government right now must be awfully fond of suicide as all the issues that Brexit would bring would smash the Labour Party as surely as they will the Conservatives.

    This will be something that the more Machiavellian Tories will have very much noticed.

  46. I’d have thought that the killer question in the new YouGov is the very last one on p8 of the PDF:

    If you HAD to choose one or the other, which of the following would you prefer?

    Britain having full control over immigration from Europe, but British businesses no longer having free access to trade with the EU: 42% [Con 57% Lab 24%]


    British businesses having free access to trade with the EU, but Britain having to allow EU citizens the right to live and work in Britain: 58% [Con 43% Lab 76%]

    Perhaps the 57% Con explains why no challenge to May has yet occurred. The Lab position is clearly cosier except that they will probably not be able to defeat the QS vote unless the DUP are miffed with the Cons.

  47. @AlexW

    I don’t have your confidence that Labour would stay sufficiently united in the event of having to negotiate Brexit to be able to stay together, particularly if they were in coalition with any or all of the Lib Dems or SNP.

    I do think that the ‘easiest’ way out for a putative Labour Government would be a second referendum; it would be inarguable that the will of the people *could* have changed if we lose 2 Tory Prime Ministers post-referendum and had a Labour Government – and it would be democratic and appropriate to test that view with a second referendum.

    Indeed, it is a very strong argument that if should we lose two PMs and Labour were now in power, it would be undemocratic *not* to have a referendum on the terms of Brexit as otherwise it would be difficult for anyone to legitimately claim to have a mandate on the terms of Brexit without one.

    Leavers would all be fine with that as they are all sure the population is still behind them and they’re really keen that the electorate’s views are heard. Remainers would have to accept the final result as we’d actually be in a position to immediately enact it.

  48. Charles

    I may or may not have just experenced the first direct impact of Brexit on my family. My son’s biotech start-up company was founded to exploit an idea of his and was poised to get a needed £3 mllion cash injection from some venture capitalists. The ‘due dligence’ seems to have gone very well and everyone was optimistic. Now, however, the VCs have pulled out with the consequence that most of my son’s colleagues, possibly all, will lose their jobs.

    Sorry to hear about your sons colleagues, but they can always get jobs in call centers or supermarkets, like rest of our lost skilled workers.

  49. Anyone else think Lab will be nudging towards 10% lead in next round of polls from Survation or whoever?

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