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. @”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.”

    I was waiting for the reaction to this & that one ticks the box dead centre.

    We are going to hear two years of this:-

    EU rejection of UK positions will either be :-

    Intransigent Bureaucrats being difficult & unreasonable to UK again , thus demonstrating clearly that we are wise to leave this organisation:.


    Reasoned & understandable reflecting their superior negotiating skills and the lack of understanding by the incompetent Tory negotiators , thus demonstrating why we will lose & it will all be a disaster.

    :-) :-)

  2. @ Colin

    “We are going to hear two years of this:”

    Sadly, you’re quite right. It’ll be difficult to avoid: Web, TV, Radio, Newspapers.

    I now remember fondly back to the early days of 2016 when I (along with many others) were thinking ‘Only another few months of this continual EU debate, then it’ll all be over after June’. How quaintly naive I was.

  3. I see Corbyn is getting 15 minutes on the Pyramid Stage tomorrow at Glastonbury courtesy of Michael Eavis. He might end up having to introduce Katy Perry, I suspect she will be slightly bemused by events before she goes on. There’ll be plenty of renditions of “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” but I know some people have made models of magic money trees that they’re taking along to add to all the fun of the fair.

  4. Colin

    My point was really about spinning the offer before any response from the EU (apart from noises during the EU dinner last night that could easily be misinterpreted). Playing to such a diverse audience that Brexit requires makes spinning probably useless.

    Anyway, there is no defensible position on this for May or for anyone (a hug from Corbyn wouldn’t help either). The EU set the agenda, and the citizens issue is primary on that. However, whatever the UK offers is wobbly as it is still a member. So, the only safe offer is the status quo. The problem with it is that the UK is leaving (supposedly), so it’s an internal political decision. But obviously something has to be stated now, which then means that it’s either the EU citizens here, and UK citizens in the EU are pawns – not a very good one, and probably none of the politicians are particularly concerned – or that it is the first issue on which the UK has to surrender or show the degree to which it is willing to give way.

    Absolute mess. Even worse – May was right about the bad deal and no deal, but it became politically impossible.

  5. laszlo,
    ” May was right about the bad deal and no deal, but it became politically impossible.”

    I think many would disagree, including conservative politicians. The problem has always been that ‘no deal’ is economically impossible, but looked politically possible. The election kinda knocked away its political support too. The bottom lineeconomic reality both sides recognise is that the best position for the Uk is to remain an EU member. Even if it now meant worse conditions than a year ago, it would still be the best option. But what outcome is now politically possible is vey unclear. Harder yet how the conservatives can square both the national view and its own voters view when the two are likely to differ.

  6. In reality there are no Brexit negotiations. It’s a supermarket offer with various bundles, but none of those you want.

    The current issues (citizens for example) are just those boards that are in the front of the supermarket – only guide dogs are allowed, tops must be worn, no barefoot, etc, and how much we respect and protect our employees. So one doesn’t really want go to these places – too many such by-law like boards.

    Unfortunately for the UK there is no click and deliver or click and collect service in the EU supermarket.

  7. @CR, BZ

    Perhaps the ideal scenario for Labour (and IMHO the UK) is for May to struggle on for about a year, then the Brexit talks collapse completely, a hard Brexiteer wins the leadership and the DUP trigger an election.

    Labour win, and say “it’s all a complete mess. The Tories have made such a pig’s ear that we need to start pretty much from scratch. We’ll seek an interim EEA-style arrangement. But we need guidance from the UK electorate as to what direction to take in future. We’ll have another referendum using the YouGov ‘if you had to choose’ question.”

    Then the interim EEA arrangement becomes strangely permanent.

    “No one seems to want a rational, dispassionate conversation about what the economic options are for this country.”

    Oh,, yes we do.:

    “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%]”

    The latter is a rational preference, which has been argued out and referenced to the data from a number of studies by think tanks. What is odd is the tendency on the right to go for the former preference, largely determined by an age factor and unequal access or aversion to the facts. This is likely to be significant in a choice influencing a Brexit decision, away from the rational and informed wishes of a majority towards a decision based on a poorly informed or misled wish for a return to an imperial past and barely disguised dislike for foreigners in our back yard.

    Secondly there has until recently, mainly dating from the much lamented absence of the blessed Amber Star, been a well informed debate on the values of quantitative easing and – more recently (but not adequately debated, I grant you), proposed borrowing for investment in infrastructure and productivity (in the Lab manifesto) in which no additional cost is intended, since the value of and returns from assets,would offset the cost of borrowing. It is this which, with all the sagacity and willingness to look at the facts of the Tory press, is described as the “magic money tree”. I.e. don’t bother to try to understand or debate the economics,, we’ll turn it in Beano for you.
    OK not enough economic debate on here, but how about having some in public debate and the media?

  9. Danny

    Exactly – this is what I tried to say.

    The best leaving position is a bit of petroleum and a box of matches to treat the wooden bridge appropriately.

    The alternative is staying (and then risking Captain Swing).

    There is no other leave position to the UK, although some placate some of the segments of the UK. So back to the referendum problem (48-52). The good deal is defined as the one that satisfies the majority of the constituents (including businesses, regions, individuals, etc), but not “good” by any other measure – as we just don’t know, and because the measures are also arbitrary. So, it’s just back to the Carniegie model of decision making.

  10. Laszlo,
    ” May was right about the bad deal and no deal, but it became politically impossible.”

    Glad to see that you understand that May was right. Where we diusagree is I think politically it’s very possible and indeed probable.

  11. Colin

    I am sure your right about the responses from each side as negotiations progress or not.

  12. @ToH

    No deal will end the Right in the country as a political force for years and hand the next election to the most left-wing Government that this country has ever seen.

    Is that a price you are willing to pay?

  13. Chris Riley

    Since I don’t actually agree with your analysis I don’t have to answer that question. As I posted earlier the further down the road we get into the negotiations the more likely in my view that the Tories would be re-elected.

    I have to say it is fascinating reading Remainer posts and all the theories to stay in this and that etc etc. I just hope that this dialogue will be able to continue on here and elswhere for another 645 days. Then my wife and i will go out to dinner to celebrate, as we will have left the EU

  14. @ROGER MEXICO. Thank you for the info . I find it rather sobering that it appears that at any given time that anywhere from a quarter to over a third of respondents don’t feel sure off or satisfied with either of only the credible choices for P.M which rather sums up a rather prominent indicator of how we ended up with a hung parliament IMO.

  15. Bantams, JC at glasto,

    Katy Perry was a Clinton supporter and is very active in the LGBTQ movement, she may well know who JC is.

  16. LASZLO

    May announced it for the domestic audience-to give us a heads up on the detailed document which goes into negotiations on Monday. Pure Domestic PR.

    She is perfectly aware that the Council is not a negotiating forum . But then Juncker who lambasted a German questioner in the Q&A session for not understanding that , promptly told everyone that he thought the offer was no good.

    They are all at it.

    The “status quo” is irrelevant because it exists under our EU membership. What is under discussion is the status quo post.

  17. LASZLO

    @”Unfortunately for the UK there is no click and deliver or click and collect service in the EU supermarket”

    So you think that this organisation is so bound up in its existing regulation, process , protocol ,& multilayered decision making , that it is incapable of constructing a flexible & novel relationship with a former member & trading partner. ??

  18. ROBIN @ CR, BZ

    That’s certainly a possible scenario, and would be the leastworst outcome for many, including me.

    It could well fail if May has a damascene conversion. If the poll is accurate and remains so for the next year [it’s bound to be asked regularly from now on, I suspect] then perhaps the funders of the Cons will find a way to reverse the Mail and Co lines and find a plausible younger candidate to replace her. I’m more inclined to believe that the Mail & Co lines will become shriller and we end up with another minority government with even less idea of what to do next than May seems to have.

    I suspect TOH is wrong because the DUP will have to pull the plug on May unless a genuine open border for NI is negotiated.

  19. You know it’s a bad season for the Tories when even the meaningless straw poll on the Telegraph website shows people prefer Corbyn to May.

    However, council seat win (Yscir) in Wales last night – Tory surge is beginning! ;-)

  20. Barbazenzero

    Do you think the Tories would leave TM in place if there were hints that the DUP was unhappy with the process and an election might be around the corner.

    If the DUP were that unhappy we’d see a long list of unhappy Tories as well. Enough to unseat her as leader?

  21. The inescapable logic of the EU demand, that all EU citizens who have ever lived or worked in the UK, should continue to have these rights, is that any British company that has traded with any EU country should retain those rights and terms also.

    I post as a remainer who lives in France now, but hey! come on.

  22. How can anyone say with any certainty that “no deal is better than a bad deal?”
    It’s pure speculation. No one knows how this will pan out. It’s mere opinion so let’s not dress it up as fact driven.

  23. Mike Pearce

    A starting point would to to work out how bad “No Deal” would be and compare any potential deal with that baseline to see if it’s better or worse.

    It also depends if you mean “worse for the economy” or “worse for the Tory party”, noone was every clear from whose perspective bad would be judged.

  24. Alan

    Yep fair comment.As we are a long way from knowing what a “bad deal” may look like it remains pure speculation. Your point about the Tory party is an astute one.

  25. ALAN @ BZ
    Do you think the Tories would leave TM in place if there were hints that the DUP was unhappy with the process and an election might be around the corner.

    I think the DUP will probably moan a bit but let May get on with the EU negotiations, at least for a while.

    However, the progress or lack of it won’t be secret and if May seems likely to stay then at some stage they’ll have little choice but to pull the plug on her. The alternative would probably be BoJo as PM on the grounds that he has no principles worth mentioning and is still popular with the Con faithful. Whether he could re-rat on his own party successfully is another matter.

  26. Colin

    “So you think that this organisation is so bound up in its existing regulation, process , protocol ,& multilayered decision making , that it is incapable of constructing a flexible & novel relationship with a former member & trading partner. ??”

    Yes. And it’s too complicated anyway (they really like simple things or things they have an upper hand on), and the sun shines, or it’s wonderful spring, autumn, and the pistes wait for the skiers, so it’s much simpler if the UK withdraws A50 … If they continue with it, we will set the T&C and they won’ like it.

    I don’t think I’m far out.

  27. As to the EU and negotiations.

    The EC-Hungary interim agreement on association gave both quota increase and customs duty reduction to Hungary in the textile industry (it was important then because of the outward processing in trade). All member states’ parliaments, the HungarianmParliament plus the European Parliament ratified it. Then one day a phone call came, saying that an EC mission was on its way. Basically, some member states didn’t like the quota increase and customs duty reduction, so the treaty was changed without informing any of the parliaments. It didn’t matter much as it was only for 18 months (the Association Agreement came into force providing quota and customs duty free access for industrial goods).

    The UK in 1991-92 tried to water down the 48-hour rule. It was successful, but then inexplicably it opted out. So the Commission brought it out under the H&S rules (no opt out and majority voting). The text was the same word for word, including that one of the resting day should be Sunday. Eventually the ECJ declared that there was no H&S issue on Sunday, but the rules remained standing (so, although it was the Blair government that signed the Social Chapter, the 48-hour rule was applicable to the UK well before).

    There are many other examples.

    The point is that the consensus-based decision making in the EU is combined with sponsor-led issues, creating a completely untransparent (yet much of it is published) process that forces the negotiating partner into a satisficing, minimum common interest based negotiation strategy. While it is common, the justification of its success is doubtful to put it mildly.

  28. Edge of seat

    Personally I don’t think it would matter who was in charge Tories or Labour regarding brexit both parties are split over hard or soft exits neither party thought they would have to deal with the UK leaving the EU and I suspect May or Corbyn would much rather be doing almost anything rather than facing up to what deal we will end up with.
    I’m sure May will stay in place until at least the end of the brexit negotiations after all who in her party wants that particular job the only way I can see her going before that if she decides she’s had enough of all the endless carping from her side opposition and the media .
    As to the voters every politician right or left publicly attribute them with great intelligence who fully grasp there understanding of the particular vision they put forward whilst in private curse them for being fickle untrustworthy with the attention spans of a goldfish.

  29. @Colin

    re the ability of the EU to strike a deal. My fear is that it is like the first world war. Everyone (with the possible exception of Germany) saw clearly that a war would be disastrous for them and for everyone else, everyone had slightly different interests, mostly they thought they could afford to push these interests because the others would not be enough mad to go to war for bits of paper etc, the UK failed to understand the motives of the other players and grossly overestimated its ability to frighten them with the British fleet and its money, and there was a kind of ticking clock associated with the difficulty of mobilising armies or stopping them once they had started. so we all blundered into war as a result. I am not sure if you mind ‘blundering into Brexit’, or indeed think that this would be as good as a more orderly process but it certainly fills me with horror.

  30. I am increasingly of the opinion that Brexit will not, in the end, happen. That poll about immigration v the economy is quite telling.
    We will waste another year or two’s energy on it whilst it becomes increasingly clear that the advisory ‘mandate’ given by a wafer thin majority has crumbled, and that Brexit would by then be profoundly undemocratic.
    We will remain in the EU, but will have lost large quantities of jobs, investment, GDP, goodwill and influence in the world and the EU.
    It will take a generation to rebuild our prestige, but at least we won’t be bankrupt.


    Obviously, I hope you’re correct.

    Today’s May performance, though, was as minimalist as ever and clearly not in any way realist whilst irritating the very people from whom she is hoping for a deal.

    I have a feeling that tomorrow the gutter press will be pushing hard on how unreasonable the EU are being. Post GE, one has to wonder to what extent the fake news re Corbyn will have inoculated their readers to become somewhat less trusting of their output.

  32. I think if there was another referendum tomorrow people would definitely vote to Remain if Theresa May was put in charge of the Leave campaign! The YouGov poll shows a strong shift towards the Single Market and since Theresa has become the standard bearer for Brexit her huge loss of credibility is affecting views on the EU.

    Just like it was Cameron and Osbourne who lost the referendum for Remain last year…

  33. @Guymonde I also hope you are correct but fear you may not be. I actually think that it is impossible to tell and everyone should therefore be working for the result that they think is best.



    I didn’t really follow your WW1 analogy or understand it’s relevance.

    As to whether a blundering or orderly process is preferable. Does that need answering?

    There are of course two parties to this negotiation-well 27 on the one side & 1 on the other.

  35. @”Today’s May performance, though, was as minimalist as ever and clearly not in any way realist whilst irritating the very people from whom she is hoping for a deal.
    I have a feeling that tomorrow the gutter press will be pushing hard on how unreasonable the EU are being. ”

    I might start to collect these :-)

  36. @Charles

    Unlike Colin, I think your WW1 analogy is very apposite. But I’d add that, as in July 1914, there is a huge under-appreciation here of the apocalypse that lies ahead. “it will all be over by Christmas” is the exact parallel to “After a bit of short-term pain, it will be all gain.”

  37. @Colin – Apologies for being obscure. It was just a long way of saying that in complicated negotiations with lots of parties the fact that it is manifestly in everyone’s interest to strike a deal does not mean that they will succeed in doing so. Hopefully a disorderly Brexit will be less disastrous than WW! but the danger of it is clearly real.


    The only thing I could think of was that Charles drew a parallel between the actions of Britain in declaring war on Germany after Germany had attacked Luxembourg , declared war on France & invaded Belgium ; and UK resolving to leave the EU’s political Union.

    He infers that the chaos & misery of the former will be repeated in the latter case………presumably because of the key factor which links the two.

    …Which would appear to be the overweening & aggressive desire for European dominance of…..Germany.

    Do you think that could be what he is driving at -and that he feels we should not do anything which upsets them -then & now ?

  39. Anyone know if the Scottish Tory MPs are pro-Brexit or pro-Remain?


    @” It was just a long way of saying that in complicated negotiations with lots of parties the fact that it is manifestly in everyone’s interest to strike a deal does not mean that they will succeed in doing so.”

    I see. Well that is obviously a risk & something of a truism.

    But it doesn’t address the problem if all these parties are members of a union which one now wishes to leave.

    Your advice to the latter appears to be-you can’t -it will be too messy & the others will make it difficult for you.

  41. @Colin

    It’s a lot simpler than that.

    Events develop their own momentum. The parties take up positions. There comes a point where people say – in private – “hang on, this is madness. This isn’t going to work for anyone. We need to cool it and go back to where we were before.”

    But no-one wants to lose face through backing down. So events take their grisly course and it’s the poor bloody infantry who pay the price. For whom, read the “hard working families” so beloved of our government.

  42. @Colin I am not sure that would be my advice. Clearly if I had my way I woud not have started from here. Given that we are where we are I do think that we need to be realistic irrespective of what our objectives are.

    This is probably another truism and not very helpful. There are, however, two forms of argument that I think are particularly unrealistic and dangerous. These are ) The EU is in the wrong about this (sometimes correct), we are justiied in taking a hard line in response (could be morally and politically true), and thereore we will not suffer as a a result ( a complete non-sequitur) 2) We should be doing more trade with the rest of the world (true), our trade is regulated by the EU (in many respects true), therefore the manifest fact that we are not trading enough with the rest of the world must be the fault of the EU. (Another non-sequitur IMHO – if that was the case why does Germany do so much better at selling to China than we do)

  43. Polls suggest we need Thatcher back!

    Maybe we should combine all of YouGov’s three questions and ask if voters want Prince Harry to lead Brexit negotiations wearing a kilt :)

  44. Somerjohn

    “This isn’t going to work for anyone.”

    Hidden assumption: the current situation works (at least for many). Evidence is zero (not from you, from anyone).

    This is the crux of the entire debate. Abstract things are flying about, various partial measures are offered – but they are partial.

    I’m broadening it up, so it’s not about your comment.

    The EU is actually not particularly important. The important is the economic development that attracts and discards of millions of people, regions, etc. And the part relevant for this in the election was how benevolent the welfare state should be.

    So, the public opinion is: very benevolent, but very fiscally strict, and being in the EU (soft Brexit) would reduce the uncertainty, and being outside may offer a different context (it doesn’t). So, no solution is offered.

    If you asked the people properly (rather than staying in the prevailing narrative), they would say: “none of the above.”

  45. The only way the UK would do well outside the EU is if we become some kind of low tax haven on the shores of the EU. Alternatively trade deals with the rest of the world which are impractical because the UK is always behind the EU anyway. These options unlikely due to the political landscape.

    Lets be honest the country is so divided that there is not the political will or unity to make a success very likely. Might as well put a stop to it now rather than look for some fudge where we are out but still in.

  46. @Laszlo: “Hidden assumption: the current situation works (at least for many). Evidence is zero (not from you, from anyone).”

    If you’re choosing between alternatives, it isn’t necessary that one of these works (at least for many). Just that it works for more than the alternative.

    But what I think you’re saying is, “the issue at stake here isn’t brexit or no brexit. It’s getting the best outcome for people.”

    Well, true enough. Brexit is a proxy. But it’s still a vital issue in its own right. If as a result of getting it wrong it all goes pear shaped – recession, unemployment, falling living standards, increased misery, social unrest – then that is (to say the least) going to have a big impact on your primary concerns.

  47. TURK

    At least the residents are still alive.

    There will doubtless be an enquiry to establish who is to blame. The rolling Sky News coverage seems to be showing the residents as relieved rather than angry.

  48. I don’t know what news your watching but I’m watching Sky it seems utter chaos the council is being slatted by the residents for effectively being chucked out of there homes for several weeks

  49. Barbazanzero

    Looks like a case of damned if they do, damned if they don’t for the council.

  50. Apparently DUP in talks with Labour, Lib Dems, SNP and some Tory MP’s about forming a unity coalition government for the whole of the UK. Basis seems to be about securing a better Brexit deal, with sensible single market and customs arrangements.

    Wonder whether this is true and could it actually work ? Any Tories that involving themselves in this would be kicked out of the party.

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