Last week I wrote about the unusual YouGov poll showing a four point Conservative lead and said I personally thought it was more likely to be statistical noise than the first sign of the Conservatives opening up a lead in voting intention.

However, at the weekend we also had a new poll from Opinium that had topline figures of CON 42%(+2), LAB 39%(-1), LDEM 7%(+1). Fieldwork was Tues-Thursday and changes were from mid-January (tabs). This morning’s Independent reported partial figures from a new BMG poll that apparently had Labour and Conservative equal on 40% each – this would be an increase of three points in the level of Tory support since the last BMG poll in December.

The government have done little to endear themselves to the public in the last few weeks, nor have Labour done much to lose support. There is no obvious reason for movement in the polls, so I’m still a little sceptical (in themselves the changes are within the margin of error, and it’s perfectly possible for random chance to spit out a couple of polls that just happen to show movement in the same direction). Nevertheless, it’s possible we’re seeing some movement in the government’s direction. If we are, what should we make of it?

This far from the next timetabled general election voting intention polls have very little predictive value, all the more so when we have a known unknown as large as Brexit looming ahead of us and at least a fair chance of a change of Conservative leader before the next election. However for better or worse, mid-term voting intention is the barometer that we tend to use to measure how well the government and opposition are doing against each other, and that is reflected in the morale of the political parties and media perceptions of how well or badly they are doing. If it turns out to be genuine it may bolster Theresa May’s position a little, and may put Labour on the back foot, but we shall see.

536 Responses to “Latest Opinium & BMG polls”

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  1. GARJ

    I found this and wish I had done so earlier.

    I have not read it all and paste this just to indicate something of the nature of discussion.

    “59.He also highlighted the position of Denmark, which by virtue of its block opt-out does not participate in the adoption or application of any post-Lisbon JHA legislation, including Europol: “A short time later it is asking, ‘Please can we come back to the Europol arrangements?’ The Commission’s latest comment to Denmark is that a third-country co-operation agreement will not be on the table for it for the foreseeable future.”68 The Government told us that they would be “looking at what happens with Denmark with great interest”.69

    60.The NCA proposed that the UK “should not look at precedent; we should look at something more than that”. As this would be the first time that a Member State had left the European Union, the UK “should be aiming for access and a partnership that is different from and closer than currently exists for any other non-member state”.70

    61.The Government seemed willing to entertain this proposition, emphasising that, as the UK leaves, it will be “a known partner, and a known commodity to our partners in Europol and we have a relationship with them that has been built up through our years of being full members of Europol and the EU”. In the Government’s view, this meant that the UK had a different starting point from which to open negotiations. As a result, “it is very right, and very possible, for us to have a bespoke solution”.71

    62.Other witnesses, however, pointed to the practical impediments to devising something close to full membership of Europol for the UK after it leaves the EU. Lord Kirkhope warned that the “big problem” would be that Europol was accountable to EU institutions, “including acceptance of the competence—in interpretation terms at least—of the ECJ”. At the same time, “in many people’s minds, one of the great advantages of getting out of the EU is that we get rid of the ECJ and its competence and control over us”.72 He questioned whether it would be “feasible or practical” to think that the other side in the negotiation would be prepared to discard the accountability and the controls that they were obliged to have now—to the Commission, the CJEU and the Parliament: “Are they going to abandon those to do a deal with us which allows us full access and confidence within the organisations and fully to serve within them?”

  2. @GaryJ

    Rather than any kind of practical concerns, I wonder whether it is more of a core ideological problem that it throws up for people that really believe in the discriminating in favour of women for the shortlists?

    In order to believe that such bulk discrimination is the morally correct path, without obscene numbers of “false negatives” and “false positives”, one kind of has to tend towards a belief in a strictly deterministic impact on your life of whatever sex you are born, more than simply any kind of statistical tendency. Transmen and transwomen directly and unashamedly challenge that deterministic principle.

  3. Sorry, Garj. Misread your name!

  4. JJ

    Bit far for me. How about the Bowes Museum?

  5. Transgender / Feminism issues.

    It’s certainly a tricky subject, but I am not sure why RoC posters insist on categorising it as a problem only for the left.

    There are fundamental philosophical issues at play, around the rights of individuals vs the rights of groups, individual equality vs institutionalised bias etc. They are issues for all of us, surely? I know there is a certain smugness on the right when the “rainbow coalition” approach of the left develops internal stresses, but I don’t think these questions just go away if you’re not a “leftie”. I’m not sure the right has any answers either, other than sneering at the people involved.

    As for all women shortlists, and what qualifies one to participate in one, I’d be astonished if debates about that motivated even half of one percent of the electorate.

  6. Robbie if you’re still alive]

    I make it a then b but, obviously no certainty of a win given that it is a gamble. But at least it’s a free one.

    Do I win a prize?

  7. On Europol,

    I am extremely confident that some compromise will be reached that will be “good enough”.

    I expect that the only real change in the long run will be some additional obstacles in the admin process. I am probably (not necessarily) the only person here who actually fills out Siena forms as part of my job, or who has ever applied for a JIT. I am not too worried that Brexit will severely impact any of this. The EU will obviously want some safeguards, but I doubt they will insist on Schengen membership (after all we are full members now without joining Schengen). There will probably be some mechanism where UK requests are funnelled through some sort of legal safeguard overseen by the ECJ, and EU requests are funnelled through some UK equivalent overseen by the Supreme Court.

    It will be a shame to add delays into what is at the moment one of the more efficient processes in law enforcement, but I don’t think it’s going to destroy anything.

  8. Jonathan Stuart-Brown

    “The only national test on the horizon is the locals in May”

    Is all of England having local elections in May? It’s such a complex process there, that I’m never sure. Scotland and Wales had their locals last year, and I’m unsure of NI.

    How national is “national”? and which nation?.

  9. I skirt around the subject of men wearing women’s clothes.

    On the other hand,I would enjoy seeing ballet if men wore tutus. What a treat it would be to see my favourite Russian dancer, Serge Trousersoff, with his wonderful partner Maria Tumbelova giving the Dying Swan a doing.

  10. @ ON

    “It’s such a complex process there, that I’m never sure.”

    Yes, it is indeed complex, but as I understand it, it’s a pretty big one in England. But feel free to take offence if people say UK, since, as you say, it’s not going to affect areas outside England much. Wikipedia is helpful as usual:,_2018

    (Even if they do risk offence by using the title UK.)

    What makes it more interesting than usual, perhaps, is the fact that some councils are fully up for grabs, rather than just a third, due to boundary changes. This includes some big cities: Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle. So with the usual proviso of low turnout, it should be a very good indication of the way things are looking in England.

  11. Is this to do with the EU?

    he scene in question involves a visit to the impoverished Corcadoragha Gaeltacht of a foreign inspector who, it has been overhead in Dingle, will reward local households “two pounds a skull” for every child who can speak English “instead of this thieving Gaelic”.

    It’s possible something has been lost in translation: the narrator mentions in passing the notorious unreliability of Dingle people. Nevertheless, hearing also that the inspector has bad eyesight, the protagonists devise a cunning plan.

    By the time he arrives, the dark interior of their hovel has been filled with piglets, dressed as children. And such is the stench that, as calculated, the stranger merely peers in the doorway from a safe distance, before asking:

    — How many? — Twalf, sor! said the Old-Grey-Fellow courteously […] — All spik Inglish? — All spik, sor, said the Old-Grey-Fellow.

    After further exchanges, the inspector departs, apparently oblivious both to the ruse and to the bilingual insult he has just suffered. A footnote to the novel’s English translation explains the “Gaelic pun”: that in Irish, sor means “louse”.

  12. Neil A

    Agreed about Europol, and also the conflicts involved in trying to accommodate (sometimes conflicting) interests of minority groups.

    That’s the kind of situation in which there can’t be a single “fair” answer.

    Suggestions that the views of the majority should always dominate would entail that women should never have been allowed to wear what the majority in any society assigned as male clothing – rather like this Punch cartoon from WWI

    or 1895

  13. Lords Select Committee conclusions:

    “68.Our witnesses were unequivocal in identifying the UK’s future relationship with Europol as a critical priority. They also made clear that an operational agreement with Europol akin to those that other third countries have negotiated would not be sufficient to meet the UK’s needs. The Government will therefore need to devise and secure agreement for an arrangement that protects the capabilities upon which UK law enforcement has come to rely, and which goes further than the operational agreements with Europol that other third countries have been able to reach thus far.

    69.Bearing in mind the contribution the UK makes to Europol, and the mutual benefit to be derived from a pragmatic solution, we regard this as a legitimate objective for the UK to pursue in negotiations with the EU-27. Achieving it, however, may be problematic: there seems likely to be a tension with other policy goals on both sides, notably in regard to the role of the supranational EU institutions. To the extent that Europol remains accountable to these institutions—and we note that the direction of travel in the new Regulation is towards enhancing that accountability—this could present a significant practical hurdle to sustaining the level of cooperation that might otherwise be advantageous to both sides. In 2014, the Government said it would “never put politics before the protection of the British public.”82 In our view, that calculation has not changed, and we urge the Government to work towards a pragmatic solution that protects the safety of the people of the United Kingdom.

  14. TrigGuy

    “But feel free to take offence if people say UK”

    But Jonathan Stuart-Brown didn’t say “UK”. He said “national”.

    I had a look at that Wiki page, and there are lots of local elections in England – but no indication of what proportion of the English electorate will have elections.

    Incidentally, I think you misunderstand the title of that Wiki page. It deals with all local elections in the UK in 2018 – just as the page “United Kingdom local elections, 2017” dealt with all those ones.

    However, feel free to take offence at any of the things that you like to take offence at.

  15. LASZLO

    Didn’t see that one :-)

  16. @ ON

    “no indication of what proportion of the English electorate will have elections”

    True, that’s not so easy to gauge, but the map is helpful. Given that many of the densely populated metropolitan areas are voting, it’ll be a large, but rather biased, percentage. Still, there are a few shire-like areas to give some indication of the Tory heartlands too.

  17. PS I notice they have a nice picture of Henry Bolton as leader of UKIP. That part, at least, may need to be updated soon.

  18. Davwel

    You opened this thread with a suggestion that events in Haringey could have been influential in altering VI.

    I have little knowledge about that, but wouldn’t you think that Labour’s policy of not divulging details of the “disciplinary action” (if any) taken against an MP using homophobic and racist terms would also alienate some voters?

    In reality, I suspect that neither case will have particularly imposed itself on the consciousness of voters.

  19. Sam
    Your 9.43 made me chuckle and reminded me of an old joke about a Russian pharmacist called Benylyn Forchestikoff. Sadly that’s the only bit of the joke I remember.

  20. We have no elections in my Council area…which means that UKIP won’t lose as many seats as would otherwise have been the case if we had them.

  21. TV News and the use of selected images

    BBC and Sky tweeting (in identical terms) “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive to huge crowds in Edinburgh for their first official joint visit to Scotland” (lifted straight from a Palace press release?)

    Compare the TV close up images on the Castle Esplanade, with a view from the Castle itself.

    I’ve never trusted media images since the BBC did a documentary on students and compared the scenes in the Uni Library and the Union Beer Bar “at 9 o’clock”.

    I was in both shots! In the Library at 9am and the Beer Bar at 9 pm.

    Media show what they want to be the case – not what it is.

  22. Interesting news from Israel:

    Israel PM Netanyahu faces corruption charges

  23. Sam,
    “The fudge on Ireland remains but can’t remain a fudge”
    There was no fudge in the wording of the agreement. It didnt spell things out, but the implications were there.

  24. Elections coming for all London Boroughs. From what we’ve seen so far Lab vote seems very solid and we expect to win some Tory seats. The rest are nowhere.

  25. Home Affairs Committee seem rather unimpressed by the UK Government’s preparedness for the issue that Brexiteers assured us was most important to Leave voters

    8. The Government should immediately set out more detailed plans for the registration of EU nationals already here, and its objectives for the negotiations over the transition period. Failure to do so soon will deny Parliament and those affected the opportunity to scrutinise or debate the Government’s plans before they are finalised with the EU, despite the fact that this is such a crucial policy area. That is unacceptable. It will also make it impossible for UKVI, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement to do their job properly. As we set out in this report, these directorates are already overstretched and face significant challenges in delivering new policies on Brexit. Expecting them to make late changes without time to plan or consult puts them in an impossible position.

  26. SAM

    Again, several full Europol members are not in Schengen. I don’t know why anybody would claim that as a genuine obstacle, or even why passport-free travel should have any bearing at all on whether a country can be part of an intelligence-sharing and policing organisation.

    As to the issues raised in the Lords, ECJ oversight is clearly important and I would say necessary. There are many similar potentially mutually beneficial agreements which are going to require pragmatic acceptance of the specific competence of the ECJ over those areas. That isn’t the same thing as giving the ECJ full jurisdiction throughout the UK or the power to overturn court rulings. It is the Brexit ultras who might kick up a fuss, and the Tory party will have to try to manage them. It is a matter of politics on both sides as much as anything to do with practicalities.

    There are many problems like those around Europol that need solving, but instead of trying to work towards solutions it sometimes feels as if some on the EU’s side of negotiations are more set on restating the problems again and again and again. It would really please me if the UK and EU could both just accept that Brexit is happening and start working towards a picture of the relationship following it, rather than continually spend their time trying to refight the referendum.

  27. Garj

    ” It would really please me if the UK and EU could both just accept that Brexit is happening and start working towards a picture of the relationship following it”

    When the UK finally comes to a decision on what relationship they can realistically hope for, then that can happen.

    In the meantime, the Stage 1 negotiations haven’t been finalised yet.

  28. Valerie (5:35pm)
    “Clearly, from the moans above, you all consider yourself as part of an oppressed minority. Why don’t you take your own advice and stop whingeing.”

    Ok, instead of minority I should have said group or something. The point remains.
    G’night all

  29. @ Laszlo

    I’m sorry if it appeared that I was supporting a Gramscian view or explaining the two philosophies incompletely, my intention was to explain the dynamic which took the Labour Party towards identity politics in the 1980’s and the philosophical justification that was provided by intellectuals on the Labour Left pushing for that approach at the time, it is to be remembered that at that time the Trotskyist element of Militant (with a philosophical approach based on Marxist determinism) was in the, apparent, ascendancy as an organised grouping in the Labour Party, those on the Left that found Militant and its approach difficult sought to find other ways. The identity politics approach fitted well with the involvement of the Left in such organisations as the Anti-Nazi League. In London an antipathy towards the police (with a narrative of Police racism) lending support to such things as the anti “Sus” law campaign. All of this was embraced by Livingstone and the London Left and led to the 1981 election of the Red Slate to the GLC (Livingston replacing McIntosh as Labour leader within 24 hours) John McDonnell was elected at the same election. This allowed the identity politics approach a National stage.

    As an aside my own personal philosophy is more akin to the Syndicalism (not the anarcho type) espoused by trade unionist at the end of the 19th start of the 20th Centuries.

  30. WB,
    It is an irony that the tory shires which have dominated the Uk rely upon London to base their government and make the money they spend, yet London opposes their policies. As with Brexit now, so with Livingstone’s GLC. If Scotland or Ireland think they are hard done by, spend a moment considering the plight of conquered london.

  31. Not sure what anyone thinks that Johnson making a speech that nobody will believe a word of is expected to achieve.

    It simply looks like Johnson trying to pass off as a statesman in advance of the bit we all know is coming when he stabs the PM in the back and looks surprised when he realises everyone with a shred of principle still hates him and is likely to continue in same for the foreseeable.

  32. ON @ 10.35 pm:

    You contrasted the events in Haringey (my comments at the top of this thread) with Hugh Gaffney`s indiscretions at a Burn`s Supper, and his subsequent treatment by the Labour Party.

    I really think the Momentum push in London is of more importance to UK politics than stupid attempts to be funny at a Burn`s Supper. And without knowledge of whether Hugh Gaffney regularly behaves like this, I don`t feel it right to comment on how the case has been handled.

    But the Scottish Sun is likely to make the most of a Labour MP behaving badly.

    What did interest me in your SS link was a mention of an incredible murder case that if in England would have been high in the press reporting – CASH HOARD.

    A 67-year old operating single-handed car repairs next to his small house was found dead in the house with a bunch of snowdrops in his hands, and blood trails “in every room” and also his little garden. The policeman called to the scene noted £1000 lying in the living room and a head wound on the deceased.

    The police then decided it had been a gardening accident.

    Only 6 weeks later did they suspect murder, and search the house, finding to “their surprise” the cash hoard – £190,000 in bundles of notes in many tins scattered round the rooms.

    Now a local suspect is on trial for robbery and murder.

    To me, this is a shocking reflection of how our Scotland police force is suffering from a shortage of persons and a shortage of brain power.

  33. Chris Riley: Not sure what anyone thinks that Johnson making a speech that nobody will believe a word of is expected to achieve.

    Put more distance between Boris and his incompetence over Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe perhaps?

  34. test

  35. This is what the BBC reports of Boris`s intended speech

    “We must accept that many [Remainers] are actuated by entirely noble sentiments, a real sense of solidarity with our European neighbours and a desire for the UK to succeed,” he will say.

    “If we are to carry this project through to national success – as we must – then we must also reach out to those who still have anxieties.

    “I want to try to anatomise at least some of those fears and to show to the best of my ability that they are unfounded and that the very opposite is usually true: that Brexit is not grounds for fear but hope.”

    To me, reaching out to those “who still have anxieties” means definite statements on how many of the 3m EU nationals here will be allowed to stay, if we have no deal.

    And commitments that there will be no limits on immigration in parts of the UK where we are desperate for more able-bodied people.

    Some here doubtless think that my worries are over-the-top and unfounded, but when my wife attends her regular out-patient clinic in Aberdeen RI and every doctor working for it is foreign, some recently arrived, we cannot help but worry. And we know so many from Aberdeenshire are being sent to Glasgow/Manchester for treatment due to staff shortages here.

  36. @Davwel – as an open minded soft remainer, I’m awaiting these speeches with interest. I’m still open to be persuaded, and for me, it is less about specifics but more about the mindset of the people carrying this forward on our behalf.

    What would really reassure me is to see some recognition amongst the government of what everyone else is saying. Namely, that this is complex, it could go horribly wrong if we mishandle it, and that we are trading in a safe but suboptimal position for a suboptimal but high risk strategy that places in jeopardy many things we currently take for granted in terms of not just our relationship with the EU, but also our relationships with the rest of the world.

    If the people negotiating this start to demonstrate that they understand exactly what is at stake here, then I would gain some confidence that at least we have reached the acceptance stage, and see an end to the vapid dreaming of the cakeist tendency. It would be the first step to having an honest debate about how and where we want to take this.

    The second thing I would need to see is an end to the veiled threats about what happens if those who oppose Brexit end up winning. Part of the recognition of the problems within Brexit is the recognition that the government owes the country an honest and open debate about what Brexit means, with all options remaining on the table until we democratically reach the chosen solution.

    If Boris insists on simply shutting down debate and threatening those who wish to challenge his view, then I can’t see anyone being reassured by that.

    Ultimately I just want to know that I’m not living through some ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ grandiose folly, and that those in the calvalry will stop denigrating the views of the voters pointing out the rather large guns that l!e ahead.

  37. Well, ole Boris has convinced me – and I’m not even listening to him.

    That’s the power of oratory.

  38. @Davwel

    To put your mind at rest, I hope, about your wife’s experience of the NHS, less than 10% of doctors are from the EU, and less than 7% of nurses. Of those, the largest number are from Ireland, and their eligibility to work in the UK predates our membership of the EU. The vast majority of NHS staff, almost 90%, are British, with the next biggest number coming from India, a non-EU nation, followed by the Phillipines, again a non-EU nation.

    I am not suggesting that we don’t benefit from EU nationals working within the NHS, but we also benefit from huge amounts of non-EU nationals. Across the entire NHS, including support staff, the EU provides 5.6% of all staff. There are more Asian staff than EU. My hope and belief is that we will continue to benefit from qualified and experienced staff from around the world.

    The sensible solution would surely be to allow the NHS a reasonable quota of overseas visas, which could be offered to qualified staff from anywhere in the world, allowing us to choose the best foreign workers who wish to work within the NHS, without regard for their country of origin. Of course, you could argue that a more sensible solution might have been to remain within the single market.

  39. Meanwhile, Dublin prepares for a hard border

  40. Thanks Alec.

    You have put nicely what I and many others believe. I am grateful for your persistent efforts here fighting strong and uncaring Leaver sentiments.

    When due to UK geography and politics, and the way control of our media has developed, our majority opinions get portrayed as from minorities “who still have anxieties”, we need careful intelligent advocacy to prevent serious damage coming to many individuals from Brexit.

  41. Thanks Alec.

    You have put nicely what I and many others believe. I am grateful for your persistent efforts here fighting strong and uncaring Leaver sentiments.

    When due to UK geography and politics, and the way control of our media has developed, our majority opinions get portrayed as from minorities “who still have anxieties”, we need careful intelligent advocacy to prevent serious damage coming to many individuals from Brexit.

    Your 9.43 made me chuckle and reminded me of an old joke about a Russian pharmacist called Benylyn Forchestikoff. Sadly that’s the only bit of the joke I remember.”

    That’s good news…

  43. We need ‘meat on the bones’. Boris’s speech is 18mths out of date (probably 2yrs out of date).

    It’s more ‘bones of contention’ than ‘meat’. Fodder to the press in both camps to cherry pick quotes and spin it to their readerships predisposed ‘camp’

    The EU have heard it all before so will ignore it – words alone shows weakness if anything. UK electorate either bored or fairly entrenched already and only likely to become even more entrenched.

    May’s security speech can’t attempt to replay a card already given away.
    Liddington devolution – ?? CON are control freaks so more likely to cause upset that reassurance.
    DD business standards – possibly allay fears that we’re not going to rip up everything in some great bonfire, some clarity on May’s three buckets would be useful but Repeal Bill is still in parliament so he can’t say much. Some examples would be good though and show business we have a contingency plan (and a plan to poach business from EU27 – play Macron+co at their own game)
    Fox future trade deals – all been said before, nothing we can do until Mar’19 (or possible Jan’21). Again more likely to simply entrench views for those that aren’t already bored by Brexit.

    We need action, not words. Talk is cheap. Lots of things we could be doing that would benefit the country no matter what Brexit we get (specifically targeted incentives to business to stay/expand/move to UK).

  44. @Mike – “The sensible solution would surely be to allow the NHS a reasonable quota of overseas visas, ….”

    Again, you’ve just repeated the same line as several posters here over the last few days, but without appearing to understand what Brexit has already done.

    We currently have a shortage of nurses, significantly exacerbated by the Brexit vote, and we have a major shortage of low skilled agricultural workers for identical reasons. In both cases, the cause has predominately been to reduction in eastern european workers and the return home of workers already here.

    We currently have an open border policy with the EU, with no visa restrictions, yet we are suffering shortages. It would therefore be sensible to conclude that the immigration arrangements and controls are not the primary problem here, but there is some other mechanism at work.

    Once you reach this point of understanding, getting to the solution should be easy. The Brexit vote caused a 15% devaluation along with rising inflation. Overseas workers therefore suffered a 17 – 18% wage cut for working in the UK. They went elsewhere/stopped coming here because of this primarily – nothing to do with visa controls. An additional concern was the long term right of residency doubts, meaning that anyone wanting to come permanently who might have taken the wage hit now doesn’t think it’s worth it. It’s therefore reasonable to assume that providing easy visa controls won’t solve this problem.

    While some trumpet devaluation as a boost to exporters, it also means reduced wages for essential migrant labour, and has led directly to labour shortages.

    I put this one in the box of problems that Brexiters don’t seem to understand that I was referring to above. Without understanding the complexities of this, they are not going to be capable of providing us with solutions. The talk around visas is an example of this.

  45. Thanks also to Mike for some re-assurance.

    Are those NHS data for the whole UK, or just England?

    Maybe the Irish topping the foreign contingent results from NI data being included – the Aberdeen hospitals seem to have very few Irish staff. Just how many of the East Europeans here are EU it is hard to know, but we certainly have doctors from the far east. One came to us on a night call, and had to have a chauffeur (couldn`t drive in the UK), which seems an unfortunate added expense.

  46. Davwel

    Those are England I believe, and the data varies from region to region.


    There has always been currency fluctuation, it wasn’t invented by the Brexit vote. I export across the world, currency fluctuation is far more important than tarrifs and always has been.

  47. That was the speech of someone gearing up to say in a few months ‘but I tried’.

  48. @Mike – “There has always been currency fluctuation, it wasn’t invented by the Brexit vote. I export across the world, currency fluctuation is far more important than tarrifs and always has been.”

    Absolutely agree.

    So why was devaluation touted as a positive from Brexit, while falling real wages for migrants seen as something to be solved by new visa arrangements?

    I’m not saying anything here about the actual issue itself, but rather the way the issue has been cherry picked by the Brexit camp with no real understanding of the wider consequences. If one of the real advantages of Brexit was a boost to our exprters, we also then need to recognise the negative impact of labour shortages and increased costs in key sectors.

  49. @ ALEC – a freely floating exchange rate is vitally important. We’ve discussed HMG and BoE response to the Leave vote but the currency has played a vital role in increasing exports (lack of clarity and certainty has probably reduced the benefit as businesses aren’t investing as much as they should to capitalise on the opportunity). Imports hasn’t gone down as much as most people expected as UK consumer just keeps on borrowing and spending. In an ideal World that fits economics textbooks trade deficits and balances would mean revert to zero over time due to currency movements (clearly the World doesn’t work exactly as the textbooks suggest). A 10%ish change in currency offsets most tariffs (and NTBs) keeping UK exports to EU competitive even in a WTO outcome – the EU side face a double whammy of course which should give UK producers a big advantage in taking over some EU production and also give rWorld producers an incentive to stay/expand/move to UK to supply the UK consumer. HMG can and should help and doesn’t need to know the Brexit outcome to get the ball rolling.

    Regarding migrant labour. Wage costs in E.Europe are around 20% of UK. Even after the currency move and adjusting for living costs it still makes economic sense for people from lower wage areas (you could add in many more countries) to come to UK – we had these kind of policies in place pre EU expansion. The issue is ‘controlling’ that access and to what extent those migrants have access to UK’s welfare state. That becomes a politically charged discussion but we desperately need a Project After Immigration policy for parliament to discuss, amend and implement. There is no need for labour shortages but without clarity and certainty then of course some businesses will get worried and rightly fear the worst case scenario. Any rational business should hope for the best but plan for the worst.

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