Archive for the 'BREXIT' Category


New polling finds that more than a third of Leave voters believed that £350m a week would be coming to the NHS

Monday, August 21st, 2017

And one in five of all leave voters are still expecting the extra £350m a week for the NHS

In its August poll Opinium, which was one of the most accurate at the EU referendum, asked about whether at the time voters had believed the Leave Campaign on the £350m a week coming back to the NHS. There were the possible repsones:

A ” I believed this pledge at the time and think that the £350 million contribution will be given to the NHS instead once the UK leaves the EU.”

B “I believed this pledge at the time but no longer believe it will happen once the UK leaves the EU”

C “I did not believe this pledge at the time but think that the £350 million contribution will be given to the NHS instead once the UK leaves the EU”

D “I did not believe this pledge at the time and do not think it will happen once the UK leaves the EU”

E “N/A – I do not believe this was a pledge made by the Leave campaign”

F “Don’t know / had not heard about this before”

Amongst all who were sampled 25% responded with A or B as above – that at the time they believed that the extra money would be coming to the NHS. 55% responded C or D saying that at the the time didn’t believe it.

The interesting splits are when you look at how people actually voted. Amongst LEAVE voters more than a third, 35% said they had believed it at the time while 20% of all Leave voters answered A or C and still think the money will be forthcoming.

    The problem for TMay’s government, which did not make any of these commitments (It was the Leave campaign itself) is that there is still the expectation there amongst a significant proportion of the electorate

Opinium also asked about whether the sample thought the Leave and Remain campaigns had been misleading. A total of 36% thought that of Remain with 50% saying Leave had misled. On this 76% of all Remain voters believed that Leave had been misleading.

Mike Smithson


From Core TV – focus on PB, Brexit, the “Democrats”, the Tory leadership and more

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

No David Herdson with his usual Saturday morning post this morning but instead this TV feature on PB and many of the issues we’ve been discussing on the site over the past few weeks.

This interview, by Rob Double, was recorded yesterday afternoon for Core TV the new online news and politics channel.

My views and assessments won’t be unfamiliar to regular PBers.

Mike Smithson


How Brexit is blinding us resulting in other massive issues being ignored

Friday, August 18th, 2017


The Brexit obsession is diverting attention from other big challenges

Since Britain voted to leave the EU, little of substance has happened in the decoupling process. Britain has served its Article 50 notice, the EU has established its preferred method of handling the negotiations, to which the British have acceded, and both sides have now published detailed papers on their preferred way of proceeding. The real fight, as Jeremy Corbyn said, starts here.

If this is a phoney war, then it certainly hasn’t lacked for coverage of its shadow battles. Remainers mock the ramshackle way in which the British government has put together its negotiating position, profess disdain for what they see as the government’s provincial jingoism and boggle at the starry-eyed impossibilism of the British government’s continuing attempts to have their cake and eat it. For their part, Leavers have snarled at Remainers‘ perceived lack of patriotism, labelled those with qualms about the project saboteurs and enemies of the people and set out a wide variety of mutually contradictory preferred positions which they continually seek to map onto the government positions. Position papers have been deconstructed to the nth degree. Every new utterance by a government minister, EU flunkey or holidaying ex-SPAD is dissected endlessly for detail and nuance.

Both sides noisily agree that whatever else one might think of Brexit, it is important. The news-consuming public largely seems to agree. The Express seems to be kept afloat as a newspaper by a combination of EU outrages and statins. Hitherto obscure journalists now seem to make a good living out of Remain-supporting podcasts.

Both sides are right, of course. The terms of the Brexit settlement will have a substantial impact on the prosperity of Britain (and to a lesser extent the EU). It is very possible that the negotiations will end in acrimony, greatly exacerbating the already difficult relations between Britain and the EU and the internal divisions in the UK between the two camps. This is the biggest change of direction for Britain since it sought to join the EEC as it then was. The stakes are high.

One of the big dangers of Brexit, however, is that Britain’s absorption in the process is blinding it to other important developments. The continuing excellent employment figures have rightly been widely reported, though one has to admire the Express’s ability to make a bad news story out of this by blazoning its front page with the number of migrants in jobs. The slowdown in growth passed by largely without comment.

British political types awoke from their navel-gazing when North Korea threatened to launch missiles in the direction of the US and Donald Trump promised fire and fury. But they haven’t particularly noticed that ISIS have lost Mosul or that the Gulf is currently in the throes of a cold war between Qatar, backed by Turkey, on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on the other. Every European election or potential change of government is being seen through a Brexit prism: is Angela Merkel going to be re-elected and will her new coalition be more or less Brexit-friendly? Will the new Taoiseach be less accommodating to Britain’s preferred Brexit settlement than his predecessor? Britain’s horizons have sharply narrowed.

Politically aware Brits have picked up on the strife in southern US states over statues celebrating confederacy figures. Few seem to have picked up on the possibility of white nationalism crossing the Atlantic, though UKIP seem likely, in the wake of another large trial involving a group of largely Muslim men who sexually exploited white girls, to elect as leader one of the candidates who is standing on an anti-Islam ticket. This is a show that could be coming to a screen near you shortly.

As important as the Brexit settlement is, everything else continues. Once Brexit is no longer completely all-consuming, Britain will need to get to grips with globalisation, AI, productivity, the housing crisis, an ageing population and all the other challenges that seemed so important before the country voted to devote years to sorting out the second order problem of the precise basis on which Britain interacts with its neighbours. Since the government does not have the human or intellectual capacity to address these challenges at the same time as negotiating Brexit, Britain is set to fall years behind its cohort in dealing with them. So much for making Britain more competitive.

How to solve this problem? Oddly, it is some of those who voted for Leave who now carp that Brexit has led to a sterile debate, as though the outcome should have been closed off further discussion of the manifold problems it raised. Ignoring those problems, however, will not make them go away.

There appears to be no option to ploughing through the Brexit blizzard and accepting that will make us snow blind for some time to come. At the end, whenever that might be, we will survey a very changed landscape. Because Britain will not be prepared for that changed landscape, it is unlikely to be well-placed to profit from it.

Alastair Meeks


Calling Theresa May a “Nazi” totally undermines Chapman’s anti-Brexit crusade

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Threat almost over as far as ministers are concerned

We’ve all been entertained this week by the stream of Tweets from the ex-political editor of the Mail and former chief aide to the BrexSec DDavis, James Chapman.

It has livened up what had been a quiet August and provided some interesting revelations and attacks on his the man who was his boss until June.

But moving to a position where he’s now describing the PM as a “Nazi” suggests he has gone too far. Godwin’s “law” has come into play and Chapman, I fear, is going to be taken a lot less seriously.

Theresa May is many things, most seriously for her party an election loser, but she cannot be equated to the Germans in the second world War.

Chapman will start to fade and his Tweets less potency. This is a great pity because some of his points and observations on the implications of Brexit seemed highly relevant.

Mike Smithson


UPDATED: On the face of it Vince Cable would be taking a risk doing anything with the Chapman “Democrats party” move

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

The big development in the Chapman “Democrats party” move is the above Tweet from the ex-Mail political editor and former chief aids to DDavis.

There’s no doubt, as the YouGov polling above shows, that LD voters are much more likely to be pro-Remain than any other party and there would have been a risk for Cable in turning down the Chapman overtures.

But the LDs are a well established party where there are still bitter memories of the SDP in the 1980s with the eventual merger with the Liberal party to create the “Social and Liberal Democrats” in 1987. Cable comes from the SDP wing.

After that merger several leading SDPers, notably David Owen, didn’t join and remnants of the old party found itself often fighting battles with the new merged party. Back in 1989 when I ran for County Council as a Lib Dem my main opponent was from the continuity SDP and the fight was tough.

The LDs having been battered by the voters following the coalition are ultra sensitive to the dangers of a new party and a repetition of what happened in the 80s. They cannot allow themselves to be subsumed by Chapman.

I think Cable is well aware of the issues. The main thing is to impede the form of Brexit that TMay seeks.

UPDATE: The LDs have issued statement saying there is no question whatsoever of the party supporting the launch of a new party but that they will work with others to try to stop an “extreme Brexit”.

Mike Smithson


The Ladbrokes 20/1 that the Brexit Secretary, DDavis, will be next Cabinet minister out looks like a value bet

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Good bets are not predictions but an assessment that the chances of a particular outcome are better than what the bookies are offering.

Given all the noise round the BrexSec in the Tweet Tsunami from former DD aide James Chapman I reckon that the Ladbrokes 20/1 that he’ll be the next cabinet minister out is value.

The Chapman allegation point that is really striking and I’d suggest most damaging is the one the Times is highlighting this morning – the allegation that DDavis only works three days a week.

    Given how crucial these negotiations are to the future of the country the suggestion, true or false, that the man in charge is not giving it his full focus is one that hits home.

TMay is due to arrive back at Downing Street after her four week holiday tomorrow and no doubt she’s been giving a lot of thought to the challenges ahead. Maybe we could see some cabinet moves as TMay seeks to assert her authority.

An early exit for Davis is surely greater than a 20/1 chance.

Mike Smithson


The August 2017 silly season continues – Ladbrokes now taking bets on “the Democrats” for the next General Election

Monday, August 14th, 2017

The party doesn’t even exist yet

I’m always impressed by the way bookies can sometimes create markets that appear to be designed to appeal to the wishful thinking of some punters. Today sees Ladbrokes offering 250/1 on the “Democrats” , currently a theoretical party suggested in a Tweet by James Chapman, winning most seats at the next general election.

Much as personally I want to remain in the EU I’m not tempted by the bet.

Mike Smithson


There’s a case for saying that Johnson’s the best equipped to lead the Tories to Brexit and beyond

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Who else is capable of selling what’ll be portrayed as a sell-out?

Whoever is the PM as we exit the EU will have a massive task on her/his hand selling the Brexit deal or other arrangement to the party and to the country as a whole.

The parliamentary Tory party is hugely divided as it has been on Europe for several decades and some are not going to compromise on issues like continuing payments or future links with European institutions.

One of the areas where TMay could have done better is in trying to unite the country following the referendum outcome.

    The PM’s uncompromising stance reinforced many remainers to use their vote on June 8th in a way that was going to be most productive in stopping the PM irrespective of their concerns about Corbyn’s Labour.

I’ve never been a fan of Johnson but I recognise that unlike most of the other potential contenders he can, if he applies himself, be mentally agile enough to present things well and change as the situation demands. This is almost the total opposite of the incumbent whose rigid red lines are making the task of David Davis even more difficult.

Theresa May is almost totally incapable of thinking on her feet and doesn’t have the self-awareness to understand how she is coming over. Johnson is a totally different proposition.

The great thing about having him as CON leader and PM is that he would be totally focused on remaining in the job after the next general election and that would drive his approach to the negotiations.

After being the strong favourite to succeed May after the general election he has slumped in the betting from a 30% chance to an 8% one.

Mike Smithson