Archive for the 'BREXIT' Category


So a cabinet Brexit deal is done and there are no resignations

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Looks like a victory for TMay and it will be a soft Brexit


Three times as many people are less confident now about Brexit compared with when Britain voted to leave

Friday, July 6th, 2018


With the political world waiting for the outcome of the Chequers cabinet meeting YouGov has just issued the above polling showing people’s view of Brexit and asking them to compare with when the vote took place.

A total of 61% say their view have not changed with 28% sticking with their original view that it would be good and 33% that it would be bad.

Of course so much is up in the air and we will hopefully get a clear view when the gathering at Chequers wraps up.

There is a view that cabinet resignations might actually assist TMay in her negotiations because she could then present today’s outcome as being about as far as the UK can go.

No doubt we will get some new in a few hours.

Mike Smithson


On this big day let’s remember Ken Clarke’s assessment of TMay just before she won the leadership

Friday, July 6th, 2018

The “bloody difficult woman” is tough for all sides to deal with

One of the great nuggets that came out of the post Brexit referendum CON leadership contest was the above unguarded conversation between Ken Clarke and Malcolm Rifkind captured by Sky News when they thought the cameras were off them.

Clarke’s descriptions of some of the leading figures who will be battling it out at Chequers today appear to be spot on particularly his observations on the woman who was to become Prime Minister and is now seeking to get some form of agreement on the stance to take on the Brexit talks.

    The point, of course, is that once Theresa May has taken a view she sticks to it tenaciously and becomes very difficult to shift.

Those who do not agree with what is being proposed are going to find it very difficult dealing with the Prime Minister and, of course, they know it. Also holding the gathering at Chequers, her home turf, and the insistence that the meeting should go on until agreement is reached will help her.

My reading is that she attaches less importance to the actual form of Brexit than that the UK should leave the EU on March 29th next year as planned. So much can be pushed into the transition period to be resolved later. The latest Betfair market on this happening by that date has it at a 58% probability.

The task of the hardliners is being made more challenging by the spate of big decisions coming out of the big corporations in anticipation of the UK leaving the EU. The more bleak this looks the tougher it becomes to argue for a hard Brexit. There’s little doubt that Johnson’s widely reported “fuck business” comment has undermined his position.

Maybe historians will look back at today and deem it to be Theresa’s finest hour.

Mike Smithson


The sick rose. The disease in the English hard right and the failure of the rest of the right to confront it

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Picture Credit: Wikimedia Commons

On 16 June 2016, Thomas Mair fired a gun at Jo Cox MP, shouting “Britain first, this is for Britain. Britain will always come first. We are British independence. Make Britain independent.”  He then attacked her with a knife, shot at her again and again shouted “Britain first”.

Sentencing him for murder, Mr Justice Wilkie, said to him: “You affect to be a patriot. The words you uttered repeatedly when you killed her give lip service to that concept. Those sentiments can be legitimate and can have resonance but in your mouth, allied to your actions, they are tainted and made toxic… You are no patriot. By your actions you have betrayed the quintessence of our country, its adherence to parliamentary democracy.”

At the time, this seemed to be a freakish event, like a rare migrant bird blown astray by unfamiliar weather conditions.  Since then, however, it has become apparent that the far right is systematically organising for terror attacks.  At Finsbury Park, a far right sympathiser drove a van into a crowd at a mosque.  In the year to March 2018, four far right planned attacks had been broken up (for comparison, 10 Islamist terrorist attacks had been stopped in the same period).  This is a major threat to the British way of life.

The impact is not just visible at the most extreme end of the spectrum.  For many years UKIP was careful to present itself as the acceptable face of nativism.  Nigel Farage might have blamed bad traffic on immigrants and thought it problematic to live next door to Romanian men, but UKIP portrayed itself as a party open to all.

UKIP is now imploding, spawning a host of parties as the various kipper titans seek to establish themselves as the dominant anti-immigration voice.  Anne-Marie Waters, having failed to take over UKIP, has set up For Britain, with a policy of reducing Muslim immigration to Britain to zero: one of its local election candidates had to be expelled after having been linked to National Action, the group behind a plot to kill Rosie Cooper MP. 

John Rees-Evans, most famous for claiming to have contended with a gay donkey seeking to rape his horse, has set up the Democrats & Veterans Party, which on its website accuses current lawmakers of tyranny and betrayal of the highest order.  (Henry Bolton, erstwhile leader, has announced plans to set up OneNation in his own image: its credo is awaited impatiently.)

What of UKIP itself?  Under the leadership of Gerard Batten, it has taken a lurch to the right.  He has denounced Islam as a death cult.  He has supported Tommy Robinson, the EDL founder who is currently serving a prison sentence for his second separate contempt of court for breaching reporting restrictions: Tommy Robinson’s utterances were apparently one of the inspirations for the Finsbury Park attacker. 

And it has just welcomed four high profile basement-dwelling online activists, one of whom specialises in conspiracy theories and one of whom recently encouraged vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down (this was, he clarified after five journalists had been gunned down, apparently a joke).  These are apparently suitable members of the latest incarnation of UKIP.

We are seeing a sick flowering on the right unleashed by Brexit, where nativism has spawned a new politics in which accusations of treachery are routine and violence is not beyond contemplation. 

What has been the response of the mainstream right?  To minimise and trivialise the threat.  Antoinette Sandbach MP received an email accusing her of treachery.  She reported it to the police.  The Daily Mail then ran a story on how the church-going pensioner who sent it was living in fear and upset that she had been labelled abusive. 

Later that week, another far right extremist pleaded guilty to a terrorist plot to murder Rosie Cooper MP.  Against that background, one wonders how the Mail expects MPs to sift lurid accusations.  It is disturbing to write the words, but in the current climate the idea of someone planning an attack on Ms Sandbach is not far-fetched.  Why should she be expected to behave as though it was?

The Brexit right that considers itself mainstream has a responsibility to confront this sickness.  It courted this section of society assiduously during the referendum campaign, frightening them with untrue claims that millions of Turks were poised to descend on Britain and portraying unending queues of asylum seekers as heading our way. 

Since then, various prominent Leavers have accused the judiciary, the BBC, the civil service, the CBI, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the governor of the Bank of England and pretty well any other national institution that you can name of seeking to sabotage Brexit. 

They have for two years fanned the flames of nativism and used the rhetoric of betrayal, treachery and quislings.  And they then refuse to make any connection between their inflammatory rhetoric and the actions of extremists.

What is particularly peculiar is that the people who have been providing shelter to far right extremists under cover of their angry nativism are often the same people who vehemently insist that Muslims should disown in the clearest terms the extremists in their midst.  The test should be the same of both groups. No ifs, buts or whataboutery: clear lines must be drawn. 

Too many on the right are currently treating civic obligation as a pick-and-mix.  Those who love to drape themselves in the Union Jack need to need to face up to their responsibilities, and help to change the climate and eliminate this dangerous threat to our society that they have helped to create.  If they really love this country, that is what they must do now.

Alastair Meeks


The betting markets are slightly less certain that the UK will leave the EU on March 29th next year

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

Above is the trend in the Betfair exchange market monitored, as ever, by

Mike Smithson


The Electoral Commission decision on Vote Leave should make TMay’s task on Friday a bit easier

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

It gnaws away at the democratic legitimacy of Brexit

Two days before the critical cabinet meeting at Chequers on Brexit the Electoral Commission report on Vote Leave that is being published looks set to state that the officially designated Leave campaign broke electoral law.

This has the potential to take the debate to a new stage and could provide the peg for those wanting to take further legal action to try to impede the process of the UK leaving the EU.

On the political front it provides the ammunition for those trying to undermine the argument that the referendum outcome legitimately reflects the “will of the people”.

This should strengthen TMay’s hand with her cabinet hardliners at the critical cabinet meeting at Chequers on Friday. This is because the more the referendum outcome itself is questioned the harder it is to to interpret the June 2016 result in a manner that those wanting a hard Brexit have been asserting.

In recent days it has been said that Mrs May is not herself convinced of Brexit but is only proceeding out of a sense of duty.

What could ease the pressure a touch is that the meeting is likely to be overshadowed in the media by the England’s quarter final in the World Cup the following day. There’d be less point in BoJo/DDavis/Foxy quitting if what’s dominating the news is the football.

Mike Smithson


The danger for LAB is that its equivocation over Brexit could be alienating its GE2017 tactical voters

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

LAB drops to a its lowest share this parliament

There’s a new YouGov poll out this morning that has LAB down at 37% which equals its lowest share in any public poll since GE2017. That this should happen while the Tories are in almost total internal war over the Brexit negotiations might seem surprising.

This is just one poll but the overall trend is very clear – we’ve moved from a situation when there were almost solid Labour leads to one where the blue team is on top.

    Maybe a reason that this is happening is that Corbyn’s LAB is finding it hard retaining the tactical anti Brexit voters of June 8th last year.

For one of the key dynamics of a GE2017 was that in spite of its ambivalent approach to Brexit it was still able to attract the anti-Brexit tactical vote. There’s a good analysis here.

In the large sample Ashcroft poll taken in June 2017 8% of LAB voters said Brexit was the main reason why they’d voted for Corbyn’s party. That potentially is a large slab of voters who could move away from the party.

On a personal note I was one of those tactical voters in a tight marginal and helped LAB make one of its gains from the Tories. I can’t see myself supporting a Corbyn-led party next time.

Today’s YouGov has 71% of LAB voters saying they believe that Brexit was wrong with just 21% saying it was right.

Mike Smithson


To force an early election Jezza needs CON defectors – but would Tory remainers really back him?

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

During the weekend the Labour leader was talking about forcing an early election over Brexit. What he didn’t say was exactly how this would come about because as things stand at the moment the Commons electoral arithmetic is very much against him.

While Labour has sometimes acted as though it won in June last year the fact is that the party ended up 56 MPs behind the Conservatives. The total of non conservative MPs is simply not enough to give it a majority over the Conservatives and the DUP if ever it came to a confidence vote on the floor of the House of Commons.

Unless we get a mad rush of by-elections in Tory seats which the party loses there is nothing in the foreseeable future that’s going to change the basic elecroral facts.

Under the Fixed Term Parliament Act the only way that an opposition can force an early election is by moving a vote of no confidence in the government which is not rescinded within 2 weeks.

The only source of MPs to top up the anti-Conservative contingent to secure a majority is the Conservative Party itself. Corbyn requires Tory defectors and those most probably would come from the small but loud force of remainers.

Only problem here is that the likes of Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry are not likely to be enamoured by the considerable equivocation that the LAB leadership under Corbyn has shown over Brexit.

So Corbyn’s own position on the referendum outcome could hinder any effort to bring the government down and cause an election that he wants.

Mike Smithson