Archive for the 'BREXIT' Category


Well if this Brexit polling turns out to be a harbinger of future polling then the 4/1 might be value

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

For the time being I’m not taking the 4/1, it is one poll, and we’re leaving unless a looming economic Armageddon because of Brexit might change the mind of voters, but then again I thought the economy would win it for Remain in June 2016.



Everything is negotiable, how the election result may have improved Britain’s negotiating position in the Brexit talks

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  Theresa May called the general election calling for a mandate for her Brexit vision.  In her own words:

“Our opponents believe because the government’s majority is so small, that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong.  They underestimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country. Because what they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home and it weakens the government’s negotiating position in Europe. 

If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue, and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election. Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country. So we need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.”

The Conservatives no longer have a small majority.  They no longer have a majority at all.  Britain has increased division at Westminster, the political game-playing will mushroom and all the while negotiations with the European Union are going to become more difficult.

Yet Theresa May’s entire pitch was wrong.  Perhaps that was one reason why she lost.  A small majority did not harm her ability to negotiate and a large majority would not have helped her, at least so far as the quality of the deal was concerned.  Having no majority may actually improve the deal that Britain secures.

How so?  Imagine that Theresa May had secured a majority of 200.  She would have utterly dominated the domestic political scene: half Boadicea, half Wonderwoman.  Dissent would have been futile.  The saboteurs would have been well and truly crushed.  From the EU’s viewpoint, that would have been an easy negotiation.  Once the bloody difficult woman had been squared, the deal would have been cast.  So all the EU had to do would be to make an offer that met their objectives and dare Theresa May to walk away from it.  She would have no cover for rejecting the offer, with all the serious disruption that would entail.  She would be making a huge call and the public would rightly treat it as her decision.  Whether or not Theresa May would actually accept the terms offered, the EU would expect her to do so.

Note that the UK is unable to adopt this tactic with the EU for the very good reason that there is no single decision-maker.  Michel Barnier, Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel, the European Parliament and the Walloon Parliament are just some of the cast of hundreds who will have their say.  The EU’s negotiators will reasonably point to the need to keep all of the decision-makers with their competing agendas on side.  In all likelihood, some of the decision-makers will be inclined to put a spoke in the wheel anyway, feeling that they have been paid insufficient regard to.

Indeed, this multiplicity of competing interests on the EU side is one major reason why the EU would have been pushing to offer Britain a minimally acceptable deal: it makes it all so much easier.  Why put your energies into cracking multiple nuts if you only need to crack one?

Now note the difference when Britain has a hung Parliament. Theresa May is not dominant even around her own Cabinet table.  Pluralism reigns.  Her government will need to keep on board a constantly-shifting coalition of interests inside her party and beyond.

And, most importantly, the EU’s negotiators will know that.  They cannot simply lay down a deal for Theresa May to sign up to because they know that she cannot simply sign any deal and get it through Parliament.  If they want a deal, they’re going to need to put a deal to the British negotiating side that the British Government will have a chance of getting through the House of Commons.

The EU’s institutional negotiating advantage that comes from its nature has been considerably reduced by the election result.  The two sides now have near-parity of incoherence.

This undoubtedly makes the negotiations much harder work for the British side: no one likes having to take account of the views of others.  But it potentially will make for a better deal for Britain (though not necessarily for the Conservative party).

There’s always a catch.  On this occasion, it’s obvious.  By narrowing the eye of the needle that the negotiators need to thread, the risk that they will fail is increased.  If both sides are having to square off lots of different interests among keenly self-important interest groups, the risk is greatly increased that a deal cannot be reached or that the deal agreed by negotiators is scuppered by someone who feels that they have been paid insufficient regard to – or simply someone creating devilment.  So, fingers crossed.

Alastair Meeks


Turns out the Queen’s Speech has caused more problems for Jeremy Corbyn than Theresa May

Thursday, June 29th, 2017



Taking the 3/1 on no Brexit deal being reached before the 1st of April 2019

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Paddy Power have some Brexit specials up, most of them look like contributions to the Paddy Power bonus fund, or a long term interest free loan to them. The one that attracted my attention was the 3/1 on there no Brexit deal being reached before the 1st of April 2019.

Whilst Mrs May’s rhetoric of ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ has been consigned to the dustbin of history after June 8th, I still think no deal is likely simply because of the complexity of the deal required, and time is very short, with nearly three months of the two year article 50 timetable frittered away with the needless general election Mrs May called which saw her lose David Cameron’s majority.

The EU have also recently become impatient with things, 

The UK risks a cliff edge “no deal” withdrawal from the EU if it “wastes” more time before beginning its Brexit negotiations, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator has warned.

Michel Barnier, whose department within the European Commission has spent months preparing for Brexit, said: “I can’t negotiate with myself.

“My preoccupation is that time is passing, it is passing quicker than anyone believes because the subjects we have to deal with are extraordinarily complex,” he said in an interview with a select group of European newspapers including Britain’s Financial Times.

All of this makes me thinks the sheer logistics of Brexit and time constraints, coupled with a lack of majority for Mrs May make no deal the most likely outcome, so that’s why I’ll be backing the 3/1.



Marf’s afternoon cartoon on the Brexit talks

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

The period of political confusion continues

With the first round of the Brexit talks apparently marked by the David Davis agreeing to the EU’s negotiating timetable and this afternoon the DUP raising doubts about whether they will support the Tories we are entering uncharted territory.

Having worked at Westminster with BBC news during the 1974-1979 parliament where LAB soon lost its majority every commons vote is going to become an issue. Ministers are going to be brought back from overseas trip for critical votes, rebel CON MPs will find that they hold an enormous amount of power and we might get the sight of critically ill MPs being brought by ambulance for key votes.

I’d mark down Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke as ones who won’t necessarily follow the party line on Brexit related issues.

Labour and the other opposition parties will be looking all the time for opportunities to ambush the government just to add to the tension.

Whether its Theresa/Boris/David/Philip as PM life will be the same. Very tiring and stressful for ministers and backbenchers who are not going to enjoy this parliament.

With LAB now having poll leads the Tories are going to avoid another general election at all costs.

Mike Smithson


It’s time for Labour to push back against Tory plastic patriotism

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Labour has allowed the Conservative party to question its patriotism and take sole ownership of the Union Jack. That is a mistake, says Joff Wild – particularly in light of what has happened over recent years

Theresa May, we are told, has bought herself sometime after appearing in front of the 1922 Committee and taking responsibility for the general election campaign and the result it delivered. “I got us into this mess,” she is reported to have told her backbench MPs, “and I’m going to get us out of it.” Of course, the “us” she refers to here is the Conservative party.

While it’s nice that the Prime Minister saw fit to apologise to her colleagues for the absolute Horlicks she made of her attempt to crush the saboteurs, I can’t help wondering about when she is going to apologise to the country. After all, she put us through six weeks of completely unnecessary mudslinging and failed totally to make the case she presented, so dropping us into an uncertain constitutional morass just days before the most important negotiations this country has been involved in since the end of World War Two are supposed to start. The UK already had a weak hand in the Brexit talks, now it has an even weaker one. Thank-you Mrs May – you have delivered the precise opposite of strong and stable.

All of which takes me to patriotism. It is, without doubt, one of the Conservative party’s most potent calling cards – and one that it has used extensively over the years. In the election that has just gone, Theresa May was presented as the Union Jack waving mother of the nation and contrasted starkly with Jeremy Corbyn, who does not sing the national anthem and has spent 40 years consorting with apologists for terrorism and those who wish the UK harm. At the next election, the flag will no doubt by deployed again by Boris Johnson or whoever it is that the Tories eventually decide will replace the current, hapless occupant of 10 Downing Street. They’ll do it because Corbyn is undoubtedly vulnerable (whatever he says now, the central charges are true) and because they believe they own the subject. So, what can Labour do?

For me the solution is an obvious one: the best form of defence is attack. Every time the Tories accuse Labour and its leader of hating Britain and its history, of despising the British people and of wishing them harm, Labour needs to ask the following:

  • What was patriotic about a Brexit referendum that was only conceived for internal Conservative party reasons and which only happened because David Cameron won an election he thought he would lose?
  • What was patriotic about a Brexit referendum campaign in which the very wealthy, Establishment Tories who led both the Remain and Leave campaigns told lie after lie to the electorate in order to win their votes?
  • What was patriotic about holding a referendum without giving any serious thought to the possibility of a Leave win and making absolutely no plans for how to deal with one, so leaving the UK woefully ill-prepared to negotiate a decent Brexit deal?
  • What was patriotic about failing to defend the independence of the judiciary and of playing along while the right wing press labelled all those millions of British people who disagreed with the government’s Brexit line as saboteurs?
  • What was patriotic about declaring that those who did not agree with the Prime Minister’s view of Brexit are citizens of nowhere?
  • What was patriotic about foisting a general election on the country at a time of major uncertainty only in order to secure party political advantage?
  • What is patriotic about seriously contemplating the kind of Brexit that would cause substantial harm to the long-term economic prospects of the UK and cause millions of British citizens to see their standards of living significantly reduced?
  • What is patriotic about overseeing an economy in which housing and other basics are increasingly unaffordable, public services are being cut to the bone and the NHS is in permanent crisis?
  • What is patriotic about contemplating a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party that will keep the Tories in office but which could lead to serious social and political problems in an integral part of the United Kingdom that has only recently returned to peace after decades of armed conflict?

In short, the Labour line should be that while the Tories claim only to act in the national interest, the evidence suggests otherwise: they always put party before country. A truly patriotic party would have done none of the above; instead it would be For the Many, Not the Few.

Would such an attack strategy work? Well, I suspect that a lot of voters will always have serious doubts about Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and others in the Labour high command. Their pasts cannot be rewritten; their words cannot be unsaid; it is perfectly valid to draw attention to them.

But as we enter the tenth year of austerity amidst the desperate confusion of Brexit, there may well be many more who can be persuaded that the Tories do not own the Union Jack and should not to be allowed to get away with acting as if they do. Just like the Labour leadership, their commitment to the whole country should be put under the microscope. Were that to happen, a lot of British people would not like what they see.

Joff Wild

Joff Wild posts on Political Betting as SouthamObserver. You can follow him on Twitter at @SpaJW


For the first time since the E.U. referendum it is possible we won’t leave the E.U. after all

Monday, June 12th, 2017

It might not be the most likely outcome. But the prospect of a Labour government has put Brexit back on the table writes Keiran Pedley.

After Thursday’s shock election result we are all waiting for the dust to settle to see where we are.

At the time of writing, Theresa May is hoping to cling on as Prime Minister with many sceptical that she will last the week. Her best hope, it seems, is that no consensus candidate emerges to replace her and Tory MPs get cold feet at the prospect of more instability that could lead to another General Election and a Corbyn-led Labour government. Nevertheless, she does look like a ‘dead woman walking’, as George Osborne put it to Andrew Marr. Although the conventional wisdom has been wrong so often recently maybe we should bet on her staying.

If she does hold on, even in the short term, attention will quickly turn to Brexit as formal negotiations are due to start very soon. Article 50 was invoked in March and the clock is very much ticking. The big question now is what sort of Brexit we get.  Many are talking up the idea of a ‘soft Brexit’ (whatever that means) but I would go one further. I don’t think we can assume with any certainty that Brexit itself will actually happen at all.

I appreciate that this is a big statement to make but we need to consider how much Thursday has changed things.

The prospect of a Labour government throws all previous calculations on Brexit into doubt. We are about to enter some difficult negotiations and a period of political instability where the prospect of a no confidence vote in the Government and another General Election will never be far away. If negotiations falter, ‘no deal’ looks like a genuine possibility and the economy suffers, then public opinion could shift fast. If there is one thing we should have learned from the past 2 years it is that public opinion is fickle and volatile. In this context we should ponder the Survation poll that put Remain at 51% and Leave at 49%. This is before negotiations have started.

A path for Remain?

The point here is that if Brexit starts to falter we cannot be certain how public opinion and the Labour Party will react. Now that a Labour government is possible, the party’s position on Brexit takes on greater significance. This is without considering what terms the SNP and Lib Dems might place on supporting a future minority Labour administration’s Queen’s speech.

Ironically, this could present a major challenge for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in the longer term. Right now he is untouchable but I wonder how his younger pro-Remain supporters will react if they see Brexit as the disaster they expected with the opportunity to reverse it within their grasp.  Perhaps Corbyn will end up having to reevaluate his own position on Brexit’s inevitability. Politics is in flux right now and I see no reason to assume it is going to settle down any time soon.

There are of course many unknowns here. Not least whether Article 50 is actually reversible or whether the EU would even want Britain back. Far more likely than the UK remaining in the E.U. after all is some kind of interim EEA-style deal that allows Britain to leave with the finer details to be agreed later. Perhaps the new fault line in British politics will become Single Market membership rather than cancelling Brexit altogether.

However, this past week has taught me that what is fantasy one week can become reality the next. If this minority Conservative government tears itself apart over Europe – as Tory governments’ often do – don’t be surprised if voters decide that Brexit is not worth it after all. The Tories would never wear it of course but Labour might. The difference now is that what Labour thinks matters again.

Keiran Pedley is the presenter of the PB/Polling Matters podcast. He tweets about politics and public opinion at @keiranpedley


Theresa May was right, this election should be about Brexit

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

The appalling events of Monday evening are dominating the election campaign. Young children and teenagers should be able to attend a pop concert without fear of being killed.  I struggle to understand the mind of a man that can choose to inflict so much pain and suffering on so many young people and their families.  Feelings are understandably running high: grief, anger, outrage and despair are mingled.

Security is a primal concern.  The knowledge that there are people who walk among us with malevolent intentions is chilling.  We know something of their aims, though not as much as we like to think.  Given the troubled history of many of those who have launched or planned such attacks, it sometimes seems that the malevolence is as important as the intentions, the cause legitimising the extreme violence.

How do we defeat an ideology?  Just why is it so attractive to some young people who have grown up in our country?  How do we dissuade those for whom that ideology is potentially attractive from taking it up?  What do we do with those who have already immersed themselves in its foul waters?  These are important questions and not ones that should be left to the security forces.

And so the rest of the campaign is likely to be dominated by security concerns.  This is an unmitigated disaster for Jeremy Corbyn, who the public strongly distrust on the subject.  It is far too late for him to regain their confidence on this subject now.

Politicians will – rightly – prioritise those risks that the public are most concerned about.  Yet we overestimate the chance of risks which are very obvious and underestimate more insidious risks. 

Thanks to the vigilance of our security services, terrorist attacks are mercifully rare.  You are much more likely to die from falling down the stairs than in a terrorist attack (and the measures to reduce that risk that you or I can take are far easier to put into operation). 

I note this not to minimise the unspeakable suffering that the families of those poor children are feeling but to note that there at any given moment there are many other families undergoing unspeakable suffering, unnoticed by the media or by public opinion.

In the absence of a truly catastrophic terrorist attack – which, worryingly cannot be completely ruled out – the everyday life of most British citizens is likely to be affected more by government decisions taken in other areas.  The government’s handling of the economy is much more likely to make a real difference to most of them.  The competing proposals for long term care of the two main parties would affect a much greater number of citizens than anti-terrorist policies.  The funding arrangements of the NHS have far more potential to save more lives.

And hanging over the next few years is Brexit.  The negotiations with the EU are shaping up to be difficult and demanding.  The outcome of those negotiations have the potential to set the country’s future for decades to come.

Theresa May called the election on the pretext of getting a mandate to conduct those negotiations in the manner that she thinks fit.  She looks set to get a mandate for something quite different.  It is doubtful, for example, whether she can continue to argue that sharing security information is a bargaining chip that Britain can play, now that the public have had a reminder of the potential consequences of doing so. 

The course of the rest of the election looks set now.  Theresa May will no doubt use whatever mandate she gets for whatever purpose she thinks fit.  Yet if Brexit does turn out as badly as many of the signs are suggesting, she may in time wish that there had been a more searching discussion during the election campaign of the options available to Britain.  The implementation of the biggest decision for decades is going by default.

Alastair Meeks