Soon there might not be a single Tory MP not p*ssed off at Theresa May’s duplicity (and or incompetence)

June 12th, 2018

At least Mrs May can say she’s united the Tory Party on Brexit



Italy: 50 ways to leave the Euro

June 12th, 2018

The latest video analysis from Robert Smithson

This is the most recent production from Robert who has been associated with PB right from the start in March 2004 and, indeed, was the person who suggested to me in the first place to establish the site.

Most PBers will know him from his regular and illuminating comments on the discussion threads.

He’s now producing regular video examinations on key business and economic issues and relevant one will now be published on PB. This is the latest on Italy and the Euro.

To make sure you don’t miss subscribe to the YouTube channel.

Mike Smithson


Despite an overwhelming majority of voters thinking Brexit is going badly, a similar overwhelming majority still expect Britain to leave the EU

June 12th, 2018

On Saturday I alerted PBers to the fact that 70% of voters thought Brexit was going badly, a near identical amount, 73%, expect the Britain to leave the European Union.

For those hoping the original polling might be a precursor to Brexit being stopped are set to be disappointed. It should give great comfort to Leavers that no matter what voters expect the referendum result to be enacted.

Some Remainers may wish to paraphrase a Cambridge educated classicist ‘Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting a decision that the nation thinks is going badly.’



Peace in our time but not for long as Mrs May will soon run out of road to kick the can

June 11th, 2018

No deal looks more and more likely as the UK is running out of time to get a deal sorted



The LDs to outperform the Tories in Thursday’s by-election is the best bet out there at the moment

June 11th, 2018

Ignore the GE2017 result & look at what’s happening on the ground

Yesterday on Betfair someone wagered a few pounds on the Tories at 1000/1 to win Thursday’s Lewisham East by-election. This means that if he bet £10 he’ll lose £10 for all the signs are that the blue team is just running a token campaign in the seat where LAB got 67.9% of the vote in June last year. To make things harder the CON candidate is a leaver in a seat that was 65% remain.

The LDs who came second here at GE2010 are throwing everything at getting a good result and expect a big squeeze on Tory voters to tactically vote yellow. I’d expect their message to be something like “If enough CON supporters lend their votes the LDs they could yet defeat LAB and end years of Labour domination in Lewisham. That outcome would shock Corbyn’s Leadership to the core.”

To LAB voters you can envisage a message on the lines of “A good result for their Lewisham-born candidate could force Corbyn to reconsider his support for Brexit – and help turn the tide in favour getting another vote on Brexit

The signs are that Labour is getting a tad concerned. This is from leading party MP, David Lammy, under the heading “Lewisham is not a done deal” on LabourList.

“… there is a real problem with voter fatigue. The people of Lewisham East have had election after election – a general election in 2015, the mayoral and the referendum votes in 2016, another general in 2017, the council and Lewisham mayoral this year, and now this by-election. Voters really like Janet, and why wouldn’t they? She is an amazing candidate – a local who set up a foodbank, a keen campaigner who has already done a lot for the area. But people still need encouragement to go to the polling station. The fatigue goes for Labour members too..”

The info I’m getting from the campaign has been enough for me to gamble every day the maximum amount that Ladbrokes will allow me on the market featured above. I plan to go on betting almost however tight the odds get.

By-elections are one-off events. People aren’t electing a government and as we have seen voting pattern can be very different from normal elections.


Mike Smithson


The polling that should give great succour to Trump

June 11th, 2018

The above chart I found really interesting. Trump is retaining his support that is unmatched bar by George W Bush, by the hopefully unique set of circumstances that was 9/11.

Despite the general hostility directed towards Trump this is quite an achievement by Trump. His supporters are very loyal and shifting him from the White House in 2020 will be difficult, as it usually is with incumbent Presidents.

Of those eight Presidents who first became President after being elected in their own right and retained 74% and over of their support after 500 days only two didn’t win re-election. George Bush Senior, lost his re-election campaign and JFK, tragically, didn’t live long enough to fight a re-election campaign.



The July plot to oust Mrs May

June 10th, 2018

It appears the patience of the Brexiteers with Mrs May has expired.

Whilst the story involving the Russians is rightly dominating the front page of The Sunday Times, the other major story in the paper is the one which shows how close Mrs May came close to losing over 10 ministers this week, including several cabinet ministers and the majority of the ministers in the DExEU, and her job.

Mrs May’s approach to dealing with the backstop and David Davis has consequences, The Sunday Times report

Four sources said this weekend that there was a plot to unseat May after the withdrawal bill received royal assent, expected in the second week of July, the moment at which the referendum result becomes legally binding.

One source claimed that there were already 42 MPs prepared to trigger a vote of no confidence in May, six short of the number required. One MP said: “We will keep our heads down and then get rid of her. No one trusts her any more.” Another Brexiteer said: “Once the bill goes through there is going to be an almighty reckoning.”

Rees-Mogg texted MPs on Friday to urge caution until the bill is passed but allies say he will lift these restrictions once it has become law.

Another plan under discussion by the plotters is to boycott a Commons vote on an unimportant piece of legislation so May suffers a defeat in order to demonstrate their strength. “We’ll just fail to turn up one day,” one rebel said.

MPs close to Davis say the end could be nigh: “Last week was a dress rehearsal,” one said. Another source close to Davis said: “She thinks she won. She’s f***** anyway. She’s toast.”

Whilst delivering the Brexit Leave promised seems a near impossible job Theresa May has dealt a poor hand very badly. Nearly two years after the referendum she and her government have yet to sort out their positions on Brexit.  That she triggered Article 50 without sorting out the position has the potential to turn out to be the country’s biggest foreign policy blunder since Iraq.

But her other failing is the way she conducts herself, secretive and only sharing her plans with a small band of advisers leads to people feeling they are being ignored and bounced into decisions.

It appears the Brexiteers in the Tory Party have concluded ‘No Theresa is better than a bad Theresa’ but by ousting Mrs May they have increased the chances of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.


PS – If the plotters oust Theresa May on July 20th then I’m expecting a lot of Godwin’s Law that day.


What would Labour really do about Brexit?

June 10th, 2018

A few things are obvious to all but the most partisan:

  1. The Government is not conducting the negotiations well, because there is no clear majority within either Parliament or the country at large for any objectives.
  2. The EU might try to accommodate Britain if we did have clear objectives, but in their absence they default to something as close to fudge and little change as possible.
  3. The Opposition has no clear policy either. We don’t especially need to, though the effect is almost zero media coverage, since we have little to say about the issue of the moment except that the Government is making a hash of it.

Perhaps this will all be resolved by 2022 and the election will be fought on other issues. But what if the Government collapses and Labour forms a government before Brexit is set in stone? It’s by no means impossible – suppose Parliament votes down a Brexit fudge, there’s a Tory leadership election and they tear themselves apart? Suppose a few by-elections go horribly wrong (for legal reasons I won’t discuss one possible one in the near future). Suppose a new Tory leader calls a snap election and loses? What would Labour actually do?

Labour has several fault lines that make it hard. The majority of the PLP and members are very pro-EU and don’t much care about immigration. Many MPs are aware that lots of their supporters do care about it. Corbynites generally don’t care much either about EU membership or about immigration. And the underlying resentments of party division are still there. Europhiles are irritated with Corbyn partly because he’s not a Europhile, but also because he’s Corbyn. Corbynites are irritated with super-Europhiles partly because they see them as unhelpful to the exciting remodelled party.

But if Labour has formed a Government these tensions will recede for a while – hell, everyone will say, we’ve actually bloody won, this is not the moment to squabble. And some aspects of dealing with Brussels will be easier for us. Virtually nobody in Labour dislikes or fears the EU: we divide on whether we think it’s wonderful or whether we merely think it’s not too bad but needs improvement. And while we need to cover our flank on immigration, the fact that we basically think it’s no big deal means the heat goes out of it.

Nor are we dependent on the DUP, and if a solution drifts towards a united Ireland, we so do not have a problem with that (and nor do most of our voters, however much they voted Leave). Nor are we fanatical about establishing our own regulations on everything, or even having a major say in details – who cares what the rules are on the size of milk cartons, so long as we have some common rules? Certainly not industry – they want a well-defined consistent environment, not difference for the sake of it.

So Brussels will be dealing with people who like them and don’t have hang-ups about some current key issues. The mood music will be much better, and Brussels will want to make the sudden rush of rational friendliness work.

But there are still objective problems. We can’t sign up to unlimited free movement or a chunk of our voters will walk away. We don’t want to sign up to any deal that prevents us nationalising rail and utilities and we’re wary of anything that might force us into hands-off government with the private sector free to do what it likes.

So what might a Corbyn government sign up to? Something like this, I suggest.

  1. A customs union
  2. A deal on movement that makes it easy for qualified people to move in and out, but allows limits both ways.
  3. Willingness to abide by standards and regulations, with disputes arbitrated by the ECJ.
  4. Ulster remaining inside the single market.

Ulster Unionists will hate it, but so what. More practically, there will be problems for firms trading with Ulster unless they effectively accept single market rules as well. In effect the single market will exert influence into Great Britain as well, but without dictating the overall political structure. We don’t get a trade deal with the US, but an acceptable deal with Trump is likely to be elusive anyway.

Overall, we get to be a bit different in areas that matter to Labour, but we stay largely in the EU orbit where geography naturally places us. Leavers will get some immigration limits and the formal exit. Remainers will see us still close to the EU and perhaps able to rejoin one day. Industry will have consistent rules. Is it an ideal outcome? No, but it’s a reasonably civilised way out of where we are now, and it preserves broad national interest, party unity and amiable relations with the Continent. There are much worse places to be.

Nick Palmer

Nick Palmer was the Labour MP for Broxtowe from 1997 to 2010 and a longstanding contributor on PB