Why Chequers Has Gone Wrong for Theresa May

Posted on 17 July 2018 by John Curtice

No less eight than eight polls wholly or partly about Brexit have been conducted since the Cabinet gathered at Chequers last Friday week (6 July). Both the statement about Brexit that was issued at the end of that meeting and the white paper published the subsequent Thursday have received a critical response in some quarters, including not least amongst many who campaigned to Leave.  But how have the public have reacted?

Here are four key points that now seem clear.

  1. The Chequers agreement is relatively unpopular among Leave voters.

Some of the headline numbers on attitudes towards Chequers are, at first glance, not that bad for the government. In a poll conducted immediately after the Chequers meeting, Survation actually found that more people approved (33%) than disapproved of the agreement (23%), while Opinium found that as many approved (32%) as disapproved (32%).

But these numbers flatter to deceive. The polls have consistently reported that the deal is less popular among Leave voters than Remain supporters. Only 30% of Leave voters told Survation that they approved, compared with 39% of their Remain counterparts. In Opinium’s poll the deal had a net approval rating of +17 among Remain voters but one of -18 among those who backed Leave. At the same time, YouGov found that while 42% of Remain voters would be unhappy if the agreement went ahead, as many as 54% of Leave supporters were of that view.

Perhaps the biggest problem for the government is that many Leave voters do not think the agreement reflects what they believe the country voted for in the EU referendum. YouGov found that as many as 58% of Leave voters hold that view (compared with only 27% of Remain supporters). Similarly, Survation reported that 49% of Leave voters do not believe that the agreement is ‘faithful’ to the referendum result (compared with 30% of Remain voters).  Meanwhile Deltapoll ascertained that as many as 37% of Leave voters thought the agreement represented a ‘betrayal’ of the referendum result (with another 29% regarding it as an ‘ill- thought out compromise’).

  1. The Chequers agreement has undermined confidence in the government’s handling of Brexit – and especially so among leave voters

All three companies that have been tracking evaluations of the government’s handling of Brexit on a regular basis have reported a sharp decline in voter evaluations of the government’s handling of Brexit since the Chequers agreement was released. ORB report that 71% now disapprove of the way the government is handling the negotiations, up from 64% just a month ago. Similarly, Opinium now find that 56% disapprove of the way that Theresa May has handled Brexit, compared with 45% a month ago. Meanwhile YouGov have stated that 75% now think that the government is doing badly at negotiating Brexit, whereas just the previous week the figure had been 64%.

Most of this drop in confidence has occurred among those who voted Leave.  According to Opinium, net approval of the Prime Minister’s performance among Remain voters has more or less held steady; it was -28 last month and now stands at -30. But among Leave voters net approval dropped from +1 last month to -31. Similarly, according to YouGov the government’s net ‘doing well/badly’ score among Remain supporters stood at -63 at the beginning of July and has now fallen a little further to -72. Among Leave voters, however, the equivalent drop is from -27 to -60. Figures from both Kantar and Survation confirm that Leave voters, who have hitherto been less critical of the government’s handling of Brexit, are now more or less as critical as Remain supporters.

  1. Chequers has undermined the association in voters’ minds between the Conservatives and a hard Brexit.

Although many voters have been struggling to answer pollsters’ questions about where the parties stand on Brexit, among those who did feel able to give an answer, there was until now a tendency to associate the Conservative party with a hard Brexit. In both May and June Opinium found that around twice as many voters felt that the Conservatives’ priority was ending free movement rather than staying the single market. Now, however, almost as many voters think that the party’s priority is to stay in the single market (27%) as it is to end free movement (29%).  This turnaround is particularly marked among Leave voters – and given their predominance in Conservative ranks, also among those who voted Conservative in 2017. A plurality of both groups now think that the Conservatives’ priority is to stay in the single market – by 32% to 25% among Leave voters and 35% to 27% among 2017 Conservatives.

Meanwhile, YouGov now find that as many as 69% of voters think that the Conservative party’s stance on Brexit is ‘unclear or confusing’, up from 58% a month ago. The increase has been particularly marked (18 points) among Leave supporters.

  1. Voters have not changed their minds about the merits of Remain vs. Leave or a hard versus a soft Brexit.

There is no consistent evidence that the Chequers agreement has either persuaded Remain voters that perhaps Brexit will not be so bad after all or that it has dissuaded Leave voters of the merits of leaving. True, Deltapoll now have Remain and Leave in a dead heat when last month Remain were six points ahead. But Survation reported a four-point lead for Remain, similar to the six-point lead that the company identified last month. Meanwhile, at 46%, the proportion of voters who told YouGov in both its post-Chequers polls that in hindsight the Brexit vote was wrong, is exactly the same as it was in the two YouGov polls conducted immediately before Chequers.

Meanwhile, although ORB reported a five-point increase in the proportion who disagree that having greater control over immigration is more important than having access to free trade with the EU, Opinium found that, at four points, the difference between the proportion who think the government’s priority should be staying in the single market (39%) and the proportion who think it should be ending free movement (35%) is exactly the same as it was last month. Equally, Opinium found that voters continue to be evenly divided on the issue of whether Britain should be attempting to stay in or leave the customs union.


For the most part it seems that voters have been evaluating Chequers by asking how well it matches up to their existing preferences, rather than asking themselves whether it gives them reason to revaluate those preferences. And the problem for the government is that many Leave voters appear to have decided that the agreement fails to meet their expectations. As a result, it is in effect is being disowned by some of the very voters whose electoral instructions the government is meant to be implementing. Moreover, those voters do not just think that the Prime Minister has been incompetent in developing her Brexit stance but rather they are also having doubts about whether the government is in favour of the kind of Brexit they want in the first place. Meanwhile, Mrs May is getting little or no credit from Remain voters for developing a stance that might be thought to be rather softer than they might once have anticipated.

Meanwhile, we have to bear in mind, as last week’s British Social Attitudes report confirmed, that the 2017 electorate left the Conservatives with a predominantly pro-Leave (and thus pro-hard Brexit) electorate. Maybe as many as 70% of those who voted Conservative in 2017 had been Leave supporters the year before. Leave voters are then, above all, a group that the Conservatives need to keep on board during the Brexit process. There are already signs that Chequers has caused some of them to reevaluate their support for the Conservatives. Support for the party is down by four points in the latest polls as compared with the same polls before Chequers, enough for the Conservatives to fall behind Labour in the popularity stakes. Meanwhile, UKIP, hitherto seemingly dormant, has seen its support double from 3% to 6%. It is not just in parliament that the Prime Minister is under pressure from her Brexiteers.

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By John Curtice

John Curtice is Senior Research Fellow at NatCen and at 'UK in a Changing Europe', Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, and Chief Commentator on the What UK Thinks: EU website.

32 thoughts on “Why Chequers Has Gone Wrong for Theresa May

  1. After leaving the EU without any so-called “Deal” , we offer other countries, including the EU, a free trade agreement – no Customs Union required. They can either take it or leave it. Countries within the EU will still want to trade with us as we will with them.
    We are told that without being in the Customs Union the M20 will become a lorry park.
    Nobody, that I’ve heard, have considered what will be happening on the French side of the channel – right ? Given the French have quite cheerfully set fire to the centre of Paris over proposed increases in fuel tax (we would say, “what are they complaining about” ? !) and the general cost of living (which could be alleviated were they not trapped in a common currency – although they don’t realize it), what do you think they are going to do when they can’t move about in their cars anywhere near the channel ports ? Can’t see lasting long, can you ?
    I N Perspective.Report

  2. Since the Chequers offer was the original subect of this column, here’s a belated comment on it. If I listen carefully and watch what I read, things have changed quite a bit in the past month. Project Doom is still churning out its stuff – the latest I read on the BBC is that post Brexit we won’t be able to have sandwiches, so those fiends in Brussels clearly know our weak points.

    But if you listen to what is going on at the Government level, the “tone” has changed quite a bit, Of course, partly there is just less going on, what with Europeans and their endless Summer Hols, but the language has become much more conciliatory and a lot less hostile and insulting. Barnier, for example, has been quoted saying that the deal is now 80% complete – Guardian, 10th July – and “He added that he was determined to negotiate a deal on the remaining 20%.”

    Recallling that this is a negotiation, he is saying that he’s determined to do a deal on the remain 20% of the current deal on offer, the Chequers deal, and not on some ideal Brexiteer deal that Boris would approve of.

    So, around the beginning of September, we are going to hear two things. Barnier is going to say he can do us a deal based on Chequers, but he’s not interested in anythinig else. And May is going to say that the chequers deal must be about right, because she can push that through, and the only alternative is a no-deal Brexit, chaos, troops on the streets and no sandwiches.

    So yes, we are being softened up, and the Chequers deal is not ideal, but a deal you can put into effect is going to look pretty tempting compared to the uncertainties of a no-deal Brexit. In fact, that adds clarity to the whole thing by making it a pretty stark choice between a deal that we can get, and no deal. A choice that stark will make 99% of the guff around Brexit simply irrelevant.

    Oh, and isn’t this why Chequers is so unpopular right now? The Remainers hate it because they are having their bluff called by a pretty soft Brexit, and the Brexiteers hate it because now they can see that Brexit is now going to take a Brexit vote, Article 50, and then several more years of gradually reducing EU influence on the UK. Chequers means Brexit was never as simple as we thought.Report

  3. The problem is the majority of the British people voted to Leave the EU but the majority of the ruling classes wanted to remain. In a capital punishment vote it is probably the same, but that is a question of conscience whereas being in the EU is a question of democracy and if the ruling classes don’t honour the largest democratic vote in our history to leave the EU, where is democracy? If the ruling classes and particularly MP’s don’t honour the vote to leave the EU or push for another referendum, a classic EU tactic if they don’t get the answer they want in a vote, who can truly not agree that democracy is dead
    in the UK?Report

  4. The ‘White Paper’ is being demolished on the ConservativeHome website.

    It is blatantly apparent that implicit in the White Paper and in comments from Phillip Hammond that the EU would still maintain overall control of setting Standard VAT and Reduced VAT minimums, and that the UK could do nothing about this. This would mean that if the EU decided to alter the present minimum limits of 15% for Standard VAT and 5% for Reduced VAT levels to say 25% and 10% then the UK would have to accept these minimum levels. So much for taking back control of our money and our laws.

    Further with oversight of all external (non-EU) trade agreements having to be overseen and agreed by the EU how can the UK implement independent trade deals with 3rd countries?

    Then there is the roll of the ECJ, which has a primary responsibility in its judgements to further enhance the original treaties such as furthering European integration. How can the UK as an independent sovereign nation have as the final arbiter in a dispute with the EU a body whose very being is there to further support the further integration of the EU? Is that ludicrous or what?

  5. K Lockton. Most of your argument seems to rest on predictions about the effects of Brexit which have not come true. However, we have not had Brexit yet!
    Meanwhile, we have seen the value of the pound drop, we have moved from the fastest growing economy in the EU to the slowest, EU agencies are relocating (with their high skilled jobs) out of the UK, firms are moving headquarters and operations, farming and horticulture report inability to pick crops, a dramatic fall in the numbers of EU nurses and doctors registering the practice in the UK, and major employers announcing plans for movement which total over 400,000 jobs. Even the most enthusiastic pro-Brexit economists agree that the economy will take a hit for several years, but say that the pain will be worth it. I am not sure how many people agree.. Report

      1. First, check your numbers before writing and then put those into the perspective of overall numbers so that possible implications can be fully understood. Rather than firing off emotional and inaccurate sentences which benefit no-one.
        Second, ANY future prediction is just that. Economist’s predictions are notoriously inaccurate, as have been those of Mr Hammond ‘s department (there’s an actual fact that can be checked).
        Third, constant negativity has the potential to cause a considerable amount of short term financial turmoil. That is a major contributor to the fluctuation in the value of the pound. It would be beneficial to the country, given that a democratic vote has been taken, if a little more positivity could be shown.
        Here’s a prediction…..history will look back on this and be amazed and amused at it all!Report

  6. If the Chequers Proposal has become a liability, I think that’s a pity, but I also think it is probably temporary. Opinions change, and when the crazies run out of steam people will see the sense in this.

    I support the proposal for two main reasons. One, it preserves the essense of what Brexit was about, which is sovereignty, and second, it does the least damage to the trade we are accustomed to and on which a lot of jobs depend.

    I think that there is a pretty good chance that the EU will accept the Proposal with minor amendments because it does the least economic damage, to them as well as to us. And they will accept the loss of jurisdiction, because you can’t enforce legal jurisdiction over a non-member of the EU, so they will have to accept volumtary alignment.

    The stuff about regulatory alignment isn’t as big a deal as some people are making it out to be. You can’t force your export customers to take goods they don’t like, so you *have* to align with their import regulations, over which you have no control. That is true for all our other export markets, so there is no reason that the EU would be any different.

    One other point about the Chequers Proposal: there is really no other intermediate offer between this and a no-deal Brexit. On any other offer, we would just find ourselves wrapped up on months of to and fro with the EU. With this one we can honestly say that we have offered the EU the most we can consistent with our new status as a non-member, surrendering anything else really makes us still a member, so if the EU won’t accept this, then they would not accept *any* offer short of remaining in the EU, so the next step would have to be a no-deal exit.Report

    1. I think that you are misunderstanding the situation (which is understandable, because the UK government barely understands it and has been changing its Brexit narrative so often it is starting to sound like quantum physics). In October 2016 Theresa May laid out the red lines for the UK in her Lancaster House speech: 1. end of free movement; 2. end of membership fees; 3. end of jurisdiction of the ECJ. The EU stated in response that, respecting those red lines, it could offer the UK a comprehensive free trade deal akin to the one it offered Canada (and indeed South Korea and now Japan). It cannot offer anything more, because that would undermine the integrity of the Single Market (their red line) but also it would violate free trade agreements that the EU already has with other third countries.

      The UK has been pushing for more ever since, basically not respecting the EU position. What it is presenting as “offering concessions” is in fact demanding special privileges compared to other third countries. The EU has not budged on its position. This is now being portrayed as the EU being uncooperative and punitive. But all it is doing is sticking to its red line on the Single Market, as it has been saying it would since before the EU Referendum.

      What the UK needs to do is take the free trade agreement that has been on the table since October 2016. This would respect the red lines of both parties and is clearly better than a no-deal outcome.

      1. The Canada deal has been floated, but it is very far from obvious that this would be “clearly better” than a no-deal Brexit.

        The reason is that most of Canada’s goods exports to the EU are in categories that already enjoyed duty free status before CETA, while UK goods exports to the EU would under CETA involve quite high levels of duties.

        Add to that the fact that CETA has no special provision for services exports and you end up with a deal that really isn’t much better than a no-deal exit, which excludes the UK from various EU financial market, and in addition CETA has various compliance mechanisms that would make it problematic for the UK to legislat freely in several areas in the future.

        I don’t want to play the “estimates” game, but both the Treasury and the CBI have produced numbers that suggest that CETA would have a significant negative effect on UK GDP.

        This is a negotation. Each side makes its offer and after offers and counter-offers an agreement is reached, or it is not. The idea that the UK has to observe some special “respect” for the EU \position is a nonsensical idea. The EU’s position is not some normative thing. It does not have some “privileged rightness”, and if the EU continues to talk as if it is in control of both sides of the negotiation, that will be about the best way to make sure that a no-deal Brexit is the result, because a no-deal Brexit is the Brexit that does *not* need EU agreement.Report

  7. Why did I vote to leave the EU? Primarily because I believe in this Country. In it’s democracy, it’s laws, and the ability of it’s peoples to trade in an ever changing and more complicated world. I believe that this little country of ours has set a superb example to many others, that we are hugely good at setting high standards across the board in trade, international relations, finance, welfare, democracy and many many other areas. There is a reason why so many want to come here…it’s worth it!
    On the other side I see the EU as an economic experiment gone wrong. You have only to wander around the many cities of Europe with their closed shops and downtrodden air. Even the shiny Luxembourg Kirchberg no longer gleams so brightly (excluding the gilded pensions of the Eurocrats of course, those still gleam very brightly), apparently there is a dispute between the City and the EU regarding maintenance, which speaks volumes. If we look at predicted economic growth rates over the next 10 years, the EU itself agrees that 65% of growth will come from outside the EU. Less conservative figures put that number at closer to 90%. Whereas growth within the EU is on the decline. I see no advantage to us in being tethered to a diminishing economy. Moreover, one that has no capacity for nimbleness and requires the agreement of 27 disparate states with conflicting interest before any deals may be done. In effect, I also blame this failed experiment for the rise of the far right. History has shown us very clearly that in times of economic depression and uncertainty, people will turn to more extreme politics in search of direction and possible solution.
    Then there is a question of sovereignty. We are an independent democracy. Our government is voted in via an outstandingly democratic system that is the envy of so many. Why would we contemplate for one moment that any other country or countries or conglomerate of states should have the right to infringe on our democracy or to shackle our parliament. It makes no sense when our democratic processes have worked so well for us for so many years. I want to be able to vote for the policies I believe in and have that vote represented in a meaningful way in governance of my country.
    This brings me to the whole sorry shambles facing us now. As an ordinary middle England, middle class (yes, horror though it is) housewife and mother I am appalled at the state the government is in. Leaving or remaining within the EU is a cross party issue. As many commentators have said, it divides families and friends, there is passion on both sides. I suspect I speak for many of the average people out there, when I say that we firmly believe that both sides lied, coerced and did their utmost to get the result they wanted. This leads me to say that we know that politicians do that, so we go away, we think about stuff and we come back with a decision based on how we think we may be affected. However, at the end of the day a democratic vote was taken. The British public made a decision, it was a close one, but it is done. Now Theresa May has to stand by her promise and get us out of the EU, away from the CAP, away from the ECJ and enable us to make our own trade deals. Leaver or remainer this was the democratically voted on remit from the British people, across class, ethnicity and party…..May has obviously never negotiated with a toddler or she would have made a much better job of this (should they have gone with Leadsome after all?), now get on with it and in Mum speak, stop making a fool of yourself!


      1. Both sides did their level best to convince people to vote their way. To think otherwise would be naive if not worse. Here is a smattering of lies and “project fear” from the remain side. I am sure that there are parallels on the other side which is why I listed my personal reasons for my vote. Neither side came out of this one smelling of roses, but at least we are lucky enough in this country to be able to voice our own opinions!

        Here we go:

        European Council President Donald Tusk, said western political civilisation would be destroyed if the UK voted ‘Leave’. Given that we are having this debate, I suspect western political civilisation is still alive and very much kicking.

        David Cameron implied in a speech about the “serried rows of white headstones” that World War 3 would be upon us if Brexit occurred. This has self evidently not occurred.

        George Osborne predicted tax rises and spending cuts would be implemented. To date, few changes to the planned tax rates or public spending have been implemented. Indeed, We should note that planned spending has increased per the last budget.

        That there would be an immediate economic recession. No recession to date, in fact the OECD now believes the UK economy will grow 1.8% this year, up 0.1% on its pre-referendum estimate. Even Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, now admits he is “quietly optimistic” about Brexit.

        That three million people in the UK will lose their jobs. However, in July the claimant count fell by 8,600 to 763,600, despite an expected rise of 9,500.

        “A dangerous fantasy” is how Nick Clegg described Nigel Farage’s claim of EU plans to create an army. Barely three months on from the Referendum, Juncker proposed an EU Army.

        We were told companies would leave the UK in their droves, especially in the car industry. There is no sign of this, and UK car manufacturing achieving its 12th successive month of growth in July, with production passing one million units in seven months for the first time in 12 years.

        David Cameron said he wouldn’t resign as Prime Minister if he lost the Referendum vote. Enough said.

        The former Prime Minister also tried to claim the UK could manage its immigration policy while inside the EU. Why are ‘Remain’ campaigners insisting we start to control immigration in any Brexit deal then? Because we cannot control EU immigration now, proving Cameron was lying.

        Universities wanted the UK to remain in the EU because leaving would result in Horizon 2020 funding disappearing. Chancellor Philip Hammond, has agreed to keep this funding in place.

        Cameron used a final round of media interviews just prior to the vote to claim reform to the EU’s free movement rules would continue ‘on Friday’ if Britain votes Remain. But within hours he had been undermined by Mr Juncker.
        The president of the European Commission said Britain had already received ‘the maximum’ on offer.

        Then there was Mr Cameron’s claim that Brexit would spark a trade war that would wreck the economy. This was undermined when the head of Germany’s leading business organisation, the BDI, vowed to fight any attempt to impose tariffs. Given that the EU imports substantially more in percentage terms of its GDP to us than we do to the EU. Britain’s trade deficit with the EU – the difference between goods imported and exported – hit a record £23.9billion in the first three months of this year, suggesting EU firms would suffer massively in any trade war.

        Cameron said that the current pre-Brexit status was that EU migrants have to leave the country if they don’t have a job after six months. Mr Cameron used the claim repeatedly during the referendum campaign despite it being rubbished both by the Leave camp and independent economists. Further, the truth is there is no mechanism, and no legal right to send people home if they do not have a job.

        Britain would be at ‘the back of the queue’ for a US trade deal. At the G20 summit in August, U.S. President Donald Trump predicted a “very powerful” trade deal with the U.K. after Brexit. “We have been working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal, a very powerful deal, great for both countries and I think we will have that done very, very quickly,” he said. OK, this is Trump, but if you look at the work the Department for International Trade is doing, trade outside the EU is looking better than good. Of course, I would also point out again that at least 65% of world trade growth over the next 10 years is predicted to come from outside the EU.

        The Scots would immediately vote to leave the United Kingdom. The leader of Labour’s pro-EU campaign Alan Johnson said Scots could be justified in wanting to leave the U.K. if there was a heavy vote in Scotland against such a decision. The Remain campaign captured 62 percent of votes in Scotland compared with 46.6 percent in England. However, the pro-independence Scottish National Party lost a third of its seats in the 2017 U.K. general election after Brexit. This was followed by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon “resetting” her government’s plan for a second independence referendum. She said she is waiting for the outcome of the Brexit talks.


        Matthew Ellery
        Huffington post


        1. I’m afraid you are misguided.

          The West’s “political civilisation” as we have known it is clearly under threat. Donald Trump has imposed tariff’s on allies and has just imposed ruinous tariffs on Turkey which have caused debasement of the currency and economic and political strife will follow. Turkey is a Nato member and shares a Border with Syria and has involvement with Russia. The US and the EU disagree over America’s breach of its own nuclear treaty with Iran and we are on the side of Europe. The unity we once knew is gone.

          The foregoing also counters your second proposition about WW3; it might just be too soon to pass judgement on that. Moreover there is no denying fascism is back with a vengeance.

          George Osbourne was right. It has taken more time to become evident than it was thought but, there will be tax increases to fund the NHS. Your Prime Minister and Chancellor has said so. There will be many more as the effects of Brexit become manifest. There will be many more tax increases yet austerity and cutbacks continue.

          The employment figures in this country are meaningless for interpreting the quality of the standard of living of the British people. Just because you are employed does not mean you have much of a life considering the quality of many of the jobs – and from my own experience terms and conditions are worsening every day. This is uniquely down to British employment law and practice.

          Mr Cameron was right – an international trade war has been started by Donald Trump (a strong Brexit supporter with connections to those promoting it in this country) and continues to set fire to the international order. (See my earlier point about WW3.)

          The Scots voted to remain in the UK, but Brexit may just give them the impetus to change their minds. The Northern Irish may also make a move for the door in the relatively near future.

          I remain unconvinced by your arguments and see no good reason for encouragement of your plans for the future and will be resisting at every possible stage.Report

        2. K Lockton, thanks for listing all those items, it is good when the debate concentrates on specifics, all too rare at the moment sadly.

          I’ve followed up as many as I can and in most cases, I don’t think you’re being fair.

          (1) Tusk and western civilisation. His words were “As a historian I fear Brexit could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but also Western political civilisation in its entirety.” Note “could” and “beginning”. This will not be a quick process but he has certainly not been proved wrong. I hope he is, of course, but the omens don’t look good. And similar remarks apply to Cameron’s “serried rows of white headstones”.

          (2) Osborne’s “immediate economic recession” – but Brexit hasn’t happened yet, so we simply don’t know. It certainly can’t be classed as a lie. I suspect that in the case of no deal, he will be proved right.

          (3) Three million people losing their jobs – who predicted this, and when? A Google search suggests it’s fake news. Can you give a reference?

          (4) EU army a “dangerous fantasy” – it does look as if you’re right there, fair enough!

          (5) Car industry leaving UK – investment has halved in the first half of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017, so it’s not looking great. BMW threatening to leave. Chief executive of the SMMT says there is no Brexit dividend.

          (6) Cameron did resign of course, no argument there.

          (7) European Parliament and Council Directive 2004/38/EC allows EU member states to repatriate EU nationals after three months if they have not found a job or do not have the means to support themselves. We could choose to implement it; we never have.

          (8) Horizon 2020 is an EU programme, which will disappear. The fact that the government later promised to replace the funding doesn’t mean the universities were wrong to be concerned, let alone that they were lying.

          I’m out of time and have to stop I’m afraid, but two out of eight doesn’t seem a great score to me!

          1. Here we go, I have replied to each point in turn to facilitate understanding:
            (1) Tusk and western civilisation. His words were “As a historian I fear Brexit could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but also Western political civilisation in its entirety.” Note “could” and “beginning”. This will not be a quick process but he has certainly not been proved wrong. I hope he is, of course, but the omens don’t look good. And similar remarks apply to Cameron’s “serried rows of white headstones”.

            REPLY: At this point I refer you to the recent events in Germany and the rise Europe-wide of the far right. Neither of these are a result of the pending Brexit. Perhaps the demise of the EU and Western civilisation is more likely to be caused by the economic policies of the EU. History shows us that in times of economic downturn, extremist political parties enjoy favour. I like the quid pro quo bits….it’s like that phrase “up to”….leaves everyone thinking a thing without actually giving it any firm parameters. I like “omens” too, so very ominous!

            (2) Osborne’s “immediate economic recession” – but Brexit hasn’t happened yet, so we simply don’t know. It certainly can’t be classed as a lie. I suspect that in the case of no deal, he will be proved right.

            REPLY: May 4th 2018 George Osborne stars that his Brexit catastrophe predictions are starting to come true…..the stats do not back this up.

            (3) Three million people losing their jobs – who predicted this, and when? A Google search suggests it’s fake news. Can you give a reference?

            REPLY: London Evening Standard 26th January 2018 2.5M, and “A no-deal Brexit could cause the UK to lose half a million jobs and nearly £50bn in investment by 2030, according to an economic forecast commissioned by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan”. Just a couple of examples of this project fear-mongering.

            (4) EU army a “dangerous fantasy” – it does look as if you’re right there, fair enough!

            REPLY: Nothing more to say here.

            (5) Car industry leaving UK – investment has halved in the first half of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017, so it’s not looking great. BMW threatening to leave. Chief executive of the SMMT says there is no Brexit dividend.

            REPLY: it is inevitable that large corporations such as BMW and Airbus will push very hard to retain a status quo that enormously benefits them. Their management would not be doing their jobs if they didn’t. Of course there is no Brexit dividend for SMMT. However, both MDs have now confirmed that they do not plan currently to transfer manufacturing out of the UK post Brexit. Yes, investment has slumped in the UK, but the whole passenger vehicle production numbers across Europe only increased by 0.5% 2016/17 and several European countries saw much greater falls than the UK. Overall UK registrations dropped substantially, most probably due to the whole diesel fiasco.

            (6) Cameron did resign of course, no argument there.

            REPLY: Nothing more to say here.

            (7) European Parliament and Council Directive 2004/38/EC allows EU member states to repatriate EU nationals after three months if they have not found a job or do not have the means to support themselves. We could choose to implement it; we never have.

            REPLY: Hence we are not controlling immigration, for whatever reason, it’s a fact. I would also say here that I am not remotely against immigration, it needs to be orderly and controlled to give the individuals the best chance of getting the most out of their move.

            (8) Horizon 2020 is an EU programme, which will disappear. The fact that the government later promised to replace the funding doesn’t mean the universities were wrong to be concerned, let alone that they were lying.

            REPLY: The programme may disappear, but the funding won’t. To tout that it will disappear is to lie.

            I’m out of time and have to stop I’m afraid, but two out of eight doesn’t seem a great score to me!

            REPLY: It is a shame that you couldn’t finish the list. Juncker undermining Cameron’s claims on controlling free movement, trade wars that will not happen because they benefit no-one, the US do not have us at “the back of the queue, and the Scots have not voted to leave….. it’s not remotely two out of eight….Report

          2. OK, interesting…let me also reply point by point…

            (1) So here we get into questions of broad historical analysis…I don’t think this is going to be a productive medium for it, sorry, though it’s an interesting topic. Let me just point out though that Tusk did not say “western political civilisation would be destroyed if the UK voted ‘Leave’.” as you initially claimed. He said what I quoted him as saying, which is different. And do you not find the rise of the far right throughout Europe (including one segment of the Leave movement) “ominous”?

            (2) Well, he quoted some stats that do (sterling drop, low growth). And again, Brexit hasn’t happened yet.

            (3) But you said there was a claim during the campaign that three million jobs would be lost. Now you’re talking about a completely different statement with a different number much later, which is hardly relevant to whether your initial statement is true.

            (5) Again statistics can be quoted to point both ways…sorry but I don’t have the time to dig further into this one.

            (7) My point was that we could control immigration, at least to the extent of expelling immigrants who cost the country money, without leaving the EU. Though of course we would have to keep track of them to do that. I suspect government incompetence is more responsible than EU rules here.

            (8) That’s semantics, really.

            In a lot of cases, we are talking about predictions that in many cases can’t be evaluated because we haven’t left yet. And in any case, a wrong prediction is not a lie unless made in bad faith by someone who knows it’s not true (like £350m on the side of that bus, perhaps :-)).. Are the Match of the Day pundits lying when they get their Premier League predictions wrong?

            Thanks for the discussion – sorry I can’t go into it any more, I have to do my job while I still have one 🙂Report

      2. They lied consistently. Look back at the Remain campaign and you will be stunned by the lies told and the truth of the matter. They have had major investment from Soros, Miller, Blair, Branson etc, Cameron started the Remain campaign, and spent £9 million of tax payers money on leaflets that were nothing short of lies. Remain has gone on to behave irresponsibly and caused so much division in the country, instead of coming together to help get the best deal for Britain. They should be very ashamed.Report

    1. @K Lockton; you say “I believe that this little country of ours has set a superb example to many others, that we are hugely good at setting high standards across the board in trade, international relations, finance, welfare, democracy and many many other areas. There is a reason why so many want to come here…it’s worth it!”

      I agree but how can our being in the EU NOT have been a major reason for all you’ve just said?Report

      1. So do you think that we didn’t do any of that stuff before the EU came into being? May I point you in the direction of the Magna Carta, just as a starting point….Report

  8. so the people still want brexit. and may’s plan for brexit isn’t trusted. and labour isn’t even offering a brexit (corbyn might or might not want it, but the bliarites and the momentums won’t allow it.) so isn’t this a green light for tory leavers to dislodge may to make brexit happen? this is all gove’s fault for his macgove moment or treachery – deflecting brexit and the tories off their natural organic path. tory leavers need to unite behind (ex london mayor) johnson – gove and rees-mogg would not be able to pull in non-tories. the tory brexiters have the grassroots behind them (and traditional labour voters to boot), if they can’t act now they’ll just have to fall silent behind may forever.Report

    1. Bird. Never start a sentence in lower case or using words, such as ‘and’. Watch your spelling, and punctuation. You are not texting.Report

      1. No comma needed after “syntax”; no apostrophe needed for “lets”.

        But how about correct facts? Dave P’s contribution makes sense to me, and to many like me.


        1. Regardless of any sense or not, his prescription for national calm and togetherness is ridiculous.

          There will not be a second (third?) referendum.

          There are practical reasons why true won’t be another referendum (no parliamentary support, no time, no legal basis) and there are political reasons why there won’t be another referendum (too divisive, no reason to think a different answer would emerge, no way the UK can “make” the EU offer s a reasonable settlement, it would just encourage more EU intransigence).

          The first referendum gave a clear if narrow victory to the leave campaign. We have not yet left. The idea that every poll in a newspaper should precipitate a new referendum is crazy.

          1. I’m old enough to remember the mantra that the poll tax would happen ‘come what may’. Finished off Mrs Thatcher of course.
            Democracy always levers forward eventually and it didn’t end in June 2016.
            We all know why brexiteers are petrified of a Peoples’ Vote in the light of the fact of an unfolding disaster that can be stopped. Report

  9. The lesson for both main parties must surely now be that brexit is a poisoned chalice that they now need to confront together, with the support of all other parties except Ukip. Tories face a nightmare scenario of caving in to backwoods opinion and thereby losing the business endorsement that is their financial mainstay, while Labour risks alienating part of either its nine million Remain voters or its 4m Leave supporters, with its vital union backers in both camps but rank-and-file members overwhelmingly in the first.

    Country must now be put above party. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the polling of the last two years is the solidity of the Remain vote given that leaders of both main parties have embraced the 2016 result, leaving the struggling LibDems and a handful of rebel MPs to carry the Remain torch alone. Overturning this insecurely-founded and ill-judged consensus requires a sacrifice on the part of Conservatives who have long presented themselves as the party of business and the now threatened (UK) Union.

    Brexit cut across party from the start, but has been approached throughout in terms of jockeying for party advantage. The consequence has been a disservice to the national interest and to the millions of even Leave voters who anticipated a responsible approach to their preferred disengagement from EU political institutions. Our strong party system has been a bedrock of British democracy but simply isn’t up to resolving this nightmare for which it is in part responsible. It’s time to ask the people what the will of the people really is, with concrete, practical, costed options rather than vague generalisations. Report

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