Archive for October, 2017


Concerned about Brexit/Trump/Catalonia/Etc? A special message from Marf

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

Just keep saying “Everything’s going to be alright

Mike Smithson


From what Davis said, we need to think about a Limbo Brexit

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

If talks go down to the wire, ratification will go beyond them

Brexits are like fairies. There are good ones, bad ones and if you say it with enough feeling, they might not exist at all. What we haven’t heard much of so far – though given David Davis’ comments at the Select Committee this week, we should have done – is the Limbo Brexit.

What is that, you might ask. In a somewhat numerically-challenged observation, Davis claimed that a deal might not be done until “the 59th minute of the 11th hour” (which would actually be 10:58 – you start counting minutes and hours at zero, unlike days and months). Leaving that pedantry aside, the more pertinent point, as he acknowledged in the committee, is that the deal in the Council would not be the end of the story, even though time would have run out.

Once a deal is reached, the European Parliament has to ratify it, as then does the European Council – the prime ministers and presidents of the member states. Davis noted that the Westminster parliament would get a say before the EP but in these circumstances it would be after 29 March 2019. That presents a problem.

Article 50 clearly lays out the timescale for leaving. It is in fact only the deal that need be agreed within the two years. As long as that’s done, it doesn’t matter procedurally if ratification of it goes over the deadline, as Davis suggested was possible – the deal still stands and can be implemented.

Which is all very well but by that point, Britain might well have crashed out of the EU under the Article 50 terms – an unratified agreement cannot be implemented and even if the votes are taken within, say, a week, that still means there’d be a nasty Limbo Brexit period when Britain was neither a member of the EU nor party to the exit agreement. Anything that happened during that time and was usually subject to EU rules would find itself in a strange legal world.

There is something of a get-out. The negotiations are currently being handled for the EU by Michel Barnier and his team, as no doubt they will through to near the end. However, as with the decision on whether to begin trade talks, the final details will almost certainly be agreed by the European Council. That body – and only that body – can agree to extend the exit period long enough to cover the ratifications. If the talks went down to the wire, one clause to the agreement could be to grant an extra month to allow the parliaments to ratify it before the deal came back to the Council for a final rubber stamp.

As an aside, one factor not being sufficiently closely monitored is the opinion of the European Parliament. Guy Verhofstadt has been vocal and quite critical of the UK’s approach to the talks. While he can’t single-handedly determine the Parliament’s opinion, nor should we take it as given that the MEPs will simply sign off whatever’s put in front of them. They probably will do and they certainly should do if the member states have agreed it in principle but the EP has its own sense of self and if it’s not treated with respect, we can’t assume it wouldn’t make a very grave error.

However, even if it does play ball, the kind of brinkmanship Davis was contemplating would have real world consequences. While it might end up being the case that a deal goes through providing for a smooth transition in legal terms, that won’t be how it’ll look to business, who’ll need to prepare well in advance for all possible outcomes. If there’s nothing sorted by March 2019 – or probably by December 2018 – the assumption ought to be that there’s a high chance of a Crash Brexit.

My guess is that the exit deal will probably be agreed at the December 2018 summit. This won’t be the final deal but will provide for both a smooth transition and a framework for continuing talks to secure the final settlement, with time for both Westminster and Strasbourg to vote on what’s been agreed. If talks go on after that, the chances of either no deal or a Limbo Brexit increase rapidly.

David Herdson


Month by month during 2017 how the “Leaving EU right” lead has moved in YouGov’s Brexit tracker

Friday, October 27th, 2017

There’s a new YouGov poll out which has LAB retaining its 2 points lead over CON. The survey also included the firm’s regular trackers on opinion in relation to Brexit.

In broad terms this has Brexit right at 43% (up 1) with Brexit wrong at 45% (same) so really not much change. The big picture is seen in the chart above – the nation remains broadly divided with the monthly average “right to leave” lead for only the second month moving into negative territory.

This polling, because it has been asked in the same form so often, is establishing itself as the leading polling indicator. There are simply many more data points.

The monthly changes are not huge but taking a month of polls rather than single ones gives us a better sense of the trend.

Mike Smithson


The next PM could be someone who is opposed to women who’ve been raped having abortions

Friday, October 27th, 2017

The Pool

If Rees-Mogg goes for it abortion will dominate the campaign

Jacob Rees-Mogg continues to feature strongly in the betting for next CON leader and next PM. He’s third favourite for the former and fourth favourite for the latter, The latest Betfair trades in both markets make him a 10% chance.

There’s no doubt that he’s become a big media figure and comes over very strongly – something that is helped by his lack of equivocation on the big issues of the day. JRM doesn’t hide potentially controversial positions behind smart drafting.

There has never been a members’ leadership election to replace a sitting PM. Gordon Brown succeeded by coronation and TMay took over from Cameron when Andrea Leadsom, who’d come second in the MPs ballot, pulled out following her controversial comments having an advantage of Mrs. May because she was a mother..

The widespread assumption is that TMay will stand down or be forced out well before the next general election so we could be moving into a CON membership ballot to choose the next PM.

If Rees-Mogg runs then inevitably his very strong view on abortion will figure very strongly. How this will go down with his parliamentary colleagues and Tory members I don’t know. My guess is that it would be an net negative for the Tories in a general election.

Mike Smithson


LAB’s GE17 candidate selection process makes it look amateurish, sloppy and is damaging

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Another day and more O’Mara revelations come out

All parties, including the Tories, were taken by surprise when Mrs May returned from her walking holiday in Snowdonia in April and announced that in spite of previous assurances that she wouldn’t go to the country before 2020 she was calling a general election.

But the date was set for more than seven weeks later which is a lot longer than normal election campaigns.

Getting candidates in place in all of the 650 seats was a huge task but other parties managed it without having to resort to what Labour did in Sheffield Hallam where national officials apparently selected him without meeting him or examining his background. Mr O’Mara was never troubled with having to go through a proper selection process.

Now the seat has an MP who apparently can’t be arsed to do what most MPs regard as the norm – holding regular constituency surgeries and taking part fully in the processes at Westminster. He’s the only one of the 650 MPs elected on June 8th who took their seats who has yet to speak in the House.

Although he’s had the whip withdrawn, apparently against the wishes of leader Corbyn, this has the potential to be flung back at the red team whenever Labour tries to present itself as as a credible party of government.

If they can’t even have a proper process for choosing candidates then how can they aspire to run the country.

Mike Smithson


“TEN COMMANDMENTS” poll finds LD voters most relaxed about murder with Leavers least concerned about lying

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

It’s YouGov’s cross-breaks which caught my attention

That’s all fine but dataset from YouGov, helpfully, includes party and Brexit cross-breaks so we can see if there are any particular distinctions for different parts of the electorate.

Although the sub-sample size for the LDs is small the fact that they are strikingly out of line on murder and and stealing to be worth highlighting.

The same goes for Leave voters who seemed more relaxed about adultery and telling lies.

Have fun examining the cross-breaks for yourselves.

Mike Smithson


Fox News poll: Trump’s Republicans facing big set-backs in 2018 mid-terms

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

By far the biggest elections next year look set be the US midterms in November when Donald Trump will face his first major electoral test.

Currently his Republican Party has majorities in both the Senate and the House and his ability to act could be impeded if one or both of these are lost.

New polling for Fox News finds generic Democrats have a lead of 15 points over the Republicans 50 to 35. A year ago the Democrats and Republicans were tied on 45 points each.

The Fox survey Democratic party lead is the second highest there’s been from any pollster. Earlier in the month CNN had a 16 point margin.

Other recent polls such as YouGov have it much closer with the lead at 7 points.

So far there are betting markets on both the Senate and the House on Betfair but almost no liquidity yet. That will change.

Mike Smithson


In what has been a crazy political year Paddy Power now offering the daftest bet of all

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Even if there was a vacancy there’s not enough time

Mike Smithson