Firing a Blank?

Posted on 29 April 2016 by John Curtice

Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of being a politician is that you can fire what you think is some of your most powerful electoral ammunition – only to discover a few days later that, for all the media buzz and excitement you have generated, voters have seemingly been wholly unmoved.

The Remain campaign certainly assembled its firepower last week. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, unveiled a lengthy tome whose headline was that we would all be £4,300 a year worse off if we left the EU. Then, the President of the United States, Barak Obama weighed in, advising that Britain would be ‘at the back of the queue’ in any attempt to negotiate a trade deal from outside the EU. We were told by breathless journalists that the Remain camp now had momentum.

Not, it seems, according to the voters. None of the four polls published this week, all of which were taken either while President Obama was in London or soon after, uncovered a swing in favour of Remain. Rather, all four suggested there had been a swing of one to two points in the opposite direction as compared with the last time they had been conducted, which in all but one instance had been just a week to ten days previously.

Not that we should necessarily conclude that the interventions by George Osborne and Barack Obama backfired, although it is true that polling suggested that voters were inclined to the view that the US President should not have got involved in Britain’s European debate. As we recorded in our last blog, the polls that were unveiled last week (but conducted largely before the Chancellor and the President had attempted to apply their persuasive powers) had all, quite remarkably, shown a small swing to Remain. All that may have happened now is that the balance of opinion – if indeed it had ever really changed at all – has swung back to the equilibrium point on which it has been seemingly been resting for more months, and perhaps may have done so even if neither Mr Osborne nor President Osborne had uttered a word.

Certainly at Leave 51%, Remain 49% (after Don’t Knows are left aside) this week’s two internet polls (from ICM and YouGov) more or less simply replicated the even split that has persistently been in evidence in internet polls. Meanwhile, at 54% and 55% for Remain (46% and 45% for Leave), the week’s two phone polls (from Survation and ORB) were close to the average figure of 55% for Remain (and 45% for Leave) in recent phone polls.

In short, we still await a decisive movement in the balance of opinion in either direction. Not that the public have necessarily been wholly unmoved by the campaigning so far. As YouGov themselves noted, voters have become increasingly inclined to accept the Remain camp’s key argument that Britain’s economy would be worse off if we left the EU. Perhaps this an advance sign of a public that can eventually be expected to swing in Remain’s direction?

Not necessarily. For what YouGov’s latest polling revealed at the same time is that voters are also becoming increasingly convinced that immigration would be lower if Britain left the EU. In other words, what many regard as the Leave campaign’s most powerful argument is coming to be more popular too. At the same time, when YouGov asked their respondents which mattered to them more, free trade or control of immigration, they divided more or less evenly down the middle.

Progress by Remain in persuading voters of its key argument has, it seems, simply been matched by equivalent progress by Leave in respect of one of its major claims. Little wonder this referendum campaign is beginning to like a stalemate.

John Curtice

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.

92 thoughts on “Firing a Blank?

  1. Not quite ‘on song’ there jon liversey. The EU is based on Representative Democracy. One of many forms of what we generally call simply ‘democracy’ It is in fact far more democratic than our own system.

    We do not elect our head of state, upper house, or executive cabinet unless a minister is our own constituency MP. This link explains better than me.

    Effectively they all only have one thing in common. They allow the common man to have a say in who runs the country but nothing more.Report

    1. That isn’t what I asked. The EU may be “based’ on whatever you like, but I am asking why it takes so long and so many words even to *explain* it.

      You just aren’t answering the question put. And that is traditional with supporters of the EU. If we ask why it’s all so complicated, the answer always seems to be “read this complicated explanation”.

      Telling me we don’t elect our own head of state tells me precisely *nothing* about why the EU is so complicated and so obscure. I just don’t think that the Queen is the reason. the Queen, as far as I know, wasn’t one of the EU founding fathers, so how can she be the reason for its structure?

      You are just repeating a pattern that is very common among EU supporters. When asked a simple direct question, they almost always answer with a very long answer to a different question. I find that striking. Why do they have to do that?Report

      1. I find your continued use of rhetoric and hinting at a conspiracy, amid a curious reluctance to back such suggestions with evidence, striking.Report

        1. What I find striking is that no one seems to be answering my question. When I ask why the EU is so complicated, I am referred to a definition of representative democracy. Any rational person would regard that as a bit odd.Report

  2. I referred to this briefly in another post, but a general point about the EU got my interest. When people defend the EU, they end up making very long posts, sometimes a thousand words, bring in all kinds of points. They explain its structure, to the extent that it can be explained, and you can vote, although what you vote for isn’t what we would call an effective legislature, and it has committees, and commissions, and sometimes decisions are made in face to face meeting outside the normal structures, and maybe Greece got what it deserved, and so on, and so, on and so on.

    My question is, why? We know our own country. We know who the Government is and what they do. On Thursday we will all know the results of the local elections, and what this means for the main parties. The economy grows or it doesn’t. Unemployment rises or falls. It’s all pretty clear. You don’t need a Master’s Degree to understand the UK.

    So why is it that the EU is so obscure and devious and hard to explain? Is this deliberate? Is it this way just to ensure that ordinary people really can’t understand what they are part of? Is this the way the elites retain control, no matter what you vote for? They could simplify it if they wanted to, so why don’t they want to?Report

    1. Jon. You could believe the EU’s setup is one big conspiracy if you like – the ‘elites’ against the ‘ordinary people’. I guess the appeal of conspiracy theories is that they provide instant explanations for the unknown, often conveniently in line with one’s own fears and prejudices. The truth is often far more boring: poor planning, poor communication, inelegant compromises, or just plain human incompetence. Of course, you may be right – maybe there is a conspiracy here. If so, I await your detailed evidence with eager anticipation (including what evidence you have for the EU being ‘devious’)

      As per my reply to your other post, I think that ordinary people in the UK do not understand the UK political system as well as you think. Here are some common misconceptions:

      The role of local government vs central government. People will often contact their MP, or even central government, about an issue that in fact their local authority is responsible for. In these cases neither the MP nor central government can do anything to help, other than direct the person to the local authority. In short, because the House of Commons gets all the attention, people think it controls everything but actually its day-to-day role is limited.

      The role that central government plays in controlling local government by the way the former gives the latter funding. In short, central government has far more control over local government’s finances than people realise.

      The power of mayors. The London mayor is a classic case. Candidates for the London Mayor make all kinds of promises about how they’ll transform London. In practice, their powers are greatly limited by central government via the relevant Act. The London Mayor’s powers are also limited by having to work with London boroughs, authorities it has little if any power over.

      The House of Lords. Heck, I take a keen interest in politics and even I am not 100% up-to-date with how the Lords is composed. I’m sure Wikipedia could help me out but my point is that people’s interest in politics is so low that most of them won’t bother.

      The undemocratic way in which UK governments are formed. As per my previous post, the first past the post system typically results in UK governments being formed on a minority of the popular vote. That is in contrast to the common understanding of democracy being that decisions are based on the will of the majority. That is a shocking state of affairs, which few ordinary people in the UK seem to be aware of.

      The role of unelected organisations in decision-making. People love to moan about the ‘unelected EU’ (without clarifying what they mean by that, but that’s another story). How about the unelected officials that play key roles in running the UK? The most obvious examples are the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, which sets interest rates for the UK, and the Bank of England which engages in other monetary initiatives to stimulate the economy.

      And why is this? Pretty much all the boring reasons I gave earlier. Except, perhaps, for the first past the post thing, which the Conservatives in particular were curiously opposed to during the 2011 referendum on AV. I guess they’re not keen on the prospect of the pesky requirement of having to get a majority of the vote to hold power when the current system allows them to do so on only 35% of the vote.Report

  3. jon liversey has got it right for me. I have never told the truth to any street survey. It’s my business and I’m keeping it. I am of course making an awful assumption. Other people don’t necessarily think the same as me.Report

    1. I wonder how many of the four million people who voted for U.Kip were brave enough to admit it in a street survey in at
      the last election.Report

  4. People are not as stupid as Cameron would like to think.

    The public will have their say , and the vote will be a deafening “Non” to the corrupt EU. Report

    1. You have a good point. One of the things that made the Scottish Referendum result a bit of a surprise was that people would say one thing to pollsters and do another in the voting booth.

      In other words, out in the street they would express the conventional enthusiasm for an independent Scotland, but ultimately voted 55/45 against it.

      I wonder how this effect will go in the EU referendum. Is it that supporting Brexit makes you feel brave, but you ultimately vote to remain to preserve the status quo – supposing that the EU really has a status quo – or is it that supporting Remain in public makes one feel sober and responsible, but really you can’t wait to vote Leave.Report

  5. Interesting that the title of this column is “A good week for remain?”. If you look at the numbers, we went to 54/46 in favour of Remain, and now it’s back to 50/50.

    So I think that good week didn’t last all that long. And I think that it pretty telling. The effects of scaremongering just don’t seem to last.Report

  6. Illegal immigration figures are a complete mystery to everyone including all government departments. Illegal immigrants rarely enter Britain through established ports of entry. Instead they prefer the hundreds of miles of isolated and sparsely populated coastline on the west coast of Europe and the East coast of the British Isles.

    Merchant shipping is also a problem due to what is mostly foreign crews nowadays and we have no idea what finds its way into the Republic of Ireland and across to Whales. What we do know is that closing our borders will make no difference whatsoever to this quite large number of illegal immigrants.

    Of some significance perhaps is the fact that many of those illegal immigrants that are caught have quite large sums of money on them. Perhaps Brexit supporters would care to tell us how they propose stopping this activity ?Report

      1. its the legal ones that BREXIT are worried about …

        talking about illegal immigration is just a distraction that exists today and in all scenarios..

        BREMAIN need to grasp that we have a new City the size of Sheffield needing building each year …… so lets pause whilst we digest how many Sheffields we can afford and reflect if we are prepared to lose Green belt to 270,000 houses until England becomes one big city ..

        I really dont think people can grasp the number and the magnitude ….

        When we build a Sheffield each year for economic migrants … then we need to find Coventry each year four our own net birth rate..


    1. Quite simply ,when we leave the EU we will be able to send back any undesirables, unlike now as the EU ECJ stops us even returning proven criminals as it is not in the interest of the criminals. This country is unable to support any larger populations as our infrostructure is about to collapse.Report

  7. I predict a new PM by July … and a new chancellor ..

    The People can see the BBC bias in headline accent and story volumes and on their forums its 75% BREXIT commented … The mail polls , the Telegraph polls and LBC and many local online paper polls show 70 % / 30 % for BREXIT ..

    I think the British people have smelled this RAT and only very few can or will now seriously argue for BREMAIN.

    When your PM cannot negotiate a decent deal for the UK to reform the CLUB .. when the stakes are so high for Europe who should have asked us and given us anything we wanted to secure continued membership …. he deserves to be moved on quicker than he thought would be the case ….

    It is the EU that is the busted flush .. Britain has been keeping it afloat with Germany ….

    Stupidly Germany has created tensions in its own population with the ADF showing the backlash that allowing an open door brings. Did somebody burn all the history books ?

    1. In a devastating assessment, Moody’s said there was a risk the Brussels club could disintegrate even if the UK votes to stay in the June referendum – and it could be a matter of ‘when, not if’.
      Its report concluded: ‘Even if the EU survives its current challenges largely unscathed, even a “small” future crisis could threaten the sustainability of current institutional frameworks, if it coincided with negative public sentiment and populist political developments. This can create the impression that the question is when the system breaks, rather than if.’
      Colin Ellis, Moody’s chief credit officer for Europe, added that a British exit could spark an ‘existential moment’ for the EU. The warning came as European Council president Donald Tusk last night warned the Brussels dream of a European superstate is an ‘illusion’ that should be stopped
      The report is a serious blow to David Cameron, who has warned that the risks of leaving the EU far outweigh those of remaining in the troubled organisation.
      Analysts were scathing about the response by Brussels to the crises gripping the EU. Their report called the EU’s reaction to the refugee crisis ‘fragmented and disorderly’ and criticised ‘weak’ decision-making.
      ‘The EU faces strong internal challenges as well, with disappointment and resentment looming high and the EU becoming associated with austerity policies in many countries,’ said the report. Analysts also warned that efforts led by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to resolve the EU’s economic problems were failing.
      Meanwhile, former Bank of England governor Mervyn King warned that ‘empire-building’ by Brussels risked a backlash across Europe. In a speech in Frankfurt, he said there was ‘a limit to the economic pain that can be imposed in pursuit of a federal Europe without risking a political reaction’.
      Adding further fuel to the debate, European Council president Donald Tusk last night called on Brussels to halt attempts to replace individual countries with a European ‘superstate’. Speaking in Rome, he said it was time to ‘redefine our dreams for the EU’. ‘This means that today we must admit this dream of one European state with one common interest and maybe in the future one common nation was an illusion,’ he said.
      Mr Juncker, an arch-Europhile, said there were too many ‘part-time’ Europeans who concentrated too much on their national interests rather than serving the EU.


  8. I predict a narrow victory for Remain, edged by the blatant bias of the BBC in fear of the future of it’s charter and EU funding. Report

  9. My children have been de-valued and our government and remain seem to prefer to fund better lives for 400 million people who might choose to take it … rather than our own children and that is very sad indeed.
    A government willing to promote an influx of low paid adult workers, without understanding the serious consequences for Britain in 10 years time.
    They cannot be stupid enough not to be able to work out the ONS population predictions they must be promoting this on purpose … and as such i beg BREMAIN to wake up and look at the figures for all our children’s sake.
    A big reason we aren’t helping more refugees is because we have too many economic migrants distorting public opinion and capacity. We should be able to take all 30,000 lone child refugees .. but we are full up trying to run an economy for economic migrants.

    If we dont stop this deception in June then in 10 years we will indeed be able to match China’s sweatshops in factories here in the UK. That i believe is George Osborne’s ultimate and treacherous objective.Report

  10. When a government lies in official treasury documents, the ONS cant count immigration so guess at it, then this is totally unpatriotic and a deliberate attack on our culture, our churches, our way of life and our prosperity.
    The numbers coming in are enormous and the HMRC has been made to release Nino’s which shows immigration (economic migration) is running at a level that is damaging all except the elites wealth.

    Gdp per head is horrific and we cannot afford the new hospitals or schools or people to staff them. In an age of perpetual cuts (austerity) it has been too easy to see the deception inside the promotion of deliberate over population and its effect on services.

    By May 25th it will be confirmed that we are running at an immigration rate of 400,000 people net per year plus 200,000 net births that mass migration has accelerated us to … So in 10 years (by 2026) that is six million net new people ..and alarmingly 7 million new UK born children under ten years old that need to be our priority.
    The deception has been massive and the economic argument as such is also in favour of BREXIT.Report

  11. Rita, the reason no one has informed you of the facts of EU democracy as expressed by Peter is that it is a complete misunderstanding of what democracy is. Democracy is not defined simply by the holding of election (the Soviet Union held regular elections as does Iran). Democracy is the ability of the people to throw out the government if they dislike it. Just because the individual states of Europe are democratic and have a say in creating legislation does not automatically bestow democratic legitimacy on the EU. The commission is also not acting as a civil service as Peter suggests but as an executive who is principally responsible for proposing legislation.

    The EU parliament does not have the power to legislate only to rubber stamp the decisions of the commission. Also since the electorates of the EU do not know or care who the supernation parties are or what they represent its democratic credentials are seriously flawed.

    To demonstrate this I would ask a simple question. Many people in the EU are fed up with austerity. If they want to get rid of it in the EU zone how can they go about it. The answer is they can not. The EU ‘democratic’ government is much like the famous story of Henry Ford who wen asked what colour you could get his model T in replied ‘any colour as long as it is black’. This is not democracy.Report

    1. Tony I now get it!!Particularly your last paragraph which was concise and helped me understand.I therefore maintain
      the EU is undemocratic (sorry Peter) That also applies to the U.K.present government.I came home from work one day switched on the news and there was the P.M. stood at the side of Hollande who was making threats to the
      british people encouraged by Cameron. a conservative p.m. whom I had helped to get elected.How I rue that day
      So on the subject of democracy I cant wait to see him voted out .He was supposed to be a P, in his previous career so if he was any good at that he would be running his campaign more efficiently and be way ahead.It has to be said apart from having no moral fibre hes useless..


    2. Toby, with respect, I disagree with your suggestion that I completely misunderstand what democracy is about. I also disagree that EU citizens are unable to throw out the EU ‘Govt’. The European Parliament is wholly elected, so clearly EU citizens can ‘throw out’ that decision-making EU institution. Likewise, EU citizens have the ability to throw out the government that represents them in the Council of Ministers. The European Commissioners have to be approved by the European Parliament, something that is not guaranteed. Indeed, the European Parliament can dissolve the European Commission (that is, effectively sack the 28 Commissioners and request that new ones be presented to the Parliament for approval).

      I find your focus on the electoral turnouts for the European Parliament strange. UK local elections have similarly low turnouts. Does that make local councillors illegitimate? It seems to me that their legitimacy is rarely doubted. How about, for comparison, US mid-term elections which also have low turnouts? In my view political apathy is a global problem (political engagement is now rising slightly, because of anger at the political establishment generally), but I can’t see how that undermines the democratic credentials of the European Parliament. Personally I’d be more worried if its elections were not fair and free, as was the case in the USSR and is in Iran e.g. parliamentary candidates have to be approved by the ‘Guardian Council’ before they can stand – significant numbers, mostly reformists, are rejected.

      True, the European Parliament does not have the ability to introduce new legislation. But new EU legislation cannot be approved, under the ‘co-decision’ procedure, without the assent of the (democratically elected) European Parliament AND the Council of Ministers. In practice, I’m sure plenty of negotiation happens behind the scenes before legislation is formally put before the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers i.e. if the Parliament and/or Council don’t like an aspect of a law, the Commission modifies the draft and the iterative process continues.

      One final point on democracy. If your main concern for purported democratic states is that their electorates can throw out their governments, I do hope that regardless of the result on 23 June, you will be campaigning for an end to the horribly undemocratic First Past the Post system that has decided UK elections for far too long. After all, at present 65% of voters typically do not vote for the government that results e.g. the present Conservative government has a majority in the House of Commons on only 37% of the votes cast. I presume thus you’ll be doing what you can do change our electoral system to a form of proportional representation or some kind of first/second preference version?

      Turning to your ‘simple question’, I’ve already touched on this point in an earlier reply to Rita. But very simply, freer spending by Eurozone members is not possible because it violates the terms of the Euro i.e. the international agreement that these democratically elected countries entered into. The Euro is hardly unprecedented as an international agreement that restricts signatory state actions in some way, regardless of whether subsequent governments of these states wish to pursue different actions. At any point Euro member states could choose to leave the Euro and do their own thing, but so far no country has chosen to do so, not even Greece which had been widely expected to do so.Report

      1. Peter, I must admit I am surprised to be engaged about this subject at all. The ‘democratic deficit’ of the EU is not a Eurosceptic populist position but has a central issue and of central concern to the European elites for over 30 years. It was Jaques Delore’s suggestion of how to overcome this deficit that led directly to Margaret Thatcher’s famous response ‘NO NO NO’. More recently Angela Merkel and Jean Claude Junker have both raised this issue. I can see differences between supporters and opponents of the EU on whether the EU will be able to reverse this alarming trend or whether this democratic deficit was hardwired into the European project but this is the first time I have met someone who denies there is a problem at all.

        To answer some of your questions, of course voter non participation in elections reduces the legitimacy of the governments who are subsequently elected. In the case of the EU the turn out for the 2014 European elections in the UK was 35.6%. This turnout is pretty similar to the local elections which are usually around 40%. However just because there is a currently a problem in local democracy does not give the EU to the right to then turn around and say its equivalent turnout gives it an unqualified electoral mandate. Even if it did there are other reasons for stating that these elections are not democratic.

        Firstly for a truly democratic election to take place the electorate needs to know who they are voting for and what is their agenda. 92% of citizens in the UK have no idea who the supranational parties that are supposedly representing them are or what they represent. Have you heard of the ‘Europeans peoples party’ or the ‘Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe’ because if you have you are in a serious minority. In reality when people vote in the European election they are not bestowing democratic legitimacy on a pan European agenda but are instead using the elections as mini referendums on the sitting government.

        Finally I do not believe that an elected government has the right to farm out their interests to a further representative and then call the process democracy. Of course some things under the control of governments can be agreed by treaty as better controlled by a single international body (such as Nato and bilateral trade deals) but the EU is acting as a legislative and legal body that takes precedence over the individual member states. With this kind of power nothing short of direct elections will bestow the democratic legitimacy you think that the council of ministers and commission already have.

        With regard to Greece and the austerity project being forced on southern Europe, this actually demonstrates to me the madness of the whole mad scheme. You are right that it was specifically written in to the treaties that constructed the bail out scheme that there were to be no bail outs. But no where was there any specification that the member nations could not default on their loans. This was imposed after the crisis had hit.

        The reason that the no bail out clause was put in was it was the only way that Germany would agree to join. But almost every economist out there agrees that a single currency zone can not survive without political redistribution of wealth. The political classes clearly stated that they expected the inevitable EURO crisis would force the EURO zone to advance to the next stage of the federal project, economic an political union. The German people have clearly shown that they are not prepared to make the financial sacrifices necessary to create a truly unified nation. But without these sacrifices the EURO and quite possibly the EU as a whole is doomed to failure. Report

  12. Peter regarding Unelected EU I learned a lot from your analysis thank you for that.It was interesting why didnt
    someone enlighten us before?The remain camp are lucky to have people as articulate as you on board thats why it amazes me that remain isnt miles ahead in the polls .One wonders could this be anything to do with a P.M.who tells lies breaks manifesto pledges U turns etc., Still theres a long way to go yet.Report

    1. Rita, thank you for your kind words :-). Why hasn’t this been set out before? Because the EU has failed to make its case. Because the UK Govt has failed abysmally to inform the UK electorate on the workings of these important issues. Elsewhere you’ve said that the Govt has treated people like idiots and I think there’s a lot of truth to that. At best, UK politicians don’t answer questions that are of concern to UK citizens, choosing to ignore them; at worst, they simply repeat the lines that what they’re doing or what they want to do is the best for the UK. That really does insult the intelligence of UK voters. Believe me, it infuriates me just as much as it appears to infuriate you.Report

    2. You say you learned a lot, but why is it in 2016 that people like Peter are still having to post these immensely long posts to explain the EU? Do you have to read thousand word posts to understand how our own country works? Isn’t that a hint that the EU isn’t exactly set up for ordinary people to understand? And why is that?Report

      1. Jon,

        Personally I think that, as per my previous comment, the EU and UK Govt are terrible at informing ordinary people about the EU. Much of the time the only evidence that people have of the benefits of EU membership are a sign outside a refurbished art gallery (for example) saying that this building is funded by EU Structural Funds (effectively regeneration funds provided by the EU). That’s a tragedy, because UK citizens benefit from EU membership in all kinds of ways – gradual reduction of mobile roaming fees in the EU since 2007 is only one example.

        I think there are other reasons too: the fact that the EU political and judicial system was set up by the existing EEC member states before the UK joined in 1973. It’s hardly surprising thus if the current EU political system doesn’t resemble the UK’s setup.

        I do think that EU member states are aware that their citizens don’t understand the EU very well. As I say, I think the European Commission and each EU member state need to do more to inform EU citizens about the EU’s workings and role in the lives of EU citizens. But I don’t think there’s a conspiracy to deliberately keep ordinary people from understanding the EU – the EU wouldn’t have strengthened the role of the European Parliament in EU decision-making (thus giving ordinary people in the EU a greater role in EU decision-making) if there was such a conspiracy,

        And finally.. you imply that the UK political system is simpler, but it’s actually more complicated than you might imagine, particularly in light of devolution and other political changes at local level. Worse, UK citizens are similarly poorly informed about the implications of the way the UK political system is designed. How many UK citizens are aware, for example, that the first past the post electoral system for the House of Commons routinely gives parties a majority in the House of Commons (and therefore the right to form a government) on only 35%-37% of the popular vote? Or to put it another way – UK governments are voted for by a minority of all votes cast. That is clearly contrary to the common understanding of democracy that decisions/governments are made on the will of the majority. But how many UK citizens know that their governments are not formed in line with this basic definition of democracy? Report

        1. We have been net contributors to the EU every year we have been members. So ” a sign outside a refurbished art gallery (for example) saying that this building is funded by EU Structural Funds ” isn’t evidence of a “benefit” of EU membership.

          Unless, of course, you define “benefit” in such a way that if you give me ten Pounds and I give you five back, that is a “benefit”.

          And of course, as all Europhiles do, you are not answering the question I asked. I didn’t ask why people are poorly informed. I asked why the EU is so complicated that it is really difficult for the ordinary voter to understand it.

          I understand why Quantum Mechanics is complicated and difficult to understand, but I don’t see why the EU is.Report

        2. You very convently forgot to say that the people of the UK voted on the way we vote and they voted to leave it the way it was. this is democracy.Report

  13. Peter I dont argue the economists arguing to remain are wrong but I am suspicious of anything the government urges or endorses due to the way the campaign has been run so far.Unfairly.This propaganda was not necessary as the facts do speak for themselves.Regarding 100 economists supporting Brexit this was on the front page(Not Headlines) of one of the London Evening Newspapers on Friday.29/4.
    I think the EU is morally corrupt because of how it was treating Greece in its hour of need.AlsoTurkey
    Hypocrytical thats where Illegal comes in I admit Questionable.You gave a lot of data on the economy and you are right.However according to todays Newspapers Immigration is th biggest issue at present.
    I got the impression you think the P.M.came back with a good deal .It was inadequate.Report

    1. Rita, thanks for the pointer on the 100 economists, I tracked it down to the Evening Standard. The report was not on 100 economists, but 100 “City grandees.” That’s a key difference. Economists look at how the economy as a whole may be changed by new policies or changes such as, in this case, the UK leaving the EU. City ‘grandees’ on the other hand, are most interested in the continued health of the financial sector in the UK which they benefit from hugely. So there’s a lot of self-interest by them here. Debating the worth of the financial sector to the UK would take a long time, but for these purposes, the facts and a growing consensus among economists are:

      1. The financial sector largely only benefits itself. 97% of its activities are between firms in this sector e.g. betting on the future prices of commodities (e.g. copper, oil etc) for no other reason than to make quick money for themselves;
      2. The financial sector was ultimately responsible for the credit crunch which caused the global recession in 2007-2009, causing misery across the world;
      3. Sadly, very little reform has been introduced in the years post-credit crunch – the insane benefits enjoyed by those in the financial sector remain, as does the danger of stupid, economy-crashing risks occurring.

      In short? I’d take the word of ‘City grandees’ with a pile of salt, or better, disregard it completely.

      I can understand why you might be suspicious of anything the government urges and endorses. I have many issues with them myself. I do think they should have conducted themselves on this issue in a more transparent way. I also think that the most popular newspapers in the UK, the Sun and the Daily Mail, have been imbalanced in their coverage of the UK’s EU membership, but I agree that the Government should have addressed the concerns of UK citizens rather than (from what I can see) ignored them and listed only the benefits of continued UK membership of the EU. That’s poor Government in my opinion.

      As for EU and Greece, the facts are these:

      1, Greece signed up to the Euro (using statistics it faked, but that’s another story);
      2. The Euro requires its members to keep their budget deficits under control. It requires this to avoid unhelpful pressures on the European Central Bank which sets a single interest rate for the entire Euro area.
      3. Greece did not keep its budget deficit under control. Its spending was similar to other Euro members, but its tax collection was far lower. Result – a larger budget deficit than the terms of the Euro allowed.
      4. The credit crunch brought things to a head. Greece asked for help, and for a while (like, for a few years), got it in the form of loans from other Euro members and the IMF;
      5. The other Euro countries got tired of lending money to Greece all the time. Specifically, they got tired of Greece not doing anything to address its budget deficit. So the lender countries got tough with Greece and started to demand that Greece reform its taxing and spending;
      6. A stand-off ensued, eventually resulting in Greece agreeing to reform its taxing and spending in exchange for help from the other Euro members (particularly Germany).

      Arguments can be made in favour of and against Greece’s behaviour here. Personally I think Greece was given help for a long time and it’s only fair this help might have conditions attached. Ireland, for example, also received help for similar reasons, but turned its economy around and repaid the loans it received early.

      Which newspapers identify immigration as the biggest issue at present? I’m guessing the Daily Mail and the Sun. Sadly these newspapers tend to ignore the many benefits that immigrants bring to the UK, such as them being ‘net contributors’ in terms of tax (that is, they pay more tax than they cost in benefits/public services), and helping UK businesses and public organisations provide more services, often at lower cost. Opponents to immigration should ask themselves: are they happy to buy German cars? Korean electronics (such as Samsung)? Clothes from Vietnam? Jeans from China? If they are happy to do this, why are they unhappy with immigrants helping UK businesses and public organisations provide their services? Or to put it another way, if you needed a plumber and a lack of British plumbers meant you had to use a Polish plumber, would you do so, or wait for however long it took for a British plumber to serve you? Or if both British and Polish plumbers were available, but the Polish plumber was happy to do exactly the same job for half the price, which would you choose? And, if you would choose the British plumber, do you think it’s fair to deprive other UK citizens that choice, as you likely would if you voted Leave?

      As for the PM’s deal that he secured, I think it was the best he could realistically get in the circumstances. I also think that it shows that anyone who thinks that the UK will be able to dictate the terms of its relationship with the EU in the event of leaving the EU, is in fantasy land. The UK’s negotiating position simply isn’t as strong as Brexit supporters think.Report

      1. I think that you have made several mistakes. First it was the American Banks Sub Prime lending that caused the 2008 crash, and you call the 100 economists City grandees, Most Economists are involved with High bussiness so you can not seperate the two.
        You say the Immigration is nessesary for our companies to funtion, this I do agree with, but it is the uncontrolled immigration that is the trouble which you do not say anything about, Brexit does not want to stop immigration ,only control it, at the moment we have no control over who comes to our country. We need to be more selective. Also by controlling who comes into the UK we will be able to reject undesirables and dangerous criminals.Report

  14. Another misunderstanding that appears to be emerging is British sovereignty. This is little more than a ‘red-herring’ as many other postees have said on many occasions in many ways. There is no such thing in reality. The 2WW put a full stop under that for all time.

    When the Americans arrived in 1943 even our Generals were placed under the direct military Command of an American General. Our Generals up until then had always been responsible to the King first and Parliament second.

    Then the Suez Crisis in 1956. The Americans told us to get our troops out of the Canal Zone, we hesitated so they started selling British stock on their markets. This virtually bankrupted us overnight so we changed our minds and withdrew our troops.

    Their latest demonstration of who actually runs Britain came in 1983 when they decided to invade Granada. Not even our then Prime Minister was informed. Be aware, whatever America wants Britain to do, Britain will do. British sovereignty is a term used by the deluded only. Anything that really matters is decided in the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department.Report

    1. You have what is called a false choice. Yes, nations are far more interdependent than they were pre-WWII. But that is not an argument for surrendering remaining sovereignty.Report

      1. Jon. A few questions:

        1. How is the UK surrendering its sovereignty now in a way that it wouldn’t if it left the EU? Before you talk about laws etc., imagine you were the PM in the days post-Brexit. What kind of relationship with the EU would you (and UK businesses) want and what relationship could you realistically get? What implications would this relationship have for UK sovereignty?

        2. Do you think that the UK’s continued membership of the EU would inevitably see its “remaining sovereignty” surrendered? Why?


        1. Very strange questions. In what way would the UK be “surrendering its sovereignty” by leaving the EU? In fact, it would be taking its sovereignty back, since it would be able to make its own deals with the rest of the instead of the EU making them for it.

          I am not sure that you are clear what the word “sovereignty” means. It means being able to make your own decisions, rather than those decisions being made by a vote of your European neighbours.Report

          1. Jon, I am fully aware of what sovereignty means, My simple point is that as soon as anyone – a person or organisation – wants to interact with another party, some compromise will likely be involved on both sides (unless one party has all the bargaining power, which doesn’t happen very often, and certainly does not apply here) in the subsequent agreement that governs that interaction between the two or more parties. That compromise means limiting/sharing the freedom/sovereignty previously enjoyed (or at least, not explicitly limited).

            Applying that to the example of the UK leaving the EU:

            The UK originally wanted to join the EEC to gain access to the single market. In exchange it had to ensure that UK exports to the single market conformed with EU law i.e. the ‘sovereignty’ it had over this decision-making was shared/given up.

            Imagine the UK leaves the EU. Sure, it’ll have the freedom to make new trade deals with trade blocs/other countries (with less bargaining power than it currently enjoys as part of the EU, but that’s another story). But – surprise – it’ll then have to give up some of its temporarily-enjoyed freedoms (over the standards its goods have to comply with, for example) in exchange for access to the markets of other countries/trade blocs. What will be different? Nothing. Except, of course, to quote the current copy of the Economist “it would… worsen the terms of which the trade is conducted.”:


          2. Compromise is fine. I compromise with people all the time. Free trade agreements are also fine.

            Now what does any of this have to do with the way that the EU is gradually taking more and more *non-trade* powers over its members?

            This is what a lot of people are concerned about. When the EU talks about having migrant quotas and fining members that don’t take enough migrants, what exactly does that have to do with free trade?Report

    2. Just look what a mess the Americans made of D day when they launched troop boats 10 miles out and many sank, their swiming tanks sank, Whereas we launched ours a lot closer in and we launched a very succesfull operation. Vertually every time they go to war they make a big mess of things From the Nam. to the Gulf 2 war. The Eu is just the same as they have no ideas on how to sort out the Euro and many other things. All they can think of is even closer union which has not helps now and never will.Report

    3. So what do you think the Americans will do when we vote to leave? And, as an aside, this ain’t the ’50s! Global leadership is on a slow boat to China; no need to get stabbed in the back by the Americans again! Report

  15. John, what does seem to have moved is propensity to turn out. From what I have seen, ORB moved 5 points higher for Leave turnout after the bazookas had been fired by Remain. Surely once we adjust for this propensity, Leave gained ground in this past week. Report

  16. Just to clear up any misunderstanding about how the EU actually works, the EU commission operates like our Civil Service, they propose laws but they are passed or rejected by their parliament who we elect as our MEPs. The whole structure is in fact more democratic than our own. We don’t elect our head of state, second (upper) house or executive cabinet.Report

    1. In explaining ‘how the EU works, you forgot to mention the basis on which the commissioners make their decisions on what laws are to be put forward. This is done by big businesses carrying out their own self interest programmes then lobbying the ‘commissioners’, many of whom have never held down a position in business so therefore have no business sense, no investigative capability, so therefore just change the names on the supporting data and put it forward as ‘a new law’. Democratic it is not. Self interest of major international companies, organisations et al is very certainly is! Report

      1. If that were true, the European Commission wouldn’t be active in preventing abuses of market power by big firms, including proposed mergers of such ‘big business’. Right now for example the European Commission is taking on one of the biggest firms of all, Google, over what the Commission sees as abuse of market power by the Android operating system.

        If you think otherwise, do please feel free to elaborate with specific examples clearly showing the opposite.Report

        1. The only reason that the EU is taking on Google is that it is an American company, If it was a EU company it would be a differant matter.Report

  17. For those saying the EU is undemocractic/unelected, here’s a brief guide to how it makes decisions:

    The European Commission proposes new laws and implements/enforces agreed laws. The European Commission is effectively the EU’s civil service. Like the UK civil service, it is divided up into Departments. Each Department is headed up by a Commissioner. Each EU member state gets to appoint one Commissioner.

    The Council of Ministers represents the democratically-elected governments of each of the EU’s 28 member states/countries. Each country in the Council of Ministers has a number of votes depending on its population and size of its economy. For example the UK has more votes than Belgium. The Council of Ministers works with the European Parliament to decide which proposals (altered or otherwise) from the European Commission will become new EU legislation.

    The European Parliament represents the people of the EU and is wholly elected by proportional representation (unlike general elections in the UK which typically give parties with 35% of the vote a majority in the House of Commons, allowing them to form a government on a minority of the votes cast). Each EU member state/country is represented by a number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in line with that country’s population relative to the total EU population. Thus the UK has just over 10% of the EU population and consequently 10% of the seats in the European Parliament. France and Italy likewise. As noted, MEPs are elected by proportional representation. So, for example, a party that wins 10% of the UK vote in the European elections will get 10% of the UK MEPs. The European Parliament works with the similarly democratically-elected representatives of the governments of each EU member state in the Council of Ministers to decide which proposals from the European Commission become law.

    In short: the precise content of EU law is determined by two institutions whose representatives are democratically elected. Hope that helps.Report

    1. No, it really does not help. When 27 member of the EU have common interests, traditions and attitudes that are different to the 28th, “democracy” just produces the same result over and over.

      The big danger about Remain is that it will condemn us to life in a European economic monoculture in which had decisions are made and never corrected.

      A UK outside the EU, making its own economic decisions can present an alternative model to the over-regulation and austerity that the Europeans seem to be condemned to impose on theselves.Report

      1. Jon,could you clarify how the UK is currently not able to make its own economic decisions? It has its own currency, it sets its own monetary policy (via the independent Bank of England/Monetary Policy Committee) and sets its own taxes. Seems to me that it’s able to make its own economic decisions, certainly the ones that will have by far the greatest impact on its economy.Report

        1. You are talking about the situation as it is today. I am talking about what happens if we vote to remain. We will have had our bluff called. Do you seriously think that we will keep the independence we currently have?Report

      2. Oh, and by the way, the 27 other members of the EU do not have common interests. They’re divided along north and south lines (as the Euro crisis has demonstrated, with the Germans in particular furious at what they see as free-riding, free-spending by the Greeks), federalists wanting closer integration (such as France) vs Atlanticists (such as the UK, the Dutch, Danes etc who tend to have opt-outs of certain policies) among other issues. The UK is thus usually far from alone in its views. Indeed, many of the major changes to the EU, such as the single market (champion in chief – Margaret Thatcher) and reform to the Common Agricultural Policy have been British-led initiatives.Report

    2. The more members that join the EU mean the less we have any influnce in any changes that are made. With the joining of a lot of poorer countries, they will be for protecting their own interests and not the good of the EU onlyReport

  18. The silent majority spoke a the Scottish referendum , and similarly all the braying, abuse, power play and threats of Cameron, Obama, Juncker, Hollande et al will be washed away. It will be a vote of protest against the lack of democracy both in Brussels and indeed at Westminster.

    Good bye Cameron and thanks for nothing.Report

  19. I predict a close run win for remain, but it won’t be the end of it, there is too much at stake and it’s got too emotional for the Brexit movement to simply ‘go away’ now, in fact it will be a similar result to the Scottish Independence vote – a Pyrrhic victory for remain at best and further unrest to come who ever wins.

    Of course it’ll finish Cameron as well (some might argue no bad thing) and Osborne with him, but we’re really not flush with competent seeming politicians right now either, what ever your political persuasion, so it’s hard to predict who’ll move in to fill the space, and whether they’ll actually make any impact.

    I can only see this ‘unrest’ continuing for the foreseeable future and no one can predict where it will ultimately lead.

    What gets me about all this is that there are a range of very different issues at stake (economy and immigration just being two of the bigger ones), and this is what is confusing matters. Separate out the various issues and it’ll be clearer where people’s real feelings lie, and why.

    Personally, I like the idea of the EU, I don’t like the undemocratic way it operates, I like the principle of free movement of goods/ideas/people, but I don’t think it’s realistically possible given the differences between some of the countries in the EU, and the mass immigration of Africans and Middle Easterners in recent years has been a political disaster. Overall, I’m voting out, but I know that’s not the best answer to everything, so I understand those who will be voting the other way and don’t think they’re necessarily ‘wrong’. Report

  20. Too much propaganda and not enough common sense.How can a country this size cope with hundreds of
    thousands more people every year.It is just not compatible..
    Its irresponsible and not fair to the immigrants already here.This arrogant government will not address this
    issue and treats the public like idiots.this is one of the main reasons the leave vote will win.Incidentally I have
    finally made my decision taking into consideration the effects it could have on my family. A prime Minister
    desperate to win will not alter the will of the british people although he has created a divided britain he continues to patronise and insult the intelligence of the average voter.

  21. I predict that leave will win a resounding majority. The one thing the polls can’t assess is the likelihood of voter turnout. The vast majority of comments left on all websites regarding this choice are in favour of leaving. On the basis that it takes more effort to leave a comment rather than none at all I suspect that the leavers feel more passionate about the choice than remains ergo the leavers will be more likely to vote than the remains, so just as in the last general election the polls will prove to be markedly different to the actual result, apart from the exit polls of course.Report

  22. I hope uk leave Europe we want to see how Europe citizen going to survive this tragedy,the life at all streets of Europe will stopped,all banks will collapsed,the Germans car factory will be sold to China,the Spanish melon will explodes because uk no going to eat it,polish people going to throw themselves in the sea,leap of darkness in all part of Europe and more and more citizen of Europe going to sufferReport

  23. Immigration may well be the big subject on the table at present but we all know Britain will not have open access to the tariff free EU without free movement of people. This immigration issue has also been quietly ignored in other areas too. Britain has had a problem with illegal immigration for decades as we have ample shallow coastline for small scale people smuggling. In reality we have no idea how many illegal immigrants are in Britain. Leaving the EU will not solve any of these long standing problems.Report

    1. Well It is true that The EU will resist such a deal if only not to encourage les autres & Switzerand . On the other hand Turkey [ at present] and Canada both have trade deals but don’t have free movement of people – so some sort of deal WILL be possible on the lines . It will be particular to the UK, which remember, can already meet all EU standards . My guess is that some sort of restrictions on labour movement will be agreed . After all they’ve already agreed to an emergency brake on labour movement [ or at least Cameron and Tusk claim that ]. Trade with the UK is too important for EU prosperity – The Germans will want to keep on exporting their cars , the French their butter , the Spanish their Melons .The UK is their largest export market and one which is n deficit to them. Indeed an unnamed Brussels official has just said he thinks a deal will be done quickly [ and thus wont take decades as has been claimed by Remain ]. Report

      1. Their need to sell their goods to us could be outweighed by their preference to buy from each other. There are after all 27 of them to our 1. Therefore their power to impose and maintain tariffs on our goods being imported into their countries gives them a distinct advantage in any trade deal.

        This could also present us with a double whammy on our exports. What do we actually make and export that they actually need ? To be specific, we also don’t have any raw materials, much in the way of commodities or precious metals.

        My apologies for sounding negative but my trust in others “playing fair” in business is rather limited. Sad though it is, a car sales deal with Germany will not pay for our NHS, Defence, Education and Local Authority Services.

        Additional to these issues, our exports are more expensive to get to market as we have to get them over water whereas European countries have huge areas of landmass and advanced infrastructure that operates very efficiently between states by rail and canal. We simply don’t have the space in Britain to compete on a similar level.Report

        1. Yes Guppy you do sound negative,but I dont think the academics like Gisela Stuart just as an
          example would want to leave if they didnt have the confidence we will survive and prosper.Also
          recently a hundred economists who are not being propped up by the corrupt and unelected EU.Report

          1. Rita, could you substantiate your claim that “a hundred economists…are being propped up by the corrupt and unelected EU”? Perhaps you could also explain how you feel the EU is unelected in light of my comment below – thanks. And I’m curious to know why you’re confident that Gisela Stuart’s prognosis for the UK out of the EU can be trusted while that of the IMF, HM Treasury, Mark Carney (Governor of the Bank of England), CBI and President Obama among many others should be discarded..?Report

          2. Peter I wrote that one hundred economists were NOT being propped up
            thats what makes them independent.I believe most of the instituitions you
            mentioned wanted us in the Euro so they make me nervous.(particularly
            H>M>Treasury in view of recent forecasts)As for Obama his visit has proved
            to be counter productive.Camerons such a dissapointment to me.
            Regarding Gisela Stuart who taught law at cambridge .Listening to her
            making the case for leave in a very quiet dignified manner I believe the EU is
            illegal in many ways.Its a matter of trust now.Report

          3. Rita – apologies, I misread your comment. Does that mean however that you think economists that argue in favour of remaining in the UK ARE propped up by the corrupt and unelected EU? If so, do please explain.

            Likewise, I don’t think the EU can fairly be said to be unelected, as I’ve explained below. Could you clarify why you think otherwise?

            Finally on the economist point, could you tell me where you found these 100 economists? The only mention of 100 economists and Brexit I could find were the FT’s survey of 100 economic thinkers, the majority of which felt that the UK’s exit from the EU would cost the UK billions of pounds. The only pro-Brexit economists I’m aware of are the eight recently unveiled by Vote Leave. As already made clear, these eight economists are in a tiny minority in economic opinion – unusually so for what is normally a divided field of thought!

            I don’t think that the institutions I mentioned did want the UK to join the Euro, In fact, one of them, the Treasury, was instrumental in keeping the UK out: despite Tony Blair’s desire for the UK to join the Euro, the then Chancellor Gordon Brown insisted that the decision whether or not to join the Euro would be subject to certain economic tests. The Treasury assessed whether these economic tests would be met, concluded that they wouldn’t be met, recommended that the UK stay out of the Euro, and it stayed out. So personally I’m inclined to believe the Treasury’s analysis here, namely that leaving the EU will hit the UK economically. This same analysis suggests that lower growth will reduce the tax take by £36bn a year, massively dwarfing the £8bn or so contribution to the EU budget that the UK will ‘save’ by no longer being a member. If, indeed, the UK is able to avoid making any contribution to the EU – Norway and Switzerland have access to the single market but have to make contributions to the EU budget in return.

            As for Gisela Stuart, from what I can make out, she taught law only at the Worcester College of Technology (not Cambridge), a further education college between 1992-1997. She started a PhD in trust law but abandoned it in favour of working in politics full-time. Anyway, I saw a clip of her talking on the Andrew Marr show from February this year. She seemed to have two main points:

            1. The EU inherently seeks ‘ever closer union’, which she thinks is a bad idea for the UK;

            2. Immigration is putting a strain on public services.

            If so, David Cameron’s deal has resulted in the UK specifically being excluded from the bid for ‘ever closer union’. Likewise, the evidence is that the EU migrants contribute more in taxes than they take in public services etc, plus it should be remembered that their governments reimburse the NHS for any use of the NHS, just as the UK govt reimburses other EU member states for UK citizens’ use of health services in other EU member states.

            Finally, I’m curious to know how you think the “EU is illegal in many ways.” The EU is quite simply a series of international agreements between its member states. These international agreements constitute international law that applies to the states which have signed them i.e. the EU member states. By definition thus the EU cannot be illegal (unless it conflicted with other international law, which it doesn’t). I’m sure Gisela Stuart would confirm that.Report

    2. In a devastating assessment, Moody’s said there was a risk the Brussels club could disintegrate even if the UK votes to stay in the June referendum – and it could be a matter of ‘when, not if’.
      Its report concluded: ‘Even if the EU survives its current challenges largely unscathed, even a “small” future crisis could threaten the sustainability of current institutional frameworks, if it coincided with negative public sentiment and populist political developments. This can create the impression that the question is when the system breaks, rather than if.’
      Colin Ellis, Moody’s chief credit officer for Europe, added that a British exit could spark an ‘existential moment’ for the EU. The warning came as European Council president Donald Tusk last night warned the Brussels dream of a European superstate is an ‘illusion’ that should be stopped
      The report is a serious blow to David Cameron, who has warned that the risks of leaving the EU far outweigh those of remaining in the troubled organisation.
      Analysts were scathing about the response by Brussels to the crises gripping the EU. Their report called the EU’s reaction to the refugee crisis ‘fragmented and disorderly’ and criticised ‘weak’ decision-making.
      ‘The EU faces strong internal challenges as well, with disappointment and resentment looming high and the EU becoming associated with austerity policies in many countries,’ said the report. Analysts also warned that efforts led by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to resolve the EU’s economic problems were failing.
      Meanwhile, former Bank of England governor Mervyn King warned that ‘empire-building’ by Brussels risked a backlash across Europe. In a speech in Frankfurt, he said there was ‘a limit to the economic pain that can be imposed in pursuit of a federal Europe without risking a political reaction’.
      Adding further fuel to the debate, European Council president Donald Tusk last night called on Brussels to halt attempts to replace individual countries with a European ‘superstate’. Speaking in Rome, he said it was time to ‘redefine our dreams for the EU’. ‘This means that today we must admit this dream of one European state with one common interest and maybe in the future one common nation was an illusion,’ he said.
      Mr Juncker, an arch-Europhile, said there were too many ‘part-time’ Europeans who concentrated too much on their national interests rather than serving the EU.


  24. Which ever way this referendum result falls and I sincerely hope it ends up with us leaving the EU, it will certainly be a moral victory for the leave campaign given the unfair tactics being employed by the remain camp. Very few if any of the ordinary British people believe anything that Mr Cameron says is truthful anymore AND most, of those voting to remain are doing so because of personal vested interests, not for the benefit of the country. That particularly includes big businesses scaring their employees that their jobs are not safe which is rubbish. Also Mr Cameron wishes to mobilise the youth vote purely because they have little experience and will vote to remain because they no nothing else. Shameful !!! The only intelligent vote is a vote to leave the EU.

    1. You are quite right; in that the Government has wrongfully overridden the spending limits imposed on the official campaign groups. Parliament probably need to look at strengthening the Electoral Commission on this.

      Leave or remain; the decision is going to have a far greater effect on young people starting out in their working lives, than it is on pensioners living off their savings and pensions. Surely those patently most affected by a decision, need to be encouraged to take part in that decision process.

      I will be voting to stay, but I do not have some “vested self interest”; and you should be ashamed of yourself for suggesting that just because people do not agree with you, they must some how have some thing to gain.Report

    2. Lovely bit of Ad Hominem, resorting to insulting and degrading Remain supporters. Doesn’t really show much conviction in your own beliefs if you keep blathering on about how all Remain voters must be self-interested.
      A vote to leave is a vote to make Britain irrelevant and to cause economic damage, however you’ve obviously decided the facts are less important than your ill-thought opinions to the contrary. And the vast majority of the public agree that leaving the Eu would be economically damaging. But hey, don’t let actual facts get in the way of your rant.
      Oh and insulting the youth, how wonderful! You are truly pathetic, I envy the black and white of your simplistic mind. Report

      1. On the subject of rants; How do you know what the vast majority of the public agree about ?
        Most of the dont knows dont understand .You seem very well informed but when it comes to the vote most
        decent people will vote with what affects them and their families.The campaign has not been fair .End of rant.Report

        1. Could you explain how the campaign has not been fair Rita? The two most widely read newspapers in the UK, the Sun and the Daily Mail, both oppose the UK staying in the EU. Worse is that they don’t consider in depth the pros and cons of UK membership. I wouldn’t call that particularly fair, or indeed responsible given their positions as the two most widely read newspapers in the UK.

          Personally I’d recommend the Financial Times (who have a free Kindle book called ‘Britain and the EU’) and the Economist for detailed consideration of the pros and cons of UK membership, rather than, as the Daily Mail and the Sun appear to, focus one a single issue (e.g. immigration) and conclude that it is ‘bad’ for the UK without dispassionately considering whether this is really the case, with reference to research, statistics, analysis by recognised authorities..

          Oh, and Raoul is kind of right about more people in the UK (not the vast majority, but a majority) who think that the UK would be worse off economically if it left the UK. That doesn’t mean that the same people want the UK to remain in the EU, but then the two issues are different.Report

          1. I dont need to explain its common knowledge for reasons too numerous to mention.It
            only makes the remain look desperate and shows a lack of confidence on their part.Newspapers yes I get the mail Ive never read the Sun.Perhaps those papers are
            focusing on immigration as its the biggest issue.Therefor giving it priority.If newspapers
            are more perceptive to the publics concerns doesnt this highlight or even prove how out of touch the political establishment is with ordinary people.Report

      2. I find that decision making in the referendum to be sraightforward and I am very well informed as to all of the arguments on both sides of the debate. I believe that if we stay in the EU, British sovereignty, our democracy, the supremacy of British law and our national identity with its Christian heritage, culture and faith are all at stake. There are two fundamental and pivotal issues involved in the debate which take pre eminence over all of the other issues.. We either choose to retain our independence as a sovereign, self governing, outward looking nation or we become a state within a federalist Superstate called Europe which will soon comprise 33 member nations including Turkey. For me the choice is simple—- vote Leave! Report

        1. Fantastic! Someone who is “very well informed as to all of the arguments on both sides of the debate”! Great to hear this Brenda. I’m sure thus you’ll be happy to elaborate these arguments for the benefit of all those who are not so well-apprised with the issues, and to do so with specific reference to the following points:

          1. What the arguments are for ‘Brexit’ and ‘Bremain?

          2. Why is British sovereignty at stake, how does EU membership impact on this and why is the effect of EU membership different to the UK’s other memberships of international organisations, treaties or trade deals?

          3. Why does EU membership place the UK’s culture at stake? I’d be grateful if you could outline your argument in the context of the last 3000 years of the British isles. For example, what has British culture been over this time? Has the ethnic makeup of its society changed? If so, what caused this change? Have the religions practiced in the British isles, official and unofficial, been unchanged over this time period? If they have changed, what has been responsible for this change? You say Britain has a Christian heritage – could you clarify whether you mean Catholic (as when we were part of the Roman empire), Protestant (as in post-Reformation) or Anglican in more recent years?

          4. What evidence do you think there is that the EU will inevitably become a federalist superstate? Grateful if you could explain here how the ‘two-tier’ of EU membership, with some states in the Euro and some out, some states signing up to all common policies and some states ‘opting out’, will not stop this inevitable movement towards an EU superstate affecting all members. Likewise, I’d be grateful if you could explain why you think the concession won by David Cameron that the UK is explicitly excluded from the movement towards ‘ever closer union’ will be insufficient to prevent the UK’s inclusion in any federal superstate.

          5. Why do you feel the need to highlight the possible future EU membership of Turkey? I’d be grateful if you could refer to Turkey’s political system, religion and role of its army in its government over the last 30 years in your answer. I presume you’ll be referring to their fight against ISIS, including the significance of Turkey’s role here, in your balanced and well-thought out opinion.

          6. Why do you feel the need to point to the possible enlargement of the EU to 33 member states?


          1. You ask about christian heritage Both Catholics and Anglican are basicly the same, and not to be confused with Islam.
            As regards the EU becoming a Federal State, where have you been, Junker has stated several times that that is the aim of the EU, So it is from the horses mouth.
            As regards the so called deal that Cameron got, if you read the news or listen to the EU Parliament you would have seen the the EU will probibly not ratify these deals that Cameron negotiated, and if the EU was prepared to ratify these deals they could have ratified them before the referendum.
            You say why did we need to bring up the Turkish proposed joining the EU. The reason is that Turkey is blackmailing the EU into bringing forward the joining of Turkey to the EU.
            The enlargment of the posible 33 member states is just common sense as most of the countries that want to join the EU are very poor countries which will drag down the Euro which is not likely to survive that happening, as Moodies have said. Report

    3. The trade issue with the EU is defunct and Obama’s comments last week or was it the week before were in contrast to his thinking back in 2010,, when he considered (rightly imo) that the EU was marginal and there were more sustainable trading partners.

      That Cameron was happy to recommend Brexit unless he achieved massive reform calls into question the fear campaign he now spearheads. Had he been more transparent/true to the British people he would have concluded the so called DEAL was a ‘Chamberlain moment’ and that we should get out. The EU will not even ratify his meagre so called wins. Therefore, given exactly the same set of circumstances as now he should be campaigning to leave and of course would now be extolling the benefits of exit.

      We need to give the politicians of EU a ****** nose, leave the sinking elitist club and stand proud again as others are now expressing here and elsewhere.

      1. Was Cameron happy to recommend Brexit when he said he was leaving nothing out,or did he mean he was leaving nothing out of his fear campaign.?I watched some of the so called DEAL negotiations on TV
        and it seemed so disjointed it was almost comicalA large group of people round a table,kept breaking off to
        eat or discuss other issues,Mother Theresa eating a bag of chips.Cameron almost invisible not making his
        presence felt.When eventually he was thrown a few scraps like a good little labrador he rolled over.Yeas it was a Chamberlain moment.Report

  25. This is very interesting stuff. If half the public are mostly concerned with immigration, but the elites insist on talking only about economics, we have a dialogue of the deaf. If that results in a tiny majority for Remain, then this referendum won’t settle anything.Report

    1. I very much agree with you regarding the public and immigration. Society’s elite are virtually unaffected by immigration except by way of new EU rules governing tax havens, money laundering and offshore investments. That group will vote to leave. Accountability for what they get up to is not on their list of things to do.

      However, and it’s a big however. They know they hold Britain’s future in their very own hands as the UK financial institutions account for about 25% of our GDP as New York and Frankfurt would love to see London consigned to oblivion as the global leader of financial business.

      Therefore it remains just plain common sense for finance leaders to stay in the EU as we stand to forfeit our position if we left. Government services would be the first hit. NHS, Defence, Arts, …… Report

      1. I believe that finance is really abut 10% of GDP. But more to the point, whether the EU *want* to take finance away from London, it’s not clear that they can. Where finance happens is under the control of investors. All the EU can control is where *physical* financial instruments are cleared, and physical is a fairly small share of total financial transactions.Report

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