Nostradamus lives! Anthony Scholefield’s projections and the actual result

On 26 March, I circulated a paper entitled ‘Projection of EU Referendum Vote’ in which I forecast how all the major political party supporters would divide up between Leave and Remain, based on an ORB poll around that time.

I concluded “Opinion is now solidifying … For these reasons, I am calling the result of the referendum now – a win for Leave – by about ten points.”

“We must remember the referendum is not the end, it is a stage, and what happens afterwards is what matters.”

“It is inevitable that, after a Leave win, our proposals must be the only safe, sane way to execute withdrawal.”

I got some forecasts wrong.  The turnout was much higher than I forecast but the forecast for lower than average turnouts in London and Scotland was correct.

The key was indeed the moderate Conservative voters.  The Leave side did not quite get the 60/40% projection of vote for Leave among Conservative voters, but nearly got there.

Anthony Scholefield poll projection-page-001

My projections were accurate and, in most cases, very close to the result.

Why?  Around 45% of the electorate had already decided, according to Ashcroft, before the beginning of 2016 so it was a reasonable inference that the late deciders would approximately decide in the same way on such a long running issue – ‘Opinion was solidifying’.

  • There was no last minute surge for Leave among Labour voters. If there was a slight ripple, it was among SNP voters who were slightly more in favour of Leave than I estimated.
  • Self-government was far the biggest motive for the Leave campaigners while the economic arguments were the foremost motivator for Remain.
  • The percentages are quite striking. Four out of five parties (five out of six in Scotland) supported Remain and, except for the Conservatives, the party leaders DID carry 63-75% of their voters with them.  It was only the Conservatives who voted against their party leadership.
  • The division in the Labour vote, 37-63%, was barely changed from the March projection of 35-65% or the ORB March poll of 39-61%. The idea that there was a sudden awakening of nativism of the ignorant being conned by right wing fanatics is simply wrong.  It did not exist.
  • The official campaigns on both sides seem to have been completely irrelevant. There was no movement of significance in the last three months.  Both campaigns were negative and scaremongering.  Both dealt in dodgy statistics.
  • The quiet determination of the ordinary electorate to make a considered and thoughtful decision on a major issue and turn out in staggering numbers was, however, impressive and humbling.
  • Finally, 81% of those described as “in full time education” voted to Remain, quite extraordinary. Youth seems conformist, ultra-conservative.

General Electric, China and an erstwhile remainer with regrets

On 1st July, barely a week after the Brexit vote, the FTSE-1oo index of leading shares touched its highest point in over six months.

The pound may still be down by 10% against the US dollar and some banks are suspending lending to buyers of commercial properties in London, but not everyone is gloomy. John Mills, a CIB Committee member, has long argued that the pound is overvalued and that UK exporters have been struggling in consequence. Furthermore Arcadis, a construction consltant, predicts that the London property market will actually boom once the dust has settled.

Furthermore, following on from noises from Australia and New Zealand about improving trade links with  a newly-independent Britain, Chinese officials, frustrated with their lack of progress in getting the EU round the table, have apparently been discussing the possibility of lauching trade talks with our country too.

As for those job losses with which we were threatened, Mark Elborne, the head of the American manufacturing giant General Electric, reaffirmed his belief that the UK will remain an attractive country for investors.

General Electric employs some 22,000 staff in the UK and Mr Elborne recently praised “the UK’s ‘strong export mindset’ and attractive domestic market”, described Britain as “a good place to do business” and “a good place to run a business from”. Interestingly, these comments come from a man who backed  “remain” during the referendum period.

Another “remainer” who has made some interesting comments is Mark Piggott. Writing in The Spectator, Mr Pigott says that he now wished he had voted leave.  It has been the attitude of remainers to losing the referendum which has prompted the re-think:- “As the week progressed, and demonstrators with radical piercings marched on Parliament in solidarity with EasyJet and George Osborne, I found my mood change. As one Guardian commentator after another dismissed the opinion of the poor, the old, the white, the uneducated, I began to wonder if the Leavers hadn’t been right all along. Perhaps the Remain side were out of touch with what much of Britain thought.”

More appalling than the predictable racist claim has been the dismissal of older voters as reactionaries, wreckers of our children’s future“, he continues. “As if ‘older’ people, who’ve worked, paid taxes, brought up children in far tougher times, shouldn’t have a say and that the young, many of whom couldn’t be bothered to vote, should have their non-votes registered.

Then came the petitions. Remainers calling for the referendum to be ignored, or worse, re-run, revealed themselves to be the enemies of democracy. How many of them would tolerate similar calls from the Leave camp if the vote was reversed?

Actually, I think we’d win a re-run.  While I came across a few young zealots wearing their “In” t-shirts, I recall being quite shocked to observe that in one debate in which I took part, the handful of self-identifying “remain” people handing out literature were all older than me unless, that is, their support for the EU has caused them to age prematurely!

Leavers showed passion and commitment. They worked their socks off and would do so again. Would all the Generation Snowflake students who have been demonstrating about the vote during these last two Saturdays be willing to dig in for the long haul of a gruelling campaign stretching out several months? I’m not so sure.

Furthermore, whoever the next Prime Minister is, he or she would not be using the full weight of government machinery to support remain and the Leave side would surely not be so foolish as to enter a second campaign without a decent exit strategy.

Nonetheless, in view of the widespread publicity given to some leave voters who now regret their decision, the candour of Mr Piggott has been refereshing. In view of the positive prospects for the UK economy and the length of time needed to call a further referendum, however, the likelihood of a second ballot looks remote, especially as one of its leading advocates, the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, has had his last shred of credibility ripped apart by the publication of the Chilcot report.

Photo by JefferyTurner

Brexit and “Generation Snowflake”

By Chris McGovern

The “Brexit” vote confirmed a stark generational difference between the views of the older and the younger generations. A pre-referendum YouGov poll indicated that 72% of 18 to 24 year-olds wished to stay in the EU with only 19% wanting an exit. In contrast, amongst pensioners, 59% wanted to leave.

The subsequent post-referendum petition and the mass protest event in London, attracted widespread support amongst young people. Democracy had produced the ‘wrong’ result and a second referendum was, and is, being demanded. There have been tears, tantrums, even. Why?

If you are a “Brexit” supporter you might be perplexed. If, however, you have some knowledge of what goes on in our classrooms these days you will be much less surprised. Sadly, our schools have achieved a brilliant success in terms of convincing many young people that a knowledge-lite education is no impediment to thought or opinion. Indeed, the perceived ability to build ideas and ideologies on limited understanding is a crowning achievement of educational reform over the past 30 years.

“It was our futures that you were voting on, not yours,” is the refrain of many disappointed young people. “What right does an older generation have to interfere with our demands?” There is an emotional, even poetic, allurement in all of this, of course. Its sinister and beguiling attraction was beautifully expressed in the “Cabaret” song, “Tomorrow belongs to me”.

Much the same cry was heard during China’s Cultural Revolution. Mao’s Red Book addressed the young and was unequivocal as to their ownership of the future:

“The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigor and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you … The world belongs to you.”

Placing ownership of the future in the hands of the younger generation has a seductive but very flawed logic. Being readily open to manipulation it is, also, extremely dangerous, especially when it is based, at best, on lack of experience and, at worst, on lack of knowledge.

Survey after survey has shown, as I outlined in my CIB pamphlet Generations Betrayed, that most young people have very little knowledge of British history. Knowledge and understanding of how our democracy has evolved, for example, is largely unknown territory.

The latest version of the History National Curriculum is, in many ways, a surrender document to the European Union. It does not require the teaching of a single landmark event or personality from British history. Where specific events and individuals are mentioned they are only given the status of “examples (non-statutory) of what teachers “could include”. The Napoleonic Wars have not even been awarded that status. They do not get a mention.

The Curriculum is a ‘free for all’. Do what you what. It is Sex Pistols history – anarchy! The Times Educational Supplement resources website publishes model lessons for and from teachers. It is illustrative of how the Curriculum translates into classroom practice.

So, what history are teachers choosing to teach from, say, the 19th century? The site offers 23 model lessons on Lord Palmerston, 27 on Cecil Rhodes, 35 on Nelson and 37 on Pitt the Younger. In contrast, there are 143 model lessons on Jack the Ripper. Topics are chosen on the basis of how far they allow history to be presented as ‘detective work’. These days history teaching is all about developing so-called ‘skills’. Content is largely irrelevant to this process. The History National Curriculum does, however, make an exception for the history of Islam, West Africa (Benin) and Central America (Mayas). These three topics appear on a statutory list, one of which must be taught.

The ‘knowledge void’ amongst young people has been filled in part by apathy. A willingness to participate in the EU referendum was much stronger amongst older people.  The majority of 18-24 year olds, at least 57% it seems, chose not to vote at all.

This unwillingness to engage in the democratic process, a consequence of ignorance, surely, further emphasises a dangerous failure in our education system. Charles Moore suggested as much in a piece for The Daily Telegraph (28th June):

“In a democratic system, if you wish to affect your future, you must vote. This does not seem to be taught in schools any more – and nor is the impressive history of our parliamentary democracy – but it is the key point.”

We should not, therefore, be too surprised by voting apathy amongst the young. Our school curriculum ensures, quite simply, that mostly they do not know enough to recognise the importance of political engagement.

Ownership of the future, consequently, should always be shared and cross-generational. The duty of older people to the young should never be benign acquiescence. Indeed, many young people, but not all, understand and expect direction and leadership from those who have seen and experienced rather more of the world.

Those young people who are now struggling to cope with the stress of the referendum result might have been better prepared had their education taught them that in a democracy one does not always get one’s own way. It should, also, have taught them why their ancestors fought and died to preserve liberty, including the right to cast a meaningful vote.

Chris McGovern is Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education

“Generation Snowflake” refers to young people, typically university or college students, who react with distress to the expression of ideas that they believe to be offensive or emotionally challenging.

How the EU works: leaving the EU

The government has accepted that it is under a “democratic duty to give effect to the electorate’s decision” in the EU referendum on 23 June.

The prime minister told parliament in February that “if the British people vote to leave there is only one way to bring that about—namely to trigger Article 50 of the treaties and begin the process of exit—and the British people would rightly expect that to start straight away.”

How exactly would that work?

Constitutional requirements

Article 50(1) of the Treaty on the European Union says that any member country may decide to withdraw from the EU “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”. In the UK, those requirements would include the approval of parliament.

As a matter of law, the result of the referendum is not binding. As a matter of politics, though, it would be difficult to disregard the referendum result.

David Cameron told parliament: “for a prime minister to ignore the express will of the British people to leave the EU would be not just wrong, but undemocratic.”

Some Leave campaigners have said a Leave vote might instead trigger a further renegotiation of the UK’s EU membership terms, followed by a second referendum on those terms. However, other EU countries would have to be willing to discuss this.

Also, such a further renegotiation (to curtail the free movement of EU citizens to the UK, for instance) would likely need amendments to the EU treaties, which could prove difficult to negotiate and ratify.

Notification and negotiation

Article 50(2) says that a member state that decides to withdraw from the EU must “notify the European Council of its intention”. The European Council includes the 28 EU heads of state or government together with the European Council’s president (Donald Tusk) and the president of the European Commission (Jean-Claude Juncker).

Article 50(2) continues: “in the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the [EU] shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that state, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the union.”

The process has several stages.

First, the European Council—without the UK—would agree guidelines for negotiations.

The agreement would need to be approved by the UK and 20 of the 27 remaining member states, representing 65% of those states’ population.

The European Parliament would also need to approve the deal by a simple majority. British Members of the European Parliament could vote.

Timing

Article 50(3) says that the leaving state ceases to be an EU member two years after a notification unless an extension of negotiations has been agreed unanimously by the European Council and by the leaving state, or the withdrawal agreement sets an earlier or later date.

Return

Article 50(5) says a state that has left the EU can ask to rejoin. This would be on the same basis as a country joining for the first time.

Is there any other way of leaving?

As a matter of national law, it would be possible for the UK to ignore the Article 50 process. Parliament could simply repeal the European Communities Act 1972.

However, this would be a breach of the UK’s treaty obligations under international law. And it would presumably make it more difficult for the UK to strike a preferential trade agreement with the EU after withdrawal.

How long would this take in practice?

The clock would not begin to run until the UK had notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU. That could be at any time after a “leave” vote.

The UK would then cease to be a member of the EU two years after that notification unless an earlier or later date was agreed.

The government says it would probably take “up to a decade or more” to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU, its future arrangements with the EU and its trade deals with countries outside the EU. However, those on the Leave side argue that this process could be quicker.

It’s not clear whether a country could stop the process by withdrawing its notification. As the Treaty doesn’t discuss this, the point is arguable either way.

What would the deal cover?

Article 50 does not say that the withdrawal treaty will also regulate the UK’s future relationship with the EU. In fact, it seems to suggest that there would have to be separate treaties: one on the details of withdrawal, and one on the future relationship.

The wording of Article 50(2) refers only to ‘taking account of’ that ‘future relationship’ in the withdrawal deal.

In practice, the withdrawal deal and the treaty on that future relationship would be closely linked. Probably the withdrawal treaty would, among other things, aim to regulate a transition period before the treaty on the future relationship entered into force.

Article 50 does not legally oblige the remaining EU to sign a free trade agreement with the UK. The words ‘future relationship’ assume that there would be some treaties between the UK and the EU post-Brexit, but do not specify what their content would be.

Equally, while Article 8 of the same Treaty requires the EU to have good relations with neighbouring countries, it does not require it to sign a free trade deal with them, or go into other specific details on what the relationship should be.

Most of the EU’s free trade agreements require a unanimous vote of all EU governments and ratification by all member countries. The practical implication of this is that if the UK’s future relationship with the EU takes the form of a free trade agreement, it may be harder to negotiate.

(This helpful summary was written by Steve Peers, Professor of EU Law and Human Rights Law, University of Essex  and first appeared on the fullfact website. One inaccuracy, which claimed that the Council will appont the European Commission to handle the negotiations, has been removed from the text)

CIB Committee meeting begins with a prayer of thanksgiving

The National Committee Meeting

of

The Campaign for an Independent Britain

28 June 2016

Opened with prayer by the Reverend Philip Foster

O ALMIGHTY God, the Sovereign Commander of all the world, in whose hand is power and might which none is able to withstand; We bless and magnify thy great and glorious name for this happy Victory, the whole glory whereof we ascribe unto thee, who art the only giver of Victory.

And, we beseech thee, give us grace to improve this great mercy to thy glory, the advancement of thy Gospel, the honour of our Sovereign and, as much as in us lieth, to the good of all mankind. And, we beseech thee, give us such a sense of this great mercy, as may engage us to a true thankfulness, such as may appear in our lives by an humble, holy and obedient walking before thee all our days, through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit, as for all thy mercies, so in particular for this Victory and Deliverance, be all glory and honour,

world without end. Amen.

From Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea, after Victory or Deliverance from an Enemy, Book of Common Prayer 1662 .

Observations on future negotiations, freedom of movement and trade agreements

Dr Liam Fox, speaking on the Sunday Politics, said that he would like Britain to exit the EU on 1st January 2019. To achieve Brexit in that timeframe, an Article 50 notification would need be made no later than the end of December this year, and all matters would have to be resolved without the need for an unanimously agreed extension to the negotiation period.

This is the equivalent of putting the cart before the horse. Fox is putting the timeframe before the outcome. That is worse than wrongheaded. The most important element of this whole process is not the timing, but Britain getting an agreement with the EU that serves the interests of both, and that the agreement ensures continuity of market participation to protect British jobs, trade and the economy. That should come first, not the timings.

It is worth making clear that the timing of the notification to the European Council of our intention to leave the EU, under the terms of Article 50, is entirely a matter for the withdrawing country. The EU cannot compel Britain to make formal notification and cannot dictate the timing of it. Much needs to be done before making the notification, to ensure we are prepared and ready with a clear agenda and understanding of what can be done and compromises that may need to be made. That is in the interest of Britain and the EU. (Update on 29/06: Angela Merkel has since ruled out informal preliminary discussions, therefore our approach needs to change and is covered here.)

So, what of that negotiation? People in the media and on the remain side keep saying the EU won’t give Britain a good deal as they will want to punish us, partly for our decision to leave, and partly to dissuade any other EU country trying to follow suit, (Pausing for a second, just what kind of entity is it that tries to preserve its membership by resorting to intimidation and fear? Certainly not a healthy, democratic or benign one). 

Those people are either unaware of, or ignoring, one extremely important constraint. International law, and the rules of the European Union itself, require that the negotiation with a withdrawing state must be carried out in good faith. This prevents the EU from inflicting retribution on Britain. In addition to that the EU, in its own words is “committed to liberalising world trade”. After its deal with Japan, the EU restated it is “committed to creating a free, fair and open international trade”. Those stated commitments bind the EU to working with Britain to achieve a positive and mutually beneficial deal, such as supporting Britain’s continued participation in the single market after joining EFTA.

One expectation of many leave voters is that leaving the EU will bring about an end to freedom of movement. Realistically that is not something that can happen immediately. Brexit is a process, not an event. The immediate aim of leaving the EU to regain control over our nation’s affairs but preserving jobs and trade by staying part of the single market, is best served by continuing freedom of movement for now.

However, many people do not realise that remaining part of the single market after leaving the EU does give Britain the ability to control freedom of movement in a way we cannot inside the EU. This is borne out by the example of Liechtenstein. This tiny country, like Norway and Iceland, is an EFTA member state and participates in the single market as a signatory of the EEA agreement. But Liechtenstein has suspended the full application of freedom of movement and has instead applied a quota system for migrants. This is something that could work well for Britain, giving control over EU migration that we could not otherwise have.

Liechtenstein’s arrangements were formalised in 1999, and in 2015 it was concluded that there was no need to alter the current rules. That meant the provisions adopted by Liechtenstein on the so-called “sectoral adaptations” could remain unchanged. Having applied these arrangements for 17 years there is no suggestion that it should be discontinued. As a full non-EU contracting party to the terms of the EEA agreement, it follows that what can legally be applied there can apply to any non-EU country participating in the EEA who wish to adopt the same. It’s not perfect, but it can be a very effective holding position while Britain starts the much longer task of negotiating a truly comprehensive trade agreement with the EU that would make EEA participation unnecessary longer term.

While all this is going on, some on the remain side and in the media claim that we would need to re-negotiate all 40 trade agreements made with other countries by the EU on Britain’s behalf while we were a member state. Only that isn’t correct.

The established principle in international law called presumption of continuity will give Britain the ability to continue trading with those ‘third countries’ on the same terms as we did before we left. The reunification of Germany in 1990, the velvet divorce of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 and the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 all provide precedent to this principle. All Britain needs to do is agree to honour the treaty obligations to which it was party as an EU member state. 

Britain can follow the example of Slovakia, which sent a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations stating their intent to remain a party to all treaties signed and ratified by Czechoslovakia, and to ratify those treaties signed but not ratified before dissolution of Czechoslovakia, and that under international law all treaties signed and ratified by Czechoslovakia would remain in force. 

Added to this, EFTA membership allows a state to have two sets of trade agreements – ones negotiated by the state itself and others negotiated by EFTA as a bloc. By way of an example, Switzerland has a trade agreement with China, but EFTA itself does not. So by joining EFTA we would automatically become party to trade agreements signed by that bloc which would add to the agreements we would already have, giving Britain a greater number of agreements than enjoyed by any EU state.

Taken together, following a responsible and phased approach to untangling over 40 years of EU membership does not necessarily entail all the pain and consequences some would have us believe. It’s a long road ahead and by navigating it carefully, in the interests of our people and our business sector, we can make the experience positive and rewarding.

The original appeared on The Brexit Blog and is used with permission