Living in Interesting Times

The Referendum Results

Leave:        17,410,742 = Vote Share 51.9%

 Remain:     16,141,241 = Vote Share 48.1%

The Figures

72.2% of the electorate  of 46,501,241 people voted and 51.9% of those casting valid votes voted to leave the European Union.
The nations of the United Kingdom voted differently.
62% of Scots voted to Remain.  That result may lead the Scottish Government to call for a second referendum to see whether Scotland should leave the UK in order to stay or to apply to join the European Union.
55% of Northern Island also voted to Remain.  Northern Island has a land border with the Republic of Ireland which country, of course, has no intention of leaving the EU.  There are voices in Northern Island who are now questioning  the possibility of a reunification of the island of Ireland.
Wales had results which were very similar to those of the UK:  Wales had a Leave majority of 52.5% – very close to the English Leave majority of 53.4%.
So, half of the people have preferred the view of UKIP and the other Brexiteers to the view of the Government, and the vast majority of the other parties.

The Prime Minister

david-cameron-resigningAfter consulting HM the Queen Mr Cameron announced this morning that he did not feel he could continue as Prime Minister after losing the referendum.
 He will continue in office ad interim but he wishes the Conservative party to select a new leader before the autumn party conference.
Mr Cameron also said that he will continue to work with the other EU leaders as normal but that he will not trigger the mechanism to trigger the leave process but leave that to his successor.

The Markets

Very properly, the FT article points out that overnight, sterling dived to a 30 year low, the Stock Exchange took a net 4.3% hit, bank stocks took a hammering and it looks as if the UK is going to loose its last triple A credit rating.
The Governor of the Bank of England made a short statement to reassure the markets that the Bank and the Treasury have taken their precautions and will be able to support the banks – which are in any event in much better nick than they were during the last recession.  That seemed to reassure the markets.
The Chinese have a curse:

 May you live in interesting times

Seems appropriate for today.

Referendum Night (2)


1.30 am   Leave is leading by 3, 0127.  This is rather depressing.

(1)  The Gibraltar result:  95.9% for Remain on a turnout of 83.5% was entirely expected. Gibraltar needs the protection of the EU to prevent retaliation by Spain against Gibraltar’s desire to remain a British territory.

(2) The results in the North East of England – Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Sunderland and Hartlepool were also as expected by this blog.  The devastation of the industrial base in the North East  from the 1950s to date and the failure of successive governments to do much about it has a cost.  Add to that the fact that the Home Office has shipped large numbers of asylum seekers to the North East (in order to pay less for their housing) results in a deep rooted dislike of anything proposed by a Conservative government.

 2.30 am   Remain is leading but it’s very close only 117,065 ahead.

(1)  Scotland and Northern Ireland appear to have Remain ahead while Wales has Leave ahead.

(2)  Inner London seems to be coming out for Remain at over 70%.

3.30 am   Leave is leading by 319,950 – with less than a 2% margin. 

(1) Scotland and Northern Ireland appear to be backing Remain.  Leave is ahead in Wales with 4 results to declare.  England presently has Leave ahead outside of London with 186 results to declare.  Depressing.

Even more depressing when Nigel Farrage comes on the box claiming a UKIP victory and speaking of the UK’s “Independence Day”.

4.30 am

John Curtis, the BBC’s polling expert considers that 16.8 million votes are required to win the Referendum.  Leave now has 11,274,488 votes and Remain has 10,684,775 votes.  Still 108 results to declare including Birmingham and a fair number of London boroughs.

At 4.40, David Dimbleby announces that the BBC forecast is that the UK will vote to Leave. It is reported that the £ sterling and the Euro have both weakened significantly against the US Dollar.  It feels like the chickens are coming home to roost.

4.50.  Keith Vaz MP on the BBC.  Very shocked.  “It will be catastrophic for our country, for Europe and for the rest of the world”.

4.55.   Scottish Government spokesman briefly takes the expected Scottish position.

5.10      C. Umunna MP – “This is a seismic result for our country.”

5.15.      Pound drops to levels not seen since 1985.

“Dies Irae – Dies Illa”






Referendum Night (1)

Referendum Night

Polls closed at 10.00 pm

Yesterday’s  Polls

 Date  Leave %  Remain%  Don’t Know  Pollster  Method
22 June 49 51   YouGov Online*
22 June 42 48 11 ComRes online
22 June 45 45 10 YouGov online
22 June 45 44 11 Opinium online
22 June 43 41 16 TNS online

Yesterday’s polls suggested the result was going to be very close and might go either way.  One pollster asked people which outcome would cause then anxiety.  41% said Leave would but only 33% said Remain would.

*YouGov’s eve of poll survey for The Times has been  updated by a further survey which was carried out today and released after the polls have closed:

 Leave 48% – Remain 52%

Ipsos-Mori also has taken  a poll today :

 Leave: 46% – Remain 54%

Will the result of the Referendum reunite the Conservative Party?

Regrettably, I do not think so.

In April 2016 Philip Johnston, the assistant editor and leader writer of the Telegraph (aka “The Torygraph”) wrote this rather perceptive op-ed:  “The Conservative Party may be destroyed by this European madness”.    One observation is worth remembering:

Perhaps it had to be this way. The internal Tory tensions over Europe are, after all, the reason why we are having this referendum at all. Had Mr Cameron not feared…that more of his party’s supporters – and a quite a few of his MPs – would defect to Ukip then this campaign would not be happening. We would be enjoying the spring sunshine and looking forward to a summer of celebrations for the Queen’s 90th birthday, Shakespeare and European championship football, while continuing to moan about the EU”.

Adam Grice writes in the Independent:  “Win or lose, this is what will happen to the Tory party after the EU referendumand examines different possible outcomes:

How long would Cameron last if we vote for Brexit? Officially, Leavers like Boris and Gove want him to carry on. They are among 70 Tory MPs to sign a round-robin letter saying so, a project dubbed “Save Dave.” Privately, senior Tories say his position would be untenable; his MPs would not trust him to oversee the negotiations on Britain’s EU exit…..If there is a confidence vote after a decision to Remain, Cameron would almost certainly win it. But his troubles would not necessarily be over. His announcement that he will not lead the Tories into the 2020 general election would allow mutinous Tory MPs to press him to spell out his departure plans. Although he would try to resist, the pressure could grow. If he named his exit date, Cameron’s authority would drain – as Tony Blair’s did after Gordon Brown’s supporters forced him to set a leaving date after the 2005 election.”

Mr Grice concludes: “The referendum winners should take the spoils. But some ministers backing Remain fear a messy outcome: a narrow victory for staying in, followed by constant demands by the Leavers for another referendum….Despite all the sound and fury, claim and counter-claim, fear and loathing, this referendum might still not settle Britain’s future in Europe, or the power struggle inside a Conservative Party still riven by the issue.” 

However, at 22.20 it was announced on Sky News that a letter had been delivered to Downing Street from 84 Vote Leave MPs and that is now to be found on the Telegraph website: “Eurosceptic Tory MPs and ministers sign letter urging David Cameron to continue as Prime Minister”  and which says:-

More than 80 Eurosceptic Tory MPs – including every Cabinet minister who voted Leave – signed a letter addressed to Mr Cameron, urging him to remain as Prime Minister regardless of the referendum result.



It does not look as if any of the MP signatories have signed in pencil.  Time alone will tell if they mean what they say.

However, the article adds a little caution which smacks more than a little of Virgil’s maxim: “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes

However, scores of Conservative MPs are thought to have refused to sign the letter, which will intensify concerns in Downing Street that Mr Cameron’s most vocal opponents could still attempt to launch a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister in the weeks after the vote.”

Time alone will tell.


Referendum Day

Today is Referendum Day

Polls are open between 7.00 am and 10.00 pm

Yesterday’s  Polls

 Date  Leave %  Remain%  Don’t Know  Pollster  Method
22 June 42 48 11 ComRes online
22 June 45 45 10 YouGov online
22 June 45 44 11 Opinium online
22 June 43 41 16 TNS online

 The polls suggest the result is too close to call.  Interestingly, one  polling organisation asked people how they would feel after the result.  Some 41% of people said a Leave victory would cause them anxiety compared to 33% for a Remain victory.


William Hill:  UK Remain:   2/9  [prev 2/7]    –  UK Leave: 3/1 [prev 13/5]  –  Scotland Leave: 10/1

In Memoriam – Jo Cox MP

The late Jo Cox MP was shot and stabbed in her Yorkshire Constituency last Thursday.  Memorial events took place around the world yesterday.   Jo Cox’s last tweet read “Immigration is a legitimate concern, but it is not a good reason to leave the EU”.

People may have regard to that today.


The currency markets are holding their breath with forecasters expecting the pound to slump below $1.30 in the event of a Leave result or jump to near $1.50 with a Remain result.  From about  08:00 am tomorrow trading will start in the City of London.

It is known that several fund managers have commissioned their own private polls.   If the outcome looks to be “Leave” a sharp fall in sterling is expected.  If the result looks to be “Remain” it is likely that sterling will rise.

After the Polls Close

After polls close at 22:00 BST, sealed ballot boxes will be collected and transported to the count venue for each of the 382 local counting areas.  These represent all 380 local government area in England, Scotland and Wales, plus one each for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.

There will not be a broadcasters’ exit poll.  This is because pollsters use previous election results and this is not possible for the referendum.  YouGov will be doing an “on the day” poll which may give some indication of the mood.  This will be released at 10 pm.

Area results will then be declared throughout the night, along with regional results from 11 regional counts.  The final result will be declared by the Chief Counting Officer from Manchester Town Hall and that is expected “around breakfast time” on Friday.

The BBC will have a results programme starting at 21.55 pm and hosted (of course) by David Dimbleby  which will continue throughout the night until Victoria Derbyshire and Andrew Neill take over on Friday morning.   The other broadcasters will be doing similar shows.

Well, I’m off to vote:


Don’t let Boris take control

Referendum – 1 Day Away

Voting is on 23 June 2016 between 7.00 am and 10.00 pm


 Date  Leave %  Remain%  Don’t Know  Pollster  Method
20June 44 45 11 Survation Pone
19 June 44 43 13 YouGov online
18 June 42 45 13 Survation Phone
17 June 43 44 13 YouGov online
17 June 44 44 12 Opinium online
16 June 44 42 14 YouGov online

 The polls suggest the result is too close to call.  Interestingly, one  polling organisation asked people how they would feel after the result.  Some 41% of people said a Leave victory would cause them anxiety compared to 33% for a Remain victory.


William Hill:  UK Remain:   2/9  [prev 2/7]    –  UK Leave: 3/1 [prev 13/5]  –  Scotland Leave: 10/1

According to Betfair,  betting markets have seen a 7 point swing in favour of Britain voting to stay in the EU, as momentum has shifted towards Remain.  “Betting markets’ implied chance of a Brexit Vote has dipped to 25 per cent from 40 per cent last week,” said Oliver Jones at Capital Economics. “In other words, betting markets consider a Remain vote three times as likely.”


Sterling is hovering around seven cents above last week’s lows.

 In Memoriam – Jo Cox MP


The late Jo Cox MP was shot and stabbed in her Yorkshire Constituency last Thursday.  Today would have been her birthday.   Tributes are planned  today in Auckland, Beirut, Brussels, Dublin, New York, Oslo, Paris, Washington DC, London’s Trafalgar Square and in Mrs Cox’s Batley and Spen constituency.

See this BBC page:   Jo Cox ‘died for her views’, her widower tells BBC    Jo Cox’s last tweet read “Immigration is a legitimate concern, but it is not a good reason to leave the EU”.  Perhaps we should bear that in mind tomorrow.

See also this post on the Conservative Home blog:  Peter Marshall: We should care not only about our country, but about the world it is part of. And vote to stay tomorrow.

Business Backs Remain

1,285 business leaders who together employ 1.75 million people — including more than 900 small and medium-sized firms and 51 of the FTSE 100 — say in a letter to The Times that Brexit would damage the British economy.

In the joint letter, the bosses say:  We know our firms are stronger in Europe. Our reasons are straightforward: businesses and their employees benefit massively from being able to trade inside the world’s largest single market without barriers.

We know that Britain leaving the EU would mean having to re-establish terms of trade from scratch with our home market of 500 million consumers. That wouldn’t just hurt exporters but the hundreds of thousands of small and medium firms who do business with them.

These are the people who provide the jobs on which our economy depends.

The BBC “Great Debate” in Wembley Arena

I wonder if I am the only person who thinks this kind of event is entirely unhelpful. This vastly expensive staged event barely scratched the surface of the campaign issues.

For what it was worth, Scottish Tory Leader, Ruth Davidson, MSP  was the most impressive challenger on the Remain side with Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan a close second.

Boris Johnson was, of course, the Leave “star”  but, of course,  all he did was to spout campaign soundbites and he provided no facts.

We should remember that the Vote Leave slogan of “Take Control”  in reality is a campaign by a minority of the Conservative Party and an even smaller minority of the House of Commons (25%) to take our country down a road that a majority of our Parliament (75%) considers dangerous and wrong.




Vote Remain on 23rd June 2016

Referendum – 3 Days Away

Voting is on 23 June 2016 between 7.00 am and 10.00 pm


BBC Poll Tracker:   45% Remain – 42% Leave – 13% – Don’t Know. 

FT Poll Tracker:      44% Remain – 44% Leave

Polls have moved back towards Remain over the last few days:-

 Date  Leave %  Remain%  Don’t Know  Pollster  Method
21 June 46 53 2 Orb Phone
18 June 42 45 13 Survation Phone
17 June 43 44 13 YouGov online
17 June 44 44 12 Opinium online
16 June 44 42 14 YouGov online

This Telegraph article is based on the Orb poll: Remain surge back into the lead in wake of Jo Cox murder – but EU Referendum vote will be very close according to final poll.  The Telegraph is, of course, backing the Leave Campaign.   This FT article also refers to the Orb poll and also discusses the process of getting the vote out on polling dayNew polling methodology puts Remain on 53%   The FT, of course, takes the City of London view that the UK should remain in the EU.


William Hill:  UK Remain:   2/9  [prev 2/7]    –  UK Leave: 3/1 [prev 13/5]  –  Scotland Leave: 10/1

According to Betfair,  betting markets have seen a 7 point swing in favour of Britain voting to stay in the EU, as momentum has shifted towards Remain.


The FT reports: Pound takes breather after big jump:    “Buoyed by weekend polls showing that voters in favour of the UK leaving the EU had seen their lead whittled down by the Remain camp, sterling had jumped 2.4 per cent on Monday — its biggest single-day gain since December 15 2008.”

In short, all the indicators are suggesting that Remain may win and that the markets will be very content with that outcome.  But, of course, much depends on turnout and the actual results.  George Soros writes an op-ed in the Guardian:  The Brexit crash will make all of you poorer – be warned


The last big BBC Referendum Debate is live on BBC1 at 8pm tonight in Wembley Arena hosted by David Dimbleby and with quite a cast:  Leave: Boris Johnson MP, Gisela Stewart MP  and the Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom MP   Remain:  Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Ruth Davidson Conservative Leader in the Scottish Parliament, and Frances O’Grady, of the TUC.

What our Neighbours are Saying

Very fairly, the Telegraph points out that our EU neighbours want the UK to remain with a spread of newspaper headlines:  EU referendum: What the world is saying – ‘Please don’t leave!’

Britain is, of course one of the larger economies in the EU, with the 2nd biggest (and arguably most capable) Armed Forces, with (like France) a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and close links with its former Empire now transformed into the Commonwealth and sharing a common language and a ‘special relationship’ with the USA (although whether that will help us in the event that Trump is elected President must be a worry).   Overall, the EU is stronger and more influential with Britain in the EU and Britain is stronger and more influential around the world as a Member of the EU.

UKIP & Immigration

There are of course the Royston Vaisey types who think that the UK should retreat behind UKIP1its borders, get rid of all the “bloody foreigners” the epitome of that tendency being UKIP.  At present UKIP has just 1  MP in the House of Commons and  3 representatives in the House of Lords. In the 2010 General Election UKIP put up 558 candidates, got only 3.1% of the national vote and no seats in Parliament.  The sole MP is a Tory defector.

Yes, UKIP has 488 councillors out of the 20,523 in UK local authorities which enables it to campaign (unsuccessfully) for local shops for local people and so forth.  UKIP now also has 7 members in the National Assembly for Wales which must worry the Welsh, and 22 of the 751 MEPs in the European Parliament which gives UKIP access to EU political funding and enables it to cause some disruption to orderly debate  – but not much else.

britain-eu-politicsUKIP has very cleverly played an important part in the campaign in terms of making immigration the issue to counter the economic case for Remain. See, for example,  this BBC Report: EU referendum: Nigel Farage tells Leave campaigners to focus on migration and as recently as 3rd June Farage was claiming success:  Immigration focus a boost for Brexit, says Farage.  Whether it was true or not that Farage inspired the Poison Dwarf Gove and his henchman Boris the Clown also to focus on immigration, the fact is that they did, knowing, as David Cameron must also have done, that  Freedom of Movement is a necessary part of the EU Free Market.

Net Migration History

During 1991-2003 net EU migration (i.e. immigration – emigration) from other EU countries to the UK was very small. This contrasts with an average annual net-migration from non-EU countries to the UK of over 100,000 migrants for the same period. EU migration to the UK was not a major political issue during that period.

By 2004, approximately 9% of people living in the UK were born abroad.  Most of them were from the Commonwealth, notably from the Caribbean, India and Pakistan.

On 1 May 2004, 10 countries joined the EU and 8 of those countries had living of standards well below those of other EU members (i.e. A8 countries).

The UK was one of only three countries which opened labour markets immediately to workers of all the new member states.That was a decision of the Labour Government of Tony Blair.  It is certainly highly arguable that the UK should have opted for a phased relaxation of control but David Cameron can hardly be blamed for the Blair government’s decision.

Since 2004, tens of thousands of A8 nationals have migrated to the UK every year. More countries have joined the EU since then (e.g. Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) and nationals of most of these countries also have access to UK labour markets.  In 2015, an estimated 270,000 citizens from other EU countries immigrated to the UK, and 85,000 UK citizens emigrated abroad. So EU ‘net migration’ was around 185,000. That’s roughly the highest recorded level.

Estimated non-EU immigration and net migration has always been higher than migration from the EU  though the gap is narrowing due to large increases in EU immigration over the past few years, and the two are now at similar recorded levels.


There are an estimated 1.3 million “Old EU ” nationals living in the UK (47 per cent of all EU nationals in the UK) and about the same number of A8 nationals. The rest (around 240,000) includes nationals from Cyprus, Malta, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

Unsurprisingly, the London and the South East regions  host the largest number of EU nationals and, frankly, London copes very well. I live in an area of London with a high level of EU and non EU nationals.  The new arrivals make a great contribution to our  diverse City.  See this Financial Times article: In the EU referendum, London is the capital of Remain.

However A8 nationals are more spread around the country and many have gone to rural areas where migration was uncommon and which lacked the necessary infrastructure.  It would be fair to say that government departments have not always taken the necessary steps to remedy infrastructure failures and this has fueled opposition to migration.

In the year to June 2009 54 per cent of incoming EU nationals cited work at the main reason for moving to the UK and in the year to March 2014, 68 per cent of EU nationals stated that work was the main reason for migrating to the UK.   This increase corresponds to the economic difficulties currently experienced by Old EU countries, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.  Data from National Insurance Number (NINO) registrations indicate that nationals of Spain and Italy currently are at the third and fourth place in registrations among non-UK nationals, just behind Poland and Romania.

In fiscal terms, the estimates are that since 2001 recent EEA immigrants have made a positive fiscal contribution of about £22 billion for the 2001-2011 period.   About 3 million EU nationals are now in the UK – that’s just 5% of the population and about 1.2 million UK nationals live in Europe.  To my way of thinking a net total of  1.8 million is nothing to make a fuss about when the UK benefits to the tune of £22 billion.

I think that the EU will have to think more carefully about migration pressures before any further enlargement – but these matters are best dealt with within the the EU than out.

Boris2But whether UKIP and others complain about Free Movement – it is a necessary part of the single package and what Poison Dwarf Gove and his Clown Boris are very careful not to talk about is the need to protect the single market not only in goods but also in services.  Many firms in the City are making plans to relocate staff to other EU countries in the event of Brexit so as to remain in the single market . How Boris, a former Mayor, can sell London down the River Thames, is only explainable by his desire to have Cameron’s job.

The FT has a very good analysis of the impact of Brexit in a few simple charts:  Brexit in seven charts — the economic impact.  After examining all the data it concludes:-

“Rarely has there been such a consensus among economists, as there is on the damage that Brexit would wreak on the British economy. The warning may turn out to be wrong — but it is difficult to ignore.”


The UKIP Virus

4 days to Referendum Day


Jo Cox MP

Both Houses of Parliament will sit today at 2.30 pm and hear  tributes to the late Jo Cox MP  there will then be a short memorial service in St Margaret’s Church – Watch on BBC Parliament.

Here is the link to the GoFundMe   Jo Cox’s Fund 

Read what Jo Cox had to say about Brexit & Immigration


BBC Poll Tracker:   45% Remain – 42% Leave – 13% – Don’t Know. 

FT Poll Tracker:      44% Remain – 44% Leave

Polls are moving back towards Remain over the last few days:-

 Date  Leave %  Remain%  Don’t Know  Pollster  Method
18 June 42 45 13 Survation Phone
17 June 43 44 13 YouGov online
17 June 44 44 12 Opinium online
16 June 44 42 14 YouGov online


William Hill:  UK Remain:  2/7 [prev 2/2]   –  UK Leave: 13/5 [prev 5/2] –  Scotland Leave: 10/1

According to Betfair betting markets have seen a 7 point swing in favour of Britain voting to stay in the EU, as momentum has shifted towards Remain three days ahead of the vote.


The FT reports that sterling has risen on the reports that the polls are running neck and neck. Pound surges as Brexit opinion polls show neck-and-neck race.

See also this Financial Times  page with information and opinion on the Referendum. The Financial Times undoubtedly has more expertise on the financial impact of a Leave Vote than does Poison Dwarf Gove, or any of his Brexit colleagues.

Other News this Morning

The former Chairman of the Conservative Party has left the Vote Leave campaign and will now support Remain.  See this BBC Report.

Top bosses, including Sir Richard Branson, the Chief Executives of the car industry, and the Chairman of the Premier League have called for a Remain vote.  BBC Story here.

Nigel Farage was on the BBC trying to defend the appalling poster which has been criticised by so many – even the Poison Dwarf.  See:  Nigel Farage: EU project doomed even if UK votes to stay.

 The Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, the Defence  has written a good article arguing the case for Remain on the Conservative Home website: Michael Fallon: I’m a Eurosceptic, Conservative – and Remainer. Why I believe our security and prosperity are safer in the EU.    It argues the Remain case very convincingly, but many of the comments on it by Brexiteers show that many Conservative activists are infected with the UKIP virus.