On the referendum #11: new ICM poll on a second referendum idea, Boris etc

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog on the issue of exit plans and a possible second referendum. According to various media reports, Boris liked the idea and has told people so.

I thought it would be interesting to see some numbers so asked ICM to consider it.

Attached HERE are the results.

Unsurprisingly, they show that 1) the public supports a second referendum, and 2) the prospect of one makes the idea of voting NO in the first vote less scary and therefore may increase the chances of NO winning the first vote.

It is also worth considering that the public has not focused on the first vote yet so the idea of a second vote is necessarily an abstract and hazy thing. As the campaign develops, I suspect these numbers will strengthen.

I have a few thoughts about this though no time to sketch them now, but I thought it would be useful for people to look at some numbers.

NB. It is not for me to decide what the NO campaign position should be on a second referendum and I have not decided what I think about it, but the 5 Presidents Report, the Hollande interview today on the need for another Delors-esque great leap forward etc show how important it is for these things to be thought through quickly…

Please leave thoughts below.

21 thoughts on “On the referendum #11: new ICM poll on a second referendum idea, Boris etc

  1. “NB. It is not for me to decide what the NO campaign position should be on a second referendum and I have not decided what I think about it, but the 5 Presidents Report, the Hollande interview today on the need for another Delors-esque great leap forward etc show how important it is for these things to be thought through quickly…”

    I find this response somewhat surprising as I believe that you have decided on your campaign position and it is the Flexcit route. It appears that you are not interested in any other point of view with regard to persuading the voters as my last post to your blog is still ‘awaiting moderation’ some two or more weeks later.


    • I’m afraid there’s some confusion. I certainly have not ‘decided on the Flexcit route’. I’m not sure why your comment did not get posted but had nothing to do with that. Feel free to comment here if it is relevant and short and useful.


  2. A propos Hollande: he has clearly embraced la fuite en avant in response to the writing on the wall in Greece. It is not surprising, surely, that Italy and France were both so prominent in preaching “solidarity” when it came to pouring good money after bad in Greece – it was their turn next if Germany’s interpretation of the Eurozone as a rules-based currency union, not an unlimited transfer union, wins the day (which it still may). Thus a Great Leap Forward (Delors was actually hauled out of retirement – he is 90! – to back up Hollande in yesterday’s Journal de Dimanche) is absolutely what you need to distract attention from the woeful performance of France in reforming its own economy (see French press on Sunday trading: OK for Greece but still a no-go in France) and give Monsieur Hollande a platform on which to do what he does best – try to keep a fractious French left as united as possible. Seen against this, one can’t help understanding why Brexit, despite its much greater economic ramifications for the EU, pales into insignificance in comparison with Greece because it lacks the requisite political inflammatory capacity which the Eurozone has for its members. It has no domestic political dimension for France, Germany or Italy.


    • “it was their turn next if Germany’s interpretation of the Eurozone as a rules-based currency union, not an unlimited transfer union, wins the day (which it still may).”

      It seems as though your statement could well have some basis in truth. The Spinelli group inaugurated by Guy Verhofstadt and comprised almost 1 in 7 declared members of the European Parliament, with many undeclared Members and a number of ‘Anonymous’ EU institutions have compiled a document entitled ‘Fundamentallaw.pdf’ which proposes a replacement for all existing Treaties as Spinelli’s contribution to a Treaty Change Convention to take place some time this year. Their proposals are overtly ‘Federalist’ and include one of many references to ‘mutual debt’ including: “The famous ‘no bail out’ clause is revised to allow for the eurozone states to establish a system for the common management of sovereign debt, subject to strict conditionality (Article 224).”

      The entire document is not generally published except in book form but may be downloaded from http://eureferendum.com/documents/fundamentallaw.pdf. It provides some interesting reading into how the Federalists see Europe in the near future.

      It occurs to me that there should be much emphasis by the ‘No’ group to make it known in its practical implications to the Electorate in general.


  3. Interesting. I’d like to see variations on the wording of the questions, and how they are posed. For instance, asking a straightforward single-referendum “in/out” question at the start and a ‘flexit’ version after the concept has been explained. (You could probably ask the polling company to track movements among respondents so you get a more sophisticated result than simply splitting the difference between the totals.) I am suspicious given 53% of UKIP voters are claiming it would make them “more likely” to vote to exit – I find it hard to believe that many of them are wavering on this question at all.

    Still that doesn’t take away from the key finding – that the idea of a second referendum is not something that bothers the electorate.


    • I agree with you Tom on the relevance of a poll of UKIP Members. The almost 4 million that voted for UKIP at the last General Election would probably have been a much larger number if the threat of a Labour/SNP coalition had not persuaded a number of them to vote Conservative to prevent such a debacle occurring which would most certainly have taken away even the most tenuous of promises to hold a referendum.. Even then, there was a general expectation (including by the Prime Minister) that he could avoid announcing a referendum by blaming ii on an expected coalition with the LibDems. As we now know, Cameron was returned with a majority which forced him to make good his promise.

      However, to get back to the point. Despite Robert Oulds statement to the CBI during his lecture on the benefits of Flexcit when he opined that the UKIP vote ‘was in the bag’; they most certainly are not. In UKIP’s manifesto, they put forward two possible means of exit which, briefly, (1) that Britain should make a unilateral decision to leave the EU immediately, or (2) follow the Article 50 route with a finite 2 years of negotiation which included reducing payments to the EU by 1/24th per month. Both of these alternatives eventually require a complete withdrawal from the EU along the lines of the ‘fourth’ option of ‘GlobalBritains’ policy within a maximum of 2 years. I believe that most UKIP Members would not be happy with the proposed Flexcit plan, myself included, as it will be seen as a betrayal of a ‘straight’ out vote if one should occur and would lead to an ‘EU Lite’ situation for however long the EFTA/EEA part was in force. That period is likely to be substantial an is entirely dependent on the will of the politicians involved.

      For clarification purpose and to refute accusations of being a ‘Kipper’ by some advocates of Flexcit: personally, I am only nominally a member of UKIP, but for voting purposes only. I have a number of issues with UKIP policy but for me, to vote UKIP was the only alternative to ‘none of the above’ in the last Election.


      • My point wasn’t about UKIP but using the data pertaining to UKIP voters in the results (see link at top) to demonstrate where there may be a flaw in the line of questioning used in this poll.

        My underlying assumption is that the vast majority of the 13% of the electorate who voted UKIP (irrespective of whether they vote UKIP again) will always vote to leave the EU no matter what. Therefore asking how the promise of a second referendum would affect their likelihood to vote for it should produce the answer “no difference one way or the other”. Yet only 38% of them went for this answer, and 53% said it would make them MORE likely to vote to leave. I think that is odd.

        Given they hadn’t already been given the opportunity to do so, I suspect a number of respondents used the question as a proxy for the statement “I would vote to leave the EU”. If that is the case then it throws all the responses into question – not just the ones from UKIP-leaners. I’d like to see more information.


        • My site is strictly non-partisan in nature but having said that, many of its correspondents are followers of UKIP and consequently, I get a strong indication of the mood regarding UKIP members (as opposed to the Party) and I would suggest that your observations are moot. Irrespective of how the UKIP member interpreted the question, the underlying intention is to vote for complete secession.

          Contrary to Robert Oulds assertion to the CBI, that they are ‘in the bag’ with regard to the Flexcit route, very few UKIP voters would vote for anything other than total secession and would thoroughly resent any move to hold a second referendum when the question was either in or out with no alternative.


          • Your point about the underlying intention is my stated assumption, and my observations flow from that (so I’m a bit confused why you think it’s moot). As regards what they might resent, that is not something reflected in the poll, indeed the numbers contradict your assertion (though it remains to be seen what effect, if any, Farage’s intervention has on this) – UKIP voters show MORE favour towards the second referendum idea than most of the other groups.


  4. I wonder with the way that the question was asked here, do the respondents understand that a No vote in the first referendum should not be reversible by refusing the negotiated settlement?

    Once article 50 is invoked, then the clock starts ticking, and at the end of the two years would require unanimity from the other members for the process to be extended. This means that potentially, the second campaign could rather eat into that negotiating space.

    Then what is expected to happen if the negotiated settlement is rejected by the voters?


    • Your posting has highlighted something of grave concern to many of us.

      There was originally much talk of the various forms of membership that the politicians were talking about as an alternative to complete secession. It must have come as quite a surprise to many that Cameron promised a straight in or out referendum. It is possible or even likely that he thought that he would not be in a position to actually hold a referendum because of a probable continuation of coalition with the LibDems. This has not happened and Cameron is forced to provide a straight in or out referendum.

      What was originally (an so far, still is) a straight choice for staying in or leaving the EU. Since then, however, various groups have come forward to provide convoluted alternatives to obfuscate the issue. There is now talk of a second referendum ostensibly to bring in the ‘undecided’ vote but in my estimation only serves to make the issue more difficult to put across..

      There are a number of polls being carried out postulating various scenarios about how people will decide. The main ones being along the lines ‘would you vote to stay in (or leave) if Cameron brings back a better deal?” and “Would you vote to stay in (or leave) irrespective if a deal was made or not?) but what is common to all of these polls is that as many as 4% will not bother to vote at all. This additional phase is likely to confuse or annoy those that simply will not understand it or at present ambivalent to the subject. The added complication is likely to make more of these people unlikely to vote at all.

      I have spoken to many people; some for Flexcit and others not. The consensus seems to be that it is more prudent to concentrate solely on getting out first before making the issue more complicated. By far the greater mass of the Electorate do not understand the intricacies of what is being put forward in these blogs and are only interested in staying in or getting out or are not bothered at all. It is a very small group of the undecided who are considering the economics of the situation except where it affects their own livelihood.

      We could do worse than by advocating the document; http://www.globalbritain.co.uk/sites/default/files/publications/TimeToSayNo.pdf which explains the various alternatives to secession as a starting point rather than deciding on just one which is what the Flexcit Group is doing and strangling proper discussion as the Flexcit Group appear to be dominating the media and the internet.

      There are alternatives to the Flexcit route and one of them is to show the public that there is no need to fear being outside of the EU at all.

      I apologise if this posting is too long but there are many who do not agree with Richard North but we do not have the resources to make our point of view known. It is only from people like myself that show that there are alternatives.


      • Having got as far as the 2nd chapter, it’s not hard to see why it’s not gained any real traction.

        In it’s opening couple of chapters it gets very confused between EU and Single Market membership, (Eight reasons) – So to say that Customs unions are redundant is immaterial because the Single Market is not a customs union for example.

        Then it mixes up the cost of single market membership with EU membership. It would be better to look at the real cost to Norway than the UK, unless you can isolate the true Single Market costs.

        Leaving the EU (and relying on WTO). There’s no evidence to suggest this will change the balance of trade between Us and the EU countries. If we can still trade freely, what really changes in the economic dynamic?

        But the Eighth reason is the kicker. Looking to Norway as a reason to leave the EU (and the single market, as in the title of the chapter), when Norway IS a single market participant is self defeating. The chapter argues against itself.

        I could not advocate this document in its current form (not that my doing so would make the slightest difference anyway, I’m nobody in particular). But to me, even at a brief glance it appears disorganised in its arguments. And it doesn’t (I have run searches on the document) seem to mention Anti Discrimination rules for WTO trade, or the exemptions to them created by trade bloc membership, a serious weakness in the WTO route unless adequately addressed.

        I will read further when I have more time, but so far I’m not convinced it makes its case well.


    • We would be in confusing and unknown territory particularly if we had done an Article 50 process and therefore there might be little / no time to fix what the public disliked.
      Hopefully having won the first NO a new Government team would negotiate a sensible deal and it would be popular…


  5. I know this is dominating a lot of your time at the moment Mr. Cummings, but it is appreciated that you’re giving so much consideration to the matter. Therefore whilst I don’t want to sound contrary, the goalposts for any official ‘Yes’ Campaign are yet unattended, and it seems they will remain so for some time to come – even, I would suggest, during a significant period of the Campaign during which they will be in receipt of public funds.

    Many observers highlight that remaining in the EU will be the safe status quo option. In terms, that can’t be properly claimed since both the Eurozone part of the EU is in the foothill stage of considerably deeper integration via Treaty process, and Mr. Cameron himself asserts he’s going to enact ‘Fundamental Change’ in the deal between the UK and the EU. Any official ‘Yes’ Campaign must – to qualify for the purpose – match the associated post-Referendum administration that eventually settles. Thereby – pre-Referendum – that Campaigning body must Campaign on that clear prospectus for the period within which it is in receipt of those official funds?

    Whilst a putative second Referendum gives both sides a second bite at the cherry (I see no prospect at all that Westminster would give definitive recognition to an initial ‘No’ vote as final), the second Campaign as it will inevitably coalesce would presumably be fought on an augmented ‘stay-in’ package unless measures were pre-placed to preclude that.

    Just speaking personally on the matter of a dual-form Referendum, I remain to be convinced that it’s the best process, but my initial thoughts are that any follow-on polling in response to a ‘No’ vote must stridently respect the first decision, and be based upon the resultant withdrawal package negotiated. (Unfortunately leaving open the possibility of further Referendums or snap General Elections should the electorate continue rejecting the resultant packages. Something I call ‘A Punitive General Election’).

    So, to bring me back to my initial point, I wonder if you had given thought to the terms-of-reference an official ‘Yes’ Campaign should presumably follow to be considered as legitimate for the first Referendum? They cannot proceed with concealed information which had not been presented to Parliament, after all, but their Campaign obviates that an authoritative illustration of that future EU presented to the electorate should be in place on day one of their tenure in their Campaigning post? I think that raising pertinent questions over the basic legitimacy of a ‘Yes’ Campaign denuded of such an accurate illustration would hold additional advantages to a well-constructed ‘No’ case?


  6. During the first referendum the NO campaign need a workable plan or it will be discredited which will set it back and hinder its work if a second referendum, due to treaty change etc, was to take place.

    Flexcit is currently the only available plan that actually works and importantly offers reassurance that leaving the status quo is a step worth taking and is not fraught with risks.


    • You are assuming that the whole of the undecided Electorate is interested to such a degree or even capable of understanding it.

      This referendum is not just for the intelligentsia as it will affect the lives of the whole of the British People for the foreseeable future. It is for the lower paid who will bear the brunt of any physical changes and it is incumbent on those that have greater understand to consider how continued membership of the EU will affect them. It is not the higher paid nor even the moderately well off that will feel the difference whether we should continue to live in an EU that is actually paying others from another Country to take away the livelihoods of the lower paid.


  7. Even if the idea of “Second Referendum” is rejected by Govt, it seems inevitable that a NO vote would lead to a 2nd referendum in any case (as described rather gloomily by Peter Hitchens article “Why we will never escape from the EU” http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/conservative-party/ ). Hence, a NO vote will not automatically invoke Article 50 / Brexit, and by extension voters can vote NO without fear of immediate exit. I suspect Dominic is floating the “Second Referendum” proposal precisely to get this concept of NO being less risky into public consciousness (clever man !).

    It must also be emphasised that YES is the riskier vote. YES will not be a vote for the status quo, it will be taken as YES to every treaty for the next 40 years, i.e. Britain completely subsumed into EU superstate. The PM and pro-EU camp should be pressed on this point – the more they deny that EU is heading this way, the less they will be believed. Richard Bransons comments on the Euro have already exposed the pro-EU camp view of the future. Kenneth Clarke’s comments RE “Westminster as a Council Chamber in Europe” could come back to haunt him. Recent comments by Hollande, Merkel, Juncker, Barosso, Viviane Reding, Guy Verhofstadt etc all make clear the EU direction of travel.

    I’m also thinking that this referendum is not so much about In vs Out, as it is about what relationship we have with EU, i.e. “trade & co-operation” (which is what polls consistently suggest UK public wants) vs ”ever closer union” towards EU superstate. David Cameron has previously stated he wants a “trade & co-operation” relationship; we should make clear what a “trade & co-operation” relationship should actually look like. There has been talk of “associate” membership being made available to UK and EFTA states in future treaty, which to me implies we could have a Norway/Switzerland type relationship while retaining some EU voting rights. This also looks rather like “Single Market Lite” option as described by Open Europe in http://openeurope.org.uk/intelligence/britain-and-the-eu/what-if-there-were-a-brexit/ .
    The pro-EU camp like to say that Eurosceptics are only interested in options that result in Brexit – well an associate membership as described above seems to be achievable and would satisfy most eurosceptics (see Daniel Hannans article http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100288254/what-would-david-cameron-have-to-bring-back-from-brussels-to-satisfy-eurosceptics , although point number 9 is not so much a negotiating point as something UK parliament can undertake directly). UK public awareness of what reform should look like needs to be advertised now, so that anything less than this deal is seen as being short-changed and a NO vote should follow.

    If David Cameron did achieve this option he would probably win the referendum comfortably. In all honesty, it might not be a bad thing as we would avoid a lot of trauma and political fallout from Brexit whilst regaining important powers, not least control of our trade policy and seat at global trade bodies (WTO etc). We would then have the opportunity to grow our global trade and presence such that our EU membership may become irrelevant at some point in the future (and hence Brexit becomes almost inevitable). Alternatively, the EU could reform itself into a democratic economic powerhouse (yes I know, not very likely, but I try to keep an open mind), in which case being associate members rather than having burnt our bridges would be a bonus.


  8. Re the 2016 retweet of this article.

    Completely agree Dominic, but Boris is very fickle on the matter – while he would probably support a much looser relationship, he would still want us under some kind of European Law as that is what he believes – for all his charm, he is at heart a Europhile as that is what he believes.

    Call me Dave’s recent speech on the matter (appealing to people who ‘Believe in Europe’ to support him) could be read as a direct call to Boris to support him and not go over to the ‘dark side’ of you guys.

    The problem we have is that we Euroscpetics have never been able to produce our own political big beasts, as the people at the top of the Tory party have consistently promoted their Europhile colleagues and Cameron, Osborne and the Europhiles have flirted with Eurosceptisicm to appease their party while secretly believing in the project.

    So after the referendum for ‘Project 2020′, it may be worth considering a political ideology of Unionism, or ‘Making British Law Surpeme’. This would give us our ‘North Star’ (re Scottish Nationalism), and an ideology behind which we can all unite behind. That way we can avoid the ‘corruption’ that has happened to the Conservative party as our ideology would prevent ‘infiltrators’ (heseltine, Clarke etc) into the party.

    It would also be a moral and compelling case to make as international law has gone bonkers in recent years, though we would lose the support of the lawyers (but we probably don’t have them anyway).

    If we had a uniting ideology, we COULD put together a united political coalition and put on the table a good offer to the British people. We could hold together UKIP, Tory sceptics, Anti EU Lefties and Anti EU Business, and stay friends with Europe but not under their law.

    Parliament is Sovereign after all….and so all we’ve ever needed was a majority….and our Casus Belli for 2020 would be the promises for reform given in the referendum by the Europhiles, the use of tax payers money by the European Commission, and the lack of any progress made on immigration.

    Anyways. Just don’t underestimate Cameron, Osborne and Llelwyn; they have impeccable political skills and they are ruthlessly fanatical for their project. Despite everything our enemies do in the dark moments just remember our Cause is Just, and that we are fighting the good fight.

    Good luck for 2016.



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