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Weekend reading: General Winter

General Winter on the cover of a French periodical

Note: This is a rant this week. Feel free to skip down to the money and investing links if it’s not your bag. I will delete abusive comments.


“I thought then, for the first time, about the arrival of General Winter. If he had been here ten days ago, he would not have been much help to the Args, dug in on the heights with no chance of their High Command getting their air forces into the skies. But I think he would’ve finished us.”
Sandy Woodward, Admiral in the Falklands War

And so nationwide riots on the utterly predictable absence of Brexit on 31 October turned out to be another fantasy dreamed up by the nation’s Barry Blimps.

For which we should be grateful. But not surprised.

I think it’s becoming clear that many of those who voted Leave in 2016 don’t actually care much for Brexit. The polls show the country still fairly evenly split, true, but it defies credibility to imagine a million Leave supporters marching through London.

The EU was the sworn enemy of a minority of politicians, businessmen, and trade union leaders. For most of the rest of its British detractors it was a fantasy bogeyman – used by the tabloids to scare the credulous, but evaporating when exposed to the light.

With the exception of migration (which for the trillionth time we could have at least tightened using existing EU rules, without Brexit) few Leavers can point to any concrete downside caused by our membership.

It’s all about theoretical losses of sovereignty, or fears of a future super state.

You say tomato, I say turnip

How do we reconcile this practical disinterest with the anger that’s split the nation?

It’s clearly because even though many Leave voters don’t really care much about the EU, they understandably do care that their vote is apparently being denied.

Not enough to riot, thankfully, but enough to make their grown-up kids dread Christmas.

To help them get this angry, they’ve been aided and abetted by three years of pie-in-the-sky promises from Government, which gilt-edged the stretched version of reality peddled by the Leave campaign – and by a bucket load of dangerous posturing about ‘the enemies of the people’.

True, if you’ve spent more than five minutes following the saga you’ll know the real reason we’ve not Brexit-ed is because MPs have been trying to square Leave’s Pandora’s box of bogus promises with the realities of globalization, the Union, and the economy.

You’ll also know that as a result, both Remainer and Brexiteer MPs alike have voted down the various Withdrawal Bills.

But never the mind facts, eh? This is Brexit we’re talking about.

As for Remainers, we’re not just angry because we’re leaving this flawed but ultimately positive project.

We’re angry because Brexiteers’ means don’t justify the end – and because even now, nobody has been able to articulate why the end is worth it, anyway.

We’ve all taken our sides, and we’re more dug in and furious than before the Referendum ever happened.

Populism goes mass-market

I have a golden rule in life and as an investor: never presume things can’t get worse.

It’s very possible this General Election will double down on the division. You may be relieved to learn then that I don’t intend to follow the next six weeks of futility here on Monevator.1

I do get a few nice comments and emails saying our Brexit debate is better than elsewhere. A few Leavers have even generously said I’m more balanced than most of the opposition, which perhaps shows how bad things are.

But even if this was the right venue for relentless politics, my heart is not in it. Because this election seems doomed to achieve nothing except to make the environment more bitter.

Having alienated most of its thoughtful or at least moderate minds – some of whom resigned as MPs this week – the Conservative party under its professional blusterer-in-chief will stomp further to the right. A more right-wing Tory party will be a feature, not a bug.

Labour meanwhile is headed by one of the few people in Parliament who could make Boris Johnson look like a preferable Prime Minister.

Lastly, edging out towards the fringes as the main parties abandon the center, the Lib Dems, the SNP, and the Brexit fan club party are taking more extreme positions.

We saw the Rebel Alliance defeat a no-deal Brexit. Now we have the political equivalent of a Tatooine cantina vying for our votes – would-be MPs whose positions on Brexit are ever more alienating to the other side.

Division! Clear the lobbies!

While I think Johnson will probably get a small majority – leaving aside for now the Farage factor – I doubt he’ll get an obedient army of Brexit ultras under his command.

But even if he does, this season’s upcoming plot twist is premised on the idea that ‘sorting out Brexit’ will be the end of this farce.

In reality, the trade negotiations with the EU – technically termed ‘the hard part’ – will begin the day we leave. And even if we eventually bork out with a no-deal, once the lorry motorway car parks have been set-up and the Swiss have flown in emergency medical supplies we’ll soon be back to Brussels to start negotiating again anyway. Getting a deal with the EU is, well, non-negotiable.

Contrary to the Referendum marketing, our trade with Europe is of supreme importance. Some see BRINO2 as the endgame, given the desire of most MPs to avoid an economic hit.

Indeed as the years tick by, Brexit could seem an ever more Quixotic project with no upside and dwindling supporters as the older Leavers die and the younger ones start deleting their embarrassing pre-2020 social media accounts.

We might even end up back in the EU in a decade, only with all our special arrangements gone.

Remember, there is no upside to Brexit except maximizing technical sovereignty, which nobody will notice anyway, and, if you it appeals to you, potentially curbing migration, which the Government will probably try to offset with work visas and more ex-EU migration, for economic reasons.

Moderates won’t find emptied council houses for their kids. And racists won’t be relieved.

Meanwhile any sleight of hand Johnson and Javid do try to gee us up with by ending austerity could have done without Brexit – and with £100bn extra in the economy if growth hadn’t been flattened by years of Brexit buffoonery.

Lies, dammed lies, and Leaving

Much is said about how the millions of disenfranchised who voted Leave will feel betrayed if we don’t Brexit.

But what about if we Brexit and it achieves diddly-squat for them?

The harsh reality is most of these people were lost to politics before they were weaponized by Dominic Cummings’ data-targeting. You think the past three years has won them back?

They came in pissed off and that’s how they’ll stay, whatever happens from here.

Leave-supporters can bluster all the want, but Remainers have been right about nearly everything so far – except that immediate post-vote recession. We’ve had a slowdown, sure, but no recession.

But otherwise?

Leaving the EU turns out to be very hard, not very easy.

Far from superior trade deals on day one, we’re 1,226 days on from the EU Referendum and only about 8% of UK trade has even been ‘rolled over’ under existing EU trade terms.

There isn’t a grand emerging consensus that Brexit is an opportunity. There’s at best a grudging concession that we have to go through with it, a bit like a colonoscopy.

And the EU hasn’t fractured and bickered – it’s more united than ever.

We haven’t taken a new position on the global stage, except perhaps as the clown act.

The special Brexit Day fifty pence coins are being melted down but the ‘Get Ready For Brexit’ posters are still up, reminding us of £100m that we taxpayers will never see again – and that is only the thinnest end of the national waste of money, time, and effort.

Déjà vu (that’s French for Brexit)

Then again, we haven’t left yet, right?

That’s a fair retort, in that it’s at least true.

For those who don’t read the comments, this is what happens after every Brexit article here so far.

A fairly polite conversation takes place, in which initial claims of political infringement by the EU or an economic advantage from Brexit are efficiently taken apart. A stat will be thrown out stating that most Leave voters were motivated by sovereignty concerns, so why are we discussing the economy? Yet nobody will give good answers when probed about the actual impact of this perceived lack of sovereignty, or why Britain is especially affected. Eventually, Brexit supporters will say we don’t understand, it’s about migration, or ‘culture’ or ‘Englishness’. (It used to be I’d also get a few emails about Muslims, but at least that seems to have died down.)

Equally, I’m sure this rant feels like Groundhog Day to Leavers, too.

Perhaps it’s the one that will make you unsubscribe? A few always email me to say they’ve had enough, they’re off.

I don’t blame them – but I feel I can’t ignore the White Elephant in the room.

Around and around we go.

None of the above

Remember 2012, and the Olympics, and Britain on top of the world?

Remember 2015, and fancy skyscrapers popping up across London? Remember start-ups founded by clever migrants who came to the UK for our global outlook? Remember how we got through the financial crisis without huge job losses and remember talk of building a Northern Powerhouse before every plan was washed away by Brexit? Remember the Polish builder who fixed your boiler? Remember when you couldn’t get a coffee south of Watford without a sneer and then for ten years it was all smiles from young Spaniards and Greeks? Remember how you could daydream about living in Rome or Barcelona or Berlin because it was your right, not a gamble? Remember when the UK was the fastest-growing economy in the G7? Remember when Cameron was a nice-ish Conservative leader, modernizing the UK’s natural party of government?

Remember when we increasingly believed we were more alike than different?

And Leavers ask us to worry about the betrayal of voters who came out once to protest.

Many of us already feel betrayed.

See you on the other side.

From Monevator

10-year retrospective: The bond apocalypse that wasn’t – Monevator

The annual allowance for pensions – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Why your house is an investment, and an asset, too – Monevator


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!3

Typical UK home is just £800 pricier than a year ago, says the Nationwide – BBC

25,000 NS&I Premium Bond winners thought they’d won twice, until their cheques bounced – ThisIsMoney

Savers pulled an extra 21% out of their pension pots over the summer [Analysis]ThisIsMoney

Despite only 5% thinking Brexit will be a positive, Freelancers fear HMRC more [Search result]FT

Sustainable investing is becoming a big trend in the US – Morningstar

Products and services

Coventry Building Soc’s latest Poppy Bond pays 1.7%, plus 0.15% to the British Legion – ThisIsMoney

Tesco Clubcard Plus: is the new £8-a-month deal worth it? – Guardian

There’s just a month left to open an old-style Help To Buy ISA [It’s then good until 2029]ThisIsMoney

Ratesetter will pay you £100 [and me a cash bonus] if you invest £1,000 for a year – Ratesetter

Craft Gin Club launches mini-bond paying 8% – or 12% in gin [Risky!]Craft Gin Club

You could spend over £1,000 a year if you signed up for every TV streaming service – ThisIsMoney

Seeking ‘The Google Maps for Money’ – Andreessen Horowitz

Comment and opinion

Is £1m enough to retire on? [Search result]FT

Vanguard without Jack Bogle – Allan Roth

Five steps to financial freedom – The Evidence-based Investor

Why it’s hard to pick stocks – Oblivious Investor

Property ladders – Klement on Investing

Confluence – Indeedably

How to steel yourself to buy at all-time highs – MoneyWeek

Useless career advice – A Wealth of Common Sense

“Money Diaries: I’m 30, earn £270k and want to pay off my parent’s mortgage”ThisIsMoney

Big life transitions happen whether we want them to or not – Abnormal Returns

Living by selling down your capital might not be as easy as it sounds – Simple Living in Somerset

There’s no place like home (bias) [US but relevant]Elm Funds

Naughty corner: Active antics

Michael Mauboussin on some tough questions for active managers – Validea

Why it’s hard to tell if a fund manager has really beaten the market – MarketWatch

Superstar Investors [Research redux]Alpha Architect

Futures are pulling cryptocurrencies out of the dark – Yahoo Finance

Brexit / General Election

A list of political tools and websites [Google Doc]Election Handbook

When three party leaders recite the same populist message, alarm bells should be ringing – Marina Hyde

The housing crisis is at the heart of our national nervous breakdown – Guardian

Kindle book bargains

The Complete Guide to Property Investment by Rob Dix – £0.99 on Kindle

Way of the Wolf by Jordan Belfort [aka The Wolf of Wall Street] – £0.99 on Kindle

RESET: How to Restart Your Life and Get F.U. Money by David Sawyer – £0.99 on Kindle

Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean by Kim Scott – £0.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

Not enough hours in the day? Finding more may not help – Guardian

The American system of tipping makes no sense – The Atlantic

How TikTok broke rap music – Wired

‘It seems so simple’: can I cut it at the World Stone Skimming Championships? – Guardian

Argos: The book of dreams [Interactive nostalgia]Book of Dreams

Dogs catch flying discs [Gallery]Guardian

And finally…

“The intelligent investor is a realist who sells to optimists and buys from pessimists.”
– Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every Friday!

  1. I mean with these intros. I’ll still include some political links in their Brexit quarantine box. []
  2. Brexit In Name Only. []
  3. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”. []

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • 1 ermine November 2, 2019, 2:21 am

    > We might even end up back in the EU in a decade, only with all our special arrangements gone.

    What has once been lost can never be regained. I am Raven, rapping thrice, calling nevermore

    > Remember 2012, and the Olympics, and Britain on top of the world?

    It didn’t happen. It was the swansong of my damaged career, I was part of making that work right on people’s screens*, and it was graceful and beautiful. And the tosspot Cameron stole it to assuage an ancient wound. OK. I’m angry. 52:48 didn’t mean the worst they could imagine, and then some. It meant a civilised discussion on how to move on, outside the club. That’s not how it’s gonna turn out.

    * my last job was part of making the L2012 Olympics visible to the press in real time so they could commentate in real time as it happened. It was a good swansong to a thirty year career.

  • 2 Passive Investor November 2, 2019, 7:29 am

    @TI “the Conservative party under its professional blusterer-in-chief will stomp further to the right. A more right-wing Tory party will be a feature, not a bug.”
    Leaving aside Brexit for a second in what way do you think the Conservative’s are more right-wing? Their current economic policies are fairly similar to Blair / Brown and Boris Johnson is clearly socially liberal (voted for Gay marriage etc). If you are claiming their strong support for Brexit as a right-wing policy that seems strange in itself. But given the referendum result it doesn’t really wash for people to say that agreeing to enact a democratically mandated policy (Brexit) rather than to revoke that policy is right-wing. (I don’t think you are making that particular point but I am trying to explore the reasons for thinking current Conservative policies to be right-wing).

  • 3 JimJim November 2, 2019, 7:46 am

    @TI .. “I have a golden rule in life and as an investor: never presume things can’t get worse.”
    Cheerfully avoiding the “B” word for a second… Can I add to that maxim, Never presume things can’t get any better, Many opportunities are lost in investing by getting out too soon or assuming the bandwagon can roll no more.
    Cracking rant by the way, best yet!

  • 4 The Investor November 2, 2019, 8:34 am

    Morning all. Not sure how much I’ll respond to comments, as I’ve clearly said my bit above and I’d like others to share their thoughts on where we are. Just briefly before I switch to read (and moderate if required) mode:

    @PI — You’ve (not maliciously) used the same rhetorical trick there that has given us the last 3.5 years of tumult. You imply supporting the Referendum result means supporting Hard Brexit. (Remember, leaving the customs union and the single market *was* coded Hard Brexit before three years of rebranding by the most extreme side of the Leave position). With very few exceptions (Corybn, ironically, probably being one) the more extreme a Brexit an MP favours, the more right-wing they seem to be. Just look at the 20-odd Tory MPs Johnson withdrew the whip from. They are clearly not the right-wing ultras, they’re from its left. Even leaving aside policy (and Hard Brexit is seen by many, including many Monevator posters, as a de-regulator’s charter) the personalities brought in by a Brexit Election will make the party more right wing. But you don’t have to take my word for it; you can see what Phillip Hammond or Rory Stewart or Justin Greening or George Osborne have all written about it.

    @JimJim — Investing is a totally different kettle of fish, yes. As I’ve written before I’ve been (attempting to) dispassionately shuffle assets and FX exposures around for three years to try to tack with the way the political wind is blowing. And, of course, to try to minimize the impact in particular a no-deal Brexit has on me.

    @ermine — Indeed, and sorry for your additional psychic loss.

  • 5 Brod November 2, 2019, 9:01 am

    Morning all,

    So I was up at 3.30am on Monday to catch a flight to Madrid. Paid the 12 Euros and got my 790-012 stamped at the bank (what a palaver – tried about 9 before we found one that had a cashier accepting cash after 10.30!). Took my EX-18, health insurance, passport and certified bank statement to the National Police Station and got my Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión. 18 minutes including waiting time.

    Then a leisurely two course lunch and half a carafe of red wine in the lovely warm late-autumn sunshine with my wife’s cousin for €22 before a wander around Puerta del Sol and catching the flight home and bed.

    I now have the right to live and work and buy property in Spain. Eventually I can get permanent residency then citizenship. For me not so important, for my children it may be life changing.

    I have a question for Leavers: all those Spanish, Poles, French, Bulgarians, etc, etc, will be able to up sticks and work in a different EU country. You won’t. Why do you want to be a second class citizen in your own country?

  • 6 BBlimp November 2, 2019, 9:16 am

    Why would Leavers riot ? There will soon be a neutral Speaker and seventy remain MPs are queuing up to announce they won’t stand again. In short – it took us four elections but we’ve won.

    It is somewhat of a shame you’re still ranting and raving about the same stuff you were three years ago. There was no ‘deep and immediate recession’. The planes can still fly. We’re not ‘back of the queue’ for a trade deal with the USA. The banks have not up and left – and they didn’t when hard brexit looked likely.

    You correctly identify Remainers are more passionate about remaining than leavers are about leaving. Which is a shame, because it means we probably won’t be seeing an apology for all the nonsense you’ve written when it’s a success and the other remain doomsday predictions are also proved nonsense

  • 7 Passive Investor November 2, 2019, 9:17 am

    @TI Sorry but I don’t think Hard and Soft Brexit were terms that were used before the Referendum result. Until BJ unexpectedly my renegotiated the WA a few weeks ago Hard Brexit was used to refer to ‘Crashing Out’ (without a WA). So the terminology is slipping somewhat. Looking back there were confused claims made by both sides about what Brexit would mean but this link from FullFact gives some context


    The government leaflet we all got was fairly clear too (easily found on google).

    Regarding the main point about the Conservatives being more right wing the main (?only) point of commonality between the politicians you name is their strong support for Remain. Philip Hammond – socially illiberal and fiscally ‘strict’ is no sense more right wing than the current Conservative Leadership.
    I will leave it at that as a Rugby match is beckoning. Have a good day 🙂

  • 8 xxd09 November 2, 2019, 9:26 am

    Civilised discussion-we more of it. A Compromise is the eventual answer-something the British are good at-without resorting to violence unlike some countries not to far away.
    It seems to me that the sources of discontent are still not being looked for in a vigorous enough way
    What is going on in the Remainers minds?-Leavers are obviously happy with the Status Quo
    Once that starts to happen-we will start to see daylight
    I do not think it is as simple as bogus promises
    There is something much more serious and deep going on
    It is sad that this is one of the few boards with a sensible discussion happening.
    Until there are more chats among us like here we are in for a long haul!
    Human beings are something else!

  • 9 Pre ka November 2, 2019, 9:29 am

    I am not sure how to vote in the December election…
    Vote Lib dem so they can stop this farce but I think it may just be a waste
    Or vote for Boris so that some sort of conclusion is in the making.
    I am a UK investor so no deal Brexit and a labour government is kind of scary, so voting liberal may bring Corbyn in to government via the back door.
    I got a headache thinking so much…
    Can anyone help?!

  • 10 William November 2, 2019, 9:33 am

    The last Vanguard Pension (SIPP) update was back in February 2019. Individuals have opened ISA accounts with them but are patiently awaiting the launch of their SIPP account. It is a long time in coming. Vanguard need to either launch it or at the very least provide regular updates. Would Vanguard care to comment if they indeed monitor this blog. They are losing business by delaying.

  • 11 Vanguardfan November 2, 2019, 9:43 am

    @pre ka, under our wonderful voting system, unless you are in a swing seat it probably won’t matter anyway. I think I’ve lived in one seat where my vote might have changed the result in my entire life.
    We can’t advise unless you can tell us what type of constituency you live in and whether there is a realistic chance of it changing hands. And of course it depends on your priorities. I’d rather be dead in a ditch than vote Tory…

  • 12 JimJim November 2, 2019, 9:53 am

    @Vanguardfan, You think you want a mental challenge, try Barrow in Furness. Close win for Labour last time, our M.P kicked out of the party for alleged mis-doings, now voting like a Tory, the Tories battling for the few votes it will take to swing it and a Brexit sentiment in the populous. It’s a close one. (Dead in your aforementioned ditch personally)

  • 13 The Investor November 2, 2019, 9:55 am

    @BBlimp — Morning! Great name. 😉

    we probably won’t be seeing an apology for all the nonsense you’ve written when it’s a success and the other remain doomsday predictions are also proved nonsense

    Just popping on to remind everyone that I am not one of those Remainers predicting economic Armageddon (though I did expect a post-vote recession). I believe we’ll see slightly lower GDP growth, for at least the next 10-20 years, which will add up into hundreds of billions of lost growth over the years. (Assuming no deregulation, which for me brings another set of problems).

    Besides that real but non-catastrophic hit, for my brand of Remainer, half the damage has already been done in terms of what it’s done to our country, politics and so on, and the loss of freedoms, rights, and influence in Europe will be the rest of if.

    Perhaps the rugby team can cheer all sides up for the day though. 🙂

  • 14 WN November 2, 2019, 10:04 am

    Re Brexit. I hope Labour and Lib Dems will get the message across that the UK always had the option to control migration from the EU, and that without EU migrants the shortfall will simply be filled from outside the EU.

    Also the data previously linked to on this site showing how few EU laws were passed against the UK vote and what those laws were; i.e. mostly protecting consumers interests.

    But I fear the more Remain parties will fail to make these points continuously enough to drive it home, and will get sidetracked into other debates where the Tories tend to win every time – the economy and promising lower taxes.

  • 15 Vanguardfan November 2, 2019, 11:32 am

    @jimjim, well only knowing what I’ve read online, I wouldn’t vote for your sitting MP, I would vote Labour (assuming I was ok with the candidate). It’s a straight labour Tory marginal so no point at all going for libdems, sadly it looks like the split anti Tory vote will let them in, unless the Brexit party can do the same on the other side. But clearly a lot will depend on local factors.

  • 16 PC November 2, 2019, 11:36 am

    Well said! (the original article)

  • 17 Faustus November 2, 2019, 11:59 am

    Superb polemic – perceptive and coruscating.

    But at most levels the wider Brexit discussions are still not reckoning with the deeper mistakes and mendacity which led us to this sorry place. Such widespread ignorance of good statecraft and how liberal democracy should function is a grave concern for us all.

    Politicians of all stripes swept through the grossly flawed referendum act in 2016, and triggered Article 50 in 2017 on a wave of brain-dead media populism, thinking nothing of the consequences. In a well-functioning democracy, super-majorities are required to effect fundamental and potentially catastrophic changes to a nation’s constitution or the rights of its citizens, and in a multi-nation state like the UK, consensus would be required from the populations of all the home nations.

    Furthermore, in a real liberal democracy, millions and millions of citizens, long-term residents and taxpayers would not have been disenfranchised and denied a vote over their future, nor would it have been possible to run a campaign which broke the law showering out lies, delusions, and fact-free propaganda backed by money and bots from a hostile authoritarian state. It shames us all when a bogus and gerrymandered plebiscite is given an authority it had neither in law or morality.

    Moreover, in a well-functioning democracy, consensus is always required when carrying out fundamental changes to the constitution or the rights of all citizens. In a very close or split vote the ‘will of the people’ does not exist merely on one side or the other. Consensus is essential to prevent eternal division and the fracturing of the state, which would probably have pointed to the softest form of Brexit, something along the Norway model. Some kind of national Commission or assembly would have taken place to agree on the most consensual route. But this was never attempted or even considered by May and the Brexitters, who instead followed the Quisling model of appeasing the most intransigent and xenophobic hardliners. We all know where that kind of cowardice leads.

    Sadly, too few Leavers care about what they have done to our country (polls show they consider Brexit far more important than the British Union, or economic growth), and too few Remainers (Monevator excepted) appreciate the scale of how deep the problems run.

    There will be a reckoning and it will not be pretty. To paraphrase Valery Legasov’s reflections at the end of the HBO superb Chernobyl series: ‘Every lie that is told incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later that debt will need to be repaid.’

  • 18 A Betta Investor November 2, 2019, 12:30 pm

    I think the last 3 years or so have produced the best political debate this country has ever seen.
    What are we actually discussing? Tariffs on cars and other goods, how much money goes where, how many and which people can come into this country, what misleading statements have been made by which politicians and what people really want.
    It exposed very clearly how little most voters knew about running a country in 2016. Surely many now realise that it is much more complex than they thought and that must be a good thing.
    We are no longer in a class war and most people know the world is now very connected, whether we like it or not, and most do.

  • 19 Sara November 2, 2019, 1:06 pm

    You should read “Poverty Safari” by Darren McGarvey if you think we no longer in a class war. Followed by “Why we get the wrong politicians” by Isabel Hardman.
    I am actually in a Labour / Conservative marginal seat now (who voted Leave but have a Remain Labour MP) and I don’t know who to vote for either, other than anyone but Con or Brexit party. If Labour were a definite Remain party I’d have no problem voting for them, but I’m suspicious of their dithering on this. But if I give my vote to another party I may let in a Conservative and that just makes me want to vomit. (why do we want a free trade agreement with the USA anyway? – not exactly a country famous for treating its poor / ill/ middle class well).
    Doubt I’m the only confused voter out there and my horrible feeling is that there will be another hung Parliament and the endless horror show will continue.

  • 20 JimJim November 2, 2019, 1:15 pm

    @Vanguardfan & @Sara
    I concur

  • 21 Uncertain November 2, 2019, 1:26 pm

    Reasons to think the replacement Tories are more right wing.?
    Firstly it is undoubtedly the narrative of many outgoing Tories that they are being replaced by more right wing people.
    People like Pritti Patel, Dominic Rabb & Jacob R-M certainly appear to be very much of the Laura Norder rhetorical wing of the conservative party.
    I have been getting Leave EU emails as I am on their mailing list suggesting joining the conservatives or if you are a member being more active in order to deselect MP’s an intolerant and illiberal move designed to restrict diversity of opinion. Some of the rhetoric in these emails has been very hostile to immigrants and particularly to Muslims residing in this country suggesting that some of the replacements may well be.
    I used to think the the current PM was reasonably socially liberal in outlook. I have to confess he is not now a man whose words mean anything at all but when he does speak he has emphasised a Nationalism that begets no disagreement.
    I think it’s pretty hard to make a case for the current Tory party being anything other than less diverse of thought and more right wing than in the past. The tragedy for our country is that the chief opposition is the mirror image but facing to the left.

  • 22 Felice Pazzo November 2, 2019, 1:59 pm

    @Brod – I wish you all the best with your move. Don’t renounce your British citizenship yet, though – it’s still one of the gold standard by international standards (just consider how much those Vietnamese immigrants sought it)! As for future generations – “where there’s a way there’s a means” – and there will be alternative routes to achieve the same goal; however, as much as free movement is touted as a benefit of the EU, and as much as we may grumble about the UK, most of us wouldn’t consider going to such extremes as to relocate (maybe we are ‘comfortably numb’)!
    To put things into perspective, we have all won the lottery by being born into a developed nation, and I for one consider myself very fortunate.
    @ the Investor. I hope writing the article has got this out of your system. As someone much wiser than me noted, as individuals our vote will have no bearing on the final outcome, and our time and energy is much better expended by focusing on those things in our life that we can influence.

  • 23 Passive Investor November 2, 2019, 2:03 pm

    @uncertain But if you ‘judge a leopard by its spots’ there isn’t really a credible case for saying there agenda is particularly right wing. You are right that the outgoing Tories are stating what you say but that doesn’t mean they are right. I think they are just fed up that there is a proper Leave PM whose views are in line with the membership on the EU. Show me any COnservative election literature that is racist – there isn’t any I am aware of. Which Conservative MPs have actually been deselected (by their constituencies)?

  • 24 The Investor November 2, 2019, 2:11 pm

    @Felice — Thanks for your thoughts, and I do understand what you’re saying.

    However with the notable exception of my much missed dad, most of my heroes weren’t happy leaving the world as they found it, especially at times of crisis. And is I’ve argued in stand up rows with family members, this is I believe such a time.

    I don’t delude myself I have much influence, especially with the benighted subject of Brexit where few of us are moving more than an inch or two and many of the most Brexity readers resigned their subscriptions in disgust on discovering I wasn’t a Leaver.

    But this post will be read by thousands – on a good day tens of thousands – including some in pretty influential positions. Most people have no platform; I’ve felt a responsibility to use mine — with some regret as I know how it turns off a segment of readers.

    I felt guilty I said nothing before the referendum to try to spare this site from the noxious odours of Brexit debate. At least I don’t feel guilty now.

    Cheers for the constructive comments so far all.

  • 25 r November 2, 2019, 2:15 pm

    My sister came back home (Eastern Europe), together with her husband. Their jobs also followed them home.

    They are highly skilled, were working in north of England. When they decided to leave – because of Brexit – their employers decided that they would rather have them work remotely, than try to find somebody else.
    For me personally, Brexit is a plus so far, my sister came home after all, I no longer have to see her only twice a year. For my country, it is also an economic plus. Every 10 or so skilled migrants were a 1 million pound gift that we were making to the UK (that’s the equivalent for those people to get educated for 16 to 20 years more or less). To understand the magnitude of the problem, a few years ago Facebook just air-lifted a 200 strong company from my city and moved them to London. Some of those people are back now, and we’re expecting some more back after the dust settles. And their jobs might follow them home as well.

    And EU is more united than I’ve ever seen it. We might not agree on all things, far from it, but we agree that we do not want to separate. The UK’s Brexit is a good cautionary tale.

    So I should be happy, since our economy is benefiting, and on a personal level, my family is back in the same country. But it’s hard to be happy. There’s no joy to be found when allies become enemies. The EU and the UK will end up worse apart. Every company that has to sink resources into preparing for the s-t show that is “No deal” has less resources to spend it on innovation or grabbing market share. Every one of my countrymen that live in the UK has to carefully consider whether to get attached. Those people are pawns and their lives need to be put on pause until Brexit is done. They can’t decide to buy a house if they don’t know what their status will be in three months and whether they get deported in a case of a Hard Brexit.

    In the end I’ll sum it like this: The UK has every right to decide they don’t want to be part of the EU anymore. But Brexit was never going to be without consequences and I don’t think any of your politicians spelled those (realistic) consequences out for you. And they still don’t, even now.

  • 26 Matthew November 2, 2019, 2:46 pm

    I’ve heard that the winter general election might cause problems for farmers, since only 48% of people want brussels :p

    You wont see 1m+ elderly leave voters on their zimmers having trapesed across the whole country, compared to all the london remainers who live a tube stop or two away. Besides unless you count 17m+1 remain protesters you can’t really say that a remain protest alone shows a change in opinion

    I predict that whether its conservative minority government or majority, the deal will now get through, and stage 1 done, although there may not be a date on when the deal applies anymore…

    It will be economically negative in the short term for the country, and only positive in the long term with a significant rejig of the economy, nevertheless there will be winners and losers

  • 27 Matthew November 2, 2019, 2:49 pm

    Also wanted to add that although leave voters might die off, remain voters will get older, more jaded, cynical, and self motivated with age, and might drift to leave in the same way people become more conservative with age.

    Having a child can also make you instantly more right wing, like “what just happened to me” lol

  • 28 Uncertain November 2, 2019, 3:03 pm

    As no election literature has yet been produced that I’m aware of it would be rather difficult to produce any evidence from that of any shift.
    The rhetoric is of spending more but when questioned the reality appears to be recycling of money in the NHS and more on laura Norder.
    When there are many seasoned Conservatives leaving complaining of the same thing I’m inclined to believe them , just as I am on labour leavers and anti semitism within the party.
    If you wish to deny it is of course your perogative, neither of us will actually know for sure until power is exercised. Rhetoric is cheap and regretfully with our PM has historically shown to be utterly meaningless.

  • 29 ermine November 2, 2019, 3:11 pm

    > might drift to leave in the same way people become more conservative with age.

    Eh? If you look at Ashcroft’s analysis and taxonomy of voting patterns there are correlations with social class and education as well as age. I am old enough to be solidly leave along the age axis (over 45) but you don’t get uneducated with age. Or necessarily change social class. Age has some correlation with lower education, simply because when I went to university about 11% of school leavers did, policy changes have shifted this to 50% now, so a 2016 snapshot of education will taper with age. So although age is a usable proxy for the other variables that tended to make people more likely to vote leave, I don’t think that you can extrapolate this variable to future generations.

    Age does make some people more right wing with time in general, because the young start in the world with nothing, and tend to gradually accumulate wealth over time. They get more interested in retaining this, and also trying to privilege their children over other people’s children, often with that accumulated wealth. But increasing age doesn’t particularly affect the other parameters Ashcroft identified as salient in his analysis.

  • 30 Matthew November 2, 2019, 3:42 pm

    @ermine – Even if you have education, with age we slowly lose the programming that gave us. Of course though everyone is different and an education make you less likely to benefit from a shortage of unskilled workers, even then you might work in a field that loses more to brexit than you might gain, even if you were pragmatic on a personal-gain level

    With age people become conservative not just because of wealth, but because they are more pragmatic, understand that prodits get reinvested, understand supply side econics, and care more about tax once they are paying for it

    The young are idealist and more than happy to say “spend this, do that” when they don’t fully appreciate how hard money can be to come by and dont realise the inefficiencies of government spending

  • 31 Gooey Blob November 2, 2019, 3:43 pm

    Let’s hope the election clears things up. I’m a remainer but can’t understand the mentality of those who would wish to prolong this farce. Boris apparently has a deal, so get it over with and let’s move on. Farage only seems to want to prolong the agony as do the Lib Dems. I’ve no idea what Labour think about Brexit but their plans to seize 10% of medium to large sized company shares, increase corporation tax and introduce capital controls should have any investor, passive or active waking up screaming in the middle of the night. I see Momentum as far more dangerous than Brexit so shall be voting to stop Corbyn.

  • 32 AncientI November 2, 2019, 3:55 pm

    RE: The housing crisis is at the heart of our national nervous breakdown

    I do think housing is at the heart of most domestic issues. And its not talked about enough because one of the obvious things to blame is immigration.

    Maybe housebuilder stocks still have along way to go even if Help to Buy is coming to an end?

  • 33 Far_wide November 2, 2019, 3:58 pm

    gooey blob, if you really are a remainer, why on earth would you be voting for Brexit? As I’m sure you really know, this (or any other) deal does not “get it over with” by any stretch.

    This is merely the prelude to many years of wrangling with the EU over a trade deal. Or do you disagree?

  • 34 Grislybear November 2, 2019, 4:38 pm

    Michael Heseltine is right when he said that a Labour victory in the elections is preferable to a hard Brexit. A Labour government could be for a maximum of 5 years but hard Brexit is permanent.

  • 35 Jonathan November 2, 2019, 4:44 pm

    Interesting that you think Johnson will scrape a majority. It is possible since the Conservatives start with the highest base but they seem almost bound to lose 20-30 of their current seats (to SNP in Scotland and in Con-Lib marginals) which means they will need a lot of gains elsewhere.

    And now Farage presents Johnson with a damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don’t situation. If he aligns with Farage he almost guarantees picking up the 2017 UKIP voters he knows he needs but it leaves the party hostage to Farage expecting a quid pro quo. If he doesn’t, he is probably bound to move to extremist posturing to attract those voters away from the Brexit party. And either way he will leave a good number of traditional Conservative voters repelled and considering the Liberal alternative.

    At the same time the Labour party would need a landslide to get a majority and it is doesn’t currently look feasible. Corbyn’s failure to provide leadership in opposition has seriously dented their credibility. The Liberals are likely to increase their vote, probably by more than people are predicting, but not enough to get a proportional fraction of MPs. So for me the question is whether there a workable coalition can be produced.

    Personally I don’t think it is the hung Parliament that has been the problem, it has been the arrogant Executive. Parliament has actually been very effective, quite correctly holding the government to account and refusing to back proposals which it does not judge to be in the interest of the country; that is its job. The fault has been with both governments (May’s and Johnson’s) failing to realise that their authority derives from Parliament as a whole not just their own party. If they had worked seriously to identify where support could be found, there wouldn’t have been the impasse. If once Theresa May had failed to find support for her Withdrawal Agreement she had looked for where there could be consensus everything might have been resolved by now (the obvious path being through a second referendum on the specific Brexit proposal, whipping the Conservatives once she established the necessary support from other parties).

  • 36 Captain Flint November 2, 2019, 5:43 pm

    Pre ka – please don’t vote Tory! They’re a disaster, whatever way you look at it. As others have said, it depends what constituency you are in. There are a number of tactical voting sites that have sprung up already so Google tactical voting December 2019 and see what the websites say. In my constituency I will be voting Labour, not because I think Labour are any use but because the Labour candidate has the best chance of defeating the sitting Tory MP. If voting Lib Dem achieves the same where you are, go for it. 🙂

  • 37 Neverland November 2, 2019, 6:07 pm

    It will be pretty interesting to see how popular BJ actually is around the country.

    So far he hasn’t had much scrutiny and all sorts of unsavory things have come out.

  • 38 Gooey Blob November 2, 2019, 7:01 pm

    Far_wide, because a Momentum government would be infinitely more damaging than Brexit. I’ve spent decades building up my pension pots, ISAs and VCTs and there’s no way I’m letting Corbyn seize 10% or watching the stock market crash and sterling collapse because we elected a hard left government. I don’t particularly like Boris but there simply is no alternative.

  • 39 ZXSpectrum48k November 2, 2019, 7:01 pm

    I’d normally consider myself a Libdem or ‘wet’ Tory but Jo Swinson? Is that really the best the Libdems can do? Has she ever has one, single creative thought? Voting Libdem has been the equivalent of voting for a bag of wet lettuce for so long

    Can’t vote Labour. I’m a big supporter of more public debt to pay for infrastucture but, unlike 2017 when their manifesto was tolerable (perhaps for a single term), they now seem to have gone in for ever more barmy ideas. Plus I don’t trust them on defence or foreign policy. Oh and Corbyn is an idiot. Bring Blair back please, all is forgiven.

    Vote Tory? The negatives are clear: ‘Brittania unchained’ morons like Priti Patel. All the moderate smart Tories have gone. Honestly, the best scenario I can think of is that BoJo is so narcissistic that his desparation for popularity might actually cause him to pivot back to the centre once he’s in office.

    Countries do get the politicians they deserve. At some point the general public might want to remember that and think why virtually nobody with a scientific or creative mind wants to be in politics. In the meantime, it looks like the wet lettuce gets my vote.

  • 40 BBlimp November 2, 2019, 7:06 pm


    This 2012 BBC news article makes for interesting reading. In short, Boris and Gove were for gay marriage, Phillip Hammond was against.

    To say the Tories have moved to the right doesn’t really strike me as accurate. There’s a welcome clearout of remainers, but that’s to do with the country voting Leave and them not respecting it, not a lurch to the right.

    If you think leaving the EU is a move to the right in and of itself you haven’t been observing Spain imprisoning it’s political opponents, Poland’s judicial reforms or the rise of the far right in Dresden. The EU offers no protection from right wing events… just take a look at what goes on there.

    Anyway, it took us four elections but thankfully our vote will now be respected. A bit like gay marriage, after it happens, we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

  • 41 Paul November 2, 2019, 8:40 pm

    I concur, 100%.

  • 42 Fremantle November 2, 2019, 8:47 pm

    My advice to anyone who feels disempowered by politics, take that energy and join a political party. I did, and you’ll tend to find everyday people who simply want to help make the UK a better place. I just voted to appoint the new Conservative candidate for my constituency. A largely Leave local party just appointed a Remain voting, Withdrawal Agreement supporting candidate, enthusiastically.

    It is disingenuous to villianize your opponents, when the reality is they simply have a different vision for improving the nation. The only way to have your say is at the ballot box and through party membership. But respecting votes that we disagree with *is* liberal democracy, including plebiscites on the terms that were set prior to the vote.

  • 43 Paul November 2, 2019, 8:50 pm

    I’ve noticed a few people wondering how they might vote to best prevent a Tory victory: https://www.getvoting.org/ might help.

  • 44 Boltt November 2, 2019, 9:35 pm


    I think we have found the next career for you – stem MP


  • 45 Gooey Blob November 2, 2019, 10:23 pm

    I think the biggest problem we face is that we don’t have an electable opposition when we are really crying out for one. The country needs a viable alternative to the Tories but at present it simply does not exist. Unfortunately, the 2017 election only served to encourage the militants who seem to have taken over a once sensible and pragmatic party. Labour needs to sort itself out and Momentum must be removed from the equation for that to happen. Kinnock took the right approach in expelling Militant and that process could now do with being repeated. Maybe a good kicking on December 12th and a scare from the Lib Dems might start that ball rolling. If Labour still refuse to learn the lesson we need to replace them with the Lib Dems and that might take another election, possibly two.

    Nothing will change while the main opposition party is irrelevant. If it stubbornly maintains its irrelevance it must be replaced with another party.

  • 46 The Investor November 2, 2019, 11:27 pm


    Do you think a company would risk supporting a website that has quite extreme views regarding Brexit?

    I have extreme views about Brexit?


    I think Brexit is a bad idea economically — this is the view of literally all mainstream economists and most non-mainstream economists, all major economic institutions such as the IMF and the Bank of England, and the majority of business people. That is not extreme.

    I think Brexit isn’t worth it for a gossamer of extra sovereignty — this was the view of all the major parties in the UK for most of the past 40 years, all the major party leaders going into the Referendum, and a majority of MPs in the House of Parliament, all of whom probably know more about sovereignty than me or you (going on your previous comments). Thinking otherwise was the domain of a fringe wing of the Tory party, a couple of semi-respectable side parties, Nigel Farage and co, and outright extremists like the BNP. Thinking we should stay in the EU was not an extreme position.

    I think the vote was compromised by empty promises, bad data, and likely meddling — This has been shown in countless illustrations that I won’t bore you with again. The only debate is about the degree it happened and the degree it mattered. Google ‘side of a bus’ for the tip of the iceberg. This is not a controversial view; the ‘honorable’ Leave position is all’s fair in love and war, it was all about the heart anyway, and Brexit won so deal with it. Pointing out, for instance, that Brexit leaders who said it would be madness to leave the Single Market now claim it is a great idea is not an extreme position. It’s a mainstream view outside of the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, and Leave-y cliques.

    Plenty of waverers were deliberately targeting and ‘weaponized’ with fake propaganda (e.g. Facebook ads seen by millions in the days leading up to the vote) that tipped them into voting Leave — this is not an extreme point of view. Brexit insiders like Cummings have written all about it themselves quite candidly.

    I believe 52/48 — a 4% margin of victory — is not an overwhelming majority representing the will of the people in favour of leaving the customs union and the single market — i.e. The hard Brexit you advocate. It’s a very close win that many political systems wouldn’t consider decisive outside the statistical noise parameters when it comes to making major constitutional changes. (They’d require say 60%.)

    For the sake of civil discussion I won’t discuss my ‘extreme’ view that some small minority of Leave voters were outright racist. We can argue about how many, but I’m very certain it was orders of magnitude more than those that voted Remain, almost by definition. Brexit isn’t racist, but racists voted Brexit. Being a racist is usually considered a more ‘extreme’ position than not being a racist in modern Britain, or at least it was.

    As I’ve said many times before I think if we’re going to Brexit we should do a soft Brexit, staying in the single market and customs union, and see if we want to go further in 5-10 years. This gets us most of that supposedly all important technical sovereignty without buggering up the economy and threatening the break up of the United Kingdom. Apparently that’s extreme?

    I think on balance there’s a case for another Referendum — When I said Brexit would drag on for *years* in the immediate days after the Referendum, Leavers were scornful or worse. Why are you still banging on about it, they’d cry before June 2016 was finished. I was confident it would go on for years, but I admit I didn’t quite understand how it would utterly consume the national conversation and be the lead news item more days than not nearly four years on. If it’s extreme to think that after four years of a country being obsessed about a very close decision and politically paralyzed that there’s a case — difficult and regrettable — for confirming we still want to do this via a confirmatory Referendum, then I guess I’m an extremist. 🙂

    Sorry, Leave mind tricks don’t work on me. And when this is all done, however it’s done, I won’t forget what really happened, or get in line to blame whatever new bogeyman the disgruntled come up with next when leaving the EU achieves precisely no benefits, net.

    But with all that said, I happen to agree with you that it’s a bad look for the website.

    As I’ve said many times, deciding to write about Brexit here on Monevator was a terrible decision, commercially speaking.

    A bunch of readers left and never came back, the extra focus has diluted my time to write about investing, and the revelation that a significant chunk of my readers actually thought something so antediluvian was a good idea made me wonder more than once who I was actually writing for, sapping my will to continue with the site at all.

    Plus I’m sure you’re right, commercially speaking.

    But at the end of the day, if you don’t stand up for what you believe in when the time comes, what’s the point?

    Most Leavers will never really understand my point of view on this, because they presume I think like the more hysterical that Brexit will be an economic catastrophe.

    I don’t. I think it will just be a tedious drag on growth for decades, making us all poorer for virtually no gain. (Aside: I even saw a full page advert in my Practical Fishkeeping magazine this month explaining all the tedious permits that will be needed to trade aquarium fish post Brexit. What a sorry waste of time and effort.)

    Much of the damage done by Brexit (and the Brexit campaign/project) is social and cultural.

    You might be happy how quickly true extremists like Farage — who once struggled to get airtime on the BBC — and rhetoric like calling the highest courts in the land ‘the enemies of the people’ has become normalized in this country.

    I am not.

    If that makes me an extremist, well there we are then, I shall wear the label with pride.

  • 47 Martin November 2, 2019, 11:42 pm

    Totally agree with you Sara.

    Trump and Boris tell us it’s going to be amazing! There is a “fantastic deal to be done”
    Fantastic for who? I doubt very much it will be great for the low paid and those on zero hours contracts. Inequality in the UK will I fear become a bigger issue if we do leave the EU for the great trade deal with Trump.

  • 48 The Investor November 2, 2019, 11:49 pm

    @eugene — Just re-read my comment and want to clarify that when I said…

    all of whom probably know more about sovereignty than me or you (going on your previous comments).

    …I don’t mean to say your comments betrayed some great ignorance about sovereignty or similar! I mean that you haven’t revealed yourself to (sincerely) be any more of a constitutional expert than me, so if you are I wasn’t to know. 🙂

    Sigh. This is was online discussions do, even when you add something to try to be more civil. Have a great rest of weekend!

  • 49 Matthew November 3, 2019, 6:55 am

    @TI – youre point about how much the brexit debate has distracted everyone, and this limbo we’re in actually has consequences of its own, which you could argue could be good/bad:

    – Fewer laws will get passed in all these hung parliments, we will become relatively deregulated
    – The left/right debate gets forgotten
    – Gov spending becomes less of a priority, so there will be relative austerity
    – People spend less time timing the markets, and events are more brexit centred
    – Housing has become relatively more affordable, with prices stalling and incoming demand reducing

  • 50 Matthew November 3, 2019, 7:32 am

    I should point out too that in a few decades time the wages in ex-soviet countries will be more on par, like how china’s has risen, and then migration will drop, but that is probably beyond most of our lived
    But as/when that happens, the cheap labour thing is one arguement for remain as it is for leave, depending on who individually benefits

  • 51 The Investor November 3, 2019, 8:40 am


    But as/when that happens, the cheap labour thing is an argument for remain as it is for leave, depending on who individually benefits.

    Well if we’re talking about individual benefits, perhaps, but the argument for the EU for me transcends this on some levels. (Obviously nobody would be for it if they didn’t think people in general individually benefited…)

    Related: Leavers/the Leave campaign talks about the money spent by richer countries on poorer ones in the EU like everyone has lost their head and are just transferring the money out of witlessness. “We’d keep it!” they cry. They don’t (or won’t) understand that the idea was to slowly make all of the EU richer — to bring it as much as possible up the same standard of living across the common market. Of course that would never happen entirely, you get big variations inside nation states (just look at the US, or even the UK) but that was part of the idea behind putting roads into former Soviet bloc countries and so on.

    Similarly, free movement is mainly about fairness within the single market (for example a country can’t create particularly favourable conditions for its companies, say by cutting minimum wages or environment safeguards, and then sell its product into Europe cheap without letting other European workers compete for those jobs). But again it also has the benefit that over time it should reduce inequalities.

    About 10 years ago I had big arguments with my then-girlfriend who was working in a former Soviet bloc country, when I said one day the impoverished town but pretty and mostly preserved village she was working in would one day be full of holiday homes owned by Brits and Germans. I didn’t understand that economy, she said, I didn’t realize how poor everyone was. But really, she didn’t understand economic development (to be fair she was quite a bit younger and still in her idealistic phase). That country’s quiet rural villages were this year touted in a big newspaper as “the New Tuscany.”

    A Leaver may come along to pretend they care about such country’s stock of rural housing and so on, but that’s nonsense. This is part of country’s coming up to speed. (See Italy and France, and the rejuvenation of their dilapidated old country houses by romantic-minded incomers.)

    Europe will gradually get richer everywhere like this (barring the robots/climate change). Not as fast as if it did big fiscal transfers directly, which could yet come, but steadily and over time.

    We’ll be able to see for ourselves, for a two week holiday, with some visa reciprocation scheme. 🙁

  • 52 The Investor November 3, 2019, 10:01 am

    @Eugene — I happen to agree that migration is the weakest spot in the Remain argument, and have written many times we should have had tighter controls (some of which we actually could have had, and chose not to implement).

    But I don’t think millions of homes would have been built on green belt land. There haven’t been more than 200K homes built in the UK a year for a sustained period for generations. Ever more people (and certainly most migrants) want (/have) to live in cities.

    I also believe if the population growth really got out of control the EU would look at it again, but anyway we were accepting as much non-EU inward migration as EU migration.

    If you’re going to put up straw men such as that I am criticizing Cummings for doing his job, we’re not going to have a useful discussion. (I can’t for much longer anyway, I’m just repeating myself. 🙂 )

    I am criticizing him for deliberating using ads that were either lies or sitting on the margins of the truth, I am criticizing numpties for voting Leave on the back of those dodgy ads, and I am criticizing smart Leavers for not caring about this sort of thing.

    We do agree that the Marshall Plan for jobs argument hasn’t got legs in winning votes from the average person. Another reason why I believe in representative democracy not referendums. Also the reality is the Referendum win revealed a lot of people are more insular (/lovers of country, if you prefer) than the dominant narrative allowed for.

    Indeed this is the biggest problem we have.

    Most (not all but look at the stats) younger, more well-educated people (i.e. the wealth creators and agenda setters of the future) are pro-Remain, pro-migration, pro-moving location for a better life/work, pro-integration, believe in science (e.g. global warming) and to some extent progressive politics (e.g. women in workplace).

    Most (not all but look at the stats) older less well-educated people (i.e. in draw down mode, and they don’t generate as much of the country’s future wealth or set the agenda) are pro-Leave, pro-nationalism, pro-family, wanting to improve their local communities rather than move, are skeptical of science (e.g. global warming) and to some extent progressive politics (e.g. women in workplace).

    There’s a clear massive tension here as we all live on the same island. We’ve probably been drawing apart — via internal migration (to universities/London/cities) and assortative mating — for decades.

    [Edit: Better “more” rather than “most” in those last two points.]

    [Edit: Change

  • 53 Matthew November 3, 2019, 10:40 am

    To flip this the other way, migrants know they will be displacing the poorer workers, but decide to anyway (i can understand that if theyre poorer, they have no sympathy for us) – but then we’re expected to have sympathy for them? When you’re considering your own children sympathy for unkown competitors is limited.

    Essentially it is morally pressuring the poor to be the source of charity in globalisation

    Protectionism is of course bad for the overall economy (the economy which the poor have very little stake in and less to lose)

    Businesses happily shut down competition when it arises

    It’s not a direct transfer of cash, indeed, its more stealthy than that

  • 54 The Investor November 3, 2019, 10:57 am

    Guys, I haven’t got the time or the energy to refute Leave straw men again all day.

    People aren’t getting poorer because of EU migration. The UK got richer because of it (but arguably at the cost of social pressures such as housing and some communities feeling alienated.) All the studies but one showed this. That study showed one very small impact at the bottom.

    Wealth inequality hasn’t increased:


    I wrote a long list of reasons *proving* (yes, facts) my views on Brexit were actually mainstream, yes I still get called extreme.

    It’s so wearisome.

  • 55 Matthew November 3, 2019, 11:51 am

    Can we trust the integrity of these studies? Would a researcher get lynched by their peers/discredited into obscurity if they did suggest a larger impact? How can they compare the UK inside to outside?

    I agree as you say this has been building up for decades, it just came out when finally it felt acceptable for it to. A degree of self censorship is another why you don’t see so many vocal leave supporters, it’s not something to stick your neck out for or get sacked over, if we do remain then life goes on, the referendum was just a vague opportunity to take.

    It’d be interesting to know what proportion of leavers actually believed the 350m and that a deal would be easy?

    I agree we wouldnt build much in greenbelt – not building much on the greenbelt has increased the pressure exponentially. We can’t put a house for humans there incase we offend a rare species of doormouse!

    Although I must say the boomers had arrificially cheap housing from after ww2, and since then the housing market has simply reverted to how it used to be before that when families had to live with multiple generations together, millenials should compare theselves to the generation before that, not the boomers. Boomers had high inflation and high interest rates because of the money they had in their pockets due to artificially cheap housing, I don’t see how we could ever have rates like that again without government interference.

    Global warming is true, but we won’t become venus. It’s a buildings insurance problem, with some weather deaths and changing agriculture thrown in.

  • 56 ZXSpectrum48k November 3, 2019, 12:11 pm

    @Matthew: “Global warming is true, but we won’t become venus. It’s a buildings insurance problem, with some weather deaths and changing agriculture thrown in.”

    Are you serious? It’s a fundamental issue. Humanity is trying to win a war against the Second Law of Thermodynamics and over 13 billion years of evidence suggests the Second Law has won every single time. The best we can hope for is the Second Law accepts our unconditional surrender. All other options are considerably worse. I don’t think buildings insurance is really the key issue …

  • 57 The Investor November 3, 2019, 12:38 pm

    Can we trust the integrity of these studies?

    Yes, in the most part, when literally all the studies from both UK and overseas economists and economic bodies agree, we can trust the studies.

    Sorry, I haven’t got time for ‘don’t trust the experts’ theories on this blog. That’s true B-Leaver territory, as Nick Cohen argues today:

    Brexit supporters expect “the elite”, “the establishment”, “the Westminster bubble” to “rig the system” to stop them “taking our country back”. The enemy imposed metric measurements, drink-driving laws, immigrants and smoking bans and now it wants to stop Brexit. They take us for fools. They think we are stupid.

    And yet their actions show that cynics who doubt everything trust Nigel Farage, even though he takes them for absolute idiots.

    Matthew, I believe on balance you’re discussing in good faith but it’s exhausting replying to all the same stuff as last week, about facts, with little progress made. Doubly so as like every week Remainers have peeled away from commenting on the main and it’s just me fielding the inaccuracies.

    I believe you’ve had your fair say for this weekend. Tempted to close comments as I had to for same reason last weekend, but it’s only Sunday. So please be aware I’ll probably be deleting further comments from you — I’m afraid your ‘don’t give me evidence, we can’t trust it’ line has tipped me over the edge. This may be harsh, but my blog and my discussion rules. Nothing personal, have a great weekend.

  • 58 Matthew November 3, 2019, 12:43 pm

    @zx spectrum – heres one reference, I could find more, that Earth is simply too far from the sun for our seas to boil like venus did (water vapour being a far more potent greenhouse gas), even if you put all the carbin in Earth’s crust into the atmosphere


    People assume that global warming means runaway greenhouse effect – not necessarily
    It means change, economically, and we have to weigh it up against the cost of action

  • 59 The Investor November 3, 2019, 1:04 pm

    @zx spectrum – heres one reference, I could find more, that Earth is simply too far from the sun for our seas to boil like venus did (water vapour being a far more potent greenhouse gas), even if you put all the carbin in Earth’s crust into the atmosphere

    So the gap between ‘really big problem’ and ‘buildings insurance issue’ is bridged by citing evidence that we won’t become a barren rock like Venus.

    I was wondering if I’d over-reacted a few minutes ago, but I’ve not. Unfortunately you’re mixing some good points with some silly Internet debating points and I’ve not got the time for it (or platforming ‘we can’t trust facts!’) on my blog. Further stuff from you deleted this weekend Matthew.

    Thanks for taking the time/interest with (most of!) the comments you’ve made though, and have a good weekend. 🙂

  • 60 JimJim November 3, 2019, 1:16 pm

    @ Matthew, you could be right you could be wrong… BUT. can you afford to be wrong? I can’t just take your estimate of it in front of a sea of experts telling me that you are. I could devote my life to climate science and find out, but wait, lots of people are doing this for me, it would be rude and ignorant of me to ignore them wouldn’t it?
    (sorry to mis-quote the PIL lyric BTW)

  • 61 The Investor November 3, 2019, 1:32 pm


    It didn’t. The academic studies showed that. The Gino coefficient history quoted up the thread show that. Record employment is also suggestive.

  • 62 The Investor November 3, 2019, 1:40 pm

    P.S. Hit send too soon. As we’ve discussed before, but Leavers don’t listen so I’m not sure what the point is, immigration creates demand as well as supply, hence additional need/jobs etc.

    Please take your “I don’t listen to corrupt leading global academics and economists not all data because it’s a conspiracy” to the DM or Telegraph. Much obliged.

  • 63 Vanguardfan November 3, 2019, 1:47 pm

    @TI. Many thanks for your patience, restraint and relentlessly reasonable engagement with non-arguments/gas-lighting.
    Personally if someone called me an extremist (twice!) for putting forward a well argued, perfectly mainstream point of view on my own website I would not be tolerating their presence.

  • 64 Pinkney November 3, 2019, 2:24 pm

    Loved the rant it’s nice to see some intelligent debate which has become almost dangerous for an individual to do. We live in interesting times which I must say have become rather worrying in nature. In my opinion once a nation is seen as unwelcoming to certain people then the outcome for people living in that nation will in the long term be unpleasant for all those who don’t fit the narrative being pumped out.

  • 65 The Investor November 3, 2019, 3:40 pm

    Thank you @Vanguardfan. It is a pretty forlorn task; as hokey and factually incorrect ‘common sense’ is preferred to facts and data you often can’t really engage to any great purpose with some. And if you do another fairy story pops up.

    It’s also hard to tell if people are engaging with positive intentions sometimes, but I think you have to at least start thinking we are all looking for answers.

    I can’t stand the thought of a waverer reading something factually wrong on my own website that might sound logical (eg the economic stuff above) and thus it contributing to the problem.

    But overall I’m glad we have the discussions now and then. While I’ve learned little to nothing in terms of facts from hardcore Brexiteers in these discussions, the more articulate Leavers have helped me understand the result context better, the motivations (however wrong headed I think their conclusion is) and also the chronic difference in core stance between the archetypal Remain vs Leave voter.

    So that’s been helpful and constructive, and moved my thinking on vs three years ago, for which I’m grateful.

    Not totally futile then!

  • 66 The Investor November 3, 2019, 3:54 pm


    I don’t need to defend my argument due to, you know, the data proving it. But even in its own terms your theory doesn’t stand up.

    For example, economic growth and rising populations are strongly correlated. That is one reason why developing world countries are able to apply superior productivity to growing populations to grow faster than us. Compare for example China’s rose over the past 20 years with the slower growth future predicted on account of its one child policy in the past.

    According to your theory, growing populations should be bad for news for such countries as new kids grow up to compete down wages. But this doesn’t happen as shown by the history of the past several thousand years.

    And yes, it is fine per capita, too. The average Chinese citizen went from famine plagued peasant to secure, with tens/hundreds of millions becoming middle class.

    Before you bring out your new straw men — of course population growth is not the complete picture. Of course it is not enough in isolation (eg parts of Africa over past decades). And no it might not be good for other things such as housing access or the environment.

    I am just pointing out that your common sense man in the pub argument is not just refuted by all the data (but one single study, that showed a very small impact at the bottom) but also as a data-ignoring theory.

    Finally you can take your ‘EU purse strings’ rubbish to the Daily Mail comment section. Thanks.

    [Edit: Deleted my exasperated opening sentence. Not helpful.]

  • 67 JimJim November 3, 2019, 4:34 pm
  • 68 David November 3, 2019, 4:43 pm

    You can’t really blame people for being suspicious about studies. We get lied to all the time by politicians, employers, and big companies. Big pharma for example is commonly believed to pay a lot of money to get the study results they need so they can launch their drugs onto the market. And a bit closer to home, you regularly write posts on this website debunking the latest “evidence” of why passive working is flawed and doomed to failure, with the analysis behind the story of course funded by the active management industry. Lies, damned lies and statistics, as you alluded to in your intro.
    Rightly or wrongly, that’s why Michael Gove stuck a chord with a lot of voters when he said that people have had enough of experts.
    And I think this is why saying that you have the facts that prove you’re right doesn’t really help much. Partly because people have their own evidence that they can see in their own neighbourhood with their own eyes, which doesn’t match up with the academic studies (immigrants working below minimum wage, etc). And partly because you can’t persuade people out of an emotionally driven point of view with facts, as it was never based on facts in the first place.

  • 69 ZXSpectrum48k November 3, 2019, 6:00 pm

    @David. I do blame people for being suspicious of studies. It’s intellectually weak. Sorry but I want the supremacy of empirical data, scientific method, mathematical models and logic. Yes, Gove may have struck a chord for some when he said “we’ve had enough of experts”. It doesn’t follow, however, that people’s own personal views, despite their total and utter ignorance on varied subjects, are deserving of equal weight to that of experts. That somehow everything is just subjective. That there are no facts.

    Yes, sometimes experts get it wrong but the alternative to believing in the scientific approach is terrifying. What next? We deny quantum field theory and general relativity and decide instead that universe was created in seven days by some bloke with a nice beard? That path that just leads to superstition and religious nonsense.

  • 70 The Investor November 3, 2019, 6:46 pm

    @Eugene — Here’s another way you could have written your reply that would have been less frustrating:

    Right, well I’ve had a Google and turns out the ‘practical Leaver in the golf club’ theory about rising populations being bad for the economy was wrong. I did find one study from the University of Sheffield that questioned the link in the UK recently. Of course even it said:

    The fact that populations and economic output tend to grow in tandem, albeit at different rates, has been well-documented.

    So I now understand why Remainers repeatedly argue that migration was good for the UK economy.

    I’ve learned something today! 🙂

    I do note however that the study says that the relationship in the UK specifically appears to have broken down in recent years. True, the study does acknowledge the fact that having the biggest global recession since World War 2 severely hitting the UK (due to its financial sector etc) right in the middle of the period may well have something to do with it.

    It does note though that the relationship appeared to be breaking down just before the recession, albeit only over a time span of a few short years. And it also adds: “It is possible that the recovery would have been even slower without the very strong population growth being experienced.”

    On balance I feel this study — whilst contradicting my Leaver point of view within the first few sentences — does some provide some evidence that the very high immigration of the early 2000s did not immediately translate into higher GDP growth, albeit the study itself says they don’t move directly in lockstep.

    Logically, it might be expected that there would be some ‘speed bumps’ from temporarily very high immigration, so perhaps that explains the lack of an immediate GDP response in this particular data. But on balance, I still feel it’s worthy of consideration

    Of course, many Leavers don’t like immigration because they don’t want foreign people making the UK feel less like “their” UK (despite the fact that in many areas where the Leave vote is very high, such as parts of the North of England, inward migration is very low).

    As you’ve said before @TI you can’t argue with people’s personal taste. Perhaps people should just be candid about it rather than setting up a series of bogus straw men.

    Well that’s me done, I’ve said enough. I’m off to read some more data and learn about things rather than just peddle what I thought was common sense. Cheers for the discussion.

    But you didn’t.

    Please feel free to explain your theories to the rest of the entire Internet, in many parts of which you’ll find a ready and supportive audience.

    @David — People can say “I have my prejudices, just like you do, and I want my country my way regardless of what the data says and even if it costs us/me.”

    I’m not aware that I’ve ever said that wasn’t a legitimate view, if expressed that way, even if I have different tastes.

    Saying “all the world’s academics are wrong and/or in on a conspiracy” or even “facts are hard, everything is shades of grey it turns out, I’d rather believe people like Eugene who tell me exactly what I want to hear that plays to my preconceptions” on the other hand is not a view worthy of respect.

    Then again, if you’re telling me that many (not all, perhaps not even most, but clearly from all evidence a lot) of Leave voters were too ill-educated / misinformed / stupid / short of time / motivated by prejudice to give a sensible view on Brexit then I don’t disagree.

    The only thing stupider then some of the arguments we still hear for Leave was the decision to ask people who either couldn’t or wouldn’t analyze this very complex situation to tell us what we should do via a Referendum.

    Which shows you that an Oxbridge education isn’t everything. You can still make idiotic misjudgements. Perhaps that’s where we can agree.

  • 71 The Investor November 3, 2019, 7:25 pm

    p.s. Eugene followed his hyperlink to the Sheffield study with the line…

    If Brits want rising living standards we’ve got to stop using massive low skill immigration to boost the economy…

    …implying that this is what the study said.

    It didn’t say this. And in fact in an awkward note for fans of Leave For The Good Of The Economy! theorists, the study’s concluding points included the line:

    It is not clear that the UK can develop a growth model in the foreseeable future which functions without strong population growth.

    If a future Conservative government were more successful in curbing immigration, and therefore population growth, an alternative economic strategy supporting capital-intense industries may be required.

    I’m closing the comments here. I’ve battled multi-shape-shifting trolls on the Internet since the early 1990s, and there comes a time when you have to stop giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’re discussing in good faith.

    Cheers for 96% of the comments, including most of the Leave-minded ones.

    See you [on this subject] in six weeks. (Can’t wait! Ahem. 🙂 )