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Do we really care about Brexit

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Brexit is slipping down the agenda fairly rapidly in this election. Politicians are realising, perhaps to their surprise, that other things matter a lot more to people in the UK.

Indeed, despite the fact the issue has dominated all news and comment for the last four years, this election may just prove how little people actually care about it one way or another. It also raises questions once more over whether there was really a need to hold a referendum - other than to settle a 40 year-old debate within the Conservative Party.

This weekend two non-Brexit issues dominated the campaign: on both there is internal party division and real passion amongst voters.

The Conservatives announced plans to get elderly people to use the value of their assets including property worth over £100,000 to pay for their own social care. In response Tory candidates have received an earful on the doorstep and talk shows such as LBC had a flood of callers, some saying they would switch their vote to Labour.

One woman who cares for her mother at home with the help of social services called into the Nick Ferrari show worried that when her mother died she would be left homeless. In an emotional plea, Anna from Putney said: "What's going to happen to me, Mrs May? Where are you Theresa May? What's going to happen to me?"

For Labour, Jeremy Corbyn is in just as much deep water with voters on his party's flip-flopping stance on Trident. In my interview with him on Saturday he confirmed Labour's "commitment" to the nuclear defence programme, but afterwards lamented how often he is asked about whether he would press the button and wondered why journalists weren't more curious about how politicians intended to bring peace to the world.

A fair point, but national defence really matters to voters and no one is blind to the Labour leader's dismissal of the idea that he would ever find himself in a position to willingly launch a nuclear attack, even if the UK was under attack itself. In which case, the UK may as well save itself £20bn on the hardware.

“In reality the EU as a campaign issue has been met by a giant yawn from an electorate whose tummy is already too full of Brexit.”

These hot election topics are far removed from Brexit. Theresa May triggered this election saying she needed a mandate to strengthen her hand in her negotiations with the EU. Many interpreted it as her wanting to destroy Labour while gaining more seats to control her potentially rebellious backbenchers who may challenge her eventual deal. But the EU negotiation is dimming into the background as an election issue.

The Liberal Democrats eyed an opportunity in this contest to tap into the 48% who voted to remain, while UKIP might have expected more loyalty from the 52% who voted to leave. In reality the EU as a campaign issue has been met by a giant yawn from an electorate whose tummy is already too full of Brexit.

A few weeks ago bookies were predicting the Lib Dems would win back 30 or so seats, but their fight back is yet to materialise and the party's seat numbers could even remain in single figures.

UKIP meanwhile is sailing below its meagre 2010 popularity levels, with a recent poll giving it just 2% of the vote down from 12.6% in 2015. It probably won't even take back Clacton.

You could argue all this is to be expected. We have had the referendum - both Leavers and Remainers want to move on, and that might be true. But you could go further and ask whether this is evidence that the EU question has unnecessarily hijacked politics for the last four years, ever since David Cameron called the referendum with his Bloomberg speech in January 2013.

Ipsos MORI's "Issues Index" contains over 40 years of monthly data showing people's answers when asked: "What are the most important issues facing the country?" For much of the 1980s, the percentage even mentioning Europe stayed in the low single figures. In late 1990 this climbed to 18% as Britain entered the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, growing to 33% during the Maastricht Treaty debates and slightly higher when Tony Blair flirted with joining the Euro.

However, the NHS and unemployment always remained top of the list of priorities and by the turn of the century interest in the EU began to fall. In the year before David Cameron called for the referendum, just four in 100 people told Ipsos MORI that Europe was one of the issues that mattered most.

Of course, once called for, the issue took fire and amid the Euro crisis and the immigration crisis - Europe gained more attention - mostly negative. Somewhere along the way the issue of EU membership became conflated with things that do matter more to people such as immigration, welfare and even the amount of money we spend on the NHS.

But did Europe just become more central to those issues due to a relatively brief electoral blip where UKIP looked to threaten a party already weakened by Coalition? An internal struggle within the Conservatives spilled into a UK-wide decision to settle the matter?

In interviews for a book called How To Lose A Referendum, David Cameron's former Director of Communications Sir Craig Oliver disputes this, insisting the referendum was "a slow train coming". He added: "There had to be a referendum, we held it and Leave won. And the fact that Leave won tells you something, doesn't it, about why there needed to be a referendum."

It's a rather blunt and compelling point from the man who coordinated the Remain campaign. Any argument against this might seem undemocratic. But then again, if you hold a referendum on a Yes or No question someone has to win. If you talk about it for long enough opinions have to be formed.

We also know that throughout the campaign a third of people felt one way, a third of people another and a third were in the middle - undecided. We know the result was close to a 50/50 split - more evenly matched than the question of Scottish Independence.

It's also clear that the UK has a schizophrenic desire to control EU immigration whilst maintaining the benefits of the Single Market and will probably end up five more years down the line with some kind of fudge.

Was it really worth it? It's starting to feel like Brexit has been a massive distraction from bigger issues that have been ignored for too long and are finally emerging in this election - even though it is of course all still supposed to be about Brexit.

An interesting article from Sky's Adam Bolton, and in some respect he is right, there are more pressing problems facing the eventual government of this country, and the question is can we trust Theresa May's party to deal with these problems in a fair way.
It would seem that having hit the less well of by cutting benefits the Tory's now want to attack the slightly better off by making them pay for the mess that this country is in.
The article below offers a different perspective.,-Lib-Dems

I voted to leave and I am not voting on the EU in this general election funny that this forum is full of tory supporters that put down the Labour leader about most of his views but no one puts down Theresa May about pinching Money from the elderly and taking away what they have worked for.

I've been too shocked about the PM's manifesto proposal about the cost of social care for the elderly - and especially the plan to take the value of houses into the equation for care at home - to actually say anything yet.

I'm even more shocked at Theresa May then changing the the plan within days and then declaring that nothing has changed.

I knew that I personally do not like her at all on a personal level, but now my view of her is really quite negative.

The real issue though is that the choice in this general election is between Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn as PM.  It's a dreadful choice as Corbyn is just so awful in terms of being an unapologetic terrorist sympathiser, anti-nuclear defence and unwilling to say he would actually use our nuclear deterrent ..... and to make matters worse his choice of shadow chancellor is actually financially illiterate. In an interview on BBC on Sunday, John McDonnell actually claimed several times that the money borrowed to renationalise several industries is not debt.  What he meant to say - or at least should have said - was that the debt would be self-financing as the industries that need to be bought outright from shareholders are profitable and can service their own debt.

I'm afraid that most people who will vote Labour are simply too economically illiterate to understand the terrible consequences for the country if Corbyn the buffoon became PM ...... but never mind .......... the Tories will stay in power and arrogant, difficult, shrill and wobbly Theresa will almost certainly do a few more U-turns to eventually get her policies right ...

So much for strong and stable ............ more like just about competent with regular wobbles, but still miles more competent than that utter buffoon Corbyn.

As for caring about BREXIT, I have found myself in recent days dreaming about brushing up my French and emigrating and then I wake up with a bump and remember I've just recently got myself elected to serve a 4 year term for 2 local councils ....

It appears that baldy subscribes to the Lynton Crosby approach to political debate, that of personalised abuse, the old hat diatribe and the Tory Party obsession portraying Jeremy Corbyn as an IRA supporter.
So lets look at the true position, to achieve the goal of securing a ceasefire he met Irish republican representatives, treating them as serious political voices rather than violent extremists beyond the pale of respectability.
In fact successive British governments maintained contacts with IRA leaders throughout the violence Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and four other IRA leaders were flown to London in 1972 for talks with the Tory government.
The regurgitation of this old hat rubbish strikes of political desperation, but despite this Jeremy has maintained a positive and polite approach, behaviour that we could all learn from.
On the issue of Trident it is obvious to all clear thinkers that this is no kind of deterrent to the threats we face from the terrorists, and it does seem that we are underfunding our security services when the attack we have seen on Monday cannot be avoided. 
John McDonnell made the perfectly valid point that successive governments issued bonds to achieve the money to invest in projects, this is not debt this is investment in the countries infrastructure.
The renationalization of the railways will be achieved by not renewing franchises when they come up for renewal and taking the rail companies back under public control.
All these policies have significant support, and the gap in the polls between the two major parties is narrowing as Jeremy Corbyn gets more positive coverage on the main stream media.
It would seem that Tories are incapable of thinking on their feet and debating political issues or even engaging with members of the public who haven’t been vetted by the Tory apparatchiks, especially now that the general election landslide that was expected seems to be diminishing.


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