Why did Remain lose? Because “a better organized, more passionate adversary won”.

Best, and most honest, post-mortem I’ve seen on the EU Referendum bar none from Daniel Korski, a foreign policy advisor to David Cameron:

When people ask me whether I think Project Fear lost us the referendum, I answer that Project Fear did in fact win. Just not ours. Our problem is that the other side was much better at fear-mongering. Their threats — of mass immigration, Turkey’s membership, and a European army — were far scarier to the British voters than our warnings of an economic slowdown.

But materially, he’s also right here. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail:

Winning would have required a much greater effort, much earlier on, to sway the electorate. One more attack on Boris Johnson, or another speech by Cameron would not have been enough. There were loads of things in hindsight that we should have done — such as deploy Ruth Davidson and Sadiq Khan much earlier or have gotten Cameron out on the road earlier — but I doubt they would have been critical.

And while all of Cooper’s focus groups said it was a head (economics) vs heart (immigration) contest, it was a mistake not to attempt to engage emotionally. We may never have been able to win those arguments but we should not have vacated the ground entirely.

But our biggest mistake was our failure to deliver the kind of deal we — and especially the media — had given the impression was possible. From the moment Cameron promised a referendum we should have built up the case for European cooperation, preparing the electoral battlefield we would eventually have to fight on. We didn’t. And so a better organized, more passionate adversary won.

But do read the whole thing

  • chrisjones2

    I agree that the battle was lost in the negotiation.

    Cameron simply accepeted the deal on offer too early. He might have challenged and fougtht more and postponed the referrendum until negotiations were complete.

    That reinforced the image of an unreformable EU and created a sense amoung many voters that the only way was out. Politicians then trying to market the EU like a tin of beans were always on the back foot – who would buy bad beans?

    There is a second more empirical analysis in the Times today. Its baseed upon a study by Eric Kaufmann, professor of politics at Birkbeck, University of London, who compared data from the US presidential primaries and the British referendum campaign.


    Its probably behind the paywall. The key finding was that the decision to vote out was not just based on economics Kaufman found there was no correlation between economic status and opinion in this ie it was not those who were economically ‘left behind’ who voted out but voting pattern showed a much stronger correlation to a sense of disconnection from the pace of change in their local communities and from London based elites on all sides.

    Most telling may have been the question “How much are you willing to pay to reduce European migration?”

    Of all voters, 62 per cent said they wouldn’t pay a penny to reduce migration by a single person, while 36 per cent of Brexit voters said they’d pay 5 per cent of their incomes to reduce European migration to nothing.

    It wasnt just a passionate advocate for Brexit – they were talking to a passionate audience

  • Abucs

    Look, of the groups voicing an opinion, an overwhelming percentage of media, MP’s, so called experts, companies and international partners were against Brexit.

    The Brexit side was a rag-tag group of strange bedfellows with much less funding and much less positive exposure.

    What more do you want?

    The majority of voters said differently.

  • Karl

    The better organised, more passionate side lost Indyref#1 in Scotland

  • hgreen

    Why did remain lose? A mixture of lies and a gullible electorate whipped up by a supportive media.

  • hgreen

    The reason Cameron didn’t get a deal is there wasn’t and won’t be a deal to be made. There is no way all 27 countries will accept special conditions for the UK.

    The decision to vote out was based on immigration pure and simple.

  • chrisjones2

    Read the articles ……. that is simplistic nonsense

  • chrisjones2

    “The decision to vote out was based on immigration pure and simple.”

    No …the study showed only 36% said that ….. and it wasnt even a sense of economic deprivation…… 36% were prepared to suffer a loss to break free of the EU but 64% didnt say that …it was much deeper.

  • hgreen

    What articles? More articles that attempt to ignore the big racist/xenophobic elephant in the room. Calling the UKIP rabble better organised is laughable.

    The referendum was a big dumb idea that appealed to the base instincts of many little Englanders and turned a complex nuanced question into a debate about immigration.

  • hgreen

    Yea yea. How many people will honestly say they voted out because they dislike immigrants?

  • Anglo-Irish

    The majority of voters were sick and tired of politicians,the EU, and whining from the Remain side who’s only tactic seemed to be putting the fear of the unknown into everyone.

    I was sick and tired of all of that as well.

    The Leave side were offering change, a new dawn and that appeals to people,especially if they don’t sit down and work out what it means, how’s it going to happen and who do we have capable of achieving it.

    Couple that with an element of xenophobic jingoism and the belief that Remain was going to win anyway and that’s how it came about.

    The reporting media, the bookies and Nigel Farage all thought that Remain would win.

    Based on that why not register a protest vote? Why not show the prats in Westminster that there are a lot of unhappy voters out here and maybe they should get their act together?

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • chrisjones2

    Quite a few actually ….36% admitted veiung motivated by stopping immigration …but it was about the nature of the immigration and its impact on their community, jobs, wages etc , …… not the immigrants personally although clearly many were concerned re that as well

    The other interesting thing was they specifcially referred to immigration from Europe not from further afield

  • chrisjones2

    Doh….MIck in his post suggetsed reading the full article on Politico. I then posted a link to a second today in the Times highlighting an English academic study

    So you dont read them and just accuse ‘little Englanders” of “xenophobia”

    {Slaps head in amazement}

  • Anglo-Irish
  • Abucs

    So did you vote in that way?

  • terence patrick hewett

    No: we cared: and you did not.

  • eireanne3

    and what role did the media and false promises play?

  • chrisjones2

    This is the equivalent of getting an Ardoyne Disser on tape andclaiming hes representative of 17 million people

    Sorry but I sugget a reputable academic study (while never perfect) tumps one angry man in a street

    Are we allowed to use ‘trumps’ these days?

  • Anglo-Irish

    I voted Remain.

    Despite accepting that the EU is far from perfect and requires change I believed that it was better than the alternative which as far as I could see was complete uncertainty.

    When we joined the EEC in 1973 we were in a bad economic way ‘The Sick Man of Europe ‘ was our nickname.

    Forty Three years later we are in a far better – if less than perfect – position.

    I am prepared to accept that a major reason for that improvement is membership of the largest Trade Bloc in the world.

    Brexiteers on the other hand appear to believe that it was not only all our own doing, but in fact the EU is holding us back from achieving greater prosperity and putting the ‘Great’ back in Britain.

    Having to renegotiate every trade agreement, with not one single UK resident having any experience of negotiating on behalf of a single country didn’t seem such a brilliant idea to me.

    Requiring the consent of each of the other 27 countries for all agreements leaves us with our fate in the hands of others.

    Hardly what the jingoists among us were looking for.

    Romania vetoed a trade deal with Canada despite every other EU member agreeing to it.

    It did so for purely selfish reasons, it wasn’t happy with the visa arrangements between the two countries.

    What happens to our negotiations if Spain for instance decides that it can resolve the Gibraltar situation in its favour by threatening a veto?

    All the pie in the sky talk of forging new trade deals around the world is made to look pretty ridiculous when currently four other EU nations are significantly more successful exporters than we are.

    And there’s this also.

    Nothing that has been said or done since the referendum has convinced me that those charged with making it happen have got a clue as to how to proceed.

  • Anglo-Irish

    So you think that they just happened to bump into the only man in the country with that view?

    I know a number of people who voted Leave and everyone of them stated that immigration was the main reason.

    Few if any of them were quite as obtuse as the man in Barnsley but immigration was their main concern.

  • Jollyraj

    “The referendum was a big dumb idea that appealed to the base instincts of many little Englanders and turned a complex nuanced question into a debate about immigration.”

    Not the whole story. A lot of people do seem to have voted in protest at seemingly out-of-control waves of immigration – and of course it is the poorer people who bear the brunt of that. The wealthy can afford to have several cars in the family – so they don’t care about crowding on public transport. The wealthy can afford to live in nice middle class areas – so they don’t care about what large numbers of immigrants coming in might do to the streets their kids walk home through. The wealthy work in jobs which, for the most part, new immigrants aren’t likely to compete for.

    So yes, I would say an objection to immigration (though mostly it was immigration from further afield than actually the EU that people were protesting) played a part – but the biggest single factor driving Leave was anger at the liberal left sneering at legitimate concerns which wouldn’t impact them personally.

    In short, people like yourself sneering at the “base instincts of little Englanders” (in itself an odd term since the vote was split in every region of the UK) probably more than any single group were the dynamo that got Leave across the finish line.

    Well done.

    And you still haven’t learned from it.

  • Jollyraj

    Slightly taken aback to find myself in full agreement with you. Strange bedfellows on the Remain side too, boys..

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well Jolly, as much as we disagree on one particular subject we might well find out that we agree on many more.

    Life’s like that, and it would be bloody boring if it wasn’t. : )

  • chrisjones2

    well Project Fear was so ludicrous it probably created far more Leavers

    A bit like SFs impact on the % who want to see a United Ireland

  • chrisjones2

    Read the study and see what bit said…they found 36% quoting that

  • eamoncorbett

    Before the referendum Project Fear was confined to one side of the debate , post referendum Project Fear applies to both sides.

  • Anglo-Irish

    As hgreen said earlier how many people will say they voted Leave because they don’t like foreigners?

    Do you honestly believe that everybody tells the absolute truth about their motives to a stranger?

    People will come up with a nobler reason for their actions if they can.

    Every single one of the people I know that voted Leave said immigration was their main concern.

    They had no reason to lie, they know me, they know that my views differ from theirs but they also knew that I know them and would have called BS if they’d come up with some other reason.

    Polls do not have the greatest reputation for accuracy do they?

  • hgreen

    It was racists and xenophobes who got Brexit across the line. However in your crazy view of the world “it was those horrible liberals on the left that made us racist and made us vote Brexit.”

    You blame the awful liberal left but not the real people responsible for the terrible inequality which you actually outline in your post.

    The vote was not split in every region of the UK.

  • Jollyraj

    ” “It was those horrible liberals on the left that made us racist and made us vote Brexit.” ”

    You are proving my point for me with that comment.

    “You blame the awful liberal left but not the real people responsible for the terrible inequality which you actually outline in your post.”

    Hmm… alright, then, I’m game: who are the real people responsible for said inequalities?

    “The vote was not split in every region of the UK”

    Yes, it was. In Scotland, Wales, NI and England opinion was strongly divided. Republicans here seem to want to pretend that practically everyone in Northern Ireland was a Remain voter, and all the English wanted to leave. Demonstrably not true. Many NI folk wanted out, many English voters wanted to remain in.

    The majority of British voters wanted out. That’s democracy.

  • hgreen

    Oh the vote was “strongly divided” was it. In that case we need to debate some more and it’s too early to trigger article 50. Run the referendum again and the decision would be reversed.

    Who are the real people responsible for said inequalities? That’s easy successive Tory and new labour governments.

  • hgreen

    Well then you are a sucker or lack critical thinking. Probably both.

  • Jollyraj

    “Oh the vote was “strongly divided” was it.’

    That is what I’m saying, yes.

    “In that case we need to debate some more and it’s too early to trigger article 50.”

    I agree fully. The near total lack of serious debate prior to the very serious vote was not only ridiculous, it was outrageous.

    “Run the referendum again”

    I disagree. That would be an abuse of the democratic process.

    “and the decision would be reversed.”

    Irrelevant. We can’t rerun it. What we could do is put forward the terms that would be imposed on us if we were to trigger A50 and vote on that – a different vote to the in/out one.

    “Who are the real people responsible for said inequalities? That’s easy successive Tory and new labour governments.”

    Well… who voted them in? That’s what democracy is – you get punished for your own stupidity. I would say the Blair era was an unmitigated disaster. At least the Tories are honest about what they are.

  • hgreen

    You are just one cliche after another. Why would running the referendum again be an abuse of the democratic process? Are we not allowed to change our minds? We can change govt every 5 years. Why is a referendum different? Because someone told you it is.

    If you think a party that gets only 37% of the vote yet gets total control is democratic we have different definitions of democracy.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Probably the best contribution I’ve read here in a while.

  • Brendan Heading

    Remain lost for the same reason the AV referendum was lost and – partially – for the reason the Scottish referendum lost. The winning side in all of these cases either ran dishonest or misleading campaigns or made promises that had no realistic chance of being kept.

    It’s fair to say that the Remain camp exaggerated a few times during the referendum. This pales into insignificance when compared with the colossal lie that came in the form of a promise to recover £350m per week; or the several other lies around Turkish accession to the EU. They ran a dirty campaign knowing that, as people who could never win seats in a national election on the back of a pledge to leave the EU, that they wouldn’t be held accountable to face the consequences of their message.

    That said, the result is the result and it’s here to stay. We’re all going to reap the consequences of this for quite some time to come. In the short term, pensioners and those with savings are facing a steep devaluation of their savings due to the inflation that will inevitably follow the drop in the value of sterling. It won’t be long before energy prices begin to rise significantly.

  • Anglo-Irish


    It really is a worrying time, I’m concerned as to the future of my children and grandchildren.

    I can understand and sympathise with many of those who voted Leave – not the xenophobes – but risking everything on a gut feeling with no actual facts and assurances to support it is reckless in the extreme.

    It didn’t seem to occur to many of them that just because things weren’t ideal that taking this step may in fact make things much worse.

    In my opinion, despite its obvious faults the EU has had a positive impact on the British economy.


    Leaving the wealthiest Trade Bloc in the world, and needing to rely upon our ability to trade in order to prosper despite currently being only the fifth most successful exporter in that Trade Bloc seems ridiculous to me.

    The English/British Achilles heel is unwarranted arrogance and that may well be what brings us down.

  • Jollyraj

    “You are just one cliche after another.”


    “Why would running the referendum again be an abuse of the democratic process?”

    Because the purpose of a referendum is to give the people a direct voice on major constitutional issues. I’m not a fan of them, generally, because they are populist gestures and cut out the expert opinion in favour of blatant emotional appeal. Nonetheless, if you call one you cannot then very well ignore the result and re-run it repeatedly until you get the result you like. Serious countries don’t operate like that.

    “Are we not allowed to change our minds?”

    Well, not really, no. Something like Brexit is a massive political earthquake which affects people across Europe. Why should they accept this becoming a ‘regular thing’? We’d quickly lose all credibility – and that is a major deal when borrowing funds as a country.

    “We can change govt every 5 years. Why is a referendum different?”

    Can you seriously not understand the difference?

    “Because someone told you it is.”

    Common sense tells us it is.

    “If you think a party that gets only 37% of the vote yet gets total control is democratic we have different definitions of democracy.”

    Indeed. And your definition of it seems to be wrong. Which party are you even referring to with this 37%?

  • Abucs

    Thanks for your thoughts on the EU which seem very reasonable.

    Regarding the process of Brexit, what you say may be true, but perhaps people being charged with making it happen are largely not representative of the people who want to make it happen. MP’s, civil servants, lobby groups etc.

    That seems to point to a deficit of democracy at the moment.

    I think that we can agree that however it plays out, we hope your children and grandchildren will be part of a roaring success.

  • hgreen


  • Kevin Breslin

    I think British xenophobes like foreigners who pay their dues to the Empire. In comparison to many pro-Brexit politicans Donald Trump seems like a moderate. Checking people’s teeth for finding out their age. Seriously?

    I think the only good thing from Brexit is hubris, the world won’t pay a nation that only manufactures xenophobia and lies. There’s an oversupply of it already.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Thanks for that, I hope so too but have serious doubts.

    Not too much actual action has taken place since the referendum but the bit that has doesn’t fill me with any degree of confidence .

    Take Theresa May’s recent promises to Nissan for instance.

    As someone who spent his working life in the private sector the inability of politicians to understand basic business is depressing and one of the main reasons that Billions get wasted every year.

    A few points arise as a result of the Nissan assurance.

    Firstly, as no agreement has been reached with anyone yet there is no way of knowing how much such a commitment will cost the taxpayer.

    Secondly, we have a number of foreign owned manufacturers in the UK including other car makers.

    Are they supposed to simply shrug their shoulders and see a competitor receive a major financial assurance without demanding the same deal?

    Thirdly, Nissan is in Sunderland, an area that voted for Brexit presumably – unless they are completely stupid – they must have been aware that there may well be consequences to their decision.

    Why should their workforce be protected?

    What about Scotland and NI, will similar consideration be given to areas that didn’t bring the situation about?

    We are in a situation where a knowledge of business dealings and negotiations with major long term consequences are going to be vital.

    Politicians don’t think long term, they only see as far as the next election and what they need to do to retain their seat, with few exceptions short term self interest drives their actions.

  • Reader

    Karl: The better organised, more passionate side lost Indyref#1 in Scotland
    They would have needed a miracle. They did manage to narrow the gap considerably over a long campaign.
    However, the headline for this article doesn’t do justice to the content, which more or less points out that Remain was up against it as soon as Cameron returned from his EU negotiations with a bucket of Europhlegm.

  • Karl

    Cameron was up against it as soon as he agreed to the referendum. You don’t get agreement nevermind concessions turning up to a few summits after 40 odd years of propagandising against the body youre looking for favours from.
    Farage couldn’t have believed his luck that Cameron was that stupid.

  • Reader

    Karl: Cameron was up against it as soon as he agreed to the referendum.
    Which is basically an admission that there was an inherent Brexit majority, isn’t it?
    As for the negotiations – it’s almost as though you think the EU side of the negotiations was handled by a bunch of moody resentful teenagers instead of the benevolent, forward looking statesmen that we know they are.
    But actually, I think the EU side of the negotiations was characterised by short sighted, narrow minded, national self interest rather than institutional resentment.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    No. You cant block the exposure of Democrat election rigging and Democrat agitation to create violence at Trump rallies. The truth can’t be stopped. Many people already know this on the internet. You should know also. 3



  • Jollyraj

    No point being sniffy to cover up your lack of an effective comeback, lad.

  • grumpy oul man

    Yep had a look yesterday, Abucs posted them,
    the only problem is there is no actual proof of electoral fraud widespread or otherwise in them, a lot of opinion and a lot of accusation but no facts.
    basically just personal opinion and propaganda dressed up as facts.
    to be honest it hard to see how anybody with a open mind could accept it as anything approaching proof of electoral fraud!

  • grumpy oul man

    I do love it when a unionist lectures somebody on accepting a democratic vote, Unionism only accepts a democratic vote when it suits them.
    From the forming of illegal army to oppose a democratic vote for home rule to the fleggers the history of unionism is opposing democracy!

  • Jollyraj

    “I do love it when a unionist lectures somebody on accepting a democratic vote”

    Indeed. Unionists shouldn’t be entitled to have or express an opinion. After all, Oliver Cromwell…blah…blah..blah..

    “Unionism only accepts a democratic vote when it suits them.”

    Yes – a privilege which should only be allowed to Republicans…

    “From the forming of illegal army to oppose a democratic vote”

    Uhmm…like the IRA?

  • Abucs

    Yes, it’s pretty shameful Sir Rants. The way the media presented Trump as an instigator of hate and violence at his rallies and now we learn the truth. The least they could do was admit a quick mea culpa and set the record straight.

    But i guess these days media is all about advocating, not reporting.

  • grumpy oul man

    And of course you should never point out history to unionists or they will go into a mope and claim that your not allowing them to have a opinion! And then of course mention the IRA (but never mention the unionist terrorists)
    Come on JR. grow up.

  • grumpy oul man

    Hispanics are rapists, ill pay the legal bills of anybody who assaults those protesters,
    No youur right trump is really a lovely guy.
    The democrats might have done a bit of winding up but if its not in them you cant get it out of them.
    Both sides are unpleasent but donalds dupes see violence as a right.
    By and large they are frothy mouthed ill educated bible bashing thugs.
    The descendents ( litterly descendants) of those who made black people sit at the back of the bus.

  • Jollyraj

    Boysadear… none so blind as the fundamentalists skulking on the fringes of the Irish Republican movement.

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh dear pointing out thr hyprocisy of unionists does seem to annoy them.
    Fundamentalists on the fringes of the republician movement! LOL

  • MainlandUlsterman

    There was also the fact that the two main party leaders were utterly unconvincing advocates for the EU. Cameron in particular spent years pandering to Eurosceptics and sounding cold towards Europe. Then he tries to push a button and be the EU guy. Likewise Corbyn. People sensed the lack of real conviction.

  • Jollyraj

    “Fundamentalists on the fringes of the republician movement”


  • grumpy oul man

    of course your right, anybody who dares to criticizes unionists or points out the hypocrisy of their utterance’s is a rabid republican fundamentalist! after all what else could they be (maybe a lundy but they would have to be a prod for that).

    by the way could you maybe give the criteria for “Fundamentalists on the fringes of the republican movement” it just sound like you strung a lot of words together but i am sure it wasn’t mopery or whatabourtry and you can define it for me.

    remember when you said that An Phoblact was as inaccurate as the National enquirer and then admitted you hadn’t read either publication (where did you get your facts from for that one) but im sure you have proof that i am a
    “Fundamentalists on the fringes of the republician movement”
    it just that you seem to call everybody who disagrees with you a Shinner or a fellow traveler, but that would be paranoia without actual proof.

  • Jollyraj

    Hysterical and overwrought, as is your habit. Thus, hard to respond to you.

  • grumpy oul man

    Very easy to respond i would have thought.
    When i pointed out unionists loose acquaintance to democracy you said i belonged to the,
    “”Fundamentalists on the fringes of the republican movement”
    While i can prove my point and am quite willing to (I believe I give some evidence) to , i asked you to define yours and show me how i fitted into it but you have not.
    It was (your comment) that old unionist thing where anybody who disagrees with you is a mad rebel, it says a lot for your mindset.