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Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner' – report

Really, that Much?

I'm surprised it saves even that much. I spent the first week looking at the live readings and since then the display has sat in the cupboard.

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Re: easy pickings

I suspect this post could be thumbed up by approximately 28 million households.

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Re: easy pickings

First rule of fishing for upvotes is not to talk about fishing for upvotes.

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Coat

Re: easy pickings

And the second rule of fishing for upvotes is to use a bigger internet.

Mine's the reticulated one, thanks.

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Re: Really, that Much?

Well i had a smart meter installed about 2-3 years agoe (EON) never looked at it and then switched to Sainsburys (British Gas) and the "smart" meter never worked again, they have to come and do a "manual" meter reading.

Apparently they did not think through the issue of people switching suppliers!

Never understood the reason for installing smart meters.

How CAN it save the consumer ANY money?

Now for the Supplier, not having to pay someone to come and read the meter might save them a few bob!

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Re: Really, that Much?

How CAN it save the consumer ANY money?

It is not there to save you any money. The real reason is to allow them to switch off your supply when there isn't enough electricity being generated because of over reliance on unreliables like wind and solar.

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Re: Really, that Much?

Suppliers aren't allowed to simply 'switch you off'. SLA's / Duty of Care and all that

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Re: Really, that Much?

...Apparently they did not think through the issue of people switching suppliers!

Apparently they began the roll out of smart meters before the standards for that aspect were finalised, later smart meters should support this (although I don't know from when this would be)

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Re: Really, that Much?

Suppliers aren't allowed to simply 'switch you off'

Except when they run out of generation capacity and need to lose some load. Or when they make a mistake.

But that is only the "plan B" for when "plan A" doesn't work. Plan A is simple :

Because successive governments have kicked the problem down the road, it's "quite likely" that we'll run into problems where supply doesn't meet demand - and renewables just won't fill the gap. The solution to this is rationing by price. When you get home on that cold dark (solar PV does work at night), when there's a couple of weeks of widespread high pressure across Northern Europe (windmills don't work when there's no wind) and want to cook your tea - you'll find the display flashing red to tell you that the price of lecky is up tenfold (or more).

So most people who aren't rolling in excess cash will either eat something cold or wait till early hours of the morning to have tea !

THAT is the primary function of these devices - (price) rationing.

And it's the one feature that they never talk about in public.

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FAIL

Re: Really, that Much?

"Except when they run out of generation capacity and need to lose some load."

this is the core of the problem: 'running out of generation capacity'. This is the 21st century. A shortage of generator capacity should NEVER happen, It seems CONTRIVED to me [in order to avoid doing things the RIGHT way, maybe, like has happened in Cali-Fornicate-You with Grey-out Davis, for example]

So yeah I've heard this song before. It sucked then, and it sucks NOW.

If they do the smart meters correctly, it would work like this: when capacity requirements are such that it costs more to generate electricity [because peaker plants come online], then the cost should simply vary based on demand and the actual cost of production. And they would LET YOU KNOW when the price goes up, maybe an indicator you could remote-install on certain outlets and switches, or something.

If instead they're being used to DROP YOUR POWER, like you aren't smart enough to turn a few appliances off and wait until after-peak, then it's ANTI-FREEDOM.

But warning you when the price goes up might be a necessary part to making this work... and I don't see ANYONE out there trying to mitigate the STICKER SHOCK that could result when your electric bill arrives, if the smart meters are simply used for 'Time Of Use' billing.

Last week we had a nice heat wave in Cali-fornicate-you, probably the last one of the year. The usual 'flex alert' warnings were out there. I didn't run certain appliances and kept my A/C and fans blasting, with the internal house temperature hovering in the 80F range [above their 78 degree imposed "limit"] because I don't have a really powerful A/C but it's good enough to keep things 'liveable'. And I expect a higher power bill. But I want to use the power, so I should be able to, right? But yeah, you can just ask people to "not do certain things" and as a general rule, they won't.

But if people would simply build more "peaker" generators, close to where the peak demand will occur, this wouldn't be a problem any more. Not at all. Those are usually diesel engine type generators, running on natural gas. Start 'em up at a moment's notice, run for a few hours, and shut 'em down. A bit expensive but it keeps the lights on. Extra cost is passed to the customer via variable rates. Nobody has to 'cut back', everybody's lights and air conditioners stay on. THAT is how modern society SHOULD be, not 3rd world "oh crap oh crap oh crap everybody shut things off, the 19th century power grid can't handle it." And then doing 'rolling blackouts' without warning...

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Re: Really, that Much?

I think you're confused between Energy Generators and Suppliers. One is a blackout, and tuther is remote switch off - which isn't allowed.

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Re: Really, that Much?

How CAN it save the consumer ANY money?

Sod the consumer. The electronic (I don't see any smarts) meter is so the billing company can save money by reading meters remotely. The thing that makes me think that it was cooked up by people with a business degree is that the meter readers are usually paid minimum wages. What's the point in spending lorry loads of money to eliminate some of the least paid staff? Knock out a couple of executives and you're looking at real money.

When's the whole Brexit thing going to be done?

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Re: Really, that Much?

Smart meters can save customers a fortune. But, and this is the kicker, not in the UK.

Here in New Zealand, we're at about 75% smart meter coverage already. But these aren't what you know as smart meters. These ones were rolled out sensibly.

What that means is that you don't get any "in-home display" of what power you're using, or anything similar. It's not a consumer toy. It's a tool for retailers. I work for one of said retailers, so I have some inside knowledge on this topic.

The result is - apart from cheaper meter reads - also more accurate meter reads. No more estimation, particularly when customers move in/out of their homes or switch retailers. And switching retailers has become much easier. That's because the meters don't belong to the retailers, they belong to separate metering companies that provide data to retailers.

And that has led to a veritable price war among retailers. There are at least half a dozen companies in the market now that will *only* accept customers with smart meters, because it eliminates a huge part of operational risk. And consumer prices have dropped about 20% over the past 3, 4 years.

The British rollout is just unbelievably silly. It's clearly cooked up by the (big, incumbent) retailers themselves, with an eye to keeping upstarts out of the market, and also helping themselves to huge wads of taxpayer money. But it doesn't have to be that way. Take a lesson from the Colonies.

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Re: Really, that Much?

The result is - apart from cheaper meter reads - also more accurate meter reads.

I think smart meters, of any kind, have been shown to have pretty questionable accuracy. The following article will be local to you and relevant

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11816828

In it at least one company admits to using Hall sensors in <= 1.5% of installations - inaccurate but usually favour the customer - whereas others mention nothing. Take from that what you will. Typically the cheapest meter they can lay their hands upon will be the one they use. That may mean that there are Rogowski Coil samples out there. Pray you don't have one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really, that Much?

"Now for the Supplier, not having to pay someone to come and read the meter might save them a few bob!"

Sure, but it turns out that when you split that cost across the whole customer base, it doesn't save that much.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really, that Much?

Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner'

Not to mention the cost of your online security/ privacy by using them in the first place!

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Re: Really, that Much?

What's to stop them having a 'computer glitch' causing you to be cut off?

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Re: Really, that Much?

So you're saying that in the past we could use what ever electric we needed and the price was static. That the great modern improvement to this is that the price changes all over the place and is a lot more expensive when we really want it.

No in a modern world energy should not be price rationed. Modern people should be able to afford the nessesaties of modern life.

The fact you are even thinking in these rationing type terms means the brainwashing has worked.

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Re: easy pickings

But is it recussated?

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Re: Really, that Much?

"...Apparently they did not think through the issue of people switching suppliers!"

Although they are for ever urging you to do that, and lamenting that not enough consumers do switch.

Left hand, meet right hand.

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Re: Really, that Much?

It's cheaper to do as many UK suppliers do - give the customer a (teensy) discount for doing your own readings.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really, that Much?

"Now for the Supplier, not having to pay someone to come and read the meter might save them a few bob!"

I don't think it saves them anything. My parents got a smart meter but apparently the supplier still wants to inspect it once a year. That's more often than my dumb meter gets seen by a meter reader.

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Re: Really, that Much?

Bingo. The UK is headed down the rabbit hole of needing to ration, then deny, power. First the push for unreliable electrical generation - i.e., wind and solar. Those making energy policy all over the world are mucking things up. Do you really trust the intellect of those who decided to burn woodchips imported from the US to power generating plants in the UK that are sitting on top of huge coal deposits?

Then there is the forced-conversion to electric vehicles, when there are NO plans to build the generating capacity, distribution lines, or recharging points neecessary IF average people are still to have vehicles.

Finally, there is this deployment of smart meters, which do not benefit the consumer who are paying for them.

Connecting the dots, I would say the intent is to push up electric prices so high, that only the elitist can afford to pay for the energy that the average bloke uses today. If you make power expensive enough (enforced by the smart meter), you can de facto ration power, so the average person consumes less. Then you don't need more power generation, more transmission lines, or charging stations. You can own a vehicle - you just can't afford to keep it charged. This strategy provides the same result as an outright ban on cars, but without the political fallout. There would be so much finger-pointing - it's the evil energy companies, it's your local electric company, the battery companies have failed us, we did it for the good of our children, the last PM put us in this postion, ...that no one would get the full wrath of the people. Meanwhile, elitist are driving on roads not congested by us mere mortals. Plenty of parking. No new road projects necessary.

And people become much easier to control. What happens to your ability to survive in today's world if power is cut off? How many have the supplies required to stay warm in the winter? Obtain their own food and cook it? And what would happen to communications - good luck organizing a coordinated protest.

We are being herded into a brave new world, and they have us believing we are doing what's best for our children. We may be actually selling them into slavery. Do not trust all the changes being forced on us. If the initial objective is not deliberately for ill intentions, these changes could easily be misused by others in the future.

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Re: Really, that Much?

Remote switch off IS allowed most everywhere I"ve seen smart meters. Don't pay your bill, they remotely switch off your power.

It's just symantics and regulations, something like this:

Reg #444: pricing may be based on real-time aggregate usage sufficient to match demand with supply levels to avoid black-outs.

Reg #555, when a subscriber's useage exceeds £x, suppliers can require REAL-TIME BILLING, i.e., immediate withdrawal if bank fund as the power is used.

Reg #666, should the subscriber not have the funds to pay for his real-time power consunption, the supplier may remotely terminate the delivery of power.

Reg #999, consumer protection act: the consumer shall have the power to temporarily suspend the delivery of power if the cost exceeds a threshold set in advance by that consumer.(we listen to and protect the consumer from evil powercos).

Symantics: "you have complete control over how much power you use and how much you pay," means, "we have contrived a way to ration your power and cut it off completely when we wish."

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@Mark 65 Re: Really, that Much?

I read that article. I also, and this I suspect may make me the only person in this thread to have done this, read the paper it was reporting. The words "monumentally overblown" come to mind.

First off: the error only affects three-phase meters. That's already a pretty small minority, and even smaller of residential meters. Of single-phase meters - the type my home, like nearly everyone else's, has, it says:

Several single-phase static energy meters were measured in various setups. [...] The results can be summarized in one sentence: no deviation beyond the specification could be observed; no influence of interference due to interfering or distorted voltage, and no influence caused by interfering currents were observed.

In other words: "the ordinary, domestic meters took everything we could throw at them and shrugged it off without even flinching".

Second: to get the huge errors the "coverage" screams about, you need not only a three-phase Rogowski coil (or Hall-effect, but those meters generally under-recorded so why would you complain anyway?) meter, but also a very, very strange configuration of load. Specifically, you need your entire load to be connected in series to a dimmer switch, with the dimmer switch permanently set to 135 degrees. I can't quite begin to imagine why anyone would have load configured like that, or why they would expect ti to be cheap if they did.

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Re: Really, that Much?

What's to stop them having a 'computer glitch' causing you to be cut off?

Who is "them"? What sort of "glitch" do you imagine could have that effect?

Because a "glitch" that could do that, could just as easily send airliners crashing into your hometown or cause every traffic light in the city to turn green at once. Some things are just - not within the scope of what "a glitch" could plausibly do.

No in a modern world energy should not be price rationed. Modern people should be able to afford the nessesaties of modern life.

Look, "the necessities of modern life" aren't free. Somebody has to generate, transmit, distribute and balance all that power, and that takes resources, and resources cost money. The purpose of electricity billing is to make sure that everyone pays as fair a share as possible of that cost.

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Anonymous Coward

Smart Meters are mainly good in making your whole house hackable

5 Eyes Network secret sponsors.

Smart Meters are the entry-gate and backdoor to eventually be able to remotely control everything in your house. But it won't necessarily be you, who's doing the controlling...

It'll go along with a progressive expansion of the meaning of the word 'terrorist'...

If you let your bananas spoil in the fridge, you'll show up on some list somewhere. :p

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Re: Really, that Much?

It is yet another ego trip for the E.U.which is financed by the long suffering energy consumers who have nothing to gain but everything to lose.

Energy suppliers are the only ones that will save money by not needing to employ any meter readers so they should be made to pay for the smart meters.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really, that Much?

"And people become much easier to control. What happens to your ability to survive in today's world if power is cut off? How many have the supplies required to stay warm in the winter? Obtain their own food and cook it?"

No wonder the gov't led media try to rubbish the 'prepers'. 40 years ago I trained with the CEGB, repaired mainframe computers to board level, and was taught the premise of power supply "at no time must a large number the public lose power for more than 24 hours" as they would revolt after missing 3 hot meals, with civil breakdown and looting likely to occur after 2-3 days, then Maggie sold off or destroyed the energy industries.

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Benefits

With the UK slated to leave the EU by 2020, it is unlikely that any financial penalties will result if the target is missed.

Best argument for brexit I've seen so far.

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Re: Benefits

Nah, they'll just add on a few £B for good measure for all the directives we won't have to follow.

My guestimate is that the bill will be around £60B minimum or £1000 for every one of us.

Do we still want this? Will we get a chance to have our say on the final deal?

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Re: Benefits

With the UK slated to leave the EU by 2020, it is unlikely that any financial penalties will result if the target is missed.

No penalties are likely on the government, but the prospective fines on energy suppliers are enshrined in UK law through the regulator OFGEM's standard licence conditions, and not imposed directly under the EU directive. So the UK government and/or regulator would need to repeal those conditions. However, because the UK government are fervent worshippers at the alter of climate change, they actually believe that smart meters are an essential part of forcing down your energy use. If simple visibility of the bills and rising prices driven by government policy isn't enough, then they hope that complicated time of use tariffs will compel you.

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Re: Benefits

@ Len Goddard

"Best argument for brexit I've seen so far."

Just one of many. Both for rules and for reduced costs

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Re: Benefits

@ Steve Davies 3

"My guestimate is that the bill will be around £60B minimum or £1000 for every one of us.

Do we still want this? Will we get a chance to have our say on the final deal?"

You do know the bill is the cost of already being in that we agreed to before the referendum? Whatever you believe the bill will come to if it is too expensive for you to consider leaving a good idea, you must absolutely support leave because remaining will cost far more.

Personally I will be unhappy if the gov pays more than our currently agreed costs (I think it was assessed around £36bn) as we have no good reason to pay the EU for the privilege of leaving. Something we are doing regardless.

Also no we wont have a choice on the final deal. If that was on offer then the EU just have to be total tossers and pretend we will be doomed to coerce the vote. Just like the remain campaign did for the referendum and remainers continue to do. Remember it was the pro EU gov who issued a direct and clear threat against the population if we didnt vote how they wanted. And some now seek to overthrow democracy. What scares me is the nutters demanding democracy is overthrown because we didnt vote their way!

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MGJ

Re: Benefits

I like the idea of a fixed result in a democratic decision making process; can we choose the 1945 UK General Election please. No Tories ever again, nationalisation and socialist principles at the heart of a workers government.

Oh, was it just decisions you approve of that can never be overturned?

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Unhappy

"Best argument for brexit I've seen so far."

Only argument I've seen for Brexit so far.

Or HMG could take a leaf out of the Germans book and say it it is not in their economic interest to p**s away this obscene amount of cash in the first place.

UK readers.

Now might be a good time to write to your MP and tell them "Do not wan, do not need. A massive waste of tax payers money, either by taxing directly (VAT on bills) or by the cash on the bills themselves."

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Re: Benefits

@ MGJ

"Oh, was it just decisions you approve of that can never be overturned?"

That is such a cute argument and its such a recent one as the others consistently fall apart. Although to think about it this is the first vote on our membership of the EU and we have yet to implement the result. But you want to overturn the result of a democratic choice before it is implemented because you dont like the result. So you want a 'democratic' vote to undo the democratic vote that has yet to be applied? And if it doesnt return the result you want I guess we will have to do it again (as that is the implication of what your saying anyway, revote because you dont like the result).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Benefits

My guestimate is that the bill will be around £60B

So, about 4 years of normal contributions then.

How much will the EU owe us in committed subsidies, investment and rebates?

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Re: Benefits

@ledswinger. This government is not interested in climate change - the important thing is to get shit smart meters into every home quickly so they can avoid putting in smart meters that are useful to the customer. If the customer had a smart meter that actually told them the price as it changed then that would be very useful to the customer but as it they are they are double extra shit.

When I'm in the house and its sunny I can have free hot water because I know I can turn my immersion heater on and it will be powered by my PV. If I'm in the office I cant tell how much the electricity company is charging me unless I get someone to pop round and have a look in the cupboard. Ditto 2am. I dont know of any electricity companies that will fit a smart meter that can do this but if you know of one I'd be happy to move. Except I'm in the country and they cant actually run one at my house yet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Benefits

"Although to think about it this is the first vote on our membership of the EU and we have yet to implement the result."

I seem to remember there was some kind of vote in the 70s, which went 67%-32%, much more decisive than the 48%-52%.

Of course, the UK had tried repeatedly (I wonder why?) to join the club throughout the decade before.

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Re: Benefits

@AC

"I seem to remember there was some kind of vote in the 70s, which went 67%-32%, much more decisive than the 48%-52%.

Of course, the UK had tried repeatedly (I wonder why?) to join the club throughout the decade before."

Your right. But since the EU did not exist then you are probably remembering a different vote. Maybe something to do with a common market?

And yes the UK tried repeatedly to join the club. But as MGJ pointed out above, such decisions can be reversed. And this time with the people actually getting a choice!

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FAIL

Re: Benefits

What scares me is the nutters demanding democracy is overthrown because we didnt vote their way!

You, sir, need to read up on the meaning of that word.

Or maybe you believe that one vote at a single point in time should stand for all time, even if it has been shown to be based on lies and fiction, and promises of something undeliverable, in which case may I introduce you to our supreme eternal leader Saint Theresa May...

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Re: Benefits

Although to think about it this is the first vote on our membership of the EU

*cough* 1972 *cough*

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Facepalm

Re: Benefits

@ Loyal Commenter

You may need to look up... the page a few comments. Both of your 'points' have been clearly addressed with my responses to MGJ and an AC.

I would also suggest you get that cough looked at

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Happy

Re: Benefits

"Best argument for brexit I've seen so far".

I agree, not much of an argument, is it.

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Holmes

Re: Benefits - financial penalties

The financial penalties are already being paid by all consumers on the grids and probably more for those with these IoS meters installed.

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Facepalm

Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

As has been pointed out that was a vote to join the European Economic Community, not the European Union, which wants to be a federal government for the member states. That choice was never before presented to the British people; it has been now and they voted that they don't want to be part of the EU.

Please get your facts straight.

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Re: Benefits

"I like the idea of a fixed result in a democratic decision making process; can we choose the 1945 UK General Election please."

Nobody is suggesting that we can't apply to rejoin after we've left, but right now we have already left and living two final years under the rules of membership is merely to give everyone time to adapt to the change.

We could have a second referendum to choose between "the deal on the table" or "hardest Brexit possible under WTO rules", but a second referendum on the decision to leave would require a time machine. We have already left.

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Re: Benefits

Isn't that what all the years of Brexit agitation have been doing? Didn't Farage say that this was what they would do if they lost.

So when Leave win by a tiny majority of those who voted, on the back of a lacklustre Remain campaign fought by politicians frightened of Ukip oiled by frankly lies and misinformation, that can't be challenged? Even when the reality is already starting to bite.

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