Morning Briefing: May delays Brexit details again - 'powerful forces' paranoia - People's Vote 'clearly possible'
Theresa May is scrambling to convince the country that her Chequers proposal - or whatever Frankenstein version ultimately emerges - is the only way forward for Brexit. She seems to have two main strategies. First, to keep things as vague as possible for as long as possible so as not to rock the boat in her volatile party. Second, to hammer home the simplistic message: “my deal is better than no deal”.
The PM appears to be doing quite well on the first front. The EU has postponed a draft political declaration on our future relationship, scheduled for tomorrow, instead publishing what The Times describes as a “sort of joint text” that will indicate areas of mutual agreement and disagreement over the outlines of a future trading and security partnership.
This means that, yet again, voters are denied the chance to see what the Brexit future might actually look like. This can’t go on. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has become the latest political figure to reject such a blindfold Brexit, saying her party would vote it down in Parliament.
Then there’s May’s “my deal is better than no deal” ruse. She has been gathering small groups of “helpful” cabinet ministers - such as Sajid Javid, Michael Gove and Greg Clark - to help orchestrate a public relations exercise on the topic, reports The Times. This will include an economic analysis explaining why her proposition is better for our public finances.
Of course this binary approach is based on a completely false premise. There’s a much better option which is far preferable on all counts: a People’s Vote giving the public the chance to decide whether they still want May’s muddled Brexit mess.
But for the time being it looks like the prime minister is planning to stay in the shadows and see just how far she can push her sickly Chequers 2.0 vision. It will be Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, not May herself, who addresses the Commons today on the progress of the Brexit talks. But don’t hold your breath for anything sounding like substance.
Video of the day
WATCH: Musician Olly Alexander tell us that Theresa May’s Brexit plan is “dangerous” and will be “extremely hard” to deliver.
Baker’s “powerful forces” paranoia
If May’s delaying tactics are meant to keep the Brextremists in her party calm, it’s not working. Steve Baker, essentially chief whip for the Brextremist ERG, has accused “powerful forces within the government” of wanting the softest possible Brexit and seeking to “create the conditions to rejoin” the EU later. This seems far-fetched, not least because the Brexit May is offering is actually rather hard.
Nevertheless, it means any Downing Street deal looks likely to be voted down by a core group of angry Tory Brexiters. Hence the charm offensive on a small number of Labour MPs to prop up May’s minority government. I have written why wavering Labour politicians shouldn’t be duped for InFacts here.
Tweet of the day
Miriam Merwitch, chair of Young Labour, has come out in support of a People’s Vote.
Fostering a compromise?
A glimmer of good news for May today: The Times reports signs Arlene Foster might be preparing to compromise on regulatory checks across the Irish Sea. Last night the DUP leader reportedly said her “red line” was recognising that Britain was Northern Ireland’s biggest market for exports and that any barrier to that trade would be catastrophic. And under the current plan, goods are only expected to be checked moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, not the other way.
The fact a Conservative prime minister has to focus so heavily on the needs of Northern Ireland must be frustrating many of the party’s supporters. Particularly when a YouGov poll revealed yesterday that 73% of Tory voters think the unravelling of the peace process is worth it, to “take back control” from the EU.
Tweet of the day 2
The NHS can only be supported by having a People's Vote, in order to allow staff from Europe to keep coming and working here.
People’s Vote ‘clearly possible’, say constitutional experts
A People’s Vote on the Brexit deal is “clearly possible”, according to a new report published by The Constitution Unit at UCL, entitled ‘The Mechanics of a Further Referendum on Brexit’. Well worth a read here.
It’s a welcome contribution to the debate, which backs up this campaign’s own ‘Roadmap to a People's Vote’, published a month ago. Both confirm that there are no insurmountable hurdles, if the political will is there. The idea of putting Brexit back to the people once they know more of the facts already made sense, but it’s important to know that it’s also constitutionally very doable.
WATCH: "I don't want to miss out on the opportunities that the EU gives us." Make sure you join us on October 20 to demand a People’s Vote on Brexit.
More Brexit news…
May must drop Chequers, says ex-chief whip (Telegraph)
Polly Toynbee: The rich say they fear Labour. It’s Brexit they should be worried about (Guardian)
Jack Simson Caird: The government is misleading us about how easy the Commons vote on Brexit will be (Times £)
Rafael Behr: On Brexit, the Tories are gaslighting half the country (Guardian)
Today, Tuesday 9th October
|-||Michel Barnier meets DUP leader Arlene Foster|
|-||Dominic Raab to update Commons on Brexit negotiations|
|14.00||Migration Advisory Committee chair, Alan Manning, in front of home affairs committee|
|15.15||Nicola Sturgeon addresses SNP party conference|
Tomorrow, Wednesday 10th October
|-||EU document on future UK-EU relationship published|
|-||EU ambassadors meet to set concrete plans on detail for October summit|
|-||Michel Barnier meets EU's College of Commissioners|
|09.30||ONS: UK GDP, trade, construction figures published|
|09.15||National Audit Office chair, Amyas Mores, and think tank chiefs give evidence to Brexit committee|
|10.00||Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen at House of Lords EU Financial Affairs sub-committee|
|12.00||Prime Minister's Questions|
|14.45||Brexit ministers at Commons procedure committee on scrutiny of delegated legislation|
Pharmaceutical, haulage, retail and small business leaders at Commons Brexit sub-committee