Morning Briefing: No breakthrough in Brussels - 'meaningful vote' for Christmas - Brexit delusions risk crisis
Theresa May did not get the reception she was hoping for at the latest EU summit. But, contrary to what newspaper headlines are suggesting today, that’s not because the other 27 EU countries are being stubbornly beastly. Nor is it the prime minister’s fault for making unrealistic demands - though she clearly has.
Theresa May is not the problem with Brexit, rather Brexit itself is the problem. It is based on contradictory promises made in 2016. The demands of Brexit are therefore impossible - not least delivering the clean break that Brexiters sold while keeping the Irish border open and the Good Friday Agreement in tact.
Yesterday our neighbours refused to give any assurances that we wouldn’t be trapped in an unending Irish backstop. The language on the other side of the Channel noticeably hardened. Out went pledges that the backstop “does not represent a desirable outcome”, that “it would only be in place for a short period”, and that the EU “stands ready to examine whether any further assurance can be provided”. In went commitments to the integrity of the single market first and foremost, and to ramp up preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
The headlines this morning gave the impression that the EU has deliberately set out to sabotage May: the block is issuing a “rebuke”, telling May to “get stuffed”, ‘humiliating’ her with a “refusal to budge”, she has been “snubbed”. This is not a fair representation of what’s happening.
Similarly, while May has probably not helped her own case - apparently pushing for a legally binding 2021 end date for the backstop without any idea on how this could be achieved, and even answering later questions with that timeless classic “Brexit means Brexit” - she is not to blame for this mess either.
The simple problem is that there’s no Brexit deal on offer that gives us everything we were promised. We cannot, no matter what Boris Johnson says, both have our cake and eat it. And it’s having to reconcile all the mutually incompatible promises the Brexiters made that’s put May in this bind.
Politicians are now stuck. It’s clear that no form of Brexit has a majority in Parliament. That’s why we need to put this decision back to the public in a People’s Vote.
Quote of the day
“We don’t want the UK to think there can be any form of renegotiation, that is crystal clear”
Jean-Claude Juncker puts it bluntly: this is the only deal on offer.
Video of the Day
A ‘meaningful vote’ for Christmas
The Sun is reporting that the meaningful vote on the Brexit deal could be held on the January 14. This would be beginning to cut things quite fine, and the Labour party is not best pleased by May’s attempt to use the pressure of the Article 50 deadline to bounce MPs into voting for her deal.
The Guardian reports that a number of options are on the table, including a no confidence vote before the Christmas break, an urgent question on no-deal preparations, or an emergency debate on May’s attempt to renegotiate the backstop. The plan, the Guardian reports a Labour source as saying, is to “throw the parliamentary kitchen sink at them. With all the trimmings”.
Tweet of the Day
Wes Streeting argues that now May is planning to resign before the next general election, the only way to hold her accountable is through a People’s Vote.
Delusions risk crisis
Ivan Rogers - the UK’s former ambassador to the EU - has slammed the government’s failure to be honest with the British public. What we need is “leadership which is far more honest in setting out the fundamental choices still ahead, the difficult trade-offs between sovereignty and national control”. What we’ve got is “a secretive opaque government” that has “repeatedly failed to explain to a wider audience what the real constraints and trade-offs are”. Rogers has a track record of clear-sightedness on Brexit: he is the man who previously predicted we’d be “screwed” if we started Brexit negotiations without a plan.
WATCH: Broadcaster and campaigner Sandi Toksvig explains that a staggering 90% of airtime during the referendum campaign went to men. Women's voices must be heard on Brexit, the biggest political decision of a generation. That's why we want a People's Vote!
More Brexit news…
Video of the Day 2
Luke Lythgoe: Brexiters have changed their minds, why can’t the people? (InFacts)
Arttu Rajantie: When Finland joined the EU it opened doors for me (Scientists for EU)
Today, Friday 14th December
|European Council summit|
|14.30||EU summit: closing press conference|