Friday 15 June 2018 - People's Vote

Friday 15 June 2018

Morning briefing: May's 'sneaky sting in the tail' - no 'Brexit dividend' - Lewisham East

“Unacceptable”. A “sneaky sting in the tail”. “Badly let down”. Those were just some of the angry responses by pro-European Tories after Theresa May rowed back at the last minute on her promises to give MPs a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal.

The row centres on an amendment tabled by Dominic Grieve, part of which aimed to give Parliament the power to “direct” the government if a catastrophic no-deal Brexit seemed likely.

To buy off a rebellion in the Commons on Tuesday, the prime minister had promised she would accept the thrust of the former attorney general’s amendment. And yesterday, Grieve agreed with the government's new detailed language to that effect.

But then at the last minute, the government added what Sarah Wollaston, another pro-European rebel, calls the “sneaky sting in the tail”. Instead of having a meaningful vote at the end of the Brexit talks, MPs would merely be able to consider whatever statement the government made without being able to amend it - the technical jargon is “a motion in neutral terms”.

Grieve said: “It is unacceptable. At the end of the process something was inexplicably changed, which had not been agreed. The government has made the motion unamendable, contrary to the usual methods of the House of Commons and therefore it cannot be accepted”.

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This eleventh-hour U-turn is unlikely to do May much good. The House of Lords plans to reinsert Grieve’s original text when the Bill returns to them on Monday. This will then be put before the Commons once more on Wednesday, as part of the parliamentary “ping pong” process. The difference this time is that May has lost the trust of her pro-European backbenchers. It means next week’s vote in the Commons is on a knife edge.

It’s another time-wasting mess. No wonder a poll in The Times today found two thirds of people think the prime minister is handling Brexit badly.


Quote of the day

“Theresa May has gone back on her word and offered an amendment that takes the meaning out of the meaningful vote. Parliament cannot – and should not – accept it.”

Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer slams the prime minister’s handling of the “meaningful vote” amendment.


Tweet of the day

This incredulous response from pro-European Tory Sarah Wollaston to the government's amending of Dominic Grieve's amendment. 

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Once again: There’s no ‘Brexit dividend’ for NHS

The NHS is to get £4 billion a year thanks to a “Brexit dividend”, announced the Telegraph on its front page this morning.

Let’s be very clear: there is no such thing as a Brexit dividend. The term is used by Brexiters as a shorthand for the misleading idea that we’ll have loads of spare cash after leaving the EU and not paying into its budget.

Not only has the government agreed to pay the EU £39 billion as part of a divorce bill. Not only does it want to continue paying significant sums of money into the EU budget to keep access to EU programmes. It has also been shown - by the government’s own calculations, no less - that any type of Brexit will make our economy smaller than it would have been if we stayed in the EU. A smaller economy means fewer tax receipts to spend on things like healthcare.

Brexit means less money for the NHS - not more.


Video of the day

WATCH: The Brexit deal will have a huge impact on the lives of millions of women across the UK. That's why thousands of them will be joining the People's Vote March on June 23rd to demand a say on the final Brexit deal.

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Foreign policy gets Brexit blow

The EU has told the UK that it cannot continue to participate in the EU’s foreign policy after Brexit, according to a presentation seen by Bloomberg.

That’s a big blow to the UK’s power and influence on the world stage. In recent years, we have been at the heart of EU-led initiatives such as  putting sanctions on Russia. According to Bloomberg, now the “bloc expects the U.K. to align its sanctions policy with the EU to present a united front, rather than make decisions together”. That’s a big knock back for a proud nation.


Graphic of the day

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Labour wobbles in Lewisham

Labour's Janet Daby has won the Lewisham East by-election, triggered by the resignation of Labour MP Heidi Alexander. Daby, a strong pro-European who has spoken out against the Labour leadership’s Brexit policy, won with 50.2% of the vote.

But the key stat here is the 19% swing to the Lib Dems, slashing Labour's majority and crashing the Tories into third place. That should especially worry Jeremy Corbyn and his inner circle. It’s a clear sign that pro-Europeans are not happy with Labour’s Brexit policies. Corbyn is stuck between fears of losing Remainer votes in the cities and Leaver votes in his heartlands. But, as I wrote for InFacts yesterday, there’s a way out - backing a People’s Vote.


Video of the day 2

The Royal College of Midwives is backing a People's Vote. Here's an actual midwife to explain why.

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More Brexit news…

GDP growth estimate is downgraded (Times £)

The Institute of Chartered Accountants has dropped UK growth forecasts for this year to 1.3%, down from 1.7%.

SNP membership increases by 5,000 after MPs' walkout over EU Withdrawal Bill (Holyrood)

'Fears growing' over post-Brexit border (BBC)

Retiring to Europe: the Brexit race is on (FT £)


Top Brexit comment

Daniel Finkelstein: Defying gravity: the Tory poll conundrum (Times)

Dani Garavelli: The SNP’s Brexit walkout shows Westminster’s contempt for Scotland can’t go on (Guardian)

Martin Kettle: Playing chicken over the post-Brexit Irish border (FT)


Looking forward...

Tomorrow, Saturday 16 June

- Labour Live festival