Morning Briefing: Germany asks us to stay - No Deal mess - No common ground
If we hold a People’s Vote and decide to stay in the EU, our friends in the rest of Europe will welcome us with open arms. That’s the clear message from a letter to The Times from a group of senior German leaders - including the woman who has replaced Angela Merkel as leader of the Christian Democrats, as well as the leaders of the Social Democrats and Green Party.
They write: “Without your great nation, this continent would not be what it is today: a community defined by freedom and prosperity. After the horrors of the Second World War, Britain did not give up on us. It has welcomed Germany back as a sovereign nation and a European power. This we, as Germans, have not forgotten and we are grateful.”
The signatories, who include business leaders such as the bosses of Daimler and Airbus and the legendary footballer Jens Lehmann, say that the UK will “always have friends in Germany and Europe” if we wish to leave the EU. But they add that “Britons should know: from the bottom of our hearts, we want them to stay.”
Brexiters say we will be humiliated if we stay in the EU. This is untrue. We are one of Europe’s major powers, with a string of achievements. Margaret Thatcher was the prime mover behind the creation of the single market, which underpins our prosperity. She also pushed for the EU to welcome into its fold Eastern European countries that had suffered under Stalin’s tyranny.
If we stay, we will play a vital role in meeting the challenges of the coming decades: fighting global warming, standing up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, stopping multinationals abusing their power, tackling international terrorism and ensuring China and America don’t bully us in trade. By leveraging our power in Europe, we will have greater influence on the world stage.
Being in the EU also enhances our soft power. As the Germans who wrote today’s letter to The Times put it: “We would miss the legendary British black humour and going to the pub after work hours to drink an ale. We would miss tea with milk and driving on the left-hand side of the road. And we would miss seeing the panto at Christmas. But more than anything else, we would miss the British people — our friends across the Channel.”
The signatories say “no choice is irreversible”. Now is the time to help lead Europe, not leave Europe.
Graphic of the Day
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No deal mess
The Telegraph reports that May faces mass resignations if she sticks to her guns and refuses to rule out a no-deal Brexit. The problem for May is that such an outcome would be the inevitable result of the legal machinery set in motion by the triggering of Article 50. The only way to guarantee that it won’t happen would be to put the option of revoking our notification back on the table - something the Prime Minister is vehemently opposed to.
May might be well advised to accept that she has lost this battle. With Dominic Grieve and Nick Boles working on a plan which could split the Conservative party, Philip Hammond briefing investors that Parliament could stop it, and Corbyn refusing to negotiate a plan B until it’s off the table, the PM is thoroughly outgunned.
Besides, the UK is not credibly prepared for a no-deal exit. After Liam Fox told the world that we could simply replicate every existing EU trade deal “so we’ve got no disruption of trade” - adding that “we’ll have up to 40 ready for one second after midnight in March 2019” - the current state of play according to one official is that “almost none of them are ready to go now and none will be ready to go by March”.
Tweet of the Day
The Government keeps saying that there isn’t time for a People’s Vote - but they are wrong: there is time if we want one as Anna Soubry points out!
Video of the Day
WATCH: David Blunkett on why a Norway style deal won't work for Britain and why we now need to have a People's Vote.
No common ground
May’s cross-party talks to find a plan B are going about as well as can be expected. The FT reports that the Prime Minister is insisting that she cannot alter her existing plan, won’t accept a customs union, won’t take no deal off the table, and doesn’t want a softer Brexit. In other words, the core of the problem is May’s belief that “compromise” involves her asking for what she wants and everyone else agreeing to give it to her. Corbyn, meanwhile, is instructing his party to boycott the talks unless Theresa May drops her no-deal threats.
As Hugo Dixon writes for InFacts, the experiences of Ramsay MacDonald and Robert Peel - who split their respective parties by working across the floor - loom large in the minds of May and Corbyn. Neither leader wishes to repeat their mistakes, and this may well stop any cross-party consensus emerging.
Quote of the Day
“@jeremycorbyn I have supported you and fought for you. Today, young Labour activists,members and supporters are telling you to fight for us. Fight against any 2nd rate Tory Brexit, fight for a public vote. Please sign and share”
May’s tricky timetable
Downing Street is telling MPs that arranging a People’s Vote on the final deal would take more than a year, and that it’s therefore off the table. Stop asking about it. No, we’re not showing our working. The plan, according to Chris Mason, was for the advice to remain unpublished - which all but ensured it would make the next edition of the Telegraph.
With reliable sources like the Institute for Government estimating that the process could take as little as 21 weeks, it’s safe to say that commentators are unimpressed. As David Henig notes, we’re expected to believe that the government can prepare for a no-deal exit in just eight weeks.
More Brexit news…
Top Brexit comment
Hold a second Brexit referendum (New York Times)
Today, Friday 18th January
|09.30||ONS: Profitability of UK companies|
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