Friday 18 May 2018 - People's Vote

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Friday 18 May 2018

Merseyside MPs back People's Vote - Boris snookered - EU not enlarging

Four Merseyside MPs, plus the mayor of Liverpool, have broken ranks with the Labour party leadership to call for a People’s Vote on the terms of the final Brexit deal. Alison McGovern, Luciana Berger, Maria Eagle and Louise Ellman - three of whom are former Labour frontbenchers - have signed an open letter arguing that even with a free trade deal their region’s GDP could be 8% lower than without Brexit, which would be “catastrophic for already-stretched public services including our NHS”.

These five latest Labour figures to put pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to rethink his position on a People’s Vote follow hot on the heels of a call from five North East MPs with similar concerns.

Pressure is building in other parties too, with Jonathan Edwards becoming the first Plaid Cymru MP to back a People’s Vote. This is significant since Wales’ nationalist politicians have previously felt constrained by the fact Wales narrowly voted to leave.

Elsewhere voices ranging from the Royal College of Nurses to Gary Lineker have recently swung behind a People’s Vote. May’s Brexit deal will be a big deal - and it’s by no means a done deal.


Quote of the day

“We need look no further than the wise words of the Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, who said ‘let’s sit together again. Let’s think about it again and let’s vote again with the right information – not with the information you’ve got around the Brexit campaign.’”

Merseyside Labour politicians invoke Jürgen Klopp as they back a People’s Vote.


Video of the day

Here's former Labour leader Neil Kinnock calling for a meanignful say on Brexit for Labour members at the Labour party conference, ahead of MPs meaningful vote on May's Brexit deal in the autumn. 

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Boris snookered on customs, May snookered too

The prime minister’s latest scheme to avoid border mayhem - to stay in the EU’s customs union until some alternative whizzo technology scheme can be magicked up - demonstrates Boris Johnson’s impotence in the fake Brexit talks within the “war cabinet”. It also underlines Theresa May’s impotence in the real Brexit talks in the EU.

Johnson and Michael Gove were outgunned when the prime minister bounced them into agreeing this scheme on Tuesday. They must be mad as hell.

The prime minister’s proposal means following EU tariffs indefinitely - beyond the transition period that was supposed to end in December 2020. Fat chance then that we’ll be able to stride the world cutting our own free trade deals anytime soon.

That was, of course, supposed to be one of the big benefits of Brexit - although like so many of Johnson’s promises, it was based on fantasy. We have much more clout in global trade as part of the world’s biggest trade bloc than we would on our own.

The Brexiters’ rage must be reaching boiling point because they know that May’s latest concession on tariffs isn’t her last. She was told by the Irish leader at a summit in the Balkans yesterday that staying in the customs union won’t be enough to avoid border controls. We’ll also need to follow many of the EU’s single market rules. Leo Varadkar said: “I very much emphasised that resolving the issue of a hard border requires more than customs.”

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And that’s not all. In return for a longer transition, the EU may insist on “full acceptance of single market rules, regulators and courts”, not just some of its rules, according to the FT. That would mean also extending free movement of people and being forced to agree to “perpetual UK budget contributions”.

Finally, May’s hopes for a “time limited” period in limbo land could be dashed. The EU could insist that any backstop deal to avoid border controls in Ireland is a lasting guarantee. This means that, if the Brexiters’ magical technology never works, we would be stuck in customs purgatory year after year.

The prime minister is snookered because she knows it would be crazy to quit the EU without a Brexit deal - and the EU is adamant that there’ll be no deal without a solution to the Irish border. Meanwhile, the Brexiters are snookered because they can’t get rid of her. Half of Tory MPs need to vote against her in a confidence vote to trigger a leadership contest - and they don’t have the numbers.

Johnson didn’t think any of this through when he campaigned for Brexit two years ago. May didn’t think any of this through when she triggered Article 50 last year. We are likely to end up with a really miserable deal. All the more reason for the people to get a vote on it.


Tweet of the day

Another good analogy for the Brexit mess we're in, from the FT's chief political correspondent.

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Here’s how EU enlargement really works

EU membership looks a long way off for six Western Balkan states, following a summit with the EU in Bulgaria. While the EU wants to keep Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania close for geopolitical reasons, many EU members are worried about corruption and the rule of law in the six nations.

This is totally at odds with Leave campaign scaremongering that unstable Balkan states would be rushed into the EU before they were ready.


May’s royal wedding sleight-of-hand

Theresa May has been accused of “cowering in the shade” of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials to sneak more Tory Brexiters into the Lords, reports the Mirror’s front page splash.

The appointment of 10 new Tory peers (plus three Labour and one DUP) will help bolster May’s support in the upper chamber, which recently ravaged her EU Withdrawal Bill with 15 amendments. The move has been “on and off” for months, according to a source close to the Honours Committee, but the wedding is being seen as “a good time to bury bad news”.


Tweet of the day 2

Just a bit of Friday fun at Owen Paterson's expense...

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Cashing out on democracy

You may have missed a brief scoop this morning on the BBC Today programme. Apparently the government will argue that Brexit has saved us money by sparing the UK the cost of holding EU Parliamentary elections.

This will be worrying to democracy fans. Via our MEPs, UK citizens have a voice on meaty EU-wide topics, from product safety standards to environmental protections - areas in which we may be following the EU’s lead for years after Brexit anyway.

That’s not to mention the fact that the £109 million the government is so happy to be saving every five years is minuscule compared to the economic damage Brexit will cause.


More Brexit news…

Vote Leave strategist refuses to appear before MPs in fake news inquiry (Guardian)

Dominic Cummings risks being charged with contempt of Parliament - a serious offence.

UK referred to Europe's top court over air pollution (BBC)

Farm unions call for tariff free trade with EU (BBC)

Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler blasts Brexit and 'may have to leave UK' (BBC)


Top Brexit comment

Gina Miller: Extend the Brexit transition? It’s just another non-starter (Guardian)

Lara Spirit: Tory attempts to recruit youth are futile thanks to Brexit (InFacts)


Looking forward…

Today, Friday 18 May

- David Lidington in Spain to discuss Brexit
- Welsh Conservative Party Conference 2018

Tomorrow, Saturday 19 May

- European Movement National Action Day
- Royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
- FA Cup final