Morning Briefing: Brexiter resigns over extension - tumbling EU migration - Labour's serious thinking
There was some delayed fallout yesterday from Theresa May’s decision to meet MPs’ demands for a vote on extending the Brexit deadline. Eurosceptic agriculture minister George Eustice resigned, describing a potential delay as the “final humiliation”.
With the government giving its blessing to the Cooper amendment - which gives Parliament the right to instruct the PM to seek an extension - Eustice clearly felt that the timetable for leaving was beginning to slip.
Quite why he felt the need to resign is another matter entirely; only 22 of his colleagues voted against the amendment. Another 88 - including Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, and Jacob Rees-Mogg - abstained from voting. Eustice also stated that he would be voting for May’s deal when it comes back to Parliament.
Then again, similar confusion reigns among hard Brexiters in general. After months of iron discipline culminating in a confidence vote in the prime minister, the mood music has become far more conciliatory. Brexiters have been briefing a willingness to back May’s deal, so long as she resigns after Brexit day. Jacob Rees-Mogg has deviated from the European Research Group’s line on which changes to the backstop would be required to win his backing.
But hard Brexiters see an extension to Article 50 as a threat to their dream of a no-deal Brexit, as it removes time pressure that could otherwise prevent a compromise arrangement being found.
Eustice’s decision to resign from the government shows the prime minister is walking a fine line with the Brexiters in her party - even the ones who have stayed loyal until now. It leaves serious doubt hanging over whether she is anywhere nearer reducing that 230-vote margin against her deal in Parliament.
But this week also showed there is no majority for Labour’s proposed Brexit either. Brexit has become an intractable mess and voting on this or that deal which has been tweaked with at the edges or fiddled with at the fringes is not going to change that.
Thankfully there is a way to break this dangerous logjam: by taking the decision away from deadlocked politicians and putting the question back to the people. That is why hundreds of thousands of people from every region, country and corner of the United Kingdom will be marching on the streets of London on 23 March to demand Brexit is put back to the public in a People’s Vote.
Tweet of the Day
Pro-Brexit group Leave Means Leave is very happy to hear different voices - if your a man called John, according to Women for a People’s Vote.
Tumbling EU migration
Immigration from the EU is still falling, hitting its lowest level since 2009. That’s bad for businesses that rely on an EU-born workforce, for example in the healthcare, construction or hospitality sectors. It could also prove damaging to the government’s spending power. EU workers - and those from the wider EEA - paid a net £4.7 billion to the public purse in 2016/17. If they leave that means less money to spend on our priorities: the NHS, housing, schools or reducing inequality and bring our country back together.
Quote of the Day
“Migration statistics show a continued fall in EU migration – indeed, comparing the data with the most recent labour force statistics, it is very likely that more Europeans are now leaving the UK than are arriving. This undoubtedly reflects the impact of Brexit on the attractiveness of the UK to other Europeans.”
Migration expert Jonathan Portes suspects EU net migration could now be negative.
It's clear that the only way forward is a People's Vote. Now is a crucial time to get involved with the campaign. Sign up to volunteer today.
US plays hardball on trade
Donald Trump is setting up to play hardball on any post-Brexit trade deal. The USA’s negotiating objectives for a UK trade agreement include “comprehensive market access for US agricultural goods in the UK”, involving a demolition of the UK’s tariff arrangements, the removal of “unwarranted barriers” such as sanitary standards, and one assumes the subsequent decimation of our farming sector. Better still, the US wants to restrict the UK’s ability to strike new trade deals with countries like China. Wasn’t leaving the EU supposed to be the end of that sort of thing?
Video of the Day
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Top Brexit comment
Hugo Dixon: PM isn’t such a great poker player. We now know her tell (InFacts)
Philip Stephens: Britain has a chance to think again on Brexit (FT £)
What's your reason?
WATCH: Chris from Leeds is one of thousands of young people and students who will be marching on Parliament to demand a People’s Vote because they will be hit the hardest and for the longest by Brexit.
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Today, Friday 1st March
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