Morning Briefing: Christmas and nothing's clearer - Putin for Brexit - stopping 'no deal'
MPs headed off for Christmas yesterday with Brexit stalemate stubbornly hanging over Parliament and the country. The government’s Brexit deal has been found wanting, with the prime minister’s only tactic to kick any decisions into the new year - now expected in a vote by MPs in the week of January 14.
The first problem the government has in getting its deal through Parliament is because what was promised just can’t be delivered. Whichever way you voted two years ago, nobody voted for a deal that makes you poorer and offers less control.
Second, this is a much worse deal than the one we’ve already got in the EU. As a raft of independent assessments - and even the government themselves - have now acknowledged, the government’s proposed Brexit would severely harm our economy. In fact, any form Brexit would leave us worse off.
And if the government’s deal is approved, it would just mean the debate about our relationship with the EU will go on forever. All the big questions are still unanswered and successive governments will continue to try and make sense of a deal that makes no sense for the UK.
These same problems apply to any form of Brexit, no matter how it is presented. The promises of the referendum will be broken – not because politicians won’t keep them, but because they can’t be kept. No one can keep promises that are contradictory.
As this dawns on MPs, support for a People’s Vote is growing. Individuals in all parties have come out in support, with several Conservatives resigning from government to do so. Cabinet ministers like Amber Rudd are floating it as a “plausible” plan B. Increasingly, the idea of sending the question back to the public is gaining ground inside government too, according to a senior official speaking to Bloomberg.
Pressure on the Labour leadership is growing inside the party, with activists and MPs urging Jeremy Corbyn to pick up the pace in challenging the government’s deal and getting behind a People’s Vote.
Meanwhile people across every region and nation of the UK have come together to campaign for a People’s Vote. Opinion polls show support growing all the time, while hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to make their feelings heard.
There’s more work to be done in the new year. But it’s now clear that the only way forward is a People’s Vote. The final decision should now be handed back to voters - because only the people can sort this out.
The People’s Vote Morning Briefing will be publishing less frequently over the Christmas period - returning in full force on January 2. Thank you so much to all our readers, this campaign couldn’t have achieved the successes of 2018 without you. Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Video of the Day
Putin lectures on democracy
Vladimir Putin has made his support for Brexit very clear. The increasingly authoritarian Russian leader suggested that questioning the reality of Brexit today amounted to the “disrespect of voters”. He particular doesn’t like the idea of putting the final decision back to the people. “Doing it over and over again if someone did not like [the result]. Is it a democracy?” Well, yes. In democracies people are free to change their minds - especially if promises made previously cannot be kept.
Putin of course has a vested interest in the division and weakening of Europe, with Brexit set to make cooperation between European countries more difficult. Theresa May’s PR plan for selling her Brexit deal mentioned endorsements by foreign leaders - but this probably wasn’t what she had in mind.
Tweet of the Day
Former foreign secretary David Miliband provides some insight into Vladimir Putin's objections to a People's Vote.
MPs move to stop no-deal Brexit
The efforts to make sure a catastrophic no-deal Brexit can never happen continue apace. A senior group of cross-party MPs has tabled an amendment to the government’s finance bill, due to be voted on in the new year. This amendment would stop a clause on tax law coming into effect unless there were either a Brexit deal, a decision to extend article 50, or a vote in the Commons specifically approving a no-deal Brexit. If passed, this would confirm the power of MPs - and there is no majority for “no deal” chaos in the Commons. MPs are looking at other upcoming legislation where they can make similar amendments that keep the country away from the cliff-edge.
Ultimately, the government will find it very hard to push through a no-deal Brexit without Parliament agreeing first. But amendments like this take the sting out of Theresa May’s no-deal threats and offer some certainty to people and businesses amidst the Brexit confusion.
Quote of the day
“If the government won’t rule (no deal) out, then Parliament needs to find opportunities to stop the country reaching the cliff edge by accident – starting with the finance bill in the first week back, then looking at every other legislative opportunity too.”
Labour’s Yvette Cooper, one of a cross-party group of MPs behind amendments to the government’s finance bill.
Audio of the Day
LISTEN: Caroline Criado Perez tells LBC why a People's Vote is, by definition, democratic and that public opinion is now in favour of holding one.
Economy sapped by Brexit uncertainty
Brexit uncertainty continues to drain the economy. UK car manufacturing has fallen to its lowest level in a decade, declining by almost 20% in November. Meanwhile, overall consumer confidence is at a five-year low as shoppers fear for the stability of the UK economy, according to the GfK index. It’s all linked. The car industry is blaming “falling business and consumer confidence in the UK”. And the consumer confidence analysis blames the dip on “uncertainty around the outcome of the Brexit negotiations”.
This exposes the recklessness of the government’s attempts to run down the clock on Brexit to try and secure its deal. We need to end this uncertainty soon. The only way to do that is with a People’s Vote.
Video of the Day 2
WATCH: Brexit has been bonkers this year. The government has lurched from one crisis to another, and we’re still none the wiser what Brexit means.
It is now clearer than ever that the only way forward is a People’s Vote.
More Brexit news…
Peter Kellner: The polls are clear: support for staying in the EU has rocketed (Guardian)
Elsie Greenwood: As a young Unite member, Len McCluskey does not represent me on Brexit (New Statesman)
Today, Friday 21st December
Parliament in recess
ONS: GDP, business investment, consumer trends