Morning Briefing: MPs fed up with can-kicking - Fox's broken promises - Honda hints at Brexit
MPs have had all the can-kicking they can take. Across both parties, members are lining up to tell their leaders that it’s time to get off the fence, take the threat of no-deal Brexit chaos off the table, and - in Labour’s case at least - back a People’s Vote.
First, we have the Telegraph reporting that 100 moderate Conservatives are willing to vote against May in forcing a delay to Article 50 if she cannot get her deal through Parliament. That number includes up to 25 ministers in her government – four cabinet ministers, and a swathe of junior ministers – all reportedly set to refuse to resign and force May to sack them.
Across the floor, Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts to avoid making a final decision on a People’s Vote are coming undone. The career eurosceptic has spent the last two years ducking calls to hold one, while saying just enough to encourage optimists that he could be persuaded in the right circumstances. The circumstances now are that “dozens of MPs… are prepared to join the new Independent Group in parliament or resign the whip”, reports The Times.
The Labour leadership are inching closer to a People’s Vote. Brexit lead Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor John McDonnell have met with Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, the two Labour backbenchers behind a proposed amendment, planned for whenever May offers another “meaningful vote”, which would approve the government’s deal on the proviso it was then put to the people.
Both leaders believe that they can find a deal that’s palatable to the country. If they could, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess. May’s offering was voted down by 230 votes back in January, and she has since pursued fantasy solutions at the behest of her hardline Brexiters. Corbyn’s plan, so far only laid out in a five-point letter, has yet to receive the same parliamentary scrutiny. That’s why Labour’s reported intention to put their plan to the vote next Wednesday is very welcome. MPs will finally have the chance to pick apart its many flaws and ambiguities.
The truth is that both May and Corbyn’s preferred Brexits would leave us poorer and less influential. They’d leave us sorting this Brexit mess out for years, as all the really big decisions get kicked down the road. And neither deal is as good as the one we have in the EU now.
MPs are beginning to understand this. That’s why there’s no majority for any of the Brexit options in Parliament, and why May is hoping to force through her dreadful deal by running down the clock. But the only way to resolve the deadlock by positively choosing an outcome is to give the final decision back to the electorate. That’s precisely what we’ll be calling for at the 'Put It To The People' march in London on March 23.
Tweet of the Day
Led by Donkeys have put their billboard in Islington up again, this time in a frame, after the council covered it up. Maybe Jeremy Corbyn will have a chance to read it this time and will come out in support of a People’s Vote.
Fox’s broken promises
True to form, the government is attempting to spin another one of its failures as a deft political success. The Department of International Trade has stated that our trade deals with Japan and Turkey will not be rolled over in the event of a no-deal Brexit on March 29, and that talks are still ongoing with many other countries.
Liam Fox has tried to spin this failure into a Brexit tactic, forcing MPs to back Theresa May’s negotiating stance. “The best way to avoid any disruption to our trade after Brexit is to leave the EU with a deal,” said the former Leave campaigner. If failing to do any preparatory work for a no-deal Brexit is a deliberate tactic, it is an awful abdication of responsibility. What this really amounts to is just one more promise the Brexiters have failed to keep.
Quote of the Day
“Brexiters promised that voting leave would mean a bonanza of new international trade deals that would make up for lost trade with the EU. Instead, Brexit is costing us the global trade deals we already have as EU members. Liam Fox is now finally admitting that his promise to roll over all existing EU trade deals in time for Brexit is going to be broken.
“The Brexit that was promised is a million miles from the one that’s being delivered. It’s already making us all poorer, costing jobs and investment and damaging our reputation as a global trading nation.”
Stephen Doughty, Labour MP and supporter of the People’s Vote campaign
Video of the Day
Honda hints at Brexit
Honda claimed that its recent decision to close its plant in Swindon is “not a Brexit-related issue”. The Guardian notes that this isn’t entirely believable; in a meeting last year, Honda management flagged up the damage Brexit could do to the factory by gumming up the flow of parts across the Channel and raising the prospect of tariffs on exports to the continent.
Honda has since changed its tune on its more recent message, stating that its “preferred scenario” for Brexit would see “frictionless trade, access to talent and regulatory alignment”, but that “no one single event” has led to the proposal to close the plant.
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Anglo-Irish relations another Brexit casualty
Ireland is ramping up preparations for a no-deal Brexit, with large sections of its economy facing “severe disruption and even collapse”. The Irish government and EU are concerned that the UK is attempting to use the damage to the Irish economy as leverage in securing concessions on the backstop. On the other hand, London might well point to various EU figures stated intent to use the backstop as leverage in securing concessions on future trade deals and note that two can play at that game.
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EU Commission will back Irish beef farmers in no-deal Brexit – Coveney (Belfast Telegraph)
Top Brexit comment
Timothy Garton Ash: The EU must resist impatience with Britain – for its own sake (Guardian)
Simon Jenkins: The City may thrive despite Brexit, but the rest of us won’t (Guardian)
Today, Friday 22nd February
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|09.30||ONS: Overseas travel and tourism figures|
Sunday 24th February
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