Morning Briefing: March with us tomorrow - May's '90 minutes of nothing' - CBI and TUC jobs warning
Tomorrow hundreds of thousands of people are heading to London for the Put It To The People march. There’s never been a more vital time for such a protest - after Theresa May’s meeting with EU leaders last night - read more below. It has never been more important to make sure your voice is heard by the prime minister and MPs in Parliament.
Be there at "High Noon" - midday - on Park Lane.
There will be a huge array of speakers from all political parties and walks of life in Parliament Square. They include the Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon and former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine. But this is a march for the people first and foremost, not just politicians. Speakers representing a diverse cross section of society will also be on stage demanding Brexit be put back to the people. These will include people working in our NHS such as Joan Pons Laplana, a Spanish nurse from Yorkshire (and former Nurse of the Year), who is one of the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK. Many young people, whose futures will be impacted most by Brexit, will also address the crowds.
Other keynote speakers - including surprise special guests - will be announced soon. Speeches are due to begin about 2.45pm in Parliament Square with all the action replayed on large screens in Trafalgar Square.
Make sure you sign up here so you don’t miss the chance to tell MPs that the only way to fix this Brexit mess is to put it to the people.
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‘90 minutes of nothing’ from May
Two important things were confirmed during the eight hours of talks at last night’s European Council summit. First, we’re no longer heading for a no-deal crash out next Friday - at the very least we’ve got until April 12 to make our next move. And second, the option of a longer extension is firmly on the table.
MPs must use the EU’s offer to stop Theresa May frittering away the next fortnight on backroom wrangling with her backbenchers and the DUP. If necessary, they should reject her broken Brexit deal a third time.
Then we must also be given time to chart a clear way through this crisis. That requires a long extension, and holding European Parliament elections. The prime minister is trying to scare people with this prospect. But the last thing a proud democracy like the UK should be scared of is a vote.
The other 27 EU countries were deeply unimpressed with May last night - “90 minutes of nothing” was the verdict on a question and answer session about whether she had a Plan B if her deal was rejected again. “It was not clear if she had a plan at all,” said one EU source.
This is clearly not “taking back control”. French president Emmanuel Macron, the FT reports, asked the prime minister: “Theresa, where are we going?” A question that is now on everyone’s lips and clearly not one May can answer.
May’s plan yesterday seems to simply be postponing the inevitable failure of her Brexit plan. But MPs and the rest of us don’t have to follow May’s desperate strategy, there is no reason to back her bad deal now. And actually, even if they did there’s no guarantee May will have her plan ready by the May 22 deadline the EU has given her to implement it if it's approved.
The EU has given us until April 12 to indicate our next move, and Tusk was clear that “all options remain on the table”. That includes a longer extension if the government can “indicate a way forward”. The clear way forward is to forget May’s broken deal, look at the other alternatives out there and then put whatever Brexit emerges back to the people.
May is now very much out of step with the public. Only 10% of people believe an extension should be used to get the government’s deal over the line, according to a new YouGov poll. If May is truly on the side of the public as she claims, she would acknowledge this and use the few weeks the EU have a rethink.
But so many promises have been broken and so many mistakes made that whatever happens next cannot be decided by politicians alone. Any final decision must go back to the people for their agreement.
These are tense times, but we’ve still got options. Tomorrow’s march is the perfect opportunity to send a clear message to politicians that this Brexit mess isn’t good enough. So many promises have been broken and so many mistakes made that whatever happens next cannot be decided by politicians alone. Any final decision must go back to the people for their agreement.
Graphic of the Day
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Labour's Paul Williams points to one of the ways to break the Brexit deadlock in Parliament - and it involves putting it to the people.
TUC and CBI say country is “facing a national emergency”
Theresa May is seriously considering allowing “no deal” if her deal is voted down, according to reports in the FT. This is despite the stark warning in a joint letter to the prime minister from the heads of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Trades Union Congress (TUC) that it would cause a “national emergency”. In a rare united voice they implored May to adopt a “plan B”. Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, and Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director-general said: “Our country is facing a national emergency. Decisions of recent days have caused the risk of no deal to soar. Firms and communities across the UK are not ready for this outcome. The shock to our economy would be felt by generations to come.”
Together they represent millions of workers and ten of thousands of businesses and their call for a new approach to Brexit to secure protections for workers and an open Irish border should not be ignored. They made clear “the current deal or no deal” must not be the only choice. The best choice to “protect the jobs, rights and livelihoods of ordinary working people” is to put Brexit to the people.
Quote of the Day
“This is a full-scale national emergency because businesses can’t possibly be ready for something like this. We are particularly concerned about small businesses, many of who have been overwhelmed by the uncertainty. They don’t have big head offices able to do the planning for them… It’s time for a new approach.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director-general speaking on Sky News with Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC.
What's your reason?
WATCH: "I'm marching because young people living in Northern Ireland are set to lose the most." Doire will be marching at the Put It To The People march on Saturday to demand a People’s Vote. Sign up HERE.
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10% fall in the number of EU Nurses
New staff figures published by the NHS show that it now has 2,300 fewer EU nurses than at the start of 2017, representing a more than 10% fall, and the numbers continue to drop. This reverses the trend from before the Brexit vote, when the number of EU nurses working in the NHS was rising steadily. In a survey of nurses and midwives who left the NHS in 2017, almost half of the 227 EEA nurses and midwives who responded agreed that “Brexit has encouraged me to consider working outside the UK”.
In total, more than 8,000 have left since December 2016, representing more than a third of EU nurses. A future projection of the figures from the People’s Vote campaign shows that the situation is set to get worse. Until the end of the current Parliament in 2022, the NHS stands to lose a further 2,863 EU nurses and midwives, bringing the total lost since the Brexit vote in June 2016 to 4,908.
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.
Top Brexit comment
Stephen Goodall: "I fought in the Second World War, now I am fighting for a second referendum" (Mirror)
Dan Snow: We are not powerless to stop Brexit. We must fill the streets (Times £)
Lisa Nandy: Theresa May has trashed our democracy and put MPs in danger (Guardian)
Today , Friday 22nd March
|-||European Council summit|
Tomorrow, Saturday 23rd March
|12.00||Put it to the People March|