Friday 26 July 2019 - People's Vote

Friday 26 July 2019

Morning Briefing: Johnson's "divide and conquer" No Deal strategy gets EU pushback

It's been an extraordinary week in British politics as the man who put "£350 million for the NHS" on the Brexit bus became prime minister. Boris Johnson has come out with destructive No Deal threats, promised to rip up the Irish backstop and installed a hard Brexit government.

Now is the time to fight back and push for a People's Vote. There is no mandate for No Deal. No-one voted for that and the UK is facing a dangerous period with a cliff-edge exit and potentially damaging transatlantic trade deal with Donald Trump. There is a growing need to Let Us Be Heard.

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"Divide and conquer" No Deal strategy faces EU pushback

The first day of Boris Johnson’s premiership and the savage cull of anyone not explicitly loyal to him and his No Deal threats grabbed all the headlines.

But it also became clear how that No Deal strategy is supposed to play out. His plan appears to be to make such an impossible set of demands that the EU will never agree, and then to blame the failure of the talks on Europe and seek to build support for No Deal.

His problem is that nothing has changed. There is still no majority in the Commons for any deal or No Deal. There are still no answers to the huge economic costs of a destructive No Deal.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier is pushing the 27 countries to show "solidarity and unity" in the face of threats from Johnson and his hard Brexit Cabinet, while EU president Jean-Claude Juncker continued to say that the Withdrawal Agreement was the "best and only agreement possible".

There is much speculation that Johnson will use the so-called EU intransigence as an excuse to go for a quick election to change the numbers in the Commons. He is gambling that his “tough guy” routine will go down well with voters who have been shifting to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

It is a dangerous strategy: there is no mandate for No Deal. Only a People’s Vote can resolve the mess of the UK’s political stalemate.

Johnson's attack on patriots opposing destructive No Deal

Boris Johnson and his backroom team have clearly tested the positioning: if you are not “optimistic”, then somehow you are not a patriot.

Yesterday, in his first statement in the House of Commons as prime minister, with random promises of good things to come and seemingly a loosening of the purse-strings, the new prime minister was trying to get Conservatives to cheer up.

But he also accused Jeremy Corbyn and Labour of not being “optimistic” as he claimed we are at the “beginning of a new golden age” and that the UK will be the greatest place to live.

Mr Corbyn said he would fight a destructive No Deal and accused Johnson of “arm-waving bluster”.

The idea that recognizing and fighting a disastrous No Deal is somehow unpatriotic is both wrong and dangerous, but expect to hear this argument a lot over the coming months.  

An indication of the type of damaging policies likely to emerge with a shift from Europe to a transatlantic trade deal with President Trump came with a stated commitment to remove controls of genetically modified food.

People’s Vote supporter Caroline Lucas pointed out that he could not be clearer about his intention to use his plans for an extreme Brexit or even the disaster of No Deal to remove consumer and scientific protections against GM food, saying “This will just be the start”.

Labour caught in the headlights

It goes without saying that Boris Johnson is a totally different opponent than Theresa May but Labour seem to be stuck in the headlights from the media blitz off this week.

With growing talk of a general election, it becomes all the more important that Labour urgently clarifies its position.

The current ambiguity and mixed messages from shadow cabinet ministers on the party’s commitment to a People’s Vote – and campaigning to stay in the EU – could be disastrous for the party.

There is lots of work being done in the lead-up to conference to force a clearer position, but given we are now already halfway through the extension, that is a long way off.

There is no time to waste to bring a full-throated commitment for a People's Vote and to block No Deal.

It is time for Birmingham to be heard

The people of Birmingham are coming out in force to join the clamour to Let Us Be Heard on Tuesday July 30. For your free tickets, click here.

It's clear that Brexit must be put to the people. Now is a crucial time to get involved with the People's Vote campaign. Sign up to volunteer today. 


Quote of the Day

“We have members who cross the border to distributions centres outside Dublin with 45-minute windows. If there are any delays at the border and they lose the slot they go to back of the queue. We are not against Brexit or optimism. What we are interested in is the facts.”

Northern Ireland Freight Transport Association head Seamus Leheny wants politicians to be realistic about the Irish border issue.


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More Brexit news...

Barnier blasts Johnson's "unacceptable" demand to ditch Irish backstop (PoliticsHome)

Irish minister says Johnson's Brexit stance is "quite alarming" (Guardian)

Johnson's brutal reshuffle set to cost £250k in ministers' payoffs (Mirror)

More Brexit comment...

Philip Collins: Team Johnson is on a constant war footing (The Times £)

Stephen Collins: Confrontational Johnson makes it easier for Varadkar (Irish Times)

Lewis Goodall: No amount of hope or optimism will ease Johnson's challenges (Sky News)