Friday 2 August 2019 - People's Vote

Friday 2 August 2019

Morning Briefing: Johnson's majority shrinks with by-election defeat

Boris Johnson’s parliamentary majority is down to one after the Liberal Democrats took the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election overnight.

With Plaid Cymru and the Green Party backing the Lib Dems and not fielding candidates, Jane Dodds became the new MP in Wales as convicted expenses fraudster Chris Davies lost his 8,000 majority in the highest turnout at a by-election for more than 20 years.

The Liberal Democrats won 13,826 votes with the Conservatives taking 12,401, a margin of 1,425. It was a bad night for the Labour party (1,680 votes), which was beaten into fourth place by the Brexit party (3,331), and only just held on to its deposit. Ukip (242) came last behind the Monster Raving Loony party (334).

In her acceptance speech, Dodds said: “People are desperately crying out for a different kind of politics. There is no time for tribalism when our country is faced with a Boris Johnson government and the threat of a no-deal Brexit.”

There could be worse news for the PM as People’s Vote supporter Dr Phillip Lee revealed that he is considering defecting from the Conservatives, as he feels “politically homeless”. Mr Johnson’s Commons majority is reliant on the confidence and supply agreement with the DUP: the numbers will become increasingly important when MPs return from the summer recess to do battle over a destructive No Deal.

It certainly gives No. 10 pause for thought over the option of going for a general election to force through their No Deal plans: even in constituencies that voted to leave, the Conservatives face losing to the resurgent Lib Dems.

Barely 0.1% of the public voted for Boris Johnson to be Prime Minister and he does not have the permission of the people to inflict a vicious and destructive Brexit on us - or a No Deal departure from the EU that he explicitly ruled out in the 2016 referendum. 


Leaked government documents reveal No Deal threats to UK

In yesterday’s Morning Briefing we said that £2.1 billion being put aside by the government to mitigate a disastrous No Deal was just a drop in the ocean.

Well, now we know how alarmingly true it is – and it comes from the government itself.

Sky News revealed last night a leaked official government document – marked “official sensitive” that says Britain will face “consumer panic”, gaps in security within weeks of leaving the EU without a deal and potentially challenges to law and order in Northern Ireland.

Within the first fortnight, there could be food shortages, friction at sea between UK and EU fishing vessels and possible increased risk of serious organized crime including smuggling and people trafficking.

And the Guardian has an internal Cabinet Office document circulating in Whitehall which outlines “reasonable worst case scenarios” and suggests the UK is less well-prepared for Brexit than it was in March with a real risk of panic buying leading up to Christmas, civil disorder, shortages of medicines and disruption to the food supply chain.

Both leaks are sober, realistic assessments, written without the expectation of publication, and so candidly show the potential consequences of a destructive No Deal which has no mandate and which is entirely driven by the reckless course being pursued by Johnson and his hard Brexit government.

The Bank of England yesterday warned that the UK faces a one in three chance of plunging into recession at the start of 2020 as the heightened uncertainty over Brexit drags down the British economy, even if a Brexit deal is reached. Governor Mark Carney said there would be an “instantaneous shock” from No Deal that the central bank would be unable to respond to and this morning told the BBC's Today programme that prices would for petrol and food would go up, saying" "It's just straight economics".

The National Audit Office - as well as the Commons Public Spending Committee - have said that they will investigate No Deal government spending.

As the government’s £138m propaganda campaign kicked off with a weak cartoon sent around on Twitter and ministers posed with “Brexit countdown clocks”, there is no disguising the potential jeopardy facing the country.

Dominic Raab accused of misleading public over No Deal

New foreign secretary Dominic Raab has been accused of “misleading the public” after claiming that Leave campaigners warned No Deal was a possibility during the 2016 referendum.

Sky News last night reported that Labour MPs, including Ben Bradshaw and Ian Murray, called on Raab to apologise, arguing there is "no mandate" for No Deal and vowed to hold him to account following his extraordinary claim earlier in the week that he had discussed the possibility of leaving with No Deal "almost every time I appeared" during the 2016 referendum.

The BBC’s Reality Check unit also investigated Raab’s comments during the campaign and concluded that he had consistently claimed that Brexit would mean leaving the EU with a deal.

A People’s Vote analysis earlier in the week demonstrated that a disastrous No Deal was never promoted as a realistic option, showing that there is no mandate for No Deal.

"Free port" move solves nothing

The government will today announce the creation of 10 “free ports” – onshore tax havens which allow companies to import and re-export goods without the usual tax and customs rules.

It is another desperate attempt to create an upside from a disastrous No Deal. 

People’s Vote campaigner Owen Smith MP said that creating a legal on-shore tax haven is more likely to suck away jobs from businesses that pay their taxes than anything else. “One industry could indeed boom – self-storage for art thieves’” he said.

He continued: "Absolutely none of this was discussed at the time of the 2016 referendum and Boris Johnson cannot claim any democratic legitimacy for inflicting his destructive Brexit on all of us and then turning parts of the country into tax havens." 

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

“Listen to the economy and listen to the people. You need to have a dialogue with business. I would visit Johnson to tell him this.”

BMW's CEO Harald Krüger's warning to Boris Johnson that No Deal is a "lose-lose" scenario, having previously said the company may stop making the MINI in Cowley with the loss of 4,500 jobs.

Video of the Day   

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More Brexit news...

UK faces potential "consumer panic" and "security gaps" under No Deal (Sky News)

UK less able to cope with hard Brexit than in Spring, say officials (Guardian)

Lib Dems win Brecon by-election (Brecon and Radnor Express)

Dominic Raab accused of "misleading public" over No Deal claims (Sky News)

Bank of England warns of recession (Guardian)

Post-Brexit plans unveiled for 10 free ports (BBC News)

More Brexit comment...

Denis Staunton: Johnson's vigour as leader mired in confusion over intentions (Irish Times)

James Forsyth: Who'll blink first - Johnson or the EU? (Spectator)