Friday 31 August 2018 - People's Vote

Friday 31 August 2018

Morning briefing: Trump slams WTO - Hunt downplays Brexit progress - Sweden loves us

Hard Brexiters love reassuring us that we’ll be just ok crashing out of the EU with no deal because we will be able to fall back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

That argument (which was always weak) is now ridden with holes. Donald Trump popped up on Bloomberg to reiterate his loathing for the organisation, telling the world that “if they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO”, and describing the treaty to create it as “the single worst trade deal ever made”.

Words, surely, to give even the most ardent no-deal advocate pause. If Britain leaves the EU without a deal, it will be even more dependent on the smooth running of the global trade system than it is today, at a time when the US is actively undermining the organisations and norms that allow that system to prosper.


Remember that Trump has already launched a trade war with China and threatened to do the same with the EU - and was only stopped from doing so because the EU has the clout to stand up to his bullying, something we will not have if we fly solo.

Remember too that relying on WTO terms to trade with the EU would be vastly inferior to having full access to its single market - and vastly inferior to having access to over 60 other countries’ markets by virtue of deals the EU has cut with them. The WTO doesn’t eliminate tariffs; and it does little to reduce non-tariff barriers (the rules and regulations that gum up modern trade) or open up services markets, where the UK has a particular strength.

During the referendum two years ago, the prospect of Trump becoming US president - and creating a dystopian world where might is right - seemed a long shot. That he is doing precisely that is another new fact which justifies a People’s Vote at the end of the Brexit talks.


We officially launch our Women for a People's Vote campaign on Monday! Doors open 8.30am, the event starts at 9am at the Royal College of Nursing. If you’re in London please come join us as women calling for a People's Vote. For more details and to RSVP, visit People's Vote Events here.


Hunt downplays progress

Jeremy Hunt has attempted to lower expectations about an imminent deal, saying there is “a very long, hard road ahead” and that people shouldn’t “read too much into” Michel Barnier’s comments earlier this week that the EU wants “a partnership with Britain such as has never been with any other third country”.  The Austrian and German governments are inclined to agree, with ministers from both issuing statements supporting Barnier’s current negotiating mandate.

The Guardian has a good piece debunking the view that the European Commission’s chief negotiator said anything new. If the government is going to get a deal, it is going to have to make yet more concessions on its already miserable Chequers proposal. The next chance to do so will be when Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, meets Barnier for six hours of talks today.

Video of the day

Comedian Matt Lucas comes out in support of the People's Vote Campaign.


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Sweden would rather we stayed

Sweden’s state secretary for foreign affairs would like us to hold a People’s Vote. Annika Soder told reporters: “We look at the polls and we see that there may be some hesitation… and this may not be very polite but we hope that there can be a solution where the UK will still be in the European Union”. The campaign for a People’s Vote is also gaining attention elsewhere in the continent with a big piece in today’s Die Welt.

Quote of the day

“Wouldn’t that be a good idea.”

Sweden’s chief diplomat Annika Soder is decidedly undiplomatic on whether the UK should cancel Brexit


Tweet of the day

Former Conservative minister Phillip Lee explains how his concern for his constituents in Bracknell lead him to support The People's Vote Campaign. 


Who will care for our old people?

The number of 85+’s needing round the clock care will double in the next 17 years, according to a study in the Lancet. With the government currently doing everything it can to discourage EU health workers from staying in Britain, and committed to ending the free movement of labour, nobody know who’s going to look after our old people.

The only way we can hope to afford and provide social care for elderly people on this scale is if we have an open and dynamic labour market, supported by free movement. Throwing up the drawbridge will effectively condemn us, our parents and our grandparents to shoddy, second-rate and substandard care - if they get any care at all.

More Brexit news…

Dominic Raab prepares for six-hour Brexit talks in Brussels (BBC)

Can Theresa May build a 'new partnership' with Africa post-Brexit? (Times £)

Four in five civil service specialists dissatisfied with handling of Brexit (Guardian)

Study estimates 500,000 EU workers are in low-skilled UK jobs (Guardian)

Top Brexit comment

David Hannay: Gibraltar: Overseas and overlooked in Brexit debate (InFacts)

Frances Ryan: Now struggling families have a no-deal Brexit to add to their worries (Guardian)

Looking forward...

Today, Friday 31st August

- Parliament in recess
- Dominic Raab meeting Michel Barnier in Brussels
- ONS annual survey of goods and services


One for the weekend... Sunday 2nd September 

12:30 People's Vote Eastern rally in Cambridge