Morning Briefing: Government's 'no deal' scaremongering - negotiations over - deal lets down farmers
The government is launching an all-out media blitz on the perils of a no-deal Brexit. This as news emerges of plans for 1,000 extra police being deployed to keep the peace in Ireland, and 150 university leaders declare that no deal would be “one of the biggest threats” the sector has ever faced.
No deal scaremongering is at fever pitch because the government is trying to strong-arm MPs into backing its bad deal. But MPs should remember that voting down the deal does not mean leaving with nothing in place in March. Parliament is sovereign and will have many options to take back control of the Brexit process, with a number of procedural tools for bending the government to its wishes - as Dominic Grieve and Chris Bryant explained in this recent People’s Vote campaign report.
The problem for anyone trying to sell the deal on its merits is that they are exceedingly few: it’s a worse deal than the one we’ve got as full-fledged EU members, it doesn’t deliver on the promises made in 2016, and we’ll be stuck negotiating Brexit for years to come.
Nevertheless, these reckless scare-story tactics must stop. Acute uncertainty over where we’re headed is now actively damaging the country. Take universities as today’s example: Russell Group institutions have seen a 9% fall in the enrolment of EU postgraduate research students this year following a similar fall last year, while uncertainty over the research funds contributed by EU schemes is causing leading academics to look overseas.
MPs have a responsibility to set a better course for the country. They need to first reject the government’s bad deal in a vote due later this month. Then it is time to get behind the only way forward: a People’s Vote.
Quote of the Day
"While we welcome the assurances that the government has already provided about the continuation of Horizon 2020 funding in a no deal scenario, it is critical that similar guarantees are extended, without delay, to cover ERC and MSCA funding.
"Without cast-iron assurances, world-leading academics and researchers may leave for countries where access to ERC funding is not at risk, and those currently considering relocating to the UK may think again."
Janet Beer, the president of Universities UK, on the damage to her sector of Brexit uncertainty.
Video of the Day
EU says negotiations are over
The EU is standing firm that its deal is the only one on the table. That means, barring cosmetic changes with no practical import, May will have to present MPs with the deal they informally rejected in December. They should reject it again now. Similarly, Jeremy Corbyn must accept that he will not be able to renegotiate his own deal with the EU. If Parliament cannot agree on a deal, and cannot accept no deal, then it should put the decision to the country in a People’s Vote - with the option to stay in the EU on the ballot.
Brexit deal lets down farmers
Michael Gove has been telling the world the government’s Brexit deal will guarantee farmers access to the EU market and provide much needed certainty to the sector.
But far from giving farmers any certainty for the future, the government’s plan for Brexit leaves all the big questions unanswered and successive governments will end up trying to make sense of a deal that makes no sense for Britain. It just means the debate about our relationship with the EU will go on for years. There is no kind of fantasy Brexit deal that can meet all the contradictory promises made by the Leave campaign - which Gove fronted - to farmers or the rural economy.
Tweet of the Day
FFS have plotted a course through the Brexit gridlock: avoiding the government's deal and straight to a People’s Vote!
The decision to give Chris Grayling yet another cabinet position continues to pay dividends. In his latest masterstroke, his Department for Transport awarded a £14 million contract for shipping supplies to the UK during a no-deal Brexit to a company without any ships, and with a website terms and conditions page which “appeared to be for a takeaway food business”. The department insists that due diligence was carried out.
More Brexit news…
Brexit referendum ‘may be only option’ - Gummer (Ipswich Star)
Caroline Criado Perez: A Singapore-style economy would be bad for public services – and worse for women (New Statesman)
Michael Chessum: Labour members want another vote. Jeremy Corbyn shouldn’t fear that (Guardian)
Chris Leslie: Backbenchers can take the lead to get out of Brexit mess (Evening Standard)
Today, Friday 4th January
Parliament in recess