Morning Briefing: Brexiters get over excited - SNP "won't stand in way" - thank Brexit for austerity
The Brextremists are getting over-excited about the EU calling for a Canada +++ deal. They haven’t got what they want - unless, that is, they are preparing to sell Northern Ireland down the river.
Donald Tusk said yesterday: “From the very beginning, the EU offer has been a Canada+++ deal - much further-reaching on trade, internal security and foreign policy cooperation.” But, in the same breath, the European Council president demanded that Theresa May "get down to business” and solve the Irish border issue.
When the EU talks about Canada+++, one of the pluses is that there has to be a legally-watertight deal to keep the Irish border open in all circumstances - the so-called backstop.
Nigel Farage urged May to “bite his hand off”. Boris Johnson crowed that Tusk’s comments marked a “superb way forward”. However, the former foreign secretary did at least add: “The first step to achieving a mutually beneficial SuperCanada deal is the removal of the Irish backstop so there is no threat to the Union whatsoever."
And that’s what’s so hopeless about the Brextremists’ proposal. It’s not just that a Canada-style deal would damage our manufacturers’ supply lines and do little to help our services industries. There will be no Canada+++ deal without an Irish backstop - something Johnson once described as a “suicide vest”.
Unless he has changed his mind and is prepared to agree border checks in the Irish Sea - something that would cross the “blood red” line of his new best friend Arlene Foster, the DUP’s leader - a Johnsonian negotiation would rapidly lead to no deal at all.
But the prime minister’s own emerging “Chequers 2.0” scheme is equally hapless. It involves even more rule-taking than her dead Chequers 1.0 proposal, including on trade with the rest of the world, as well as regulatory checks in the Irish Sea - and it’s not even clear the EU will accept it.
With factions of the Conservative Party still squabbling over miserable proposals that aren’t even viable, there’s only one reasonable solution: ask the people what they want.
HAVE YOU SIGNED THE PETITION FOR A PEOPLE'S VOTE?
SNP moves towards supporting People's Vote
Nicola Sturgeon has taken another step towards supporting a People’s Vote. In response to a question yesterday from the Lib Dem leader in the Scottish Parliament about whether she would back such a vote, Scotland’s first minister said: “On the issue of the People’s Vote, I have made it clear to the chamber and to others that the Scottish National Party is not going to stand in the way of that, so perhaps Willie Rennie should learn to start taking ‘yes’ for an answer.”
Previously, Sturgeon had said her Scottish National Party, which has 35 MPs in Westminster, would “not block” a People’s Vote, leaving open the possibility that the party might abstain when the crunch vote happens. The new formulation suggests it will vote in favour. But it would still be great if she was crystal clear about that.
Tweet of the day
Thank Brexit for austerity
Theresa May’s promise to end austerity will cost “at the very minimum” an an extra £20bn a year by 2022, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The FT’s best guess is the cost would be £35bn. Without Brexit, there would be no need for austerity at all. There would have been more investment and the economy would have been 2.5% bigger, so our deficit would now have been virtually wiped out. And no need to magic up money to fill a hole in the public finances. As it is, we already have £26bn less a year in the public kitty as a result of Brexit, according to the Centre for European Reform, and that’s before Brexit has even happened.
Video of the day
WATCH: Femi explains why Brexit is putting 7,000 jobs at risk in Sunderland because Toyota wants to keep all of its factories in the EU. Nobody in Sunderland voted to lose their job.
No deal recession
RBS is warning that a bad Brexit could cause growth to splutter to a halt, or even turn negative. With just six months to go until our nominal date of departure and very little clarification on what that will look like, businesses are increasingly anxious. A no deal Brexit could see investment in Britain slashed, bringing the economy to a standstill.
Quote of the day
“Big businesses are pausing, they are saying that in six months time I’ll have another look at the UK and I might come back, but if it’s really bad I’ll invest elsewhere - that’s the reality of where we are today.”
Royal Bank of Scotland CEO Ross McEwan says businesses are increasingly worried about a no deal Brexit
When is a deal not a deal?
Liam Fox thinks we should go with any deal that seems practical now so we can get Brexit through Parliament, following the line taken by Michael Gove. He thinks we can always chuck it once we’ve left. Fox believes that “it’s self-evident that if it’s a bilateral treaty, it can be revised later on”. This is not a great look for the trade secretary, who is supposed to make reliable commitments to bilateral treaties. It also means the public could be conned by a “blindfold” Brexit - and the hardliners push through an even more damaging form of Brexit if we quit.
More Brexit news…
Iain Martin: Brexiteers, brace yourself for a customs con (Times)
Chris Giles: May's 'end austerity' pledge creates £35bn annual Budget hole (FT)
Martin Wolf: Brexiters misunderstand the European project (FT)
Today, Friday 5th October
|-||Parliament in recess for conference season|
|-||Michel Barnier meets Northern Ireland politicians, including Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill|
|09.30||ONS: Productivity stats published|