Morning Briefing: Win for Labour as Brexit Party falls at first hurdle
The so-called rise and rise of Nigel Farage's Brexit Party hit the buffers last night as they failed to win their first seat, showing that local voters refuse to fall for the bluster and recognise the damage of a no deal Brexit.
Voters in Peterborough by-election reject no deal Brexit
There was no mandate for a no deal Brexit in Peterborough yesterday where Nigel Farage’s party failed to win a seat that voted 61% for Leave in 2016.
Instead, Labour defied the odds and most of the media expectations by holding on in a by-election win where the Conservatives came a distant third.
It vindicates the decision by People’s Vote campaigner, Femi Oluwole, to turn down the chance to stand as a “Remain Alliance”in the seat. Instead, Femi joined a huge local effort to halt Nigel Farage’s far right bandwagon in its first Parliamentary test.
Farage himself sneaked out of a side door just before the result was announced without doing his usual round of half a dozen TV interviews.
While it would be a mistake to read too much into yesterday’s result, there are a couple of takeaways from this. First, Labour may have won the seat but is still shedding votes to the Liberal Democrats and the Greens who have a clearer position on a People’s Vote. Second, the Conservative Party’s third place finish will make it a more difficult decision for whoever becomes the next Tory leader and Prime Minister to call a General Election.
There is no majority in either Parliament or the country for the kind of humiliating No Deal Brexit favoured by Farage and some of the Conservative leadership contenders. Without a General Election, the Parliamentary arithmetic against any Brexit deal will remain unchanged. So we should expect more MPs, including Conservatives, to recognise that the only way to solve the Brexit crisis is to let the people decide in a final say referendum.
Bridgend faces up to a future without Ford
The grim news was confirmed: Ford plan to close their Bridgend plant by September 2020, with 1,700 jobs lost – not counting the collateral damage locally and in the supply chain.
It begs the question of the real long-term damage to a town like this one in south Wales when such a major employer goes, the corner shop with no customers, the young people who can’t get a job, the families who will struggle to make ends meet.
Of course Brexit is not the only cause. Anyone can look at the motor manufacturing industry and see that. But Ford have consistently warned that the referendum result ensured it would not go well for their UK operations.
Local MP Madeleine Moon commented: “They made it absolutely clear that a hard Brexit without a customs union and the single market would make it impossible to operate here.”
What we are witnessing is the long, slow destruction of the UK’s industrial base as Brexit takes its toll and companies look for alternatives in an uncertain environment.
The government official in charge of delivering “frictionless” border arrangements after Brexit, including Dover and Ireland, has quit just two years into her job. Karen Wheeler, the director general of HMRC's border delivery group, was the lead official co-ordinating a cross-Whitehall response involving police, ports, customs and freight interests.
Her departure is as a blow to the government amidst fears that more key bureaucrats could move to the private sector – and that the UK will be unprepared for a possible no deal at the end of October.
The news of her departure came as it emerged that the Cabinet Office's spending on Brexit consultants shot up again in May, a further indication of the lack of preparedness across government for a No Deal Brexit.
Hardcore candidate Dominic Raab berated by Speaker
Tory leadership contender Dominic Raab is trying to be the most hardcore of any number of hardcore candidates by vowing to shut down Parliament in order to force through a No Deal Brexit.
His biggest success was in massively increasing the number of Google searches for the meaning of “proroguing Parliament” as the proposal was quickly kicked into touch by Speaker John Bercow. “That is simply not going to happen. It is just so blindingly obvious that it almost doesn’t need to be stated, but apparently, it does and therefore I have done,” he told the Commons.
The Tory leadership contest kicks off officially today when Theresa May formally resigns as leader.
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
“I have a message for this ambitious young man: you don’t treat our Parliament, our democracy or our people that way. If you even try to impose your No Deal Brexit on us by cancelling Parliamentary proceedings, you won’t survive as Prime Minister for five minutes, you will be booted out of office and you are not worthy of your seat in Parliament which should be reserved for those who deserve the title of democrats."
Former Speaker Betty Boothroyd lays into Dominic Raab for daring to propose shutting down Parliament to force through a No Deal Brexit.
Video of the Day
Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon reacts with horror to the news that Ford are to close the town's plant with the loss of 1,700 jobs.
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