Morning Briefing: No clarity, no closure in Blindfold Brexit - 'no breakthrough in sight' - weakest growth since 2009
The Brexit we’re being offered will give no clarity and no closure, just a never-ending nightmare for British citizens and businesses, a new report by the People’s Vote campaign reveals today.
There is growing concern at the lack of clarity in the “Political Declaration” that was once supposed to set out the UK’s long-term relationship with its closest neighbours and biggest trading partner. It settles none of the big Brexit questions which have split the country, and which will also leave us economically weaker, less influential and potentially under threat from serious organised crime and terrorism.
Anyone who has found the last two years of Brexit by turns depressing, dispiriting, infuriating and plain boring – and there are plenty of us – will have their head in their hands at the prospect of the next decade being just be more and more of the same.
The new report looks at several key areas where we still have absolutely no idea what Brexit means.
- Our goods trade with Europe – where the UK side is still to formulate its objectives, the July 2018 Chequers proposal having died a death as long ago as last autumn.
- Our services trade with Europe – where hopes of an extensive service trade deal are almost certainly going to be dashed.
- Our security – where the government is already scaling back on hopes of extensive security co-operation.
- Our foreign policy – where the UK will be reduced to an occasionally consulted friendly state rather than having any significant influence.
- Immigration – where the UK’s stated ambition of ending free movement will have to be traded off with its desire to access the single market.
- The rights of our citizens – who are set to lose certainty and powerful legal recourse.
- Our trade beyond Europe – where the level of freedom Britain will enjoy is completely clouded by the desire to maintain strong trading relations with the EU.
- Our fisheries – where EU access to our seas looks certain to be traded for market access.
- Our agriculture – where UK farmers hoping for easy access to both European and world markets are surely set for disappointment.
This was not what the British people were promised. Right back in June 2016, Vote Leave insisted the UK would “negotiate the terms of a new deal before we start any legal process to leave”. May used to believe the same, saying “we will need to know what our new relationship with the EU is” at the point we leave. And as recently as October last year, then Brexit secretary Dominic Raab said: “There's no question of any kind of a blindfolded Brexit.”
The risks and vagueness of a blindfold Brexit do not just apply to Theresa May’s deal. Other softer Brexit options, such as the “Norway Plus” model or the five demands laid out by Jeremy Corbyn this week, are also focused solely on changes to the Political Declaration. Even if a future relationship is spelt out in great detail, the document is not legally binding. That’s why Labour members and supporters should not believe they will get a deliverable deal - even if May were to agree to Corbyn’s demands.
This blindfold Brexit is not what we were promised. It provides no clarity and no closure. And, if it goes ahead, blindfold Brexit will break Britain.
Quote of the Day
“There were once hopes, wildly exaggerated, that Brexit would be some sort of dreamland. But it is now clear it will not be an awakening for our country.
“Brexit will become like a bad remake of Groundhog Day with the country waking each morning not to ‘I Got You Babe’ but the latest reports from an endless low-intensity political civil war.”
Lord Kerslake, former Head of the Home Civil Service, who will be launching the new People’s Vote report ‘No clarity, no closure’ alongside Lord Kerr, former Head of the Diplomatic Service, this morning.
Tweet of the Day
Please share our report on social media - and let others know that this blindfold Brexit will break Britain.
Video of the Day
WATCH: Steven runs a boxing club in Sunderland. But his first job was at the local Nissan factory. Brexit means the factory will no longer produce the new X-Trail SUV. Now he wants a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.
Please share on Twitter.
‘No breakthrough in sight’
Theresa May held talks in Brussels yesterday. Nothing was agreed except more talks. Jean-Claude Juncker again repeated that the other 27 EU countries “will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement”. Any changes must be in the legally non-binding Political Declaration (see above for why that means a blindfold Brexit). Donald Tusk's summing up of the talks was that there is “no breakthrough in sight”.
And yet the prime minister is still vowing to deliver Brexit “on time”. This farce would be amusing if it weren’t trashing the economy, with UK-based businesses left in the dark and implementing increasingly drastic contingency plans to shut down production or move operations abroad. Workers are understandably feeling deep concern for their livelihoods as the clock ticks down to Brexit day.
If the government won’t act, then the MPs who represent those people must. It is now essential that Parliament acts to stop the UK crashing out of the EU on March 29 without any clue as to our final destination.
Tweet of the Day 2
Keir Starmer explains Labour’s new Brexit demands - and emphasises that a People’s Vote is still on the table.
Secret plans for no-deal Brexit
A secret group at the heart of the UK government is drawing up plans to kick-start the British economy in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the FT reports. The plan is being dubbed “Project After” by some ministers, and is being overseen by the head of the civil service.
It all sounds a bit serious. As do some of the plans being mooted. For example, the possibility of slashing taxes and raising spending has led to concerns that inflation might spike. That would mean price hikes in shops, raising interest rates and upping the cost of the government’s debt servicing. Another nuclear option would be cutting back tariffs on imports to keep prices low for consumers - but that risks UK farmers and other producers being wiped out by cheap imports from bigger economies like the US, Australia or South American countries. The fact such conversations have to be had in Whitehall shows just how reckless Theresa May’s gambit of running down the Brexit clock to pass through her deal really is.
Meanwhile one Brexiter said the group’s discussions did address the question: “Are there good things that we can do with no-deal?” The silence on that topic speaks volumes.
It's clear that the only way forward is a People's Vote. Now is a crucial time to get involved with the campaign. Sign up to volunteer today.
Weakest growth since 2009
If you wanted a measure of the damage all this Brexit uncertainty is already having on the economy, then look no further than the Bank of England’s analysis yesterday. The UK faces its weakest economic growth in a decade this year, returning to levels in 2009 just after the financial crisis. The Bank’s governor, Mark Carney, blamed “the fog of Brexit” as well as the slowdown of the global economy.
Carney told reporters “not everything may be tied up in a nice package” by Brexit day. That’s an understatement. Any Brexit deal would see the fog of Brexit swirling around the UK for years to come. The only way to end the Brexit confusion, infighting and damage is by staying in the EU, and the best way to do that is to hold a People’s Vote.
What's your reason?
Top Brexit comment
Chi Onwurah: Treating the Brexit negotiations like a car dealership needs to stop (Times £)
Luke Lythgoe: We’ll obsess about Brexit for ages unless we stay in EU (InFacts)
George Monbiot: Why disaster capitalists are praying for a no-deal Brexit (Guardian)
Today, Friday 8th February
|-||Theresa May meeting Leo Varadkar in Dublin|
|-||Gareth Thomas private members bill on Brexit public vote|
Tomorrow, Saturday 9th February
|-||People's Vote national day of action|