Monday 10 September 2018 - People's Vote

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Monday 10 September 2018

Morning Briefing: Kamikaze Boris - No Deal Unrest - Operation Save Theresa

Hardline Brexiters are right to attack Theresa May’s Chequers plan. But they can’t come up with a viable plan of their own that they are willing to share with the nation.

Steve Baker says today that up to 80 Conservative MPs will vote against “Chequers”, leading to a “catastrophic split” in the party unless the prime minister backs down. The former Brexit minister’s comments come hard on the heels of Boris Johnson’s description of an element of May’s plan - the “Irish backstop” - as a “suicide vest” wrapped around our constitution.

Johnson’s attack - combined with accusations that his enemies have circulated a dirty dossier about his private life - have triggered a furious row in the Conservative party. Two ministers who served under him when he was foreign secretary have launched a counter-attack, as has the chair of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee. Several MPs have said they will probably quit the party if he becomes leader.

The hardline Brexiters say Chequers will turn us into a rule-taker - and that any deal May gets will be even worse than Chequers because she will have to make more concessions to the EU. Johnson says we’d become a “vassal state” - and he has a point.

But the Brexiters can’t agree what to put in its place. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s euphemistically named European Research Group was supposed to publish its own 140-page blueprint this week, but it couldn’t get Johnson to buy into key elements. When details leaked - such as an expeditionary force to defend the Falklands - Rees-Mogg dismissed the report as an “early draft”.

Other elements of the draft include giving away money that we won’t have post-Brexit to the NHS and to fund tax cuts - a theme Johnson picks up in his Telegraph column this morning. Promising to spend money that you don’t have is dishonest politics.

But an even bigger dishonesty is the hardliners’ “solution” to the Irish border problem - pretending they can keep it invisible by conducting customs checks away from the frontier. Despite the lack of a credible solution, they think the EU will agree an ambitious trade deal post-Brexit.

This won’t happen. Instead, if the hardliners manage to drive the negotiations, we will crash out of the EU in the most chaotic Brexit imaginable.

Is there an alternative to the miserable deal the prime minister wants and the chaos the hardliners would bring? Of course there is: ask the people at the end of the talks what they want.

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Tweet of the day

Armando Iannucci reveals who really runs the People's Vote campaign: you.


Operation Save Theresa

The EU is set to throw a lifeline to our struggling prime minister, according to the FT. The bloc will give chief negotiator Michel Barnier new instructions intended to help May shore up her position. Rather than revise any core principles, the bloc will simply wave away any meaningful discussion of the future relationship until after we’ve left. One unnamed diplomat quoted by the paper described this as a “save Theresa” operation.

Any attempt to hide from the people what Brexit means until it is too late would be a cynical betrayal of democracy. The public must have the chance to reject any ”blindfold” Brexit at the ballot box.


Quote of the day

“We have got to be rational and say that everything will not be wonderful because we are leaving the European Union”

Former Brexit Minister Liam Fox, who has spent the last two years telling voters everything will be wonderful because we are leaving the European Union.


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Javid refuses to rule out no deal civil unrest

A couple of months ago, Brexiters were dismissing the Amazon UK chief’s warning that no deal could cause civil unrest as “peak Project Fear”. And yet somehow we now have Home Secretary Sajid Javid popping up on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show refusing to contradict a leaked police document saying a no deal could mean calling in the army to handle a wave of violence and disorder. Politicians such as Labour’s Barry Gardiner and the Conservatives' William Hague are fond of telling us, without evidence, that a People’s Vote could cause “social unrest”. The reality is that it is a no deal Brexit that would risk civil unrest and damage our democracy.


No deal still worse than a bad deal

UK firms will have to stockpile £40bn of imports to cope with a no-deal Brexit, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. This would also scupper economic growth next year, according to KPMG. No wonder Liam Fox is back-pedalling from his previous optimism, saying he can’t promise a “rosy” future after Brexit. Can the Brexiters please remind us why they are so keen to quit?


Video of the day

This weeks FFS awards: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Mervyn King, and the tattered remnants of the Chequers plan.


More Brexit news…

  • EU plans 10,000 border force to tackle migration (FT)
  • Tory Eurosceptics' plan for Brexit: a new force to defend the Falklands (Guardian)
  • Tories in civil war after Boris Johnson Brexit 'suicide vest' remarks (Guardian)

Top Brexit comment


Looking forward...

Today, Monday 10th September

09:30 UK July Trade & July GDP stats released
From 14:30 General debate - Legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement
All day TUC Congress
- Carwyn Jones speaking at the IfG

Today, Tomorrow 11th September

09:15 Treasury Select Committee - The UK's economic relationship with the European Union.
09:30 ONS Labour Market stats released
from 11:30 Treasury Questions
All day TUC Congress