Morning Briefing: 'Will of the people'? Only 2 constituencies want May's deal - stop playing games - Johnson's contempt
With just a day to go before MPs get the chance to show the prime minister exactly what they think of her Brexit deal, the message from their constituents couldn’t be clearer. Voters in just two out of the 632 constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales want their MP to support the government’s deal, according to the most in-depth research yet into public opinion on the issue.
Only in Christchurch in Dorset and South Holland & the Deepings in Lincolnshire do more voters support the prime minister’s deal than oppose it, according to the new constituency-by-constituency MRP analysis, which is based on YouGov polling of more than 25,000 voters.
That means that, if the “will of the people” so often invoked by the PM were to be taken literally, then even Theresa May would have to vote against her own deal - in her Maidenhead constituency voters oppose it by 54% to 46%.
This widespread rejection of the government’s deal might all seem like good news for Labour. But there is a sting in the tail for the opposition. The analysis also shows what would happen if Jeremy Corbyn watered down his support for a public vote on Brexit, as many in his shadow cabinet want.
If Labour was seen to enable Brexit then it could suffer catastrophic losses – including being wiped-off the map in Scotland – and whoever was Conservative Prime Minister would be sitting on top of a 200-seat majority after an election. Prominent Labour supporters of Brexit who would lose their seats in this post-Brexit wipe-out would include party chairman Ian Lavery in Wansbeck, shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett in Hemsworth, Melanie Onn in Grimsby and Caroline Flint in Don Valley.
Another positive bit of polling for a People’s Vote over the weekend looked specifically at voters who had only become eligible to vote since the 2016 Brexit referendum - some 2 million young people. 72% of new voters thought it would be unfair if the UK left the EU without them having been able to vote on the issue, the study by BMG on behalf of Our Future, Our Choice and For our Future’s Sake revealed. Three-quarters would back staying in the EU if a new referendum took place, with that number rising to 87% among those “definitely” intending to vote.
As politicians remain stuck in stalemate, calls for the final decision on Brexit to be put to the people are growing deafening. People will have the chance to demand just that a week on Saturday - March 23 - at the Put It To The People march. This demonstration is set to be huge, with people travelling from all regions and nations of the UK - including dozens of coaches from areas that voted Leave in 2016. Join them in London at noon on March 23.
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Stop playing games, ‘meaningful vote’ must happen
Having apparently exhausted talks in Brussels, the prime minister’s Brexit deal will but put before Parliament for a second time tomorrow - with what now seems almost certain to be no changes since it was defeated by a historic 230-vote margin back in January.
Or will it? Senior Conservatives have urged the PM to pull the vote once again, reports The Times. Downing Street has insisted the vote will go ahead. But the advice from Tories in the Commons is to replace a straightforward vote with a motion setting out the kind of Brexit deal that would be acceptable to her MPs to keep the party together.
These games must stop. We’ve been here before, and it’s a blind alley. Remember the Brady amendment at the end of January which asked the government to seek “alternative arrangements” to the backstop? A wasted month and half later and all we’ve got is more uncertainty, more business panic and deeper deadlock.
The deal needs to be presented, unadulterated, to MPs for their verdict - no matter how few Tory Brexiters or wavering Labour MPs May has failed to win over. If it is defeated, then MPs can take a chaotic no-deal Brexit off the table and push for an extension to work out another way forward. It will soon become clear that the only way forward now on Brexit is to put it to the people.
Graphic of the Day
The contempt is all Johnson’s
Failing to have anything constructive to bring to the Brexit table, Boris Johnson has instead launched another attack on the EU. He has accused EU leaders of treating the UK with “condescension bordering on contempt” in his Telegraph column this week. But the contempt has all been from Johnson and his fellow Brexiters.
Contempt for the voters when Vote Leave spewed Brexit fantasy and denied the painful Brexit reality. Contempt for the complexities of Brexit itself, for instance when Johnson didn’t do his homework and accepted the Northern Ireland “backstop” back in December 2017 before changing his mind. Contempt for business - “f**k business” being Johnson’s verdict last year. And contempt for this country’s future as they try to charge over the no-deal cliff without putting it to the people whether they want to, now we know what Brexit means.
Tweet of the Day
Turns out the "will of the people" changes! Read more HERE.
Hammond’s ‘deal dividend’ mirage
Ahead of his spring statement on Wednesday, chancellor Philip Hammond (who internally must be baulking at the damage Brexit is doing to UK business) is sticking to his promise of a “Brexit deal dividend”. The Treasury is promising a £20 billion investment in public services, claiming a Brexit deal is the only way to ensure the money need to end austerity.
His promise is built on sand. Even the government’s own analysis shows the prime minister’s deal means a huge hit to the economy - costing us around £100 billion every year by the 2030s, that we would have had if we’d stayed in the EU. The only way to avoid this economy damage is to keep the good deal we already have inside the EU. The most democratic way to do that is with a People’s Vote.
Quote of the Day
“Our Labour party was created to defend the interests of working people. What we have here is a prime minister playing fast and loose on the issue of workers’ rights. Our rights are not poker chips to be played with in the Conservative Brexit casino.”
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA union, responds to legal advice showing Theresa May cannot keep her promise on workers’ rights.
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.
Top Brexit comment
Editorial: MPs and Brexit: time to set a new course (Guardian)
John McDonnell: May’s Brexit bungling has pushed our economy to the edge of chaos (Times £)
Sam Gyimah: This is like Iraq all over again – we must extend article 50 (Guardian)
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Today, Monday 11th March
|PM||Lords debate further talks with EU under Article 50|
|16.00||Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay at Brexit committee|
|16.00||E-petition debate on leaving EU|
Tomorrow, Tuesday 12th March
|-||Second 'meaningful vote' on government's Brexit deal|
|09.30||ONS statistics on production, services, GDP, trade, construction|
|10.15||Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell at Commons Scottish affairs committee|