Monday 12 August 2019 - People's Vote

Monday 12 August 2019

Morning Briefing: Johnson CAN be blocked from carrying out destructive No Deal

With 80 days left before the October 31 Brexit deadline, Boris Johnson’s government appears to be driving the UK towards a destructive and undemocratic No Deal.

Labour’s home secretary Diane Abbott this morning on the BBC's Today programme suggested that her party is discussing plans for a vote of No Confidence with other opposition parties, but without full agreement on the way forward.

Given that Johnson himself and other prominent Leave campaigners explicitly ruled out No Deal in 2016, it should be blindingly obvious he does not have a mandate to force it on us now.

Attempts to subvert Parliament and impose this scorched earth policy on the British people simply to keep the most extreme Brexiters happy must be shown up for what they are: a threat to the very democracy they pretend to uphold.

Boris Johnson CAN be blocked from carrying out a destructive No Deal

Boris Johnson’s plan to impose his scorched earth Brexit on the rest of us just a few days before a snap General Election is not only deeply undemocratic, it can – and must – be stopped, according to the joint chairs of the People’s Vote campaign in Parliament. 

A strategy note circulated to 300 MPs over the weekend from Margaret Beckett and Dominic Grieve has been obtained by The Times and the Independent this morning. You can read more here. It shows why our campaign is now focusing on a simple democratic argument that it would be outrageous to inflict a No Deal on the people when Johnson and others explicitly ruled it out in the last referendum. 

They do not have our permission to do so and they know there is no majority in either Parliament or the country for it. Their idea that they can sneak it over the line on October 31 even in the midst of a General Election campaign before polling day on November 1 or November 8 should shock even the most cynical. 

Former Conservative Attorney General Dominic Grieve told the BBC’s Today programme this morning that MPs can reaffirm fundamental democratic principles before the UK falls off this cliff-edge.

Johnson cannot call a General Election without the backing of two-thirds of the House of Commons. Opposition parties including Labour should demand that as a condition of their support the Government should request another extension of Article 50 to allow for the people to express a view before the UK leaves the EU. 

If Johnson loses a vote of confidence among MPs and has an election forced on him, the same majority in the House of Commons can use the two week “cooling off period” established under the Fixed Term Parliament Act to make a similar demand for a extension covering the election period. 

The paper concludes by pointing out that Johnson, once he realises he would be fighting an election without Brexit resolved and Nigel Farage still on the prowl, may yet himself conclude the best way forward is a democratic final say referendum. 

Grieve and Beckett said: “We cannot rely on the Prime Minister taking the most democratic course of action. Nor can we expect him to follow the national interest. But it might yet be that even Boris Johnson recognises that asking the people to resolve this crisis is in his self-interest.”

No Deal would be "grotesque act of national self-harm"

Legendary Parliamentarians Lord Heseltine and Labour peer and former Speaker Betty Boothroyd came together yesterday to declare that No Deal would be a “grotesque act of national self-harm”.

The veteran duo co-wrote a piece for the Sunday Times that called for a People’s Vote to resolve the ongoing Brexit crisis.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Heseltine went on to tell Sky yesterday morning that the Conservatives will lose significant votes to opposition parties if they force through a destructive No Deal against the will of Parliament.

He said it would be an “intolerable position for democracy” and condemned Boris Johnson’s aide Dominic Cummings, saying: “It is absolutely central that parliament should be able to call to account people who represent them as ministers, and at the moment we’re being told by a particular figure, who’s proud of it, that he’s more or less running the show.” 

Pointing to the disastrous economic figures released on Friday, he continued: “The economy is stalled, inflation is rising and the pound is in serious difficulties and threatens to get worse, investment is on hold,” he said. “There is an atmosphere of total indecision and ineffectiveness at the heart of government. Because, let’s be frank, there is no parliamentary majority for what this government is threatening to do.”

Bailout fund for companies going to wall in destructive No Deal

Boris Johnson and his government, who told us that Brexit would be simple, a case of having our cake and eating out, are now planning a bailout fund to save companies going to the wall due to a destructive No Deal.

In an alarming recognition that No Deal will wreck many businesses and with the UK heading for recession, Michael Gove confirmed for the first time that ministers are working on a package to save firms.

A secret “at risk” list of big British employers has been drawn up with the worst affected expected to be in construction and manufacturing.

The bailout plans, known as Operation Kingfisher, are expected to be discussed this week by the PM’s Brexit “war cabinet”. It comes as the pound fell to its lowest level against the euro for a decade on Friday after the news that the UK’s economy had shrunk for the first time in seven years.

Meanwhile, a confidential document from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) revealed to Sky News that the government may be unable to stop EU fishermen from fishing the UK's waters as there are just 12 vessels available to police waters. It could lead to increased people smuggling and conflict between fishermen.

Once again, there is more evidence that No Deal will be a disaster for business and the economy. There is no mandate for a destructive No Deal; it is an undemocratic assault on the nation. It is time to Let Us Be Heard.


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

"We can change the standing orders at any time. We govern ourselves. We stick to convention because convention delivers the stability our country needs. But if we have a populist in government who is flouting convention and acting in a way that bypasses the sovereignty of parliament, parliament will respond accordingly."

People's Vote supporter Peter Kyle MP explains why the House of Commons may need to be unconventional in its response to Boris Johnson's undemocratic No Deal drive.

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More Brexit news...

Heseltine: imposing No Deal an "intolerable" attack on democracy (Guardian)

MPs opposing No Deal will need "new tactics" (Guardian)

Johnson could lose over half of 20 key marginals between Lib Dems and Conservatives (Independent)

Bailout fund to prop up businesses after Brexit (The Times)

UK "sleepwalking into oblivion", warns Gordon Brown (Sky News)

MPs plot to rewrite Commons rulebook to prevent Johnson forcing through No Deal (Independent)

More Brexit comment...

Michael Heseltine & Betty Boothroyd: MPs must thwart this bid to subvert Parliament (Sunday Times)

The Times view on Johnson's Brexit battle: No deal, no dice? (The Times)

Alistair Burt: No 10 should not seek to divide "the people" and politicians (Guardian)

Josiah Mortimer: Built on arcane conventions, our constitution has led us to democratic crisis (LabourList)