Morning Briefing: Race to the bottom on Brexit
The Conservative leadership candidates Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson are acting as if they have won the lottery with a fantasy array of spending promises in the billions. They are turning a Nelson's eye to the brutal reality that No Deal would be an economic catastrophe for the country - and are disgracefully pretending it would be tolerable. It is time to Let Us Be Heard.
Race to the bottom in Conservative election
It’s a race to the bottom in the Conservative leadership election as mild-mannered Jeremy Hunt tries to flex his No Deal tough-guy credentials to woo the 160,000 party members.
While he keeps espousing his experience as an entrepreneurial businessman, he has shifted his rhetoric and told Andrew Marr he would tell companies who went bust after a disastrous No Deal that their sacrifice had been necessary.
Whereas last week, he spoke of the Halloween deadline as “fake”, now he will push for No Deal and says he would look bust company owners in the eye and tell them it was necessary “with a heavy heart”.
Business leaders were quick to criticise the man who is now seen by many Conservative voters, according to a YouGov poll, as a less extreme alternative to favourite Boris Johnson.
This morning the contest has moved even further into the realm of fantasy, with Jeremy Hunt claiming he would "turbocharge" No Deal with a £20 billion spending spree including £6 billion to pay EU tariffs for farmers and fishermen who face destruction under his own No Deal plans.
Boris Johnson's latest proxy spokesman Matt Hancock says he will “show some love” to public sector workers with his own set of promises to boost pay. As usual with Mr Johnson, he says all things to anyone who will listen, so far promising to increase the minimum wage, raise National Insurance levels, boost lower income pay, increase tax incentives for the better off and provide more cash for police, schools, infrastructure and broadband.
Yet again, we are seeing fact-free and reality-free promises being made to a party electorate of only 0.25% of the population: they promise to take the country over a cliff-edge to post-Brexit oblivion and then somehow claim there will be unlimited cash to spray around. It is moving the deckchairs on the Titanic with neither candidate being honest about the devastating consequences for business, jobs, public services, the economy and health.
Both men say they are putting together new teams of negotiators to go to Brussels to try and get a new Withdrawal Agreement. The civil servant who led the UK negotiations for Theresa May, Olly Robbins, has announced he is to quit, no doubt before he got removed.
He became a convenient scapegoat for Brexiters who made a succession of incompatible promises to the British people and then blamed a civil servant for that fact that none of this could be delivered.
They talk about global Britain and us once again striding on the world stage, but then blame a civil servant, widely respected in Europe’s capitals for his dedication and diligence, for their own failures.
The EU continues to put together trade deals that we will soon be unable to take advantage of. After the Japan deal earlier in the year (potentially worth £3 billion to the UK), the EU have now agreed a deal with the South American bloc Mercosur after 20 years of negotiations.
Standing room only as Cheltenham calls to Let Us Be Heard
It was standing room only at Cheltenham Town Hall at the People’s Vote Let Us Be Heard rally on Saturday.
A rousing event saw a host of speakers – young and old – make the case against a destructive No Deal in the second of our summer of protest events.
Local Conservative MP Alex Chalk voted Remain, backed Theresa May's deal and came to our rally to listen. He made it clear he does not yet support a People's Vote but is really worried about No Deal, saying: "Avoiding no deal is the territory on which sensible, pragmatic moderates should choose to fight." He will have some big decisions to make in the next few months.
Bristol Students’ Union officer Hillary Gyebi-Ababio brought the house down, saying: “You have the ability to fight to be heard, fight to be properly represented. Our Parliament must act on the will of the people.”
They were joined by outgoing Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, Green MEP Ellie Chowns, former minister Andrew Adonis and Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton who told People’s Vote campaigner Alastair Campbell how his business wouldn’t exist without the EU.
Next Saturday, the third Let Us Be Heard event will be in Sunderland. Click here to get your tickets.
Labour's battle of the Macs
It was the battle of the Macs yesterday as two of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies demonstrated why he is struggling to fully come out for a People’s Vote.
Despite Mr Corbyn writing last week to European socialist leaders that “any Brexit deal that can be reached in Westminster must now go back to the people”, the Labour Party have yet to give full-throated support for a People’s Vote.
Yesterday Shadow Chancellor McDonnell said: “We must move now’, while Unite union leader McCluskey said there was no need to rush and that Mr Corbyn wouldn’t be “bullied” by the frontbench as he seeks consultation.
But there is a need to rush as the “unicorn” fantasies of the Tory election absorb the summer and Labour sits on the fence without showing full-throated support for the only way out of the political stalemate.
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
"Once the internal battle in the Conservative party is over, the same hard realities which shackled Theresa May will hit the new Prime Minister too. And we will have fourteen weeks to save this country from No Deal, to secure a People’s Vote and to Stop Brexit.
"Time and again in the past two years, when those prospects have seemed bleak, it is the People's Vote campaign which has lifted the chances and lifted our spirits."
Video of the Day 1
See our video of the great Cheltenham rally to Let Us Be Heard.
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Video of the Day 2
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Tweet of the Day
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People's Vote campaign news
LGBT+ for a People's Vote will be at London's Pride celebrations on Saturday.Catch up with them there.