Monday 22 July 2019 - People's Vote

Monday 22 July 2019

Morning Briefing: No Deal opponents line up against Johnson

It is the final day of the Conservative leadership election, the last chance for the party's 160,000 members - just 0.25% of the country - to vote for who will be our next prime minister at this most critical time in our history. At 5pm, the polls close and the votes are counted, but few doubt that Boris Johnson will win and we move into a phase when Brexit by October 31 "do or die" is the mantra. 

The opponents to this destructive No Deal grow by the day, ranging from former prime ministers to current cabinet members to business leaders, farmers, students and people from every corner of the UK. There is no democratic mandate for a No Deal. It is time to Let Us Be Heard.

No Deal opponents jump before they are pushed

The expected coronation of Boris Johnson as leader will come tomorrow and he will become prime minister on Wednesday. It has been a profoundly undemocratic way to choose the path our country takes on Brexit, particularly given both candidates say they would be happy to inflict No Deal on the country.

But Johnson’s crowning moment is shaping up to be less-than triumphant with a new group of patriotic, pragmatic and senior Conservatives refusing to bow down to his drive for a destructive No Deal.

Philip Hammond told Andrew Marr yesterday that he was planning to quit before he was fired as he could never sign up to backing No Deal, which is one of the conditions of being in a Johnson Cabinet. Justice Minister David Gauke, already named the head of the so-called rebel "Gaukward Squad" made similar comments in the Sunday Times. Rory Stewart and maybe Greg Clark will soon join them.

Mr Johnson can no longer fire and hire his own Cabinet in the traditional way. Senior and respected ministers are demonstrating their disdain for the new leader by walking first – and they will provide formidable backbench opposition for a government with a single-figure majority.

Starmer bids to build anti-No Deal alliance

Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said yesterday in the Observer that he is planning to talk to the former ministers to build a new cross-party anti-No Deal alliance, as we head into a big political week in Westminster before MPs head off for a six-week summer recess.

Later today, the Lib Dems will announce who will replace Vince Cable as their new leader after a relatively low-key election race between Jo Swinson and Ed Davey.

But the real drama will kick in on Tuesday when the Conservatives will reveal who wins between Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. Theresa May will have her final PMQs before going to resign to the Queen on Wednesday. Then the shenanigans of a new Cabinet will come.

Mr Johnson is insisting that all of his new Cabinet must sign up to a commitment to No Deal. We will see who has the guts to join Hammond and Gauke in fighting an undemocratic and destructive Brexit outcome.

Johnson's moon landing "unicorn" answer to the backstop

Boris Johnson compared Brexit to the moon landing in his Daily Telegraph column this morning – urging a “sense of mission” and the use of technology to solve the Irish border problem.

It’s a familiar approach from the probable new Conservative leader: flowery rhetoric and blind faith with no detail on what these technological solutions are or how they would avoid the need for border checks. 

Ireland’s politicians have no faith in this, as deputy prime minister Simon Coveney reiterated yesterday, saying that the solutions in place haven’t changed and that a new UK PM who demanded to scrap the backstop would be saying “I’m going to burn the house down for everybody”.

Johnson’s new tactic appears to be to let the EU stew through the summer, expecting them to come crawling to No. 10 in fear of a destructive No Deal.

Two former prime ministers are warning Johnson against the disaster of a cliff-edge exit: Tony Blair called for a People’s Vote in the Times and on this morning's BBC Today programme, while Gordon Brown will urge MPs to have the courage to block No Deal in a think tank speech this morning. And CBI boss Carolyn Fairbairn warned No Deal "will set us back years" on this morning's Today programme.

To understand how the different Brexit options are unworkable and only a People's Vote can solve the crisis, click here to read and share our report Six Dead Ends, One Cliff-Edge, Only One Way Out.

Hundreds call for People's Vote in Derby

Heavyweight politicians and campaigners from all walks of life came together in Derby on Friday to call to Let Us Be Heard for a People's Vote. Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine shared the stage with former rival Dame Margaret Beckett, saying "we are the patriots now. We are the ones fighting for British national interest.

"We want to stride the corridors of Europe where decisions are made. We are the ones protecting the opportunities of tomorrow for our young generations."

Dame Margaret gave a powerful speech, saying:"It's our duty, our solemn duty, to find a way out of the impasse to which folly, obstinance and incompetence have led us."

The people of Birmingham have the chance to join the clamour to Let Us Be Heard on Tuesday July 30. For your free tickets, click here.

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

“True Conservatives like Philip Hammond and David Gauke know that acting in the long-term interests of the Union and the British people rather than the short-term interests of the party should be our guiding star. 

"The best way to deliver a lasting and stable conclusion to this crisis is also the most democratic way. We need everyone’s voice to be heard. We need a People's Vote.”

Baroness Ros Altmann, Conservative peer and leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, welcomes the news that leading patriotic ministers are preparing to fight a damaging No Deal.

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More Brexit news...

Heseltine: Our loyalty to our country runs far deeper than party divide (New European)

Starmer seeks alliance with former Tory ministers over No Deal (Observer)

Johnson compares Brexit to moon landings (PoliticsHome)

David Gauke: Britain is about to be humiliated, I prefer to resign (Times £)

UK trade envoy quits in protest over No Deal policy (Independent)

More Brexit comment...

Gordon Brown: MPs must find the courage to stop a mindless No Deal Brexit (Guardian)

Tony Blair: Why Johnson should another Brexit referendum (Times £)

Simon Coveney: A different face in Downing Street but the same stark fact, No Deal will be a disaster for us all (Sunday Times £)

Kevin Maguire: Johnson will stitch us up like a kipper (Mirror)

Andrew Rawnsley: Johnson's braggadocio will soon come back to haunt him at No 10 (Observer)