Monday 23 September 2019 - People's Vote

Monday 23 September 2019

Morning Briefing: Thomas Cook collapse shows reality of Brexit crisis - as Labour votes on its position

The sun did shine and our passionate, unstoppable supporters came out in the thousands in Brighton on Saturday to give full-throated backing to the demand for a People’s Vote. We thank every one of the 5,000 or more of you who took to the seafront to open the Labour Party conference with a clear demand: Let Us Be Heard.

As Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said: “This is what democracy looks like. It was an honour to help lead the march to say loud and clear that we're determined to get a democratic solution to this Brexit crisis through a People's Vote. And in any final say referendum, I think we made it pretty clear that we'll all be campaigning for us to stay in the European Union.”

Now it’s on to the big one: our massive march in London on Saturday October 19, the day after the crucial European summit. We will gather to demand – with one voice – that we all get the final say on Brexit. To sign up and Let Us Be Heard, click here.

Thomas Cook collapse shows the real-world destruction of Brexit

The collapse of Thomas Cook overnight is a drastic example of the real-world destructive effects of the ongoing Brexit crisis, inflicted by politicians on ordinary holidaymakers and customers.

The historic travel firm has gone to the wall after last-minute bailout talks failed to deliver the cash required to keep it going – with the government asking the Civil Aviation Authority to begin the biggest ever peacetime repatriation of 150,000 British holidaymakers now stranded abroad.

Back in May, when the company announced a £1.5 billion loss, chief executive Peter Fankhauser said there is “now little doubt that the Brexit process has led many UK customers to delay their holiday plans for the summer”.

Brexit is not the only reason, of course, but that will be of little concern to the 22,000 Thomas Cook employees (9,000 of them in the UK) whose jobs will go, with 1,000 people working in their Peterborough headquarters.

Thomas Cook is just the latest in a long line of UK-based companies that have been severely impacted by Brexit. And, of course, we haven't yet left the EU. Whether it is No Deal or a stitched-together Boris Johnson deal, what is clear is that any form of Brexit will hurt businesses across the country and cost people their jobs.

Brexit will not be resolved one way or the other on October 31: without a People's Vote, it will drag on for years. The collapse of Thomas Cook shows the destruction that will come to the UK economy and real people unless this is brought to a close with a People’s Vote. It is time to Let Us Be Heard.

Labour divisions hide the reality that a People's Vote is now core to the party

As Jeremy Corbyn’s tortured Brexit positioning comes head to head in Brighton today with a conference motion for greater clarity and backing to stay in the EU, it is important to remember how far the party has already come.

This time last year in Liverpool, the party was only considering whether a People’s Vote would be on the table. Through electoral reality and the understanding of what a destructive Brexit will do to Labour’s voters and members, a People’s Vote is now core to Labour’s proposals – and no-one thinks any leader can stay “neutral” when the party’s voters and values are overwhelmingly internationalist.

Efforts to engineer splits in the party over the weekend backfired with signs that the union vote may split instead. ITV political editor Robert Peston suggested last night that Unison could split from Unite and the other unions to back the Constituency Labour Parties motion against the leadership one.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told BBC Breakfast this morning: "I can't see we can get a better deal than remain, I would campaign for remain," while People's Vote supporter Hilary Benn MP told the BBC's Today programme that a shift towards backing staying in the EU is inevitable and Jeremy Corbyn would back it as a "democratic leader". 

It comes after the People’s Vote march on Saturday showed the strength of feeling among the leadership and rank-and-file with speakers including Shadow Cabinet ministers Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry, and MPs Clive Lewis, Phil Wilson, Peter Kyle, as well as local Green MP, Caroline Lucas.

The Labour Party’s policy on Brexit has shifted significantly over the last year with Jeremy Corbyn promising the British people will get a final say in a referendum with an option to remain in the EU in all circumstances.

Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, said that, like the Labour Party, his position on a People’s Vote had changed over the past year before declaring that his values meant he would always campaign for the UK to stay in the EU.

“I’ve been talking about a public vote for some time. But this is my first People’s Vote rally and march. I have to admit I was not sure last year that a referendum was the right way out. But now I’m utterly convinced it is the only way out. We have had three years to sort this out in Parliament and we can’t. It now has to go back to the people.”

Government's medicine delay warnings raise fears of post-No Deal crisis

The evidence keeps emerging of the reality of a destructive No Deal, despite the government’s persistent argument that the Operation Yellowhammer documents were a “worst case scenario”.

Government guidance to health professionals, slipped out without any fanfare on Friday, shows ministers expect customs procedures and queues at the channel ports to add days to transport times for essential medicines – despite their repeated assurances to worried members of the public that there is nothing to be concerned over.

In guidance on how healthcare providers should prepare for Brexit, the Department for Health and Social Care advises that “if your organisation currently relies on receiving products from the EU with short lead times of 24 to 48 hours, plan for longer lead times of up to 5 days.” The advice applies to commissioners and healthcare providers, including hospitals, care homes, GP practices and community pharmacies. 

Behind the bland words is the stunning admission that the Government expect long delays from additional customs procedures, queues and checks at the ports in the case of No Deal. It is likely similar delays will impact other goods – including food – and the impact on prices and consumer choice could be enormous.

Meanwhile, Kent Online reports that a critical £104 million junction on the M20 will now not be finished in time for October 31, sparking fears of traffic chaos. The new Junction 10A is close to a  HMRC checkpoint for trucks heading to and from Dover docks and could mean gridlock in the Ashford area.

The local MP Damian Green and other MPs are seeking an emergency meeting with No Deal preparations minister Michael Gove and said:  “It is difficult to see how - if it is not opened - junction 10a will be able to cope.” He said individual checks on lorries may take one-two hours and a meeting with HMRC was “not reassuring”.

Poll reveals tactical voting will result in another hung Parliament

Any prospect of a General Election resolving the Brexit crisis has been thrown into deep doubt with the publication of a new poll revealing it would result in another hung Parliament and that tactical voting against Boris Johnson could mean the Conservatives lose an additional 60 seats.

The YouGov survey of more than 2,000 voters shows the Conservative lead has been halved in the past fortnight to seven points, with their vote share falling to 30 per cent - ahead of Labour on 23, the Liberal Democrats on 22 and the Brexit Party on 14. On a uniform swing this would leave Johnson 19 seats short of Parliamentary majority with both Labour and Conservatives losing seats to the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.

But the survey found a very low proportion of people – just 51 per cent - had made up their mind with huge numbers of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green supporters ready to switch their vote tactically to defeat a Conservative candidate.

The People’s Vote campaign, which commissioned this poll, has announced plans to give clear independent advice to people living in the 100-plus key Brexit battleground seats, as well as mobilising an army of activists and channel donations in support of the best-placed candidates for delivering a majority of MPs in favour of a final say referendum.

And the poll provides clear evidence that an election held in the midst of this deepening Brexit crisis could see millions of voters back a different party to their first choice, if they saw it was better placed to beat a Conservative. 

For more information on how to make your vote count, 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

“Our socialist Labour values – open to the world and internationalist, not inward-looking and nationalist – mean that if we win our fight for a people’s vote, we should, in my view, be campaigning wholeheartedly for us to stay in the European Union. I can’t be neutral on Brexit. The effects on constituencies like mine will be too massive.

“And it won’t just be me. I’ll be standing with Labour’s voters, Labour’s members, Labour trade unions, Labour MPs and Labour’s shadow cabinet in saying how we want to remain in and reform Europe."

Former Labour Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett MP and People's Vote campaign political committee co-chair calls for a clear commitment from her party on how to deal with Brexit.


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More Brexit news...

Juncker to UK: EU not to blame for Brexit crisis (Politico)

Kent junction will not open before October 31 (Kent Online)

Labour MPs demand a People's Vote now as they join thousands at marching through Brighton (ITV News)

Pharmacies may need to share medicines when shortages arise after Brexit, government says (Pharmaceutical Journal)

More Brexit comment...

Margaret Beckett: Labour will offer a real Brexit option to the people - that is the only democratic way to solve this crisis (Independent)

Paul Mason: To win the election, Labour need to face facts (Mosquito Ridge)

Andrew Lewin: Labour can and should leave conference as a Remain party (HuffPost)