Monday 24 September 2018 - People's Vote

Monday 24 September 2018

Morning Briefing: Labour's Brexit motion - Canada rising

The People’s Vote glass is three-quarters full after Labour last night agreed the Brexit motion to be debated at its conference tomorrow. If delegates back the motion, Jeremy Corbyn may have little option but to support a new public vote when MPs vote on whatever comes out of Theresa May’s train-wreck Brexit talks.

Of course, Labour’s first preference is for a general election “should Parliament vote down a Tory deal or the talks end in no-deal”. Any self-respecting opposition party has to push for a vote of no confidence and an election if it defeats the government on its flagship policy. But the chance of getting such an election is slim. Some Conservative MPs are likely to vote against the prime minister’s Brexit policy and for a People’s Vote, but it’s unlikely any would join Labour in a vote of no-confidence against their own government.

The motion which Labour conference will debate tomorrow goes on to say: “If we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.” It would have been better if this passage was clearer - saying that, if Labour can’t get an election, the party must campaign for a public vote rather than talking about “all options remaining on the table”.


But the wording still does the job as there won’t be any other good options apart from a People’s Vote. Labour is committed to fight against crashing out with no deal. And there won’t be time to go back and negotiate a completely new deal, as we are scheduled to quit the EU in six months. Although the other EU countries will give us more time if we want a new public vote, they won’t extend the timetable to go round and round in more circles on the negotiations.

The Labour motion is also important for what it doesn’t say. An earlier draft said a People’s Vote would be “on the terms of Brexit”, implying that staying in the EU would not be an option on the ballot paper. That language was removed from the motion which conference will debate.

So, for all John McDonnell’s claims today that he wanted a People's Vote to be about the terms of Brexit, that is not in the motion and was a battle won last night. What's more, as he told the BBC, it is ultimately up to MPs to decide. In any case, this is the most positively we've heard the shadow chancellor talk about giving the public a say - and a clear positive for the People's Vote campaign.

Labour has taken this important step because of mounting concern both in the public in general and among its members over where Brexit is heading. There was a big rally in Liverpool in support of a People’s Vote yesterday. This followed an opinion poll by YouGov for the People’s Vote campaign which showed 86% of the party’s members want the public to have the final say over Brexit.

There are still several steps before Labour’s journey is finished - including tomorrow’s important vote. But the party is probably on track to support a People’s Vote.


Quote of the day 

“Can you hear us, Jeremy Corbyn? Can you hear us, John McDonnell? There are people here from right across the north of England. There are people from the south. Scots. Welsh. Londoners. Great trade unionists. There are some that may have voted for other parties in the past.

“But they are here. And they are saying squarely, to the leadership of the Labour party: listen to us, hear us, give us a People’s Vote.”

Labour MP David Lammy speaking at the March for the Many in Liverpool on Sunday

Video of the day

WATCH: Young Labour members back a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal to hold the government to account after the March for the Many in Liverpool.

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Brexiters campaigning hard for Canada

Following the Salzburg fiasco, Theresa May faces pressure both from ministers and leading Brexiters outside her Cabinet to drop her Chequers proposal and back a Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU. Although Chequers is dead, Canada would hit our economy hard and is not a good solution.

The majority of the Cabinet, which meets today, now back a Canada-style solution, with remainer-turned-leaver Jeremy Hunt tipped as the key figure to bring May round, according to the Telegraph. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson and David Davis are heaping on the pressure today by supporting a report calling for a Canada deal by hard-Brexit think tank the Institute for Economic Affairs.

But doubts about Canada within the Cabinet are already emerging, according to the Times and Guardian. The main problem is that the EU won’t agree such a deal unless we agree a “backstop” to keep the Irish border open. Brexit secretary Dominic Raab rejected Canada on this basis yesterday, saying it would “be a clear carve up of the United Kingdom”. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron has “flatly refused” to attend an extraordinary Brexit summit in November unless the UK makes more concessions to avoid a hard border. I have written more about the threat of a Canada deal to Northern Ireland's constitutional status for InFacts here.

May is between a rock and a hard place. There are no obvious answers - except hand the whole sorry mess back to the people and see whether they still want this car crash.

Tweet of the day

OFOC pulled a stunt on Dominic Raab, now he is blocking them on twitter.  This doesn't promote free and fair discussion. Here's how Dragon's Den star Deborah Meaden has waded in on Twitter.

Read more about the OFOC stunt in this New European article.

No-deal warnings: pet passports, driving on continent and plane parts

Get ready for another round of no-deal Brexit warnings from the government today. This installment includes gems such as pet passports no longer being valid, meaning up to three-month waits to get your dogs and cats cleared for European hols. Drivers will also have to apply to their insurance company for a green card if they want to drive their car on the continent. British airplane parts will also not be accepted in the EU after no deal because we’d crash out of the EU’s aviation safety regime.

Who's Marching? 

Adam is supporting the Peoples Vote campaign because he didn't have a vote in the last referendum and thinks Brexit will have a detrimental impact on his future opportunities.  

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More Brexit news…

Javid angers Brexiteers with ‘cop out’ on migrants (Times £)

Why Brexiters’ confidence in services trade may be misplaced (FT £)

Carwyn Jones: £6m to prevent 'industrial carnage' (BBC)

CMA lease battle puts Canary Wharf on Brexit alert (Times £)

Top Brexit comment

Matthew d’Ancona: If Labour backs a second Brexit vote, stand by – all bets could be off (Guardian)

Hugo Dixon: May has only herself to blame for Irish border fiasco (InFacts)

Meg Russell & Alan Renwick: If a new Brexit referendum is to settle anything, the legitimacy of the process is key (Times £)

Looking forward...

Today, Monday 24th September

- Parliament in recess for conference season
- Labour Party Annual Conference
- Institute for Economic Affairs to publish post-Brexit economic model (backed by leading Brexiters)

Tomorrow, Tuesday 25th September

-    Parliament in recess for conference season
- Labour Party Annual Conference - Brexit motion debate expected