Monday 9 July 2018 - People's Vote

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Monday 9 July 2018

Morning briefing: David Davis resigns - Labour responds to Chequers - Black Hole Brexit

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One big toad, David Davis, has jumped out of the Cabinet pronouncing that Brexit is like pan of boiling water. The proposal Theresa May foisted on ministers at Chequers on Friday will make the “supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real”, “hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU” and could “lead to further demands for concessions”, according to the Brexit Secretary’s bombshell midnight resignation letter.

Two smaller toads, Steve Baker and - reportedly - Suella Braverman, have jumped out of the boiling water alongside their boss.

Will an even bigger toad, Boris Johnson, follow suit? We know the foreign secretary thinks the prime minister’s proposals are a “turd”.

Johnson is being goaded by backbench Brexiter MPs to quit the Cabinet. Andrew Bridgen described him as Neville Chamberlain, Hitler’s big appeaser. So far the foreign secretary has said nothing since Friday’s day-long Cabinet meeting. But he has a press conference on a totally different subject this afternoon, so he may not be able to keep shtum.

The other big toad, Michael Gove, has decided to “polish” the turd, to use Johnson’s lingo. He was on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show saying the prime minister’s plans would lead to a “proper Brexit”. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg is speculating that he may now be given the job of replacing Davis.

Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg told the BBC it would be “very difficult” for May to get support of Tory MPs for her proposals without Davis’ “imprimatur”. The leader of the hardline Brexiter backbenchers said “the prime minister would be well advised to reconsider them”.

May had been planning to present her proposals to Tory backbench MPs this evening before publishing a 120-page White Paper on Thursday. She was also going to try to sell them to the EU.

Even before Davis’ resignation, neither task was going to be easy. The new political convulsions inject further uncertainty into the process. Will Brexiters try to unseat the prime minister? Will she modify her proposals? Will the EU negotiate if it thinks she is going to flip-flop again?

Amidst the mounting political crisis, pro-Europeans need to hold onto three points. First, what May proposed on Friday is not a soft Brexit. Not only will it turn us into a rule-taker; it doesn’t even protect 80% of our economy, services. I called it a “castration Brexit” in a column for InFacts over the weekend.

Second, this is not a deal. It is just a proposal. The EU will demand more concessions - including that we pay into its budget. The eventual deal will be even more miserable than the prime minister’s proposals.

Third, this will be a Brexit that pleases nobody - neither Brexiters nor pro-European patriots. The case for a People’s Vote on the final deal is rapidly becoming unanswerable.

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Graphic of the day


Quote of the day

"At the meeting Boris Johnson declared May’s plans “a big turd” and said that anyone defending them would be “polishing a turd” — before backing down and supporting them."

            - Tim Shipman summarises Boris Johnson's career


Labour: Chequers deal is unworkable fudge

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer appeared on Marr to lay out Labour’s response to the Chequers agreement, describing May’s proposal as having “fudge written all over it” and as a “bureaucratic nightmare that’s not going to work” - things the Chequers agreement has in common with Labour's plans. 

Starmer reiterated Labour’s support for “a customs union that does the work of the customs union”, the distinction lying in the different treaties giving rise to each. He also accepted that a good deal would “involve preferential treatment for EU citizens” in migration policy, and finished off by noting that while Labour is not “calling for a second referendum”, the sensible thing is to keep “all of our options on the table”.

Labour hasn’t yet embraced a People’s Vote. But it is taking baby steps in the right direction.


Video of the day

OFOC drop in to say hello at Chequers


Black Hole Brexit

Pro-Brexit pressure group Lawyers for Britain is also displeased with the Chequers agreement. Chairman Martin Howe released a lengthy memorandum describing the deal as putting the UK on course for a “Black Hole” Brexit in which we are subject to most of the obligations of EU membership… and in which “we will no longer have the voting rights and treaty veto rights which we enjoyed as an EU member state’. Given that this the only Brexit on offer - apart from the catastrophic no deal variety - a People's Vote on whichever the government ends up with should be on the table. 


Tweet of the day

The Maybot's communication protocols have not yet been updated...


Arron Banks and the Russian ambassador

From a single “boozy lunch” to 11 separate meetings, the number of Arron Banks’ meetings with the Russian ambassador continues to rise. We already know the Russians dangled business deals - including gold and diamond mines - in front of Banks, who bankrolled the Brexit campaign fronted by Nigel Farage. Quite what a hostile foreign power - now implicated in the murder of a British citizen - wanted from the Leave.EU boss is a mystery. Surely it’s time MPs dragged Banks back for another round of questioning?


More Brexit news…

UK should be free to exclude EU from defence contracts, says MoD

Going, going, gone: the much-delayed departure of Davis

The economic consequences of the Irish border question


Top Brexit comment

Hutton: For Brexiters, truth is what you believe - even if it's a lie

The Guardian view of May's Brexit: reality dawns, but is it too late?

Massie: A bad deal is only what Brexiteers deserve


Looking forward...

Today, Monday 09 July

- Brexit White Paper briefing scheduled
- May to address 1922 committee

Tomorrow, Tuesday 10 July

09:30 ONS: GDP monthly estimate May 2018
09:30 ONS: UK Trade May 2018