Morning Briefing: Two defeats in two days - Corbyn's Brexit speech - JLR job cuts
Parliamentary sovereignty is restored, MPs are taking back control. The government has been dealt two big defeats in the last two days, and looks set to lose the meaningful vote on Theresa May’s miserable deal next week.
The amendment put forward by Dominic Grieve - and passed to howls of displeasure from the government’s supporters - means that if and when May loses the meaningful vote, she has just three days to come back to Parliament and lay out her “Plan B”.
It’s not immediately clear that she has one. But if the deal is defeated next week, the prime minister must stop wasting time. She must accept that a People's Vote is the only way forward - with a logjam in Parliament, only the people can now sort this mess out.
For now, May’s “Plan A” appears to be throwing as many possible desperate and meaningless assurances at various groups of parliamentarians as possible. The government is trying to win over Brexit-minded Labour members - like Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn - by offering a range of guarantees on workers rights and the environment.
As both Keir Starmer and Frances O'Grady have made clear the supposed concessions are all but worthless and no Labour MP who was serious about working people's rights should be willing to sell their vote in return for such empty pledges.
At the same time, the offer to the DUP and Tory Brexiters is that MPs will have a veto on whether the backstop comes into force. Not only does this completely undermine the purpose of a backstop as an insurance policy, it’s also effectively a pledge to disregard legally binding promises if and when they become politically inconvenient - not a great look when you’re trying to negotiate new trade deals.
And if - as the FT reports - the EU is largely relaxed about any such veto because it won’t have any practical implications, it’s not going to help in convincing the House that you’ll keep the promises you’re making on - to pick an example entirely at random - workers’ rights.
But if May’s deal can’t pass, and no deal can’t be tolerated, where do we go from here? Time is now running very short. Some MPs are still floating the “Norway option”, that should be rejected out of hand: it would see us permanently bound to the EU’s lawbook without any vote or real say, and handing over substantial cheques for the privilege. It’s also not on the table, according to Norwegian politicians.
Fortunately, a number of key “Norway” advocates - who have been part of the broad coalition responsible for defeating the government this week - have suggested they are willing to back anything that prevents the country defaulting to no deal.
What Parliament now must do now is hand the decision back to the people. Now we know what Brexit looks like, the public should be given the opportunity to decide in a People’s Vote – is this the kind of deal we want, or is the deal we already have in the EU better? In the end, only the people can sort this out.
Tweet of the Day
As a result of Dominic Grieve’s amendment, the government will only have three days to come back and vote on the implications of not having a Brexit deal. As Labour MP Mary Creagh says, it is time for a People’s Vote.
Corbyn speech must go further
Jeremy Corbyn is set to make a big Brexit speech today. Advance extracts indicate that the Labour leadership is still fixated on getting a general election and then renegotiating Brexit. But the EU has made it clear, repeatedly, that there is no prospect of a deal that differs, in any substantial form, from that negotiated with Theresa May. Indeed, on December 19 Corbyn told the Commons: "The EU has been very clear: there are no more negotiations, clarifications or meetings."
If Labour goes into a general election on a pro-Brexit Labour platform it could see a huge electoral reverse. This week, polling from YouGov showed that if Labour are perceived to be enabling Brexit, the impact could be catastrophic. There would then be absolutely no prospect of Corbyn achieving his goal of ending austerity.
Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer is firing a warning shot across the leadership’s bows, with the Times reporting that he has warned Corbyn that a People’s Vote may be “the only viable option to prevent a no-deal exit”. Labour’s official policy - agreed at Conference in autumn - is clear: press for a general election if Parliament rejects the deal and if that fails seek a People’s Vote. The time has now come for the leadership to implement that policy so we are unequivocally seen to take the side of the majority of Labour members, voters and the public at large.
Quote of the Day
“(A no deal Brexit) would be not only a political and practical failure, but a moral one equally as serious as ignoring the result of the referendum entirely.
“A second referendum is not my preference, but if Parliament fails in the task entrusted to it, then regrettably it may be required. This is about more than Brexit, and Parliament must not show itself unfit for the job.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaking yesterday in the House of Lords
Video of the Day
Jaguar jobs cuts
Jaguar Land Rover is set to cut up to 5,000 jobs in Britain amid weak Chinese sales and what the BBC describes as “concerns about UK competitiveness post-Brexit”. Jaguar also cut jobs in Britain last year, while hiring additional workers in China and opening a new plant in EU member state Slovakia. Workers in Wolverhampton and across the country weren’t told that this would be their reward for voting to leave the EU. They deserve a chance to vote on the final deal.
More Brexit news…
Martin Kettle: This was the great political power struggle of our times – and ministers lost (Guardian)
Femi Oluwole: I was harassed outside parliament. These thugs must not stifle Brexit debate (Guardian)
Jeremy Clarkson: Trump is bad, but Brexit is a thousand times worse (New European)
Today, Thursday 10th December
Jeremy Corbyn gives Brexit speech in Wakefield
Chris Grayling takes transport question in Commons
Andrea Leadsom sets out business of the House of Commons for next week
Theresa May press conference with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe
Day 2 of debate on government's Brexit deal
Tomorrow, Friday 11th January
|-||'Another Vote Is Possible' convention in London|
|09.30||ONS: GDP, trade, construction figures released|
|PM||Day 3 of debate on government's Brexit deal