Thursday 13 December 2018 - People's Vote

Thursday 13 December 2018

Morning Briefing: May's battles continue - Europe looks on - Rolls Royce German move

Theresa May has survived a confidence vote within her party, winning a year’s reprieve from any further such attempts, but seeing 117 of her own MPs vote against her.

A weakened prime minister will therefore head to Brussels today seeking further concessions on her Brexit deal. But there is no form of Brexit that can meet all the promises made in the last referendum or a deal for leaving the EU as good as the one we’ve got inside the EU now.

If Brexit does happen, then May’s visit today will only be the first in a series of such trips by a succession of UK prime ministers trying to make sense of a Brexit that makes no sense for Britain.

But it doesn’t have to get this far. The fundamental problem for May is that she will, at some point, have to put her deal to a vote, and it still looks almost certain to be voted down. Last night’s vote in the Tory party did nothing to fix that. Jeremy Corbynis threatening to bring a confidence vote of his own to the Commons if May doesn’t bring her deal back for a vote in Parliament.


It appears for now that the prime minister’s plan is simply to kick the can down the road. The later the vote is held, the less time there is for anyone to suggest a viable alternative, and the more persuasively she can sell the idea that it’s her deal or crashing out with no deal.

MPs should not buy this, particularly given the ECJ’s recent ruling that Article 50 can be unilaterally revoked. In extremis, Parliament could simply elect to retract its notification, and set about preparing to leave “properly” a few years down the line.

If May is smart, however, she could use last night’s vote to her advantage. If her deal is voted down, she no longer has to worry about a confidence vote within her own party. This gives her significantly greater leeway, as Hugo Dixon writes for InFacts.

Before last night, a failed vote was likely to spell the end of her time in office. Now, unless Parliament is willing to call for a general election - a prospect unlikely to appeal to Conservative MPs - she can probably cling on.

With Parliament unable to settle on a deal or hold an election, the only way to break the deadlock is to hold a People’s Vote. Freed by last night’s vote from the need to pander to her party’s headbangers, could it even be Theresa May who eventually hands this mess back to the people?

Quote of the day

“She must now bring her dismal deal back to the House of Commons next week so Parliament can take back control.”

Jeremy Corbyn urges May to - as she might put it - “get on with the job”

Video of the Day

Brexit committee chair Hilary Benn MP: “Increasingly it’s hard to see how this is going to be resolved otherwise and maybe the people will have to have the final say.”

Europe watches

European observers of last night’s vote are not impressed, according to the Independent. Our continental partners are scratching their heads. One diplomat is quoted as saying: “What is happening in the UK, the country we thought was so boringly stable, is quite extraordinary… and now what is to happen, a new prime minister every year?”

Europe’s awareness of the chaos in London does not, however, suggest EU will offer May any new terms on the government’s Brexit deal. Perhaps the dominant feeling, is fatigue, expressed by one European embassy: “We can perhaps stop talking about Brexit now all the time until the new year.”

Tweet of the Day

Caroline Lucas reminds government that its Brexit deal still doesn't have the numbers in Parliament. A People’s Vote is the solution.

Rolls Royce make German move

Rolls Royce have announced that they are to transfer design approval for large aero engines from the UK to Germany. No jobs are going with it, but the move does raise questions about the future of one of the UK’s most iconic manufacturers after Brexit.

Any decision by Rolls Royce to shift work of any sort to Germany should be a matter of huge concern to trade unionists in particular. Rolls Royce and its supply chain supports thousands of skilled and well-paid jobs in the UK and any sign that they could leave the country is hugely worrying. Every trade unionist understands the idea of putting a suggested deal to the membership for approval. With investment, jobs and pay under threat it is time to put that principle into action and demand a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.

Tweet of the Day 2

Murray Hawthorne was at OFOC and FFS’s parliamentary takeover yesterday where so many young people showed up that they weren’t allowed into the central lobby! Join them in demanding a People’s Vote HERE.

More Brexit news…

European Union seals major free trade deal with Japan (Independent)

Nine versions of a People's Vote: how a referendum could look (Times £)

PMQs: Jeremy Corbyn demands immediate vote on Brexit deal (Guardian)

Irish PM speaks to President of EU Commission (BBC)

Top Brexit comment

Lauren Pemberton-Nelson: Ethnic minority women need a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal (Gal-Dem)

Max Hastings: Theresa May should beware the fate of Margaret Thatcher (Times £)

Editorial: Theresa May lives to fight another day - but the only allies she can rely on now are the sands of time (Independent)

Looking forward…

Today, Thursday 13th December

- European Council summit
09.30 Mark Sedwill, Cabinet secretary and head of the civil service, at public administration and constitutional affairs committee
13.00 EU summit: arrivals
18:00 EU summit: Donald Tusk & Jean-Claude Juncker press conference
18:30 EU summit: leaders' working dinner

Tomorrow, Friday 14th December

  European Council summit
14.30 EU summit: closing press conference