Morning briefing: Labour's biggest rebellion - Rees-Mogg hypocrisy - meaningful vote
Labour MPs are woefully split on Brexit - that became clear after Jeremy Corbyn suffered his biggest parliamentary rebellion yet in a vote on single market membership yesterday. But there’s a way out of this mess: back a People’s Vote.
90 MPs ignored the Labour leadership’s instructions to abstain over an amendment to stay in the European Economic Area, and therefore the single market. 75 supported the motion, while 15 voted to leave the single market. One shadow minister plus five parliamentary aides quit Corbyn’s front bench so they could rebel.
It’s unsurprising the party is so split, with no clear Brexit policy for MPs to rally behind. Both those in strong Leave and strong Remain seats are torn between loyalties to their party and their constituents.
Backing a People’s Vote is the right way forward. Labour believes in democracy. Giving the people the final say on the Brexit deal is the democratic option. Last week saw Starmer suggest his party was “keeping its options open” on the issue, meaning the party is edging in the right direction.
The pressure is growing within Corbyn’s party to back a People’s Vote. Labour politicians from the North East, Merseyside, Wales and London have all come out in support, as well as the Labour-affiliated TSSA union. So has the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives and student leaders representing nearly a million students. A lot of these are strong supporters of Labour and Corbyn.
The policy of opposing the government’s Brexit deal if the “six tests” penned by shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer are not met has taken Labour this far. But the position is now too tentative.
Brexitremist-in-chief Jacob Rees-Mogg has been forced to defend the decision by the City firm he founded to set up an investment fund in Ireland, after clients voiced concerns about the potential damage of a “hard Brexit”.
He’s not the first prominent Leaver to act hypocritically over Brexit, insisting that leaving the EU is a great idea while protecting his own interests. Nigel Lawson, who once chaired the Vote Leave campaign, has applied for permanent residency in France to protect the free movement rights he currently enjoys as an EU citizen.
Of course it won’t be rich Brexiters who feel the impact of Brexit - it will be ordinary people. That’s why, once the terms of Brexit are clear, the public should get a vote on them.
Video of the day
May will find it hard to backtrack on meaningful vote
Number 10 has signalled it has no intention of discussing the central demands from Tory rebels over giving MPs a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal. Promises to do so narrowly avoided a government defeat on its EU Withdrawal Bill on Tuesday.
Dominic Grieve, the pro-European Tory who tabled the amendment to May’s bill, is currently deep in talks with ministers. The Brexit attack dogs at the Daily Mail have already launched a hatchet job on Grieve with a front-page splash about him attending a pro-European meeting.
The prime minister would be wise to honour her promises to her backbenchers. If she doesn’t, it will be a sign of bad faith. She doesn’t have the numbers in parliament to prevent a defeat - something which will likely come soon as the Bill now enters “ping pong” between the Lords and the Commons.
Tweet of the day
Hopefully this will clear up what's going on with the Brexit customs debate...
Migration reform to plug NHS Brexit gap
Home secretary Sajid Javid will unveil a major easing of the UK’s immigration system, according to the Telegraph.
Employers will be able to recruit an extra 8,000 skilled migrants a year, including IT experts, engineers and teachers, effectively increasing the current cap on “tier 2” visas by 40%. Foreign doctors and nurses will be excluded from the cap entirely.
This reversal of the government’s harsh immigration policy is welcome, not least because it helps plug the gaps in our health service as medical staff from the EU leave thanks to Brexit. But the government is clearly beginning to understand the damage Brexit is doing to our NHS.
Quote of the day
“When that final deal is struck, someone will have to decide whether or not it is good enough, whether it honours the promises made to the electorate two years ago.
“It is my belief that that decision should not rest with a few hundred people in Westminster, but with the tens of millions of British voters whose lives will be changed forever by it.
“This will be far too big a decision to be left to the politicians alone. We, the people, must decide in a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal.”
Royal College of Midwives chief executive Gill Walton.
More Brexit news…
Brexiteer pub boss bans booze from EU (Express)
Top Brexit comment
Ian Blackford: Why I led the SNP walkout in the Commons (Times £)
Owen Jones: The Brexit traitor trope: how hard-right fantasies put us all at risk (Guardian)
Editorial: Leadership Wanted (Times £)
Today, Thursday 14 June
|-||FIFA World Cup 2018 begins in Russia|
|-||Lewisham East by-election|
|09:30||ONS: Retail sales figures published|
|09:30||ONS: UK government expenditure on science, engineering and technology (2016)|
|09:30||Brexit questions in Commons|
|10:00||Wales first minister Carwyn Jones speaks at UK in a Changing Europe event|