Thursday 15 August 2019 - People's Vote

Thursday 15 August 2019

Morning Briefing: Half of farms could go bust after destructive No Deal

A small flock of sheep will be herded down Whitehall today as we launch Farmers for a People’s Vote amidst fears that more than half of our farms could go bust if a destructive No Deal goes through.

It comes as opponents of No Deal in Parliament consider how they can work together to ensure Boris Johnson can't force his destructive Brexit through without the people being given the final say. Jeremy Corbyn has put forward his proposal today, suggesting a vote of no confidence may be on the horizon in early September.

We believe only a People's Vote can resolve this, rather than a general election, which is unlikely to be decisive and would likely prolong the crisis. But Corbyn's announcement that Labour's manifesto would include a commitment to a People's Vote is undoubtedly a positive step forward. 

Half of farms could go bust after destructive No Deal

More than 50% of farms could go out of business in the event of a destructive No Deal, according to a new report into the devastating impact on the agricultural sector.

Former NFU chief economist and Government adviser Sean Rickard claimed the loss of export markets, coupled with the removal of direct payments and tariff protection, could kill off upland farming altogether and cause widespread land degradation.

In a report published ahead of the launch of a new campaign group, Farmers for a People’s Vote, Dr Rickard wrote: “Based on the annual Farm Business Survey – which shows on average support payments account for more than 60 per cent of farm incomes – it is very clear the impact of lower farm gate prices together with removal of support payments would render the majority of farm businesses unviable.

“Even though land prices and rents would adjust in response, this would not be sufficient to restore underlying profitability."

The launch will be preceded by a small flock of sheep being herded past government buildings to highlight visually the risk Brexit presents to livestock.

People’s Vote campaigner Guto Bebb MP represents many farmers in his Aberconwy constituency. He said: “Farming is at the very heart of what makes this country great – to put that all at risk for the sake of pursuing a disastrous No Deal for which the public haven’t given their consent would be an outrage against democracy.

 “I represent many farmers and agricultural workers in my constituency – they did not vote to put themselves out of work or to put their farms out of business, jeopardising their livelihoods. Many of them voted to leave the EU in good faith because people like Boris Johnson told them it would mean an improved trading relationship with the EU and a better future. The reality looks very different now.”

The launch of Farmers for a People’s Vote is an important moment in our campaign as it supports a vital sector that is right in the front line of the crisis that No Deal will bring.

It comes as head of the American Farm Bureau Zippy Duvall told the BBC’s Today programme this morning that agriculture must be included in any transatlantic deal and that the UK would need to accept US food standards. He proudly supported controversial chlorine-washed chicken and said the British public should be able to buy cheaper US produce. If the UK is forced to accept low-standard American chicken and beef, it would serve to further undercut our farmers, making even more UK farms unviable.

The campaign to leave the EU was based on the idea that the UK would quickly secure a comprehensive new trading relationship with Europe and that leaving would have only positive impacts on UK farming. But today the reality looks very different. That is why we've helped launch Farmers for a People's Vote.

Corbyn's cross-party plea to lead a caretaker government

Just 24 hours after his deputy Tom Watson called for cross-party support to fight a catastrophic No Deal, Jeremy Corbyn has written to anti-No Deal MPs in all parties calling on them to come together to bring down Boris Johnson in a vote of no confidence in the Autumn. 

The Labour leader called on rebel Conservatives and opposition leaders to form a caretaker government with two objectives: first to extend Article 50 to prevent No Deal, and second to set the date of a general election. It would be a temporary administration on a “strictly time-limited” basis. 

It is encouraging to see the majority that exists against No Deal in Parliament working to prevent it from happening. This will of course have to be cross-party. But we believe only a People’s Vote - rather than an election - can resolve this crisis and it is crucial that MPs create opportunities to vote for the people to be given the final say. It is very significant that Jeremy Corbyn has announced that Labour’s manifesto at any election would include a commitment to a People’s Vote. Labour should now campaign wholeheartedly for that to happen sooner rather than later.

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson rejected the Labour's leader's calls for a caretaker government led by him, but the SNP and Plaid Cymru suggested they'd be willing to enter into talks.

Senior backbench MPs, including influential Tory rebels Dominic Grieve and Oliver Letwin, have also been invited to talks, which the Labour leader said would help "end the uncertainty and disarray and all the public to decide the best way ahead for our country".

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, agreed with Plaid Cymru that the offer of talks was welcome but she argued “holding a general election before a people’s vote is the wrong way around”.

EU hits back at Johnson's "collaboration" claim

European diplomats dismissed Boris Johnson’s accusation thatthere was “terrible collaboration” between anti-No Deal politicians and the EU.

Speaking on a so-called People’s Question Time on Facebook, the Prime Minister was hitting back at former chancellor Philip Hammond and his 20 Conservative colleagues who are openly trying to block No Deal. The phrase was criticised by politicians who claimed Johnson was dangerously using the language of the Second World War.

Mr Johnson is doing everything he can to shift the blame for No Deal to the EU, MPs who oppose him and anyone else he can for the consequences of the disaster he is trying to force on the country. It is time to Let Us Be Heard.

It's clear that Brexit must be put to the people. Now is a crucial time to get involved with the People's Vote campaign. Sign up to volunteer today. 

Quote of the Day

“With a majority in Parliament clearly against No Deal, but gridlocked on the way forward, the Brexit crisis will have to be resolved through further democratic engagement with the people. The best way to achieve a clear and lasting settlement is to give the final say to the public through a People's Vote.”

People's Vote campaigner Dominic Grieve welcomes former Chancellor Philip Hammond's intervention in the Brexit debate where he said No Deal had no democratic mandate.

Video of the Day   

See the Our Future, Our Choice video on the great roundtable with Labour deputy leader Tom Watson and Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson with young activists backing a People's Vote.

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Tweet of the Day 

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More Brexit news...

Half of UK farms could fail after No Deal, report warns (Guardian)

Corbyn urges parties to back him in caretaker government (PoliticsHome)

Johnson accuses MPs of "collaborating" with EU (Mirror)

UK must accept US food standards in trade deal, says farmers' chief (BBC News)

Farmers call for fresh referendum as they warn half of farms could go bust (Independent)

No Deal could force 50% of farmers out of business (Yorkshire Post)

More Brexit comment...

The Guardian view on Brexit and economy: storm clouds on the horizon (Guardian)

Tom Peck: At Johnson's first ever "People's PMQs", it took the prime minister less than 10 seconds to start lying (Independent)

Alain Tolhurst: How Johnson is laying the groundwork to blame everyone but himself for No Deal (PoliticsHome)