Thursday 17 May 2018 - People's Vote

Thursday 17 May 2018

May's latest brainwave - Lineker backs People's Vote - 'green Brexit' fading

Theresa May has hatched a new plan to keep the Irish border open after after Brexit, according to reports in both the Telegraph and Times. But as with so many of May’s brainwaves, it is unworkable and likely to be shot down by the EU.

Based on the assumption that neither of the long-term customs options currently being discussed in Cabinet will be ready even by the end of the 21-month transition period (officials are saying they won’t be ready until 2023 at the earliest), the prime minister is backing a rejigged version of the EU’s Irish border “backstop” proposal.

Described as a “pick and mix” approach by EU officials, May’s latest offer would keep the whole of the UK - not just Northern Ireland - locked into the EU’s customs union after 2021. However, it drops the bits of the EU plan to keep Northern Ireland in regulatory alignment with single market rules specific to the functioning of the Good Friday Agreement.

This won’t work. First, Brussels is being clear that if the UK wants a longer transition from the EU then we’ll have to extend the entire transition deal - that means single market rules and paying into the budget, not just staying in the customs union. The EU is ready to offer such an extension, according to the Times. But that would mean paying money into the EU budget and following EU rules without a vote for years to come.


Second, the government seems to think it can stay in the customs union and still pursue its own trade deals across the world. This will not work so long as the UK is applying the EU’s common external tariff with other countries.

Meanwhile, May’s latest proposal will do nothing to calm the agitated Brexiters in her party. Leave-backing ministers such as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson were reportedly opposed to the idea. There is a fear among Brexiters that this will be a “backdoor” to staying in the customs union permanently.

Backbench Brextremist ringleader Jacob Rees-Mogg has also spoken out strongly against the new proposal: “We have gone from a clear end point, to an extension, to a proposed further extension with no end point. The horizon seems to be unreachable. The bottom of the rainbow seems to be unattainable. People voted to leave, they did not vote for a perpetual purgatory.”

There is just over six weeks until the next EU summit in June, at which many of these issues need to be rubber stamped. And yet the prime minister is still cooking up schemes which have no hope of working.

Quote of the day

“If the prime minister cannot even convince her own cabinet of her strategy, what chance does she have of convincing 27 other European countries?”

Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs yesterday

Tweet of the day


Gove’s green Brexit fading

The House of Lords has slipped in a 15th defeat to the government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, demanding that an official body be set up to protect environmental standards at their EU level. This follows strong criticism of government proposals for a new “world-beating” environmental watchdog, described as “toothless” by environmental groups.

It’s all very uncomfortable for Michael Gove’s championing of a “green Brexit” - one of the few Brexit issues where the government seemed to be winning the trust of the public.

Video of the day

OFOC's Femi Oluwole talks to the owner of a small stationery shop in Cowbridge, South Wales, about how Brexit is already affecting her.


Brexit goes nuclear

Britain risks missing a vital deadline for establishing full post-Brexit nuclear safeguards, according to government documents obtained by Sky News. The documents show the UK won’t be ready to do this in at least five key areas - including recruiting new nuclear inspectors, getting an IT system up and running, and securing long-term funding for nuclear regulation.

When she announced Brexit, Theresa May also decided to leave the European nuclear community Euratom - many argue unnecessarily. If we don't have internationally recognised nuclear safeguards in place before Brexit, we won't be able to move essential nuclear material for power stations or radioactive isotopes used in cancer treatment. What a mess.

Video of the day 2

It's time to bust the myths on EU immigration once and for all. This neat little video from influential think tank NIESR does just that.


New Vote Leave revelations

Vote Leave and BeLeave, two Brexit campaign groups under investigation for potential collusion during the EU referendum, used identical datasets to target potential adverts at Facebook users, revealed in a letter from the Electoral Commission and reported by the Guardian.

More Brexit news…

Europe can no longer rely on US, says Tusk (Guardian)

This is not a controversial point of view from the EU Council president. All the more reason for the UK to stay close to its European allies on security matters. Brexit will drive us further apart.

UK manufacturers attack post-Brexit customs plan (FT £)

MPs defeat Labour bid to force government to release secret customs plans (Independent)

Benedict Cumberbatch to play Dominic Cummings in Brexit drama (Guardian)

Top Brexit comment

Philip Stephens: Brexit Britain has closed to foreigners (FT £)

Anoosh Chakelian: No, Daily Mail, Brexit Britain is not “booming” (New Statesman)

Looking forward…

Today, Thursday 16 May

- EU summit with Western Balkan countries
09:30 Theresa May meets Donald Tusk in Sofia
09:30 ONS: Personal well-being in the UK (2017)
09:30 Liam Fox takes International Trade questions in Commons

Tomorrow, Friday 17 May

- Welsh Conservative Party Conference 2018