Thursday 21 March 2019 - People's Vote

Thursday 21 March 2019

Morning Briefing: PM is not on public's side - 200 coaches heading to march - it's not "deal or no deal"

Theresa May accused Parliament yesterday of “navel gazing” over Brexit and in her statement to the nation she said it was “high time” MPs made a decision. But it has been the prime minister who has been deliberately kicking the can down the road on Brexit. Time wasting and indecision has been her main strategy since agreeing a deal with the EU five months ago. And she continues to do so by using the need for a Brexit delay to try and force her broken deal through on a third attempt in the next few days.

May could have changed course after her deal was defeated the first time, instead of trying to blackmail MPs with a choice between a bad deal and a no deal. But it is not too late to change course now.

The prime minister said the public wants to move onto their “real concerns about our children’s schools, our National Health Service, knife crime”. But leaving the EU without knowing where we are going will only ensure MPs are distracted from tackling the huge challenges our country faces. The Brexit process will be nowhere near “over and done with”, as May claimed, if MPs back May’s deal.


What should also worry MPs is that we have no idea who might be running the country while this future relationship is being negotiated. The worst thing MPs could do is submit to passing this Withdrawal Agreement without any conditions and without knowledge of who will be setting them. As the chaos mounts it seems ever more likely May will not be at the helm for long.

Blaming MPs for delaying Brexit appears to only have cemented opposition to the deal and led to many more openly pondering how long she can last. Backbench MPs reacted furiously last night after her speech. And at a long meeting with Tory MPs, many of whom had switched to vote for her deal last time, May was told she was likely to lose by even more votes when and if she presents her deal for a third time.

May was not just contemptuous of Parliament yesterday, but of the public too. She told them: “Some have suggested holding a second referendum. I don’t believe that is what you want – and it is not what I want.” However polls show a People’s Vote is now the most popular option, and a Sky data poll found that 90% find Brexit a national humiliation. The prime minister has lost touch with the country.

“I’m sure you the public have had enough,” May said last night. For once she was bang on the money. We have had enough and it will be clearly demonstrated this Saturday when hundreds of thousands take to the streets to demand the final Brexit deal is put back to the people. Make sure your voice is heard by signing up to join the Put It To The People march.

Video of the Day

WATCH: Theresa May plans to request only a short extension to A50 - but senior Minister David Lidington said just days ago that this would be 'downright reckless' and 'completely at odds' with the Commons.

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Quote of the Day

“The one thing missing from that pointless PM speech was any acknowledgment of the massive responsibility she bears for this mess. She could have changed course after the first defeat of her deal. But she is still trying to force a choice between a bad deal and no deal. Shameful.”

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon responds to the PM’s statement to the nation.

200 coaches heading to Put It To The People march

While the political deadlock over Brexit continues, two hundred coaches have been booked to travel down to the Put It To The People march this Saturday. Coaches from as far afield as the Scottish Highlands and Penzance will be making their way to London from Friday in time for the march, which kicks off from Park Lane at noon on Saturday. Protesters will also be coming from areas that voted heavily to leave the EU, including from Chesterfield, Doncaster, Lincoln and Peterborough.

With the march coming straight after Theresa May’s attempts to get a short extension from the EU, and before her likely third shot at getting her broken deal through Parliament, there’s never been a more important time to get out and get your voice heard. You can find out more about the march, including route maps, transport information and details about accessibility here.

Graphic of the Day

Tweet of the Day

James McGrory, director of the People's Vote campaign, points out that the prime minister's bid for a short extension changes nothing.

A short extension without deal would be ‘ downright reckless’

The prime minister’s request for only a short extension if her deal is passed next week has left many worried the only options now are “deal” or “no deal”, and with her deal unlikely to pass “no deal” seems more likely. But this is far from the case, as Hugo Dixon writes for InFacts. Other options remain on the table and we should not allow May to blackmail MPs with this non-choice.

In Tusk’s response to May yesterday he didn’t address any other options in his statement because the prime minister didn’t request a longer delay in her letter to him. However, he did tweet last week that he would appeal to EU leaders to be “open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it”.

As her own deputy David Lidington said last week: “In the absence of a deal, seeking such a short and, critically, one-off extension would be downright reckless”. May must recognise this and allow MPs to find consensus around a new Brexit strategy. Once she allows this, MPs will realise the only way to break the deadlock is by putting it back to the people.

Video of the Day 2

WATCH: FFS co-founder Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson: "The overwhelming majority of Labour members and voters not only support having a People’s Vote, they were crucial in the run up to Labour's annual conference where they changed policy."

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More Brexit news…

Theresa May urged to hold Final Say referendum as nearly 100 elected student leaders sign joint letter (Independent)

UK businesses watch Brexit political chaos with ‘sense of horror’ (FT £)

Unprecedented drug shortage linked to Brexit, NHS bosses say (BBC)

UK’s emergency plans for no-deal Brexit begin to be put into action (Guardian)

Top Brexit comment

Martin Kettle: UK politicians ignore mass public protests at their peril (Guardian)

Jonathan Freedland: May’s latest screeching U-turn makes her utterly unfit to lead (Guardian)

It's clear that the only way forward is a People's Vote. Now is a crucial time to get involved with the campaign. Sign up to volunteer today.

Looking forward…

Today, Thursday 21st March 

- European Council summit
09.30 ONS: public sector finances
09.30 ONS: retail sales
14.30 European Council summit discusses Brexit (press conference expected 18.00)

Tomorrow, Friday 22nd March

- European Council summit