Morning Briefing: Johnson's Grand Tour but the NHS could be "crippled" by No Deal
A bright and breezy press conference with a couple of jokes is the usual Boris Johnson format, but Angela Merkel put the onus back on the UK Prime Minister to explain how he thinks a hard border in Ireland can be avoided after Brexit. So far on that front, the silence from Johnson has been deafening. Today he heads to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Merkel who last night said he believes No Deal is the most likely outcome.
And how destructive will a No Deal be? Just read below the number of sober, respected health bodies – responsible for nurses, doctors and medicinal supplies – warning of an utter NHS crisis coming after October 31. The prime minister is playing with peace in Ireland, the NHS, food supplies and many other potential problems.
Only a People’s Vote can resolve the Brexit crisis. Let Us Be Heard.
Nothing has changed after Merkel's 30 day backstop challenge
Angela Merkel yesterday told Boris Johnson he has 30 days to explain how a hard border can be avoided on the island of Ireland after Brexit. It gives more reason to believe this will, once again, - as in March - go right down to the wire, which is another reason to ensure you are signed up for the historic People’s Vote march on 19 October.
The reality of course is that Boris Johnson has no alternative to the Irish backstop other than to run down the clock and try to force through the kind of destructive No Deal Brexit that he explicitly ruled out in 2016.
The challenge facing his opponents on all sides of the House of Commons is how to block such an outcome, especially now the can has been kicked down the road for another month – which will leave only 10 weeks left to the October 31 deadline. Yesterday’s press conference with the German Chancellor came as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn invited leaders and members of other parties, including the Conservatives, to a meeting next Tuesday on how to break the Brexit deadlock.
Make no mistake - nothing has changed. Merkel has put the ball back in Johnson’s court, but there is no reason to believe he will come up with an answer.
Today, we will hear from French president Emmanuel Macron, who yesterday said that No Deal would be the UK’s fault and that we would still need to pay the £39 billion “divorce bill”.
Johnson can’t get No Deal through a divided Parliament. But here’s a suggestion the prime minister could take back to his European counterparts in 30 days’ time, or even today: put his version of Brexit to the people, with the option to stay in Europe on the ballot paper. It is the only viable and democratic solution to this crisis. Let Us Be Heard.
Shortage of medicines, nurses and doctors could "cripple" NHS
No-one wrote on the side of a bus that Brexit would bring a shortage of medicines, nurses and doctors that could “cripple” the NHS. But that is what sober, sensible professional bodies are now warning.
The Johnson-Priti Patel decision to limit freedom of movement immediately after October 31 will have a huge knock on effect on staffing in our hospitals, according to the Royal College of Nurses, British Medical Association and union Unison.
Around 65,000 NHS staff are from the EU with a big drop in numbers already since the Brexit vote. The BMA said there could be “untold disruption” from the new policy while the RCN demanded “urgent clarity” from the government.
Meanwhile, the heads of 17 royal colleges and health charities, co-ordinated by the Royal College of Physicians, wrote to Boris Johnson saying they “are unable to reassure patients” their health and care will not be affected by No Deal.
Organisations including the British Dental Society, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Royal College of Emergency Medicine say they have “significant concerns about shortages of medicinal supplies”.
The government gave its usual bull and bluster response that it will be alright on the night, but Saffron Corder, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, admitted: “We are in a very challenging situation 11 weeks out, despite all sorts of planning taking place by health and social care systems.”
The evidence mounts up and a host of highly-responsible organisations up and down the country keep telling Johnson what is likely to happen. No-one voted for a destructive Brexit that jeopardises our NHS and it would be a democratic outrage to inflict this on our country without letting the public have the final say.
Irish EU Commissioner warns of "foul atmosphere" after No Deal
Ireland’s EU Commissioner Phil Hogan launched a scathing attack on Boris Johnson yesterday, saying he is “gambling” with the peace process.
In unusually trenchant language for a Commissioner, Mr Hogan was reported in the Irish Independent saying there would be a “foul atmosphere” between the UK and EU after No Deal that could affect future relationships.
He went on: “Prime Minister Johnson’s hero is Winston Churchill and he seems to view himself as a modern day Churchill.
"However, in the event of a no deal Brexit, the UK government’s only Churchillian legacy will be –‘never have so few done so much damage to so many’."
It is an interesting insight into the anger bubbling under among EU politicians and shows the damage that Mr Johnson’s approach is having to our relationships across the Channel.
Come and Let Us Be Heard in Edinburgh
Labour MP Jess Phillips and SNP MP Joanna Cherry will join a stellar line-up of comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a People’s Vote ‘Let Us Be Heard’ rally in Edinburgh this afternoon. They will be joined by top comics Andrew Maxwell, Grace Campbell and Fred MacAulay as well as the renowned "Graffiti Granny" Hazel Jones.
Joanna Cherry MP for Edinburgh South West said: “This rally is an important opportunity for people from across Scotland to make their voices heard. The majority of Scotland did not vote for Brexit and they certainly did not vote for food, medical and fuel shortages.”
Fred MacAulay, comedian, said: “I’m used to doing comedy but Brexit is far from funny.” And People’s Vote supporter Jess Phillips MP commented: “If the people of Britain want to go down Boris Johnson’s road then that is their right, but shouldn’t they at least be asked first? Because without democratic consent, any outcome to the Brexit process will lack all legitimacy and will only be the opening move in a political civil war that will last years or even decades.”
Come to The Meadows in Edinburgh and give your full-throated support for a People’s Vote and get your tickets here.
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
"The government’s plan to immediately end freedom of movement following a no deal could cause untold disruption to both patients and the NHS workforce. With hospitals and GP surgeries across the country already struggling to recruit enough doctors, closing the gate on thousands of experienced medics and support staff from the EU has the potential to plunge the NHS deeper into the workforce crisis."
Dr Helena McKeown, chair at the British Medical Association, tells Buzzfeed that the government decision to end freedom of movement immediately after October 31 would be disastrous for the NHS.
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People's Vote campaign news...
The 19th October march for a People’s Vote is shaping up to be one of the biggest public protests Britain has ever seen. This is about people from all over the country having their voices heard on this crucial issue. Local campaign groups nationwide are arranging transport to bring people to London for this historic march. If you want to join a fun and friendly group of people from your local community and make your voice heard, then tickets for local coaches are available here.
Keep an eye on this page as more coaches will be added all the time. Alternatively, if there is no coach near you, then you can contact your local campaign group here to see what they are planning for the march.
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