Morning Briefing: MPs taking back control - businesses going Dutch - Barnier wants decisions
Patience with the government over the Brexit gridlock is growing thin. Attempts to take back control of Brexit are springing up everywhere. Theresa May’s own ministers are secretly meeting to undermine her policy. Meanwhile amendments in Parliament from Dominic Grieve, Yvette Cooper and others are set to take back control of the parliamentary process.
To see things moving forward is positive in itself. The government’s defeat on its proposed Brexit deal shows that parliamentary democracy has decisively reasserted itself over what has been a failed process. Now, with the clock ticking ever louder, we need leadership in the national interest.
Almost 20 ministers - including Cabinet ministers Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd - have been holding secret meetings to discuss their strategy for preventing a chaotic Brexit, the Telegraph reports.
Dominic Grieve’s plan is to force the government into setting aside days for MPs to discuss alternative Brexit plans in the Commons, with MPs able to table amendments backing various options.
Cooper’s amendment, meanwhile, would require May to seek to extend Article 50 until the end of the year if MPs cannot approve her deal by February 26. May is probably right to believe that an extension in and of itself won’t break the parliamentary deadlock - and EU commissioner Pierre Moscovici has noted that an extension would require a “reasoned request” rather than simple absence of a consensus. But paired with Grieve’s amendment, carving out more time to work a way through the mess, this would be an important step towards securing a People’s Vote.
What is needed now is for Parliament to demonstrate there is a clear majority against a no deal Brexit and then make an honest assessment of alternatives to the government’s proposed deal. It is surely right that these are given serious consideration but also that they are subject to the same minimal standards of scrutiny that led so many MPs to conclude they could not support the government’s Brexit plan. Indeed, there is no form of Brexit that can fulfil the promises made in 2016, that is better than the deal we’ve got inside Europe or will prevent this crisis going on forever.
MPs are not quite at the point of demanding a People’s Vote. They are unlikely to do so until every other option has been considered and set aside as unsatisfactory. But that takes time, and these amendments provide that. This is a vital step towards building a consensus that the only way out of this mess is to turn the decision back over to the people.
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.
Over 250 companies are looking at the possibility of following in Sony’s lead and upping sticks from Britain to the Netherlands, The Times reports. Among the perks on offer is a potential exemption for foreign banks from a cap on bonuses, and generous tax breaks for workers making the move to the country. Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, is hosting businesses at a summit in Versailles in an attempt to persuade them to move to France.
The longer May spends trying to force her deal through Parliament, the more concerned UK businesses get about Brexit uncertainty. No wonder so many are being tempted by a move across the Channel.
Video of the Day
WATCH: James Dyson said that nothing could go wrong with Brexit, has taken millions of pounds from UK taxpayers to build electric cars in Singapore and is now moving his Dyson company HQ to Singapore.
It's time he paid that money back. Sign the petition NOW.
Quote of the Day
“It is a disgrace that more than two years after the result of the 2016 referendum, businesses are still unable to plan properly for the future. And we, along with many of our peers, have repeatedly called for clarity. But, we still have no idea what is really going on here".
“Please don't listen to the Brexiteers' madness which asserts that because we have huge plants here, we will not move and we will always be here. Brexit is threatening to destroy a century of development based on education, research and human capital.”
Airbus chief executive Tom Enders has lashes out at the government’s lack of direction.
Tweet of the Day
For our Future's Sake sums up the Brexiters' reaction to Parliament taking back control.
Barnier wants decisions
Michel Barnier is warning MPs that opposing a no-deal Brexit is not enough to stop it happening. A majority against a default is not a majority for an alternative plan, which is what will be needed to prevent it from happening. While an extension to Article 50 could give MPs time to form a consensus, Barnier is not keen on that plan: “We need decisions more than we need time actually… some have said to me that if the question is raised, then why would we do that? What would the purpose be? How long would be required?”
An attempt to extend Article 50 simply to kick the can down the road may not meet with success. But an extension looking to find a solid solution - such as holding a People’s Vote to resolve the deadlock and settle this mess once and for all - could well be approved.
Video of the Day 2
More Brexit news…
Top Brexit comment
Michael Chessum: To those leaving Labour: if you want to stop Brexit, stay and fight (Guardian)
Jonathan Freedland: Wealthy Brexiteers like James Dyson are jumping ship. Why might that be? (Guardian)
Today, Thursday 24th January
|09.30||ONS: Family spending in 2018|
|AM||Theresa May meeting trade union leaders in Downing Street|
|09.30||Brexit questions in Commons|
|11.00||European statutory instruments committee will publish its verdict of proposed negative instruments put forward by the Government|
Tomorrow, Friday 25th January
|-||Government accounts published by public accounts committee|