Morning briefing: Brexit showdown - Cummings' train wreck - harming our health
It looks like we may finally get a Brexit showdown. Theresa May is planning to bring her EU Withdrawal Bill - now heavily amended by the Lords - back to the House of Commons in June, reports Bloomberg. The prime minister will have to convince her restless MPs not to back the Lords’ amendments on critical issues, including customs and Northern Ireland, if she wants to keep her flagship Brexit legislation intact.
Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Northern Ireland today, during which he will repeat his opposition to a hard border on the island of Ireland, suggests Labour is planning to make the government’s life difficult on this critical issue. Of course Corbyn's current position - just staying in a customs union with the EU, not the single market - won't prevent a hard border either. Both he and May keep missing the point on this.
May has instead attempted to square the Irish border circle with a number of complex proposals. The latest is another transition period stretching to 2023, according to The Times. During this time the UK will stay under the EU’s customs rules and keep regulations on industrial goods aligned to the single market. The idea is to buy time for a new (yet to be agreed) post-Brexit customs regime to be put in place, which will likely require new systems and advanced technical solutions.
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The problem is that, even if May’s plans convince her mutinous MPs, the EU is unlikely to agree to them without further strings attached. Given that it doesn’t believe that any of the government’s long-term “solutions” to customs will be ready even by 2023, it is likely to insist that any “backstop” to ensure that border controls don’t return in Ireland stay indefinitely. No wonder Tory Brexiters are worried.
Even if May gets her new systems up and running, the government's plans are going to be very expensive. The UK’s tax chief yesterday revealed that the Brexiters’ favoured “Max Fac” solution would cost £20 billion to business per year.
By bringing the Withdrawal Bill back to Parliament, all these complex issues may finally come to a head. If the public don’t like what they see, they should demand a People’s Vote on the final deal.
Graphic of the day
Or if you think about it another way...
Cummings slams Brexit ‘train wreck’
How do you know when Brexit’s going really badly? When the architect of the Leave campaign calls it a “train wreck”. Dominic Cummings has written that the process has been “irretrievably botched”, in an open letter to Tory MPs and donors on his blog.
Vote Leave’s chief strategist blames the prime minister and Whitehall officials for trying to stay “as closely tied to the EU as possible”. His alternative, of course, would be tearing ourselves away from our main trading partner and causing massive turmoil for the UK economy and jobs. The truth is that Brexit success was unrealistic from the get go, and any form of Brexit was going to leave us worse off than our deal inside the EU.
Video of the day
Watch how Brexit minister Suella Braverman (nee Fernandes) has gone from denying there will even be a Brexit divorce bill, to admitting we'll have to pay one without even an EU trade deal to show for it.
Star Wars: The Brexit Menace
Brexit star wars over the EU’s Galileo satellite project are causing rifts inside the EU, reports the Times and Guardian. France, Spain, Sweden and Netherlands are among the countries that want the UK to keep close ties to the space network, while a German-led group wants to block Britain from accessing sensitive military data collected by the EU’s answer to GPS.
The situation is a depressing knock-on effect of Brexit, not helped by hardline UK rhetoric about developing our own rival system. The UK has been involved in this project for years, ploughing more than £1 billion into it. British funding and expertise will continue to be useful in the future. This is a particularly unintelligent path for both sides to take, as former EU and UN ambassador David Hannay has written for InFacts.
Brexit will harm our health
Public health experts and a leading medical journal have come out in support of a People’s Vote. Writing a joint article in the BMJ, alongside Best For Britain’s Mark Malloch Brown, the health policy professionals urge others in the medical sector to speak out against Brexit.
“If we knew that an infectious agent posed a serious threat to the health of our population and we could prevent it, then we would have no hesitation in demanding and ensuring that something be done,” they argue. “Yet when we are faced with clear evidence that political decisions will cause harm, many of us feel we should be silent.”
Brexit will be bad for our NHS. Healthcare staff can help tell patients and the wider community the facts, before it’s too late.
Tweet of the day
Here's Mike Galsworthy from Scientists for EU's take on Boris' demand for his own Brexit jet.
More Brexit news…
More Brexit news…
Plot to subvert Brexit exposed (Daily Mail)
The pro-Brexit press has done another hatchet job on our friends at Best For Britain, simply for doing their job and running a campaign to persuade MPs to reject the Brexit deal if it’s not good enough for our country.
Quote of the day
“In a post-Brexit UK trade policy debate, we need to think hard, rigorously and honestly about this, and not produce buccaneering blather.”
Another memorable quote from former top EU diplomat Ivan Rogers,who famously said we’d be “screwed” if the government triggered Article 50 without a clear Brexit plan.
Top Brexit comment
Andrew Grice: The Conservatives’ stance on immigration post-Brexit will define whether it can win over young voters (Independent)
Vicky Pryce: Brexit uncertainty hammers foreign investment (InFacts)
Video of the day 2
This is fairly lengthy (around 7 minutes), but well worth the watch:
Today, Thursday 24 May
|-||Jeremy Corbyn visits Northern Ireland|
|09:30||ONS: migration statistics published|
|09:30||ONS: Regional disposable income published|
|09:30||ONS: Retail sales published|
|10:00||EU External Affairs sub-committee takes expert evidence on Brexit customs arrangements|
|PM||House rises for Whitun recess|
Tomorrow, Friday 25 May
|-||Parliament in recess|
|-||EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force|
|09:30||ONS: Business investment into UK published|
|09:30||ONS: GDP figures published|