Thursday 26 September 2019 - People's Vote

Thursday 26 September 2019

Morning Briefing: Boris Johnson's harsh rhetoric raises temperature in Parliament

It was a bitter and angry House of Commons that returned after the shutdown, with the tone set by a brutal and unrepentant display from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, bawling at a “dead Parliament”, describing it as "a disgrace". Michael Gove’s mendacious refusal to respond accurately to fears over No Deal planning continued the government’s clear plan to up the aggression against MPs.

But then came Boris Johnson and MPs and observers were shocked by his Trumpian performance, particularly when it came to the offensive remark that the best way to honour murdered MP Jo Cox was to “deliver Brexit” and then to deride MP Paula Sherriff’s appeal for him to tone down his language with the remark that it was “humbug”.

This is a prime minister and government who have no shame, even after the Supreme Court’s unanimous “unlawful” decision on prorogation. Who can tell what he is planning as he gets more and boxed into the “do or die” corner of his own making? But he clearly can’t be trusted on Brexit and therefore must not get the General Election he craves.

Only a People’s Vote can solve the biggest political crisis of our lives. Join us on our massive march on Saturday October 19 in London to make the case clear. Sign up here.

MPs return to bitter Parliament, but more understand that a People's Vote is the only solution

Amidst the anger and fury prompted by Boris Johnson’s tactics, there is a growing sense in Westminster that a People's Vote is the right answer. 

Yesterday morning, veteran MP and former Chancellor Ken Clarke said he might “resign himself” to a final say referendum to end the crisis and in interviews last night his now-independent colleagues Amber Rudd and David Gauke indicated that they see a People’s Vote as potentially a better option than a general election. Their comments came after senior shadow minister Barry Gardiner argued that a People's Vote, before a general election, is the best route.

People's Vote supporter David Lammy MP commented: “More and more MPs from all sides of the House of Commons now know a People’s Vote is the only way forward. Going ahead with Brexit now would not mean the end of the crisis but the start of never-ending negotiations in which the UK would be in a weaker position than ever. In contrast, a People’s Vote would give us all the clarity and certainty we need to move on."

There were hints yesterday that Johnson might try once again to shutdown – prorogue – Parliament, while opposition discussions included the prospect of tightening up the Hilary Benn Act which blocked No Deal.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will meet opposition politicians today to discuss cross-party next steps in the face of the Johnson government’s shameless response to the Supreme Court decision.

We are clear that only a People’s Vote can resolve this ugly political crisis. The only democratic way to bring the UK together at this point is to give the British people the right to vote on the biggest issue of our lifetimes.

Industry bosses hit back at Gove over No Deal readiness threats

Michael Gove’s Commons claim that the motoring and retail sectors had told told him they are “ready” for No Deal has been denied by senior leaders at the meeting.

In the resumed Commons session, the minister in charge of No Deal planning  said: "The automotive sector, who I met this week, confirmed that they were ready, the retail sector said they were ready."

But three attendees at the relevant meeting in Coventry this week told the BBC this was not an accurate reflection of Monday's meeting with manufacturers. "I was at the meeting. There's no way that is the message he could have gone away with," said one business leader.

Another present, when asked if Mr Gove had been told by the car industry that it was ready, replied: "No! We said we are planning as best we can, but cannot prepare for all eventualities and tariffs alone undermine our viability. We want a deal. No deal is not an option. Catastrophic."

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, tweeted that the automotive sector had been “consistent & clear” that despite spending more than £500m on no-deal preparations, it “can’t fully mitigate serious risks”. He added: “Need deal & free & frictionless trade.”

A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium also contradicted Mr Gove.  “We have been crystal clear that while retailers are doing everything they can to prepare for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, there are limits to what can be done,” he said in a statement. 

Concerns that "no-man's land" Irish border solution could lead to violence 

Boris Johnson’s plans for a “no-man’s land” on the Northern Ireland border could lead to the sort of violence that led to the attempted murder of Margaret Thatcher by the IRA, the former Irish prime minister John Bruton warned yesterday.

The former taoiseach (1994-97) told MEPs in Brussels: “This is an open invitation to criminal and subversive organisations who have financed themselves in the past by smuggling.”

His comments came as current Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar revealed that he and European Council head Donald Tusk agreed in New York that the UK needed to see British proposals in writing in the first week of October for there to be any chance of agreement by October 31.

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

“I was thinking about how Jo would respond to it last night and I think she would have tried to bring a generosity of spirit to it....and step back from this inferno of rhetoric....what isn’t acceptable is to demonise each other and create this tribal identity. I don’t think (Johnson) is an evil man...we should remember our humanity...all of us should take a deep breath and step back from this polarisation.”

Murdered MP Jo Cox's widower Brendan called for a stop to the toxic language used in Parliament, when speaking to the BBC's Today programme this morning.

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More Brexit news...

Businesses deny Gove's claims on No Deal preparation (BBC News)

Brendan Cox calls for change to our language and toxic politics (Standard)

UK must table backstop proposals next week amidst violence warnings (Guardian)

Anger in Commons as Johnson tells MPs to deliver Brexit to "stay safe" (The Times)

More Brexit comment...

Bloomberg Editorial Board: Johnson's Brexit gamble is failing - a second referendum is required (Bloomberg)

Charlie Cooper: Where Boris Johnson went wrong (Politico)