Morning Briefing: But what do MPs want? - EU citizens farce - May wrong on rights
After yet another busy day of voting in Parliament, we have an even better idea of what MPs don’t want - but still no clarity on where they want to go from here.
Labour’s plan for a permanent customs union and lots of rule-taking was officially defeated. Theresa May was forced to back an amendment which promised MPs a later vote to reject no deal and ask for an extension on Article 50. Meanwhile the government’s Brexit strategy, having suffered a historic defeat last month, staggers towards another vote.
John McDonnell, shadow chancellor, says that the party will put forward a proposal for a referendum in an attempt to “break this deadlock”. If Labour has accepted that there is no majority for its loss-of-sovereignty Brexit, then this is a positive move. At the same time, McDonnell and the rest of the Labour leadership are still be arguing for their own deal and pursuing a general election.
While MPs decisively voted to vote on possibly extending Article 50, any such extension would have to be approved by our European negotiating partners. Emmanuel Macron has declared that any such extension will need “a clear understanding of the aim that’s being pursued”, “justified by new choices on the part of the British”. Angela Merkel, meanwhile, said that “if Britain wants more time we will not say no” in the pursuit of “an orderly exit of the UK from the EU”.
Making “new choices” would of course involve making choices in the first place, something Parliament is currently singularly unable to do. As MPs are realising, the only way to break the deadlock is to put the choice back to the people.
Quote of the Day
“If the British need more time, we will be able to examine a request for an extension if it’s justified by new choices on the part of the British.”
French president Emmanuel Macron hints that just asking for an extension might not be enough - EU leaders need to know what for.
Tweet of the Day
Jeremy Corbyn sticks by his earlier pledge to back a public vote.
Protecting citizens should’ve been sorted long ago
Just when you think the conduct of Theresa May’s government couldn’t get any more farcical... a member of the government is forced to resign for putting forward an amendment which the government eventually backed. The amendment was backed by a wide spectrum of MPs including Jeremy Corbyn, Dominic Grieve, Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg. Home secretary Sajid Javid had described himself as “perfectly happy” with the amendment, and expressed confusion when told that May was not. And after Costa stepped down, David Lidington declared that it turned out the government liked his plan after all, and would accept the amendment. May’s muddled Brexit strategy in microcosm.
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May’s rights pledge not enough
In a repeat of earlier headlines, May is once again hoping to win the support of Labour MPs by pledging to keep workers' rights in the UK in lockstep with those in the EU. The problem with this measure is quite simple; there would be no non-UK mechanism forcing the government to do so, and there is no reasonable way to bind a future parliament.
A future Conservative government may simply decide to ignore new EU developments on rights, and could even be able to junk the commitment wholesale - depending on the form May's offer takes. Do wavering Labour MPs trust that any future Parliament will keep in lock-step with EU rights and the UK won’t get left behind?
Video of the Day
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UK car production collapses 18% over Brexit danger (Independent)
Top Brexit comment
Peter Kellner: Labour will win more votes than it loses by backing another referendum. (Guardian)
Ellie James: Brexit has already ravaged the northeast. Of course we’ll support Labour in backing a final say (Independent)
Martin Kettle: Time is on the side of remainers amid Brexit's smoke and mirrors (Guardian)
Today, Thursday 28th February
|09.30||ONS: Migration statistics|
|09.30||Brexit questions in Commons|