Thursday 5 September 2019 - People's Vote

Thursday 5 September 2019

Morning Briefing: Boris Johnson loses control after No Deal vote humiliations

Courageous Parliamentarians defended democracy again against Boris Johnson last night in both the Commons and the Lords, while the People’s Vote campaign staged a fantastic cross party rally with thousands of people outside in Parliament Square.

In the small hours, filibustering peers - who were trying to block votes for a Brexit extension by MPs - threw in the towel. With peers turning up with duvets and toothbrushes ready for a night of time-wasting speeches, agreement was finally reached to allow the Bill to proceed by Friday and then get Royal Assent.

By any measure, it’s been a bad couple of days for Boris Johnson. After losing control of the Commons agenda on Tuesday, he has now lost three Commons votes – the same as Gordon Brown in three years. And, crucially, he also failed to get the snap general election he craves.

No election without an extension

No one really doubts that Johnson’s efforts to crash into an early election are the latest desperate move to ensure the UK crashes out of the EU on October 31.

So far, Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to walk into this elephant trap by agreeing to such a poll. An election may well be coming, but it should not be before iron clad guarantees have been agreed that we won’t have left the EU beforehand. And no one trusts the Prime Minister or his increasingly deranged chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, not to try another trick.

People's Vote supporter Jess Phillips MP blasted Mr Johnson: "I have no faith in literally anything the Prime Minister says. There is no distance that I could trust him. The PM is playing some bully boy public game, of some bully boy public school that I probably won't understand."

When people do get the chance to vote, Cummings has said he wants a populist election dominated by the issue of Corbyn’s character. Events of the last few days show Johnson can never with a straight face claim to be standing up for the people. And any election is also likely to feature big questions about Johnson’s character as much as that of anyone else.

Little wonder that more and more MPs are now concluding that the only legitimate way to settle this Brexit crisis is by putting the issue back to the people, not merely or even necessarily in an election, but ultimately in a final say referendum.

"Rebel Alliance" push Boris Johnson onto back foot

By kicking out the 21 Conservative rebels, Johnson not only lost his majority but succeeded in creating a whole new phalanx of powerful and influential Independents: the Rebel Alliance. Speakers like Dominic Grieve at last night’s People’s Vote rally in were greeted by the Star Wars theme tune.

The point is that Mr Johnson can no longer force a vicious No Deal Brexit on the country. EU negotiator Michel Barnier said that talksover renegotiation are in “paralysis”.

The Prime Minister hasn’t helped himself by his “purge” on moderate Conservative MPs, which was described as “monstrously unfair” by Damian Green on the BBC’s Today programme. The 1922 Committee meeting last night was dominated by anger from 100 MPs at the mass expulsion of colleagues, such as Ken Clarke, Philip Hammond, Sir Nicholas Soames and David Gauke.

The Sun claims this morning that Johnson’s pal Michael Gove and other Cabinet Ministers pushed back on Johnson during a meeting of Cabinet and asked how the rebels could “find redemption”.

What happens next is not known, but, with a weakened Prime Minister and the clock still ticking to October 31, it is time to Let Us Be Heard. Even if No Deal is blocked, there is still no solution to the Brexit crisis. Dominic Grieve MP commented: "Now that we know what Brexit really means it is only fair and reasonable to seek closure on this whole crisis by asking the people clearly and directly if they want it to go ahead or else stay in the EU with our current deal as members.”

It is still time to Let Us Be Heard.

Recession and food shortage fears continue over destructive No Deal

The No Deal warnings came thick and fast yesterday as MPs moved to block Boris Johnson from pushing it through.

Supermarkets called out that there would be shortages of fresh food and potential price rises due to backlogs at Calais and Dover, in particular, with perishables such as tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower and cheese expected to be hit.

The British Retail Consortium told MPs they couldn’t understand why Michael Gove had claimed otherwise at the weekend as they have consistently warned of No Deal problems with Calais “clogging up” with lorries not having the right paperwork.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney told the Treasury Select Committee that, although the UK was better prepared for No Deal than previously, food prices could rise by 5-6%, costing the average family around £150 a year. He said the economy was likely to shrink by around 5.5% as recession kicked in after No Deal.

Britain's manufacturers are suffering a "nosedive" as a perfect storm of Brexit uncertainty, slowdown in major markets and trade wars takes its toll, a new study out this morning suggests.

A survey of almost 300 firms by manufacturers organisation Make UK and business advisory firm BDO LLP indicated that a weaker currency is not helping, with export orders down despite prices falling. The report said all the indications were that foreign customers are not buying British goods even though they are 6% cheaper than this time last year.

Seamus Nevin, chief economist at Make UK, said: "Industry is facing a perfect storm of factors, compounded by a hard Brexit which could not be coming at a worse possible time.
"In normal circumstances a global slowdown on its own would be enough, but add trade wars and the biggest shock to our economy since the war and there seems little doubt that, barring a remarkable turnaround, the sector may be heading for recession."

Tom Lawton, head of manufacturing at BDO, added that “a cliff-edge decision on a deal or no-deal Brexit will mean a double whammy of continuing weaker demand for products and fundamental disruption to supply chains."

Meanwhile the UK’s dominant services sector, which includes finance, hotels and restaurants, failed to grow as quickly as expected in August, fuelling fears of a recession, according to a survey from IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

The damage of No Deal is already taking effect as the economy struggles to deal with the uncertainty and potential problems if it goes ahead in October 31.

New Chancellor Sajid Javid may make pre-election promises of ending austerity, but his numbers are not based on the reality of the current and potential future economy, as Paul Johnson from the Institute of Fiscal Studies warned yesterday.

Young people rush to register to vote as FFS kick off university campaign

A surge of more than 100,000 people registering to vote this week has been triggered by increased numbers of young people and students amidst the chaos of No Deal politics.

With the National Union of Students working with the Electoral Commission to promote on campuses during freshers’ week, 52% of the new registrations are people under 34.

It comes as People’s Vote campaigners For our Future’s Sake (FFS) launched a major campaign at multiple universities and colleges around the country with flyers, stickers and more.

Look out for FFS’s presence a freshers’ fairs, Students’ Unions, political societies and others as they aim to create a tidal wave of support for a People’s Vote amongst students.

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

“So far, those who believe in democracy are standing strong and holding firm. As a former Speaker of the House of Commons I am so proud of all those MPs from all sides in Parliament who been willing to put our country first, even at the risk to their own careers. 

“But the battle is now going to become more intense. We know the Government is spending £100 million on propaganda for No Deal. We know they will use every dirty trick in the book to force their Brexit on us. The fight to protect our democracy is only just beginning.”

Former Commons Speaker and People's Vote supporter Betty Boothroyd has been ill recently, but is determined to give her full-throated backing to those fighting No Deal.


Video of the Day   

Labour MP and People's Vote supporter Jess Phillips rips into the Conservatives for kicking out patriotic rebels.

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Video of the Day 2

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Tweet of the Day

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More Brexit news...

Lords agree to push through bill to prevent No Deal by Friday (Guardian)

Barnier warns diplomats that Brexit talks are in "state of paralysis" (PoliticsHome)

Leaked document warns of long delays at Channel ports (Channel 4)

Pressure on Johnson as party anger grows over purge (The Times)

Food shortages after No Deal, say supermarkets (Guardian)


More Brexit comment...

Dinesh Dhamija: I spent a day with small businesses faced with Brexit. The outlook is bleak (New European)

Layla Moran: As an MP, I've been called a traitor and worse, but I will still fight to stop No Deal (Guardian)

Emma Burnell: The picture of Jacob Rees Mogg will haunt the Conservatives for decades (Independent)