Thursday 7 February 2019 - People's Vote

Thursday 7 February 2019

Morning Briefing: Corbyn makes his move - Tusk's undiplomatic diplomacy - property pressure

Jeremy Corbyn has set his out five demands for supporting Theresa May’s deal. Something like this needed to happen at some point and it should be welcomed that Labour is finally put a specific set of Brexit policies on paper.

What's needed now is for this - and any other alternative Brexit proposal - to be given the same level of scrutiny that led Parliament to reject the government’s deal last month. Corbyn’s proposal will almost certainly fail this test. The government is unlikely to back it, both Brexiters and patriotic pro-Europeans will balk at the level of rule-taking without a say, and there are a number of “cake and eat it” elements the EU will disagree with.

Once this gambit is dispensed with, Labour can move onto the next stage of the Brexit policy agree last year at party conference. That is, if Labour couldn't get a general election, it should explore other options including a new public vote. A rejection of the “five demands” would mean Labour can fulfil the wishes of the overwhelming majority of its voters and members by campaigning to give the public the final say.

So what are Corbyn’s demands? They would see the UK: inside a customs union with a say in future trade deals, aligned with the single market “underpinned by shared institutions”, signing up to “dynamic alignment” on rights and protections, commitments to participate in EU agencies, and to continue to cooperate on security policy.


This opens up a whole series of questions. Could Corbyn's proposal really be negotiated before the UK has left the EU to avoid the need for a backstop? The Labour leader wants to see his demands introduced as part of a revision to the political declaration, not the withdrawal agreement, so he probably intends to keep the backstop.

What would be the UK’s actual relationship to the single market? Again, by putting all this in the political declaration - a document with about the same heft as a strongly worded press release - it remains deeply unclear what the final relationship would be.

Would the EU really allow the UK any meaningful say over its trade policy? That seems like something the EU is unlikely to ever put on the table.

These five demands won’t settle anything, but that’s probably a good thing for Labour in the long run. The leadership can say they tried to make Brexit work, and finally move on. That would be in keeping with the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Labour’s members and potential voters. New research by the TSSA trade union showed Labour would get a lower share of the vote in every seat if it were seen to have a pro-Brexit policy rather than an anti-Brexit position.

Corbyn’s five demands need a public hearing. But when they fail, it’s time to quickly move on to what the majority of Labour members want - their party to back a People’s Vote.

Quote of the Day

No number of tweaks to the political declaration pretending we can have our cake and eat it can change the reality that any Brexit deal means leaving the EU without clarity or certainty about where we will end up.

Labour’s Phil Wilson MP on Jeremy Corbyn’s five demands to the government.

Video of the Day 

WATCH: David Davis made yet another Brexit promise, saying negotiating a trade deal with the EU will be 'faster' than in the past two years. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down to exit day…

Nobody can keep the undeliverable promises made for Brexit.

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Undiplomatic diplomacy

European Council president Donald Tusk believes there is a “special place in hell… for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely”. Not terribly diplomatic words, and a predictable backlash from eurosceptic MPs has ensued.

It does suggest a harder line might be taken with Theresa May when she visits Brussels today to try and get the “alternative arrangements” to the backstop demanded by Tory Brexiters. And Tusk’s words do show that the EU has got the Brexiter’s number: not only did they have no plan in 2016, they have no plan today.

Tweet of the Day

With fifty days to go OFOC founder Femi explains what it means to take back control.

End the uncertainty

With Britain staggering ever closer to the no-deal cliff edge, uncertainty over Brexit is weighing down on the housing sector. New homes built in London and the Midlands last year fell 10%, house price growth is at its lowest for six years, and investors withdrew £315 million from property funds in the last month of last year. The Financial Conduct Authority is now demanding daily updates from funds amid concerns about a potential liquidity crunch.

The only economic quick fix is to resolve the uncertainty about Brexit - and to do so in a way that doesn’t damage the economy. May’s deal does neither of these things: it punts the big decisions down the road, and damages our links to the European economy. The only surefire remedy is to stay in the EU.

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.

More Brexit news…

May departs Northern Ireland no closer to backstop deal (Guardian)

A car crash waiting to happen? What German business really thinks about the Brexit negotiation (Telegraph)

Brexit risk for UK aid as Swiss cut off from EU funding (BBC)

UK set to delay key Brexit laws until after departure (FT £)

Graphic of the Day

Danny Dyer explains why he thinks it’s time for a People’s Vote:  "I realised it was a massive mistake because I was lied to. It can't be done this thing that you've put to us."

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Top Brexit comment

Luke Lythgoe: Don’t despair, Donald! People’s Vote is alive and kicking (InFacts)

Editorial: Bank of England must grapple with the risks of a no-deal Brexit (FT £)

What's your reason? 

WATCH: Hannah Graham is a youth worker and FFS supporter from Scunthorpe.  She thinks a People’s Vote is the only way out of this mess.

She’s right - and brexit will hit young people the hardest, for the longest.

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Looking forward…

Today, Thursday 7th February

- 50 days until Brexit day
- Theresa May visiting Brussels

Tomorrow, Friday 8th February

- Gareth Thomas private members bill on Brexit public vote