Morning Briefing: Backstop talks 'negative' - LGBT+ for a People's Vote - Lawson blames someone else
Geoffrey Cox’s attempt to tinker with the Irish backstop appears to have stalled. Unless the attorney general makes some "acceptable" suggestions on the backstop within the next 48 hours, it is unlikely that any substantial changes can be agreed in principle in time for the next round of voting on Theresa May’s deal.
With no changes yet on the table, and nothing groundbreaking expected, there’s little reason for MPs to change their minds and vote the deal through; especially now the prime minister has promised them the opportunity to vote against a chaotic no-deal Brexit and extend the looming Article 50 deadline.
The DUP are certainly dead-set against the deal, with the party’s Brexit spokesman calling warnings against a no-deal Brexit “politically motivated”, and emphasising that the backstop must either have a unilateral exit clause for the UK, or be time-limited in nature - both of which go considerably further than Cox’s attempts to secure an independent arbitration mechanism for leaving.
The mood in Cabinet seems bleak, with the Telegraph quoting one minister as saying it is “certain” that May will lose the next vote, and the chief whip planning to cancel the Easter break.
MPs know that, while the backstop is capturing the headlines, the rest of the deal is bad too. It doesn’t settle our future trading arrangements with the EU, leaving us facing years of future uncertainty. It will quite probably make the UK poorer. And it will definitely make us less influential; what little clarity there is in the “political declaration” on our future relationship with the EU seems to lay the groundwork for us following many EU rules without a voice at the top table.
The fundamentally rotten nature of the deal - and the lack of time available to negotiate an alternative - means that the current deadlock in Parliament is likely to go on for some time. The clearest way to break it is to put the matter back to the people, with an option to stay in the EU. You can take your chance to tell our politicians this at the Put It To The People march on Saturday 23.
Quote of the Day
“The clock is really ticking and I do think it would have been better for people and businesses to live in more certainty than they are today.”
French Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau asks Britain to set its house in order
Audio of the Day
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Jeremy Corbyn is holding talks with a group of Conservative backbenchers who want to see the UK sign up to a Norway-style Brexit. While there are differences between the two groups - Nick Boles and his friends want to sign the UK up to the full set of single market rules without any votes, while Corbyn would prefer to leave wriggle room for radically reshaping the British economy - the talks were described as “positive” by the Leader’s office.
But the deal they’re attempting to strike would be a national humiliation - signing away parliamentary sovereignty in favour of blindly following new EU rules. Corbyn should listen to the overwhelming majority of Labour members and voters, and stick to the policy agreed at party conference and push for a public vote.
Graphic of the Day
LGBT+ for a People’s Vote
Last night LGBT+ for a People’s Vote and Gay Star News jointly launched a new impact assessment on how Brexit will negatively affect the LGBT+ community. It highlights big concerns for LGBT+ rights, with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights already one of the few bits of EU law not to have made it onto the UK statute books after Brexit.
Rights can be eroded and taken away - just look at the deplorable Section 28 law introduced in the 1980s, or Donald Trump's current rhetoric and behaviour in the US. In a post-Brexit future, the safety net of EU law will no longer apply and protection of all our rights will be up to the MPs of the day. But while the risks of Brexit are spelled out in this new report, a strong case is also made from the more powerful influence we can have as part of the EU, protecting rights and helping spread tolerance and equality around the globe.
Tweet of the Day
Maybe a trade deal with the USA isn’t as simple as it seems.
Guardian article here.
Someone else to blame, asserts Leave chief
Former Leave campaign chair Nigel Lawson has taken to the French press to bemoan the prime minister’s handling of the shambles he helped create. Describing May’s deal as “disastrous” and the handling of the Brexit process as a “complete mess”, Lawson treated us to the familiar sight of a Brexiter blaming someone else when their pet project goes wrong.
Presumably Lawson, at least, will concede that he didn’t know in 2016 that the process of leaving would be so difficult, or the deal reached so bad. And if the chair of the official Leave campaign didn’t see this coming, it’s difficult to see how the average voter could have. We deserve a People’s Vote on the deal we’re getting, not the fantasy Lawson and his friends promised.
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.
Top Brexit comment
Kathryn Breitner: Brexiters’ shoddy track record on LGBT+ rights exposed (InFacts)
Doire Finn: EU must not forget young people of Northern Ireland (Irish News)
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Today, Thursday 7th March
|10.00||Commons questions to attorney general Geoffrey Cox|
|-||EU home affairs council meeting in Brussels|
Tomorrow, Friday 8th March
|-||EU justice council meeting in Brussels|