Thursday 7 May 2018 - People's Vote

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Thursday 7 May 2018

Morning briefing: Davis' backstop rebellion - Hunt: Brexit harming NHS - Dacre departs

The double-speak at the heart of government has reached new depths. Cabinet ministers are squabbling over whether a “time-limited” backstop should have a time limit. Theresa May says it shouldn’t; David Davis says it should. The row is supposed to come to a head at a crunch meeting of the Brexit war cabinet today. The clock is ticking, and Brexit is a total mess.

A quick recap. The backstop is supposed to be a short-term fix to keep the Irish border open until the government figures out a long-term customs arrangement that also allows trade to flow smoothly over our other borders with the EU. During this stopgap, we would follow the EU’s tariffs.

The snag is the EU won’t accept any backstop that has a deadline because we still don’t have any viable long-term solution. That’s why the prime minister doesn’t want to put any time limit on it despite describing it as “time limited” - and despite saying in her last big Brexit speech at Mansion House that “I want to be straight with the people”.

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The Brexit secretary and other Brexiters smell a rat. If there’s no time limit, the UK would be stuck following EU tariffs indefinitely - and all their fantasies of swashbuckling around the world cutting trade deals would turn to dust.

That’s why Davis hinted yesterday he might resign, though newer reports suggest he won’t after all. Hard Brexiters often threaten to storm out of Cabinet, only to change their minds.

Even if the Cabinet agrees the backstop should be indefinite, it will also have to follow many EU rules (not just tariffs) and pay into its budget before it gets a deal. I have spelt how we are heading for perpetual CRAP (a Customs and Regulatory Alignment Period) in this column.

Remember that Brexit hogwash about controlling borders, money and laws? We are, instead, going to lose control. All the more reason for the people to get a vote on the final Brexit deal.


Video of the day

Watch Femi Oluwole from OFOC! on why young people - or anyone, actually - can't trust Theresa May.

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Hunt admits Brexit harming NHS

Brexit is making NHS staffing shortages worse. We’ve known this for months, but now the health secretary himself has admitted it in an interview with the Guardian. Jeremy Hunt called it a “time of great uncertainty”, saying it was  “challenging” to recruit EU nationals to the NHS.

These frank comments came as he promised a “significant increase” to the NHS budget. Of course, leaving the EU won’t help this either. Brexit will hit the economy, meaning fewer tax receipts for government to spend on public services. The Brexiters’ £350 million a week is a sick joke.


Quote of the day

“This is a time of great uncertainty and that’s going to have an impact on much-valued EU staff who work in the NHS. It’s inevitable that, faced with the headlines that Brexit has created over the last few years, it’s going to be challenging in this period of negotiations [for the NHS to recruit EU nationals]. People read the headlines and inevitably they worry.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt admits Brexit is hurting the NHS.


Government spreads Withdrawal Bill decision over two days

Buried in Guardian and FT reports today was news that Tory whip Julian Smith has offered to spread the Commons debate on the Lords’ amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill over two days (next Tuesday and Wednesday) rather than one.

The Guardian says there will still be only 12 hours in total to consider the bill. That’s an insulting amount of time to spend deciding the UK’s fate. With 15 amendments to consider, much of it will be spent walking through lobbies to vote. This from a government which has kept MPs twiddling their thumbs for months. It is treating democracy with contempt.


Video of the day 2

The Green Party's Caroline Lucas explains why women stand to be hit hardest by Brexit - and why she's backing Women For Europe.

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Dacre leaves Mail

Paul Dacre is stepping down as the editor of the Daily Mail after 26 years at the helm. This could be good news, given how vitriolic the Mail has been in hounding judges who stand up for the law as “enemies of the people” and peers who vote for the national interest as “traitors”.

Dacre hasn’t gone completely. He’s being appointed chair of Associated Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and the Mail Online. He also won’t be leaving until November.

Any change in the Mail’s editorial line will depend on Dacre’s successor. If it’s the Sun’s Tony Gallagher, the hard-Brexit rhetoric will likely stay. But the Mail on Sunday’s Geordie Greig could take a different line.


Tweet of the day

Does Paul Dacre's departure have anything to do with Brexit? James O'Brien suspects so.

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More Brexit news…

UK business angered by lack of input on post-Brexit links with EU (FT)

European Space Agency boss warns EU of rival agency risks (Guardian)

'Employers may have to pay more for training post-Brexit' (BBC)

Somerset fruit farmer says migrant worker fall is risking livelihood (BBC)

From farm to fork: The future of Welsh lamb post-Brexit (BBC)


Top Brexit comment

Luke Lythgoe: Calls for a People’s Vote just keep coming (InFacts)

Zoe Williams: Struggling to concentrate on Labour and Brexit? I have an unusual solution (Guardian)

Chris Giles: The Brexit myth of no-strings frictionless trade (FT)


Looking forward…

Today, Thursday 7 June

09:30 Michael Gove takes environment, food and rural affairs questions in Commons

Tomorrow, Friday 8 June

- G7 summit
- Best For Britain manifesto launch