Morning Briefing: Business backs a People's Vote - Holyrood takes the lead - Cabinet concessions
Brexit is going to be toxic for Britain and toxic for its businesses. The deal we look like we're getting from the government is likely to be a halfway house which pleases no one and potentially leaves business even more confused about the future than it is already.
This is why business leaders from across the UK are coming together today to back a People’s Vote. A new campaign group, Business for a People’s Vote campaign, will publish a poll of over 1,000 business leaders which shows majority support for a vote on the final Brexit deal at all levels of the business community.
The campaign brings together businesses of all sizes from across the UK - SMEs, entrepreneurs and big business - including mine, Nosh Detox, an award winning innovator in Europe's health and wellness sector. We also have the entrepreneurs behind Cobra Beer, Innocent and the Reading & Leeds Festivals as well as a manufacturer of boxer shorts, the owner of a flower shop and the former bosses of Sainsbury’s and BT.
The launch will be followed up by business people contacting their MPs to tell them how concerned they are about the emerging Brexit "deal".
The key problems are that the political declaration about our future trading relationship with the EU won’t give us good access to our biggest market, won’t be legally binding and will be ambiguous. Although the divorce agreement will keep the UK in the EU’s single market and customs union for 21 months after we quit the bloc, no business can make long-term investments on the basis of only 21 months of certainty.
Brexit is already hitting investment, growth and jobs and that’s not what we were told we were voting for. The best way through this muddle is a People’s Vote. At least then we will know if the country really wants to go down this path.
Geeta Sidhu-Robb is the CEO and founder of Nosh Detox Delivery.
Graphic of the Day
Birmingham City Council has joined a number of local authorities actively calling for a People's Vote.
Where Holyrood has led, Westminster should follow
The Scottish Parliament has backed a People’s Vote by 66 to 28. It's the first legislature in the UK to do so. The Liberal Democrats put forward an amendment to a government motion during a debate on Brexit’s threat to international scientific research in Scotland. The SNP and Greens swung behind the motion but the Conservatives opposed it. Most Labour MSPs abstained as did one SNP MSP.
Two Labour MSPs, including Kezia Dugdale, the party’s former leader in Scotland, defied the party whip to back a People’s Vote. She said: “It would be a democratic outrage if the people of the UK are not given the chance to stop Brexit. The Scottish parliament has sent out a strong message and I urge the UK government to listen.”
Video of the Day
Big concessions on rule-taking?
Theresa May looks like she is about to make another huge U-turn in the Brexit talks. Her “backstop” plan for dodging a hard Irish border could involve signing up to a regulatory “level playing field” with the EU as well as the customs union. This would stop the UK undercutting EU market standards on state aid, workers’ rights and the environment. Her cabinet is not sold on the idea, with Chris Grayling concerned it “would mean a single market through the backdoor”.
There’s little wrong with single market rules. After all, the UK has spent 45 years helping to write them. But it’s quite another matter to follow rules without any say over what they are. It’s not just Brexiters who don’t want to be turned into what Boris Johnson calls a “vassal state”. Patriotic pro-Europeans don’t like becoming a rule-taker either.
With May still stuck in negotiations with her own Cabinet, it’s no wonder that Irish PM Leo Varadkar thinks the chances of a deal this month are slipping away. And this isn’t the only problem May’s facing…
Legal advice must be published
… Ministers are demanding to see the full legal advice on May’s Irish border backstop amid concerns that there could be no way out without the EU’s consent. The row has already seen a cabinet meeting delayed, and could drag the timetable of talks even further off course. Labour, the DUP and the LIberal Democrats want to go a step further and see the advice made public, allowing MPs - and ordinary brits - to judge for themselves whether the proposal is any good.
May is fighting tooth and nail to stop this from happening. If she had any faith that her deal was a good one, she’d have nothing to worry about. Her refusal to publish legal advice shows she is trying to herd her Cabinet, MPs and the public into a “blindfold” Brexit full of risk. This makes it all the more important that the public know what’s happening, and have the chance to reject it in a People’s Vote.
Quote of the Day
“If the House of Commons is going to have a meaningful vote on a deal, and upon which this legal advice is very, very important, then I think people are entitled to know what that advice is.”
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson states the obvious
Tweet of the day
More Brexit news…
George Robertson and Bernard Cazeneuve: The UK-France alliance is crucial to Europe's security. Brexit must not threaten it (Guardian)
Kirsty Hughes: Don’t confuse talk of independence with a People’s Vote (Times)
Nick Kent: ‘Level playing field’ for EU means bumpy ride from Brexiters (InFacts)
Today, Thursday 8th November
|Parliament in recess|
|ONS: Annual Business Survey, UK non-financial business economy.|
Tomorrow, Friday 9th November
|-||Parliament in recess|
|-||WWI commemorations: Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron to lay wreaths at Thiepval|
|-||GDP first quarterly estimate (Jul-Sep 2018)|
|09.30||ONS: Revisions to business investment: Jul-Sep 2018|
ONS: UK trade (Sep)