Morning Briefing: Brexit deal pulled - desperate eurotrip - blow for business
Make no mistake. Although no votes were taken in Parliament yesterday, as soon as the prime minister admitted her deal was going down in flames and aborted today’s meaningful vote, this was a defeat in all but name.
Her trip around European capitals looking for help will be another exercise in humiliation (see below). It will amount to putting lipstick on a pig. The sooner the deal is rejected and Parliament can solve the political crisis with a People’s Vote the better.
Fears that May will keep her deal in suspended animation, run down the clock until the last minute and then present MPs with a choice between her deal or crashing out of the EU are exaggerated. Although technically she could delay a vote until January 21 (the date she mentioned) or even March 28 (as the House of Commons authorities suggested), the politics of this are impossible.
MPs on all sides of the House are furious. The prime minister has lost control and credibility. So have key ministers who, until the last minute, were saying it was “100%” certain that the meaningful vote would go ahead.
Labour has a responsibility to step up to the plate. The party has said it wants to try to force a general election before backing a People’s Vote. But it’s also saying it will bring a vote of no confidence against the prime minister when MPs vote down her deal.
There is no time to waste. It should recognise that the only way through this mess is a People's Vote, and get on with doing whatever it must do to arrive at that position as soon as possible. If they do not act swiftly, the public, Labour supporters and party members will all conclude that the party is deliberately stalling - and is happy for May to run down the clock.
Everybody else also needs to get off the fence too. Newspapers that have backed the deal so far, such as The Times, the Mail and the FT, need to be honest that it cannot command the support of the House of Commons. The same goes for bastions of industry such as the CBI (see below).
If anybody has a viable plan B, let them put it on the table now - or forever hold their peace. This goes for soft Brexiters as well as hard Brexiters such as Boris Johnson, all of whom are still peddling fantasies. History will not look kindly on those who waste more time in the coming weeks.
The real choice now is whether to go ahead with a Brexit deal or stick with the deal we already have as members of the EU. Now we know what Brexit looks like, the public should be given the opportunity to decide in a People’s Vote – is this the kind of deal we want, or is the deal we already have in the EU better? In the end, only the people can sort this out.
Video of the Day
WATCH: Theresa May used to say there would be no general election before 2020, but then she called a general election. She said the meaningful vote in Parliament would happen today, but then she delayed it. Theresa May says a People’s Vote can’t happen... Watch this space.
Quote of the day
“Halting the debate after no fewer than 164 colleagues have taken the trouble to contribute will be thought by many members of this House to be deeply discourteous…
“This whole proceeding has been extremely regrettable. I think that is manifest, palpable, incontrovertible.”
Strong words, even from an outspoken Speaker like John Bercow. The government’s decision won’t have won it much goodwill among MPs.
PM’s desperate eurotrip
Theresa May can visit as many EU capitals as she likes, it doesn’t seem like she’ll get any big changes to her deal. “We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop, but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification,” EU Council president Donald Tusk tweeted yesterday. There was a similar message from Ireland’s Leo Varadkar. That won’t be far enough for the DUP, whose Commons leader told May in no uncertain terms yesterday: “Amend the withdrawal agreement or it will be voted down.”
Everyone but the prime minister is seeing the government’s Brexit for the failed project it is. France’s Europe minister said it was now “more and more likely that [the Commons] will reject the withdrawal agreement” and urged preparations for a hard Brexit, reports The Times. German MPs were more constructive, however, urging the UK to “pull out of the departure” altogether. It’s now crucial that our politicians present the public with this option in a People’s Vote, as a sensible, democratic way out of this mess.
Tweet of the Day
Blow for business
The government’s antics have not gone down well with businesses, many of whom had reluctantly positioned themselves behind May’s deal. The majority of businesses (57%) back a People’s Vote, according to a YouGov poll for Business for a People’s Vote. But the bastions of industry have kept their faith with the prime minister. But the CBI in Northern Ireland called yesterday’s postponement a “blow for business” and said it was “almost farcical” trying to plot a way forward for companies. Now is the time for business to fully through its weight behind the only viable show in town - a People’s Vote with the option of staying in the EU.
Tweet of the Day 2
Former foreign secretary David Miliband points out that Brexit is just getting in the way now. And there's one way to stop that.
‘Nobody left behind’
One part of Theresa May’s statement to MPs yesterday hasn’t managed to cut through the fury. It was a “personal” message about how the “places that didn’t get a lot of attention at elections and which did not get much coverage on the news were making their voices heard and saying that they wanted things to change” in 2016. May talked about “building a stronger economy, improving public services, tackling social injustices” and “a country that truly works for everyone, a country where nowhere and nobody is left behind”.
The prime minister was spot on until her solution: “That can only happen if we get Brexit done and get it done right.” Wrong. Any form of Brexit will mean less money to heal our divided country. And the government’s deal would make Brexit a distraction for years to come. However, staying in the EU could provide a “dividend” totalling into the billions. A report by CommonGround suggests ways this could be spent. And if people like that idea, they should be given a chance to say so in a People’s Vote.
WATCH: Catherine Mayer, author and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, supports a People’s Vote because "women [have] already paid the price for austerity and must not be made to pay the price for Brexit too". Demand a People’s Vote HERE.
More Brexit news…
Polly Toynbee: Theresa May’s cowardly blunder may have saved us from Brexit (Guardian)
Nicky Morgan: MPs still do not have all the information they need to vote on the deal (Times £)
Paul Mason: Brexit is a failed project. Labour must oppose it (Guardian)
Today, Tuesday 11th December
|-||Emergency debate on government's handling of 'meaningful vote'|
|09.30||ONS: UK trade (Oct)|
|11.30||Treasury questions in Commons|
Tomorrow, Wednesday 12th December
|09.30||ONS: Labour market stats|
|08.00||MEPs debating Brexit in European Parliament|
|09.50||Penny Mordaunt at women and equalities committee|
|11.30||Northern Ireland questions in Commons|
|12.00||Prime Minister's Questions|