Morning Briefing: Beware vague Brexit deals - Brextremists divided - trade unions shift
Beware the positive noises coming out of the EU this week, with chief negotiator Michel Barnier suggesting the deal could be settled “within six to eight weeks”. The EU is increasingly willing to help the prime minister, under fire from the hard Brexiters in her party - the so-called “save Theresa” operation. “There is a convergence of interests in the next eight weeks; if we are going to get the deal over the line then it is necessary to help May,” one senior EU official told The Times.
But getting that deal over the line in Brussels means one of two things. Either Theresa May will have to make more concessions meaning we’ll follow more EU rules without a vote on them; or there will be a gigantic fudge that keeps the public in the dark about what Brexit really means until after we leave.
Such a “blindfold Brexit” would be a democratic outrage. The more vague a deal is, the more miserable an outcome we’re opening ourselves up to in the transition period - either yet more concessions or the Brexiters’ no deal chaos (see below). But we will have left the EU by that point.
Even to get to fudge, the prime minister will have to nail down a detailed deal on how to keep the Irish border open. On this, the EU isn’t yet budging despite Barnier’s comments earlier in the summer that he wanted to “de-dramatise” the situation. One way of reading his emollient remarks yesterday is as a “good cop” softening May up so she gives ground on the so-called Irish backstop. If so, she’ll also have a problem accepting fudge on the future deal as hardline Brexiters will scream that the backstop is really the “frontstop”, as Hugo Dixon points out for InFacts.
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Graphic of the day
What does the Fox say? Well, it depends when you ask him. Once upon a time the trade secretary claimed that a deal with the EU would be "the easiest in the history of mankind"...
Brexiters can’t even agree with one another
If you think Theresa May is bad at coming up with plans, take a look at the Tory Brexiters. A much-trailed alternative solution to May’s Chequers proposal has already been scrapped because the hardliners couldn’t agree on what to say. The FT has an excellent analysis. Brexiter divisions include those who are keen to stay close to the EU with an EEA-type deal versus those who are happy to leave with no deal, something other eurosceptics consider to be “mad” according to one Brexiter.
Bits of the “plan” are likely to dribble out in coming days. Jacob Rees-Mogg will today say his hard Brexit will boost the economy by £1.1 trillion over 15 years - a claim that has already provoked derision from economists. Meanwhile, the hardliners’ scheme to prevent border controls amounts to having “flying squads of tax inspectors”, according to The Sun.
Given that the hardliners don’t have a plan, government whips say they are “very confident” a parliamentary vote backing some version of the Chequers proposal could be won, according to The Times.
But just because the Brextremists haven’t a clue what to do, doesn’t mean we have to settle for the sort of miserable deal the prime minister wants. There is a third way: ask the people what they want...
Trade unions call for vote on jobs-hurting Brexit
...which is what trade unions are saying. The Trades Union Congress yesterday voted to keep open the option of a public vote on the final Brexit deal. It’s not a full-throated endorsement of a People’s Vote, but the trade union body demanded people have a say on any deal that would “affect pay and employment rights” - which is exactly what Brexit will harm.
The TUC’s move puts pressure on the Labour leadership to follow suit but also sends a message to the prime minister that trade unions are willing to deploy their weight against any Brexit deal they don’t consider up to snuff.
Tweet of the day
Rania Ramil explains her fears for worker's rights in the event of Brexit.
Women’s Equality Party backs People’s Vote
The Women’s Equality Party backed a People’s Vote overwhelmingly at its conference at the weekend. Women have largely been ignored in the referendum debate and women are set to bear the brunt of Brexit. The party’s leader made clear a vote to stay in the EU was not support for the status quo. Writing in the Independent, Sophie Walker said: “We will campaign with all our efforts not just to put pressure on the government for a Final Say, but to make that vote one that puts something for women on the ballot paper.”
Quote of the day
“If [Conservative Brexiters] don’t have a workable plan, they can’t claim a voice. Negativity is not enough. This is serious.”
Former cabinet minister Damian Green
Video of the day
Shakira Martin, president of the NUS explains why she is "proud" to be supporting a People's Vote.
More Brexit news…
Ian Murray: Steve Baker and the ERG are ideologues with no answers to Britain’s Brexit mess (Left Foot Forward)
Rachel Sylvester: Everything about the Boris Johnson brand is fake (Times £)
Polly Toynbee: The Brexiteers will slash the state. Theresa May must call their bluff (Guardian)
Today, Tuesday 11th September
|09:15||Experts give evidence to Treasury committee on UK's economic relationship with EU|
|09:30||ONS: Labour market stats released|
|11:30||Treasury questions in Commons|
Tomorrow, Wednesday 12th September
|10:00||Experts give evidence to International Trade committee|