Tuesday 12 June 2018 - People's Vote

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Tuesday 12 June 2018

Morning briefing: Showdown in Commons - TSSA union backs People's Vote - Nato under fire

Today is probably the most important day in the Brexit process since Theresa May triggered Article 50. MPs have the chance to get a meaningful vote at the end of the talks. They must not fluff it.

The prime minister is trying to neuter a House of Lords amendment ensuring such a vote. She says it would undermine her negotiating position if she needs MPs’ approval to crash out of the EU without a deal.

This is nonsense. It would be madness to trigger what the government itself says could be “Armageddon” without Parliament’s support. Taking such a grave decision merely on the basis of the Cabinet’s approval would be an affront to democracy.

Dominic Grieve, the Tory MP, last night proposed a new version of the meaningful vote amendment. This seeks to modify the government’s wrecking amendment and make the vote meaningful again.

In particular, it ensures MPs can take control of the process if there is no deal by February 15 next year - six weeks before Brexit day. It also says that, if the prime minister does a deal and Parliament rejects it, she has to seek MPs’ approval for what she plans to do next. The government’s wrecking amendment merely says it would have make a statement about its plans.

The hardline Brexit press is trying to bully Tory MPs into backing May. The Sun has a vast editorial starting on its front page entitled “Great Britain or Great Betrayal”. The Express’ front-page editorial warns: “Ignore the will of the people at your peril”.

True Brits don’t engage in bully-boy tactics. They stand up to bullies. If the Tory mutineers stand their ground today, they will be national heroes.

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Customs battle delayed

The other bigger Brexit battle - over customs - has been postponed after all wings of the Conservative Party rallied round a compromise amendment last night. The new version says the government must tell Parliament by the end of October what it has done to negotiate a customs “arrangement” with the EU - rather than a customs “union”.

The compromise is essentially meaningless. But that’s not the end of the battle. Nicky Morgan, the MP who helped broker the compromise, said pro-Europeans could still vote against the government on the issue in future unless May can come up with a successful customs plan, according to the Times. “We’ve given her a breathing space, a bit of time,” she said.

And it looks like the prime minister is going to fail. She doesn’t yet have a long-term customs plan that her Cabinet can agree on, let alone one that the EU will accept. Meanwhile, the European Commission yesterday produced a forensic analysis of her temporary fix - the so-called backstop - and found it full of holes. The details are here from InFacts.

The big parliamentary battle over customs is expected to take place next month - after the European Council summit and when the government asks MPs to approve its trade bill.


Tweet of the day

EU law expert Steve Peers takes apart this thinly veiled threat from Brextremist Owen Paterson to his Tory colleagues.

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Transport union and tech sector back a People’s Vote

Momentum is building behind the People’s Vote campaign.

TSSA members yesterday voted overwhelmingly to back a people’s vote on the terms of the Brexit deal - the first Labour-affiliated union to do so. Members also voted to support staying in the EU if May’s deal was rejected by the electorate.

Over 100 tech sector leaders also put their names to a meaningful vote “by the people”. They warned loss of access to EU funds, the flight of talented EU citizens and reduced access to the EU’s digital single market would all harm their booming sector.


Tweet of the day 2

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What happened to take back control?

Ministers have agreed that the European Court of Justice will get to rule on any future disputes over the UK’s £39 billion “divorce bill”. Payments will stretch well into the 2020s. Just last month David Davis denied the ECJ would have such power.

Meanwhile, the UK is to apply for full membership of EU standards-setting agencies which rule on everything from energy and healthcare to transport and product safety. The move by business secretary Greg Clark follows warnings from businesses that the UK forming its own separate standards bodies would increase costs. Calls from trade secretary Liam Fox for the UK to chart its own course have been ignored.

“Take back control” is fast becoming a joke.


Quote of the day

“The tide is finally starting to go out on the high priests of Brexit, and not before time.

“Arch-Brexiteers like Nigel Farage and Michael Gove are disowning their pre-referendum promises of a land of milk and honey, and a sense of panic is setting in among them that the British public is finally seeing through their deception and lies.

“Calls are growing for some form of ‘people’s referendum’ on the final Brexit deal, if there is one. There is still a lot of ball to be played.”

EU commissioner Phil Hogan on the prospect of a People’s Vote.


Nato in Trump’s firing line?

There is renewed concern about the health of the Nato alliance between the US and its European allies, reports The Times. Both Nato and EU officials were spooked when Donald Trump tweeted: “the US pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost-and laugh!).”

As Trump’s attempts to start a trade war with his European allies have shown, the president is willing to take reckless measures when he thinks he isn’t getting a good deal.

Is this the right time to be burning our bridges with Europe?


Leave.EU boss in firing line over Russia links

Home Secretary Sajid Javid says two government departments are looking “very seriously” into Arron Banks’ links to Russia. The biggest bankroller of Brexit is appearing in front of the Commons DCMS committee’s “fake news” inquiry today. He pulled out of an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight at the last minute yesterday and instead gave an interview on LBC to his buddy Nigel Farage... the man who fronted the Leave.EU campaign that Banks chairs.


Video of the day

Chuka Umunna and the People's Vote team talk to the people of Brixton about the march for a People's Vote on June 23.

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More Brexit news…

Michel Barnier and Davis Davis talk Brexit 'backstop' (BBC)

German car industry fears double shock of Trump tariffs and a Brexit breakdown (Telegraph)

Nine in 10 UK employers struggling to find skilled workers with Brexit set to make shortage worse, survey finds (Independent)

Boris Johnson backs £15billion 'Brexit bridge' linking Scotland and Northern Ireland (Telegraph)


Top Brexit comment

Femi Oluwole: As a Remainer talking to Brexit voters about their views, I realised we all want the same thing: a say in the final deal (Independent)

Polly Toynbee: Boris Johnson calls Brexit warnings ‘mumbo jumbo’. But they’re true (Guardian)

Hugo Rifkind: There’s a gaping divide in the Leaver camp (Times £)


Looking forward…

Today, Tuesday 12 June

- EU Withdrawal Bill returns to the House of Commons
- US-North Korea summit
09:30 ONS: Labour market statistics published
10.30 Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore give evidence to the DCMS committee
10.30 Former permanent representative to EU Ivan Rogers gives evidence to Home Affairs committee

Tomorrow, Wednesday 13 June

- Second day of consideration of Lords amendments to Withdrawal Bill in Commons
09:30 ONS: Consumer price inflation
09:30 Agricultural groups gives evidence to Northern Ireland affairs committee on Brexit and agriculture
09:30 Michael Gove gives evidence to environment, food and rural affairs committee
12:00 Prime Minister's Questions
14:30 City minister gives evidence to European scrutiny committee