Tuesday 24 July 2018 - People's Vote

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Morning briefing: Blame game shame - no jobs for North East - fresh parliament battles

The Brexiters are ramping up the blame game. They know they have to pin the blame on others for all the chaos that would erupt from crashing out of the EU with no deal at all if they are to get their desired kamikaze Brexit.

So they and their allies in the press blame the EU for being beastly as well as fifth columnists at home for sabotaging Brexit. We have attacks on the Irish prime minister for being an “air head” and Philip Hammond for allegedly “killing the economy on purpose” to undermine Brexit.

Even relatively moderate voices are trying to develop a narrative that supports the idea that we woz robbed. The new foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who voted Remain, said yesterday: “Many people in the EU are thinking that they just have to wait long enough and Britain will blink”.

Meanwhile Henry Newman, former adviser to Michael Gove, wrote a column in The Times yesterday criticising the European Commission’s “absurd negotiating stances” - highlighting its insistence that we nail down our divorce deal before we agree a new trade agreement, and that we keep the Irish border open.

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We are at the early stages of an attempt to scapegoat others on an epic scale. The Brexiters - and their puppet Theresa May - are to blame for the mess that we find ourselves in. And they will be to blame if we crash out with no deal.

  • Foot-dragging by the EU? Come off it. Our own prime minister has made can-kicking into an Olympic sport. It took her two years to produce a White Paper setting out her Brexit wish list.
  • Divorce talks before chatting about a new deal? We are in a weak position because of the so-called “sequencing” of the negotiations. But we got in such a mess because May, under pressure from the Brexiters, triggered Article 50 without getting any concessions from the EU. She was warned by our then ambassador to the EU that we would get “screwed” - and we have been.
  • The Irish border? It was the whole Cabinet, including Boris Johnson, who signed a deal with the EU in December which included a promise to keep the border open. This is the hook on which they have been wriggling ever since. It’s the Brexiters’ fault that they didn’t read the fine print.

More fundamentally, we are in a terrible plight because there is no good Brexit on offer. The Brexiters promised we could have our cake and eat it. But we can’t. They said the EU needs us more than we need it. But the EU hasn’t blinked.

The talks will end in either some variation of the prime minister’s humiliating rule-taker Brexit or the hardliners’ kamikaze one. At that point, the people must have the right to give their view on it.

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Graphic of the day

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May’s deal danger to North East jobs

Theresa May had the temerity yesterday to tell workers in the North East that her Brexit plan will “protect jobs and livelihoods” in the region and help support local employers such as Nissan.

This is nonsense. The prime minister’s car-crash Chequers plan has been rejected by her party and the public, and picked apart by the EU. That creates huge uncertainty. And uncertainty is exactly what drives international manufacturers like Nissan away, as they make long-term preparations for a world after Brexit. Business leaders will be staggered that we’ve got this far and, after months of political can-kicking, still don’t have a viable Brexit proposal to work with.

It took years for the North East to even partially recover from the devastation brought by the closure of coal, steel and shipbuilding. Workers are about to be thwacked again by Brexit, and this time round it may be that no sustained recovery is possible.


Quote of the day

“Businesses are really concerned about the complete lack of clarity as to where the negotiations are currently headed. North East businesses certainly want to remain within the single market and the customs union."

James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce


New government bill draws Brexiter fire - before it’s even published

Today sees the unveiling of the government’s latest piece of big-ticket Brexit legislation: the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill. Its purpose is to bring the eventual withdrawal agreement with the EU (including the deal on a transition period) into UK law.

And guess what? May already looks like she’s going to have a hard time pushing it through Parliament. The Brexiters have got their objections in early, with the Telegraph reporting fears that the legislation amounts to a “series of blank cheques” for the EU to set the price of the UK’s divorce bill. There are also fears divorce payments won’t be conditional on actually getting a deal with the EU, something Brexit secretary Dominic Raab insisted on over the weekend. Expect parliamentary fireworks to resume after the summer recess.


Video of the day

WATCH: Here's what might happen over the 50 years Jacob Rees-Mogg says it will take to feel any Brexit benefits.

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Tweet of the day

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Looking forward...

Today, Tuesday 24 July

- Government publishing its blueprint for the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill
09:45 Services industry leaders give evidence to Brexit committee
14:00 Dominic Raab and Olly Robbins give evidence to Brexit committee
- House rises for summer recess (returns September 4)

Tomorrow, Wednesday 25 July

- Parliament in summer recess