Morning Briefing: Labour behind People's Vote - moderates forcing May's hand - Brexit costs stack up
The Labour party, at long last, looks like it is willing to accept the principle of a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.
Jeremy Corbyn’s statement yesterday is of course hugely welcome. Even if MPs could agree on a Brexit deal, it would be wrong not to put that to the people considering that many promises from 2016 which have now been broken and Brexit now looks so much worse than the deal we already have inside the EU.
But we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. A number of questions remain to be answered, and hurdles cleared.
In the parliamentary votes tomorrow, Labour will be focusing on another part of its Brexit strategy: to put Corbyn’s own Brexit proposal to the vote. His five demands, including being in a permanent customs union with the EU after Brexit, are unlikely to get MPs’ approval. At that point Labour will be free to move on to the final bit of its multi-stage Brexit strategy: backing a public vote.
Another hurdle will be to convince those Labour MPs who oppose a People’s Vote. For example John Mann, who told Corbyn yesterday “this decision today will stop you being PM” unless MPs got a free vote, reports The Times. The estimated number of potential rebels floating around range from 25 to 50 MPs. But these figures should perhaps not be taken too seriously, forwarded as they are by Labour backbenchers who support a “Norway model” Brexit - and therefore do not want to see a People's Vote gain traction.
The details of what Labour will support is also unclear, with differing versions from different parts of the Labour leadership. Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry is adamant that it will be a choice between May’s deal and staying in the EU. A party briefing paper backs this up, while insisting there must be a “credible Leave option”.
However, an unnamed source close to Corbyn said the public would not be asked to choose between May’s deal and staying in. There is a danger that a few people may still try to derail the decision of the Shadow Cabinet to back a new public vote. But unnamed officials cannot be allowed to overrule elected politicians and leaders.
With all that said, this could prove to be a historic moment in the Brexit process. Labour has opened the way to a People’s Vote, and a strong cross-party coalition must now be built around it. That’s why it’s so important that momentum builds behind the Put It To The People march on March 23 - so MPs know that the people want the final say on Brexit.
Tweet of the Day
Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer announces that Labour will move to support a public vote on the final outcome of Brexit in the Commons.
Tory moderates calling the shots
It now looks like Theresa May is willing to seek an extension to Article 50, with a statement expected later today. She is trying to avoid a bumper rebellion by Tory moderates, with the Daily Mail reporting 15 ministers are willing to resign if a no-deal Brexit isn’t taken off the table. Among them are three cabinet ministers, Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark. But just to be clear: this a mess all of the prime minister’s own making, thanks to her reckless efforts to kick the can to the Brexit cliff edge.
Ministers want a chance to vote for an extension by March 13 if no deal has been approved by then. But it is important that May does not fob them off. Promisingly, it looks like the cabinet rebels don’t trust the prime minister not to wriggle out of any commitments she makes today. They are therefore demanding that, if she lost a “meaningful vote”, there would automatically be a motion to delay the Brexit date, that the prime minister would be bound by the result, and potentially that members of the government would be free to vote for it, according to The Times.
A short extension that solves nothing and just represents more Westminster indecision. It is time for MPs to back the solution to the Brexit mess - a People's Vote - and not just continually focus on how to avoid making a decision.
It's clear that the only way forward is a People's Vote. Now is a crucial time to get involved with the campaign. Sign up to volunteer today.
The Brexit damage is already happening
New research by the People’s Vote campaign has compiled some of the economic costs of Brexit so far. These are all costs that have already been incurred as a result of Brexit, before the UK has even officially left the EU.
The costs include:
- More than £40 billion a year lost to the economy
- Resulting in at least £14 billion a year in lost tax revenues
- £404 added to shopping bills by inflation
- Business investment lower by £8 billion a quarter
- Car industry investment nearly halved
Brexit is already making us all worse-off, costing jobs and damaging investment in our country. In 2016, Brexiters promised that leaving the EU would lead to a more prosperous future, with new trade deals, piles of extra money for the NHS and more jobs and investment in our country – but what’s being delivered is the complete opposite. A poorer economy meaning less money for public services, damage to trade and jobs moving abroad. No one voted to be poorer.
Quote of the Day
"All forms of Brexit are bad for health... our analysis suggests that leaving the EU under any of the four scenarios would be worse for the NHS than remaining."
Expert analysis in a new Brexit evaluation for the Lancet.
Video of the Day
As we await the imminent publication of the government’s official no-deal analysis, as promised on Valentine’s Day, the sheer awfulness of crashing out of the EU is becoming ever clearer. The government has now announced tariffs would be placed on UK food produce to protect farmers - the flipside of that meaning food prices would go up in the shops, reports the FT. Travel could become a huge headache, with five-hour queues for Brits in Spanish airports and similar scenes at the Eurostar.
Meanwhile, we won’t even get to keep the £39 billion EU “divorce bill” like Brexiters claimed - the government has already agreed to pay up even if we don’t get a deal. That’s because defaulting on what we owe would be hugely damaging to the UK’s reputation, and hugely problematic as we tried to strike new trade deals across the world. The reality of Brexit, yet again, has not matched up to what the Brexiters promised.
Amsterdam’s Brexit bonanza (Politico)
Top Brexit comment
Lara Spirit: Labour must follow through on a second referendum or young people won’t forgive them (Times £)
Brahmpreet Kaur: Pundits were wrong to write-off the People’s Vote campaign (New European)
Chris Matheson: Losing respect for the 2016 EU referendum result (Chester Live)
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Today, Tuesday 26th February
|10.00||Mark Carney in front of Treasury committee|
|12.30||Theresa May statement|
Today, Wednesday 27th February
|-||MPs set to vote on amendments to government Brexit motion|
|11.00||Sajid Javid in front of home affairs committee|
|12.00||Prime Minister's Questions|