Morning Briefing: Forget Hammond's "double dividend" - 'Norway for Now' - 150 days on Brexit clock
Philip Hammond talked of a “double deal dividend” if May gets a Brexit agreement with the EU. That will supposedly come from ending Brexit uncertainty and freeing up cash he’s holding in reserve in case we crash out with no deal at all.
But the Chancellor knows full well that the UK will be a poorer place under the miserable Brexit being promised by the prime minister. Uncertainty would stretch out over a transition period of many years, with no guarantee Brexiters wouldn’t try and pull the plug halfway through and crash out of the EU anyway. And even if May gets her half-in-half-out Brexit, it will still throw up trade barriers with our biggest trading partner.
There simply is no Brexit “dividend”. In fact the economy is already 2.5% smaller than it would have been if the referendum had gone differently. Public finances have already been hurt by £26 billion a year, or £500 million a week, according to the Centre for European Reform. What’s more, this figure keeps growing as we continue to underperform.
Brexit has deterred or deferred billions of pounds of investment and the blindfolded Brexit mess we are getting means that could last years to come. By ending the mess, we could see most of the investment that has been on hold in the last two and a half year flow back. We could resume our position as the gateway to Europe.
What’s more, the new investment would be productive. Firms would no longer have to invest billions in Brexit preparations and the government wouldn’t have to spend the £4.2 billion Hammond has set aside for no-deal contingency planning.
A People's Vote and ending the years of uncertainty that come from the government's botched Brexit would bring billions into the public purse, Hugo Dixon argues for InFacts. Brexit is not an answer to declining public services and neglected communities and nor will it heal our divided country or show that politicians have listened to the concerns that led many people to back it in the first place.
The choice Hammond and May want to give us is between the pointless, expensive and half-baked deal currently proposed by the government and the no-deal departure favoured by Brextremists. That’s no choice at all. There are still other options. That’s why the public need a People’s Vote to say what they really want.
Tweet of the day
£500 million. That's how much extra money was put aside for Brexit this Budget that could have been spent on schools and the NHS.
‘Norway for Now’ deeply flawed
As Theresa May heads off to Oslo today, a plan to copy the “Norway for Now” Brexit model hatched by Michael Gove’s friend Nick Boles is being slammed by experts. This scheme involves tearing up what the prime minister has negotiated so far, parking us on a temporary basis in the European Economic Area (which Norway is a member of) and then flipping to a “Canada-style” free trade deal later.
Jean-Claude Piris, former head of the European Council’s legal service, has pointed out its multiple legal flaws in a series of tweets. Michael Emerson, a research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies, has highlighted the economic and political drawbacks which make it a “non-starter” in a report. Some of the key flaws are:
- Tearing up the draft deal would destroy trust with the EU and increase the chance of crashing out with no deal.
- The UK has no “right” to EEA membership.
- To stay in the EEA, we would need both the EU’s and Norway’s permission - and they would probably object.
- Even if they agreed, ratifying the required treaty means the scheme couldn’t be ready by March 29, which is now only 150 days away (see below).
- A Canada-style deal would badly damage the UK economy.
- The EU would still insist on the UK agreeing an Irish “backstop”.
Any MPs tempted by the Boles plan should beware. They will be investing their hope in a mirage that may have more to do with machinations over the leadership of the Conservative party than helping the country out of its Brexit mess.
Video of the day
150 days on the Brexit clock
Today is exactly 150 days until we’re due to leave the EU on March 29 2019. That’s 150 days to get a People’s Vote - and probably less, because many big Brexit decisions need to be made much earlier. MPs will play a crucial role over the coming weeks. If May gets a deal, MPs will be given a “meaningful vote” on it and also have to pass legislation bringing it into domestic law. If she can’t get a deal, they will have a say on that too. At several points in this process, parliamentarians will be able to push for a People’s Vote.
That’s why it’s so important for supporters of a People’s Vote to let their MP know how strongly they feel about having a final say on this Brexit mess. And ask your friends and family to tell them too! It couldn’t be easier, using our handy online tool - just click here.
Quote of the Day
“The chancellor announced money to implement Brexit up to March, but gave no acknowledgement of the ongoing costs of changing systems, rules and institutions beyond that point.
“The public accounts committee has called for clarity on the true costs of Brexit. We are still waiting.”
Meg Hillier, chair of the Commons public accounts committee, on the £4.2 billion Philip Hammond has set aside for no-deal Brexit planning.
Video of the day 2
Grayling’s grounded aircraft
Chris Grayling has been playing the Brexit blame game, holding the EU responsible for the risk of grounded flights after Brexit. It is “theoretically possible” that the certification of UK-registered planes could be refused or delayed after Brexit, the transport secretary told the Airport Operators Association annual conference. It’s a shift from previous comments, in which he ruled out the risk of grounded aircraft. Now he admitted that talks to secure an aviation agreement had not yet started, with only five months to Britain’s departure. This is not the EU’s fault. It is Grayling’s government which has prioritised infighting and ideology over finding acceptable terms for a withdrawal agreement. They are to blame for the Brexit mess.
More Brexit news…
Polly Toynbee: Britain’s last budget in the EU is a sticking plaster for a nation in decline (Guardian)
Quentin Peel: Merkel won’t be rushing to rescue May on Brexit (InFacts)
Larry Elliott: Hammond's budget giveaways highlight May's weakness (Guardian)
Today, Tuesday 30th October
|-||150 days until we're due to leave EU|
|-||Theresa May at Northern Future Forum of northern European states|
|11.30||Foreign Office questions in Commons|
|13.30||Immigration minister, Border Force, HMRC and NCA evidence to home affairs committee|
|19.00||David Davis and Ken Clarke debate Brexit at Spectator “Deal or No Deal” event|
Tomorrow, Wednesday 31st October
|11.30||Northern Ireland questions in Commons|
|12.00||Prime Minister's Questions|
|14.15||OBR chief gives evidence to Treasury committee on Brexit|
|14.45||Hilary Benn evidence to procedure committee on "meaningful vote" on Brexit|
|15:30||Farming minister evidence to Scottish affairs committee on Brexit|