Tuesday 4th December 2018 - People's Vote

Tuesday 4th December 2018

Morning Briefing: Parliament taking back control - long nights ahead - immigration blindfold Brexit

MPs will assemble first thing this morning for an emergency debate on whether the government is in contempt of Parliament over its refusal to publish legal advice on the Brexit deal. This is a significant moment, as Parliament asserts its authority over ministers who have tried to blindfold MPs and bounce them into a miserable Brexit.

It will set a precedent for the weeks ahead too. Expect plenty more clashes between Parliament and government. Theresa May’s choice between this lose-lose deal and no deal is no choice at all. Ultimately, MPs must be able to hand the final decision back to the public in a People’s Vote - because only the people of the United Kingdom can sort this Brexit mess out.

In reality, this morning's contempt debate is a sideshow to the upcoming meaningful vote - though potentially a rather serious one for ministers at risk of being suspended by Parliament. A far more important step for Parliament taking back control is MPs securing a say over what happens if, as looks very likely, May’s deal is voted down on December 11.


Amendments empowering Parliament to decide what happens next have been tabled for the meaningful vote motion which is being voted on next Tuesday. An amendment from Labour’s Hilary Benn, with cross-party backing, was tabled last week.

Now another amendment has been tabled at the last minute by Tory pro-Europeans Dominic Grieve and Anna Soubry, reports Politico. It has the backing of 16 Conservative MPs - more than the number that was needed to defeat the government last year. Passing an amendment like this will give Parliament a tighter grip on what happens once May’s Brexit deal falters.

MPs must take back control now. But once they have, we are likely to see deadlock in the Commons, with several further fantasy Brexit plans rearing their heads. None can satisfy everyone, and probably not even a majority. Ultimately MPs will have to cede the control they wrested off ministers back to voters, who are the only ones that can break this Brexit deadlock with a People’s Vote.

Quote of the day

“Let me make no bones about the Northern Ireland protocol. It will subsist, we are indefinitely committed to it if it came into force. There is no point in my trying or the Government trying to disguise that fact.”

Attorney-general Geoffrey Cox explains his legal advice in Parliament. It’s an awkward admission for the prime minister’s attempts to win over Tory rebels.

Tweet of the Day

Over 1.5 million people signed our petition calling for a final say on Brexit.

Long nights ahead for MPs

Today is the first of five long days of parliamentary debate ahead of the “meaningful vote” on the Brexit deal. That’s eight hours each for today, tomorrow and Thursday, plus Monday and Tuesday next week, with debates stretching into the night.

MPs need to have clear exactly what the prime minister is offering. This proposed Brexit would leave Britain poorer and with less control. It’s a much worse deal than the deal we’ve already got inside the EU.

  • It means an end to frictionless trade with our largest trading partner.
  • It sells out our fast-growing services sector – 80% of our economy – on which we depend for future prosperity.
  • It’s the single biggest loss of sovereignty and control in British history.
  • We’d lose access to free trade deals with over 65 countries around the world.
  • UK citizens will lose the right to live, work or study visa-free around Europe.

But rejecting this miserable deal does not mean plunging the country into no-deal chaos, as Theresa May likes to claim. Numerous amendments are being tabled which could help us to reject the deal and rule out no deal. That opens the way to getting a People’s Vote. Once May’s deal is rejected, and it’s clear that there’s no majority in Parliament for either “no deal” or any other form of Brexit, cross-party support among MPs for a People’s Vote should become overwhelming.

Video of the Day

WATCH: The UK has to make choices about what kind of future relationship it wants to have with Europe. A People’s Vote is the best way to make those choices.

EU court advice that Article 50 can be revoked

The UK should be allowed to reverse its Article 50 notice, which triggered the Brexit process, the Advocate General to the European Court of Justice has said. A final ruling by the court will follow later, but if it agrees then this is a significant development confirming that it is still up to us to decide whether we want to keep the existing deal we've got in the EU rather than leave on the government's terms.

Experts have always argued that the UK could unilaterally revoke its Article 50 notification, and politically many EU leaders have made it clear they’d be happy to welcome us back with open arms if we did change our minds.

What's more, despite some of the bogus claims that have been made by those who oppose staying in the EU, there would be no price to pay – political or financial – if we were to take back the Article 50 letter. The choice facing us is not simply between the Government’s deal and no deal. We can choose to change course. With support growing across the country for a People’s Vote, it is clear that this is the best way forward. The people should have the right to choose.

Blindfold Brexit on immigration

The government’s blindfold Brexit continues, with home secretary Sajid Javid admitting yesterday that the immigration white paper - laying out the government’s post-Brexit immigration plan - will not be published ahead of MPs’ meaningful vote on May’s deal next Tuesday. This reflects deep divisions on immigration with the chancellor Philip Hammond, the FT reports.

Immigration was perhaps the key issue of the 2016 referendum. Two years on, it is shambolic that we haven’t a clue what our future immigration policy looks like - whether it will be the tough clamping down on so-called “low skilled” migration touted by Theresa May, or the more open approach urged by Hammond and the businesses whose support the government is relying on.

Graphic of the Day

Chris Bryant Rhondda MP is correct, nobody voted for a blindfolded brexit.  A People’s Vote is a way to end the debate once and for all.

More Brexit news…

Theresa May: I’ll still have a job in two weeks (Politico)

EU workers will be offered visas to combat shortage (Times £)

The MP who doesn't know which way to vote (BBC)

Regulator warns banks over Brexit moves out of City (FT £)

Top Brexit comment

William Hague: Sorry Brexiteers, but Parliament doesn’t want No Deal, and MPs will kill it dead (Telegraph)

Rafael Behr: Our politicians are bickering on the edge of the Brexit abyss (Guardian)

Will Clothier: Brexit tops the news agenda — but it doesn’t mean people are interested (Times £)

Looking forward…

Today, Tuesday 4th December

  Debate on whether government is in contempt of Parliament over Brexit legal advice
  Meaningful vote debate - day 1
09.30 ONS: Foreign direct investment involving UK companies
09.15 Mark Carney gives evidence to the Treasury committee on the UK’s economic relationship with the EU

Tomorrow, Wednesday 5rd December

- Meaningful vote debate - day 2
12.00 Prime Minister's Questions