Morning briefing: June 12 - business senses 'decay' - May's CRAP
The government is running scared. How else to explain its decision to schedule votes on all 15 of the Lords’ amendments to Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Bill in one day? That the date, June 12, coincides with Donald Trump’s much-anticipated summit with the North Koreans can hardly be a coincidence either. A perfect day to try to bury bad news.
Supporters of May’s hard Brexit seem to think that blitzkrieging these crucial Commons votes plays to the government’s advantage. “Bish bash bosh,” is how one eurosceptic described it to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg. In reality, it’s the prime minister who is likely to get bished, bashed and boshed.
Several key defeats are likely, on things like a customs union and avoiding a hard border in Ireland - particularly since the Cabinet can’t agree on what to do about these things. (More on this below.) Pundits vary in their predictions of how many defeats the government will suffer - one Tory MP told Channel 4 it might be “three or four”, while the Times’ Sam Coates reports rebellion on as many as seven amendments.
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The pro-European Tory ranks in Parliament have swelled to as many as 15 since 11 rebelled back in December, according to recent reports. More Conservative MPs would do well to join them. Nick Kent gave five reasons to do so in InFacts yesterday. Time is short, business is suffering and failure to back the Lords’ changes will leave May at the mercy of her Brextremist backbenchers.
The most important amendment is probably to secure a truly meaningful vote on May’s Brexit deal by MPs sometime in the autumn. It’s at this point that Parliament can demand a People’s Vote on the final terms. With Brexit in such a mess, and so many of Leavers’ 2016 promises broken, it’s only right that the public get a say on the real deal.
Tweet of the day
Lots of unhappy reactions to the government giving Parliament just one day to consider the 15 amendments to May's EU Withdrawal Bill. Here's some official outrage from the opposition.
Business sense “decay” with time-waster May
The prime minister held one of her regular Brexit updates for leaders of the largest UK businesses yesterday. The mood in the group has “decayed considerably” said one business leader, with May’s failure to meet her own deadline for a new Brexit white paper - which has now been postponed until after this month’s EU summit. That’s just the latest example of kicking the can.
It’s encouraging to see businesses finally speaking out against the Brexit madness, in a way that hasn’t been seen since the referendum vote. It’s not before time. Investment into the UK is plummeting, with economic growth at a five-year low of 0.1% last quarter. Brexit is clobbering the economy - and that’s before we’ve even left the EU.
Quote of the day
“We have repeatedly raised the same issues, such as the need for frictionless trade after Brexit, but it is now a Gordian knot that we can’t help untie.”
A regular attendee at May's Brexit updates for business leaders.
Video of the day
OFOC's Femi Oluwole takes on BrexitCentral's Jonathan Isaby literally lying down.
EU to receive CRAP from May
The government has a special delivery to Brussels this week: a long-overdue document outlining its proposal for a “backstop” to manage the Irish border until it has figured out a long-term plan. The scheme, known as the Customs and Regulatory Alignment Period (CRAP), involves the whole UK staying in the EU’s customs union and following EU’s rules on goods until perhaps 2023.
The snag is the EU won’t accept this. It has been clear that any Irish backstop cannot be time limited - it must stay in place until the border conundrum is solved. The only way to get a viable proposal may be for Parliament to tell the prime minister what to do on June 12.
The European Movement, working with partners Scientists for EU and Healthier IN the EU, are hiring! Read their job description for two supporter engagement officers. Or get the lowdown from SfEU’s Mike Galsworthy below.
No ‘blind Brexit’
Here’s an important point being made by Peter Mandelson: the way Brexit is going, the UK will not be able to negotiate a meaningful deal with the EU by the time of the key parliamentary votes on Brexit this autumn. The onus is therefore on MPs to reject a “blind Brexit”, said the former Labour minister and EU commissioner.
This, of course, would be the perfect time for MPs to demand a People’s Vote on May’s final deal - whatever state it’s in.
Video of the day 2
Chuka Umunna explains to Piers Morgan why we need a People's Vote.
More Brexit news…
Young may head for exit after Brexit (Times £)
Top Brexit comment
Polly Toynbee: Time to march. Because now it’s the Brexiters who are afraid (Guardian)
Jonathan Powell: Brexiteers play the blame game as they run out of solutions (Times £)
Graphic of the day
If you are ever wondering how Brexit is going, this useful "Beaufort Brexit Scale" is doing the rounds on Twitter.
Today, Tuesday 5 June
|-||EU's Barnier and Juncker meet Norway PM Erna Solberg|
|-||GMB annual conference|
|09:30||Met Police chief Cressida Dick at Commons home affairs committee on future of policing|
|10:00||HMRC chief Jon Thompson at Treasury Committee (again) on economic relationship with EU|
Tomorrow, Wednesday 6 June
|-||Theresa May meets Norway PM Erna Solberg|
|-||GMB annual conference|
|09:30||Trade minister Greg Hands speaks to Commons EFRA committee on post-Brexit trade in sugar|
|12:00||Prime Minister's Questions|
|15:00||Cambridge Analytica's Alexander Nix at DCMS committee's "fake news" inquiry|