Morning Briefing: Stopping 'no deal' - business backing away from deal - May's EU-funded hospital
Politicians from all parties are making moves to stop the government crashing out of the EU with no deal. Two options are being discussed: extending the Article 50 period and amending legislation to block “no deal” entirely. One minister, Richard Harrington, even says he is willing to resign to stop no deal - claiming others would follow suit.
But if MPs vote down the government’s deal in the vote expected next week, they will need to back a viable alternative to crashing out. With all the alternative forms of Brexit coming up short, the only way forward is a People’s Vote.
Likewise, to get an extension on the Article 50 clock - keeping us in the EU beyond March 29 - we will need to convince the other 27 EU countries to unanimously support it. They are unlikely to grant a further extension just to reopen fruitless talks when a deal has already been done. But they have suggested they’re willing to do so for a new public vote.
Attempts to prevent the chaos of no deal are a positive sign of our parliamentary system protecting the public from the government’s reckless Brexit. The main show in town today will be Yvette Cooper’s amendment to the Finance Bill, which would limit the Treasury’s ability to enact no deal unless MPs had explicitly voted for it. Even if this cross-party amendment doesn’t succeed, it can give a strong indication of MPs’ opposition to crashing out. And it will be the first of many such challenges to no deal in Parliament over the coming week.
Brexiter cabinet minister Liam Fox has called attempts to tie the government’s hands on no deal “irresponsible”. But it is his government that has been irresponsible in wasting so much time throughout the Brexit process - most recently Theresa May’s decision to postpone the vote on her deal in December.
And it’s debatable whether the government is even ready for no deal. We’ve seen several embarrassing stories just this morning: studies leaked to the FT showing 70-second customs checks at Dover could lead to six-day traffic jams; new revelations in the Telegraph about the cross-Channel ferry venture awarded £14 million by government; and Defra’s failure to find staff for an emergency facility uncovered by The Times.
The responsible position now is to back a People’s Vote. It’s the only way forward. While MPs can move against no deal, they still cannot agree the type of Brexit they want. The final decision should now be handed back to the people - because only they can sort this out.
Audio of the Day
Business backs away from PM’s deal
Influential business body London First is calling for the government to “stop the clock” on Brexit and try to find a deal that commands cross-party support, The Times reports. “If this is not possible, it does need to go back to the people,” its chief executive said.
This change of heart by London First is hugely significant. It show that it is becoming clear to businesses across the UK that this is a bad deal which will damage many of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy, drain investment and talent, as well as lock in uncertainty for years to come.
The government's deal offers nothing to services, on which London's dynamic economy depends and businesses have been voting with their feet by cutting jobs and investment or moving abroad. London sees the deal as a route to a blindfold Brexit that will mean years of uncertainty while our competitors can offer security and stability inside the EU, the single market and customs union.
Quote of the Day
“(Business leaders) can see looking at the political analysis that the chances of getting the deal through have become increasingly slim to the point where there isn’t the belief it can go through the House.
“Clearly that’s a level of uncertainty that business doesn’t want to have to countenance, but in the range of uncertainty and bad outcomes what is clear is that anything has got to be better than crashing out,” she said. “We’ve got to avoid crashing out at all costs.”
Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First
Video of the Day
WATCH: Despite what Boris Johnson claims, ‘no deal’ chaos was not what people thought they were voting for in 2016. Brexiters are only calling for a 'no deal' because there isn't a deal that fulfils the promises they made.
No place for ‘abuse, intimidation and threatening behaviour’
Yesterday, pro-European Conservative MP Anna Soubry was verbally abused outside Parliament - called a liar and a Nazi during live TV interviews. More than 50 MPs have written to the Met Police commissioner with “serious concerns” about the “deteriorating public order and security situation”. The letter adds that it is “utterly unacceptable for Members of Parliament, journalists, activists and members of the public to be subject to abuse, intimidation and threatening behaviour and indeed potentially serious offences while they go about their work”.
Tweet of the Day
Wes Streeting MP points out that a large number of Labour members want a People’s Vote to decide the outcome of Brexit. It’s time the party leadership took note.
Post-Brexit NHS plan launched at EU-funded hospital
Yesterday Theresa May launched the government’s new ten-year plan for the NHS at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. As it turns out, this is one of 18 hospitals in the UK that was built using financing from the European Investment Bank (EIB). Alder Hey received £56 million in financing the hospital’s reconstruction in 2013.
EIB loans to build UK hospitals have totalled £2.9 billion since the first was financed in 2003. And over the past ten years, the UK health sector has received more than £1 billion in EIB loans, to build hospitals, drive innovation and help SMEs develop cures. But Britain’s access to the EIB will be cut off after Brexit. What’s more, NHS figures show that over 180 EU nurses and midwives have left NHS Trusts in the North West since the Brexit vote.
More Brexit news…
Yvette Cooper: A no-deal Brexit would be disastrous. My amendment will help prevent it (Guardian)
Polly Toynbee: Theresa May is taking us to the no-deal cliff but won’t march us over (Guardian)
Nick Kent: ‘Norway’ Brexit rebrand is ‘Back to the Future’ fantasy (InFacts)
Cathleen Clarke & Jason Arthur: Labour faces a massive risk with young people if they back Brexit (HuffPost)
Today, Tuesday 8th January
Yvette Cooper 'no deal' amendment to Finance Bill expected
Tomorrow, Wednesday 9th January
Day 1 of debate on government's Brexit deal
ONS: UK productivity (Jul-Sep 2018)
Dexeu minister Chris Heaton-Harris evidence to Brexit committee
Fisheries Bill expert evidence to Scottish Affairs committee
Expert evidence to International Trade committee on trade with Australia and New Zealand