Tuesday 9 July 2019 - People's Vote

Tuesday 9 July 2019

Morning Briefing: Union deal brings People's Vote support closer for Labour

A trade deal with the United States was sold in 2016 by many, including Boris Johnson, as the great prize of Brexit. But President Trump's petulant response to the leaked criticism of him by Our Man in Washington is an alarming reminder of the dangers ahead.

Trump has already declared that the NHS - along with everything else - will be "on the table" in future UK-US trade talks. Now he appears to want to choose our ambassador too. How will Johnson react if he becomes prime minister? What does he believe is a price worth paying?

A tiny minority should not be calling all the shots, particularly when they want to shoot Britain in the foot. We should all be given a say over what happens next with a People's Vote. It is time to Let Us Be Heard.

Union deal brings People's Vote support closer for Labour

Labour is making progress towards a full-throated backing for a People’s Vote after the bosses of 12 unions called for a change of positioning over Brexit.

It was agreed that whatever the outcome – a Conservative Brexit deal, a destructive No Deal or a Labour-negotiated deal - Labour will support a final say referendum. 

But for Labour supporters hoping for a clear position, the union-backed one-pager isn’t the answer as it offers a range of options going forward. It was suggested that Labour could even end up campaigning against its own Brexit deal in a People’s Vote. It seems to say that Labour will argue to remain in the EU if the Conservatives are in power but negotiate to exit if they win a snap election.

It still needs to be signed off by the Labour Party leadership but the leaders of the dozen unions, including Unite, Unison and the GMB, have agreed to two options.

Some Labour political leaders such as Tom Watson, John McDonnell and Keir Starmer have been arguing for a full switch to supporting staying in the EU, but in the face of the threat of Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt threatening a dire No Deal, this at least gives the party the option to stand tall and shout for a People’s Vote.

The union document is expected to be discussed at the Shadow Cabinet today, but, given previous experience, it is probably best to wait and see before hailing Labour’s full-throated support for a People’s Vote from the rooftops.

All of this may be of little consequence unless Labour begins actively campaigning for a People's Vote, as its members and millions of voters are crying out for, rather than just saying it supports one. If it is serious about ensuring the public to get the final say, it is time to throw the full weight of the party behind it.

Hammond offers legacy trade-off in bid to block No Deal

Conservative leadership favourite Boris Johnson will have to go on a summer charm offensive around Europe in a bid to woo them over his Brexit plans – but chancellor Philip Hammond is planning to block any moves for a destructive No Deal.

Mr Johnson or Mr Hunt have been warned to head off on a summer diplomatic mission and not leave Brexit discussions until the October summit or fail to have enough time to get any deal through.

Tonight at 8pm, after endless non-confrontational hustings, Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt finally go head to head with a debate on ITV.

The Times claims Mr Hammond is battling with Theresa May over her proposed legacy education spending plans with his trade-off being for her to give a free vote for Conservative MPs in any free vote against No Deal.

Mr Hammond has been open about his opposition to a disastrous No Deal as Mr Johnson has ramped up his rhetoric about forcing the UK out of the EU “come what may” and rival Jeremy Hunt has talked up his No Deal credentials.

Mr Hammond still has the power of controlling the purse-strings while he is chancellor, but he is expected to be fierce opponent of a hard-line Brexit when – as expected – he returns to the backbenches.

Conservative backbencher Dominic Grieve is attempting to amend to a Northern Ireland bill today to block any chance of suspending – proroguing - Parliament to force through No Deal.

Civil service "hokey cokey" over Brexit readiness

It must be tough in the civil service at the moment. With all sorts of leak inquiries happening at the top end, many are finding themselves doing the civil service version of the “hokey cokey” - in-out, in-out - on working on Brexit readiness.

Almost 75% who were working on emergency Brexit preparation were stood down after it was put on hold in March. But now hundreds of Whitehall staff are being drafted back onto No Deal readiness as the UK lurches towards the horror of a new Halloween leave date.

It demonstrates the damage being done to day-to-day government work. Former civil service head Lord Kerslake said: “The disruptive effect will have been significant and will have added to the general Westminster and Whitehall paralysis as a consequence of Brexit."

Last night’s BBC Panorama programme asked if the UK was ready to leave on October 31, with the overwhelming answer: no. And former Brexit chief Philip Rycroft saying we should all be fearful of No Deal.

Join us in Uxbridge to Let Us Be Heard

Next Sunday July 14, we are holding a People’s Vote rally in Boris Johnson’s constituency of Uxbridge. Labour's shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry who has battled against both Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt across the dispatch box will be among the speakers at the event at Brunel University to give democratic voice against Brexit being forced on us. Join us to let the favourite for the Conservative leadership election know that we need to be heard.

It's clear that Brexit must be put to the people. Now is a crucial time to get involved with the People's Vote campaign. Sign up to volunteer today. 

Quote of the Day

“I have been very vocal publicly that a no-deal Brexit would be a catastrophe for our industry, I have also been very clear that that would cause us to have to think about what our footprint would be moving forward.

"That doesn’t mean that we would immediately close all the facilities in the UK, but it would make it much more difficult for the facilities to be competitive. That is just a fact of the business I am in.”

Ford's European president Steven Ford warned MPs yesterday that a disastrous No Deal could cost more than £1 billion in increased costs.

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More Brexit news

Ford chief issues new warning over No Deal catastrophe (Peebleshire News)

Philip Hammond issues Brexit ultimatum over legacy row with May (The Times)

Civil service "hokey cokey" over Brexit (BBC News)

Unions agree Labour should back remain in referendum on Tory deal (Guardian)

Top Brexit comment...

Olesya Dmitracova: Brexit will decimate UK services exports but clueless politicians remain silent (Independent)

Jill Rutter: Immigration after May - what role for Labour (LabourList)

Bending Boris's ear (Politico)