Wednesday 13 June - People's Vote

Wednesday 13 June

Morning briefing: Caving and backtracking - car industry extinction - Banks' garden path

Theresa May caved into pressure from pro-European Tory rebels yesterday on the meaningful vote. Now there’s a risk that she will cave into pressure from Brexiters in her party and backtrack on what she promised. But even if she does, pro-Europeans seem to have the whip hand.

The prime minister gave assurances to about 15 MPs that she would accept the thrust of Dominic Grieve’s amendment. It was on the basis of this concession that potential rebels such as Heidi Allen, Antoinette Sandbach and Sarah Wollaston - as well as Phillip Lee who had just resigned as a government minister over the issue - decided not to vote against the government.

Grieve’s amendment has three parts:

  • if MPs reject the government’s Brexit deal, it must seek their approval for its new approach within four weeks.
  • if the government has no deal by end-November, the government must seek MP’s approval for what it plans to do.
  • if there is still no deal by February 15 (six weeks before Brexit day), MPs can tell it what to do.

Allen tweeted that the government had agreed to integrate the first two parts in a new amendment that it would propose when the EU Withdrawal Bill returns to the House of Lords next week - and to have discussions on the third point.

Brexiters told The Sun that the prime minister had promised the rebels nothing but a discussion. “If Theresa has sold us out here she is in real trouble. There is no way she can recover if she has f***ed us over.”

Pressure from hard Brexiters may explain why Robert Buckland, the solicitor-general who helped broker the deal with pro-Europeans, told the BBC that there had been no guarantee just a commitment to "further discussions" to try to find a way forward.



As signs of backtracking emerged, Grieve told BBC Newsnight he expected the prime minister to “honour her commitments”, saying "if it were to turn out there was a problem, we will deal with it."

The simplest way of dealing with any backsliding would probably be for the House of Lords to push through Grieve’s amendment, or some version of it. Grieve and his gang, which now number at least 20 according to The Sun, could then back the amendment when the legislation goes back to the House of Commons.

The government’s retreat yesterday is basically good news. MPs will almost certainly get a meaningful vote at the end of the Brexit talks - and that could pave the way for a people’s vote on the final deal. But pro-Europeans can’t celebrate quite yet. There’s more work to do to hold the prime minister to her promises.

Video of the day

Isn't it ridiculous that MPs have got just 12 hours over two days to debate 15 amendments? OFOC certainly think so...


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Tweet of the day

Phillip Lee didn't just resign - he backed a People's Vote.


Extinction risk to car industry

Whole sectors of manufacturing in the UK “risk becoming extinct” if we pursue hard Brexit, warned CBI chief Paul Drechsler today in an interview with the BBC’s Today programme - with the car industry particularly vulnerable.

Drechsler blamed a “tidal wave of ideology” for the government’s damaging Brexit approach. He also said there was “zero evidence” that new trade deals with other countries will provide any economic benefit to the UK. “It's a myth”.

More business leaders need to follow his lead and speak out against a ruinous hard Brexit before it’s too late.

Quote of the day

“If we do not have a customs union, there are sectors of manufacturing society in the UK which risk becoming extinct. Be in no doubt, that is the reality.”

Outgoing CBI chief Paul Drechsler talks to the BBC’s Today programme.

Graphic of the Day


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Leave.EU duo ‘led people up the garden path’

The Brexit campaign “led people up the garden path”, Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore told the Commons “fake news” inquiry yesterday. The pair ran the Farage-fronted Leave.EU campaign during the referendum.

“Winning elections isn’t about facts,” they added, amidst questioning about the campaign’s funding and alleged breaches of data privacy. No wonder the Brexit that Leavers promised isn’t matching up to the current mess we’re in, as Luke Lythgoe argued on InFacts yesterday. If the public don’t like the reality of Brexit, they should have a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.

Davis merrily delays customs battle

David Davis appears to have accepted that the stand-off over customs between the government and Tory rebels will not be resolved with the Withdrawal Bill, according to a letter leaked to The Times.

The Brexit secretary says the Bill is “not the right vehicle” for debating our future customs arrangements with the EU. The obvious alternative is the Trade Bill, to which Tory rebels have already added an amendment demanding the UK stay in a customs union.

Davis’ letter also leaves out any talk of needing to be outside the customs union to cut new free trade deals around the world. Is the government’s position on this softening? Either way, the customs issue remains as confused as ever with the Brexit clock ticking ever louder.

Video of the day 2

It is completely unacceptable for MPs to suffer from threats and intimidation for doing their job. Watch MPs from across parties raise this issue in the Commons yesterday.


More Brexit news…

Three ministers ‘meet anti-Brexit group over second referendum’ (Telegraph £)

UK appeals for Galileo satellite vote to be delayed (FT £)

EU to triple spending to €5bn a year targeting illegal migration (Guardian)

High court throws out challenge to legality of article 50 (Guardian)

‘Start-up’ visas to attract migrants with fresh ideas (Times £)

Graphic of the Day 2

This from For Our Future's Sake...


Top Brexit comment

Phillip Lee: I had no choice but to resign over Brexit (Times £)

Ed Wiseman: As the Land Rover Discovery emigrates to Slovakia, a little piece of England goes with it  (Telegraph £)

Stephen Moss: No wonder we are still hooked on Dad’s Army – in Brexit Britain we are reliving it (Guardian)

Looking forward…

Today, Wednesday 13 June

- Second day of consideration of Lords amendments to Withdrawal Bill in Commons
09:30 ONS: Consumer price inflation
09:30 Agricultural groups gives evidence to Northern Ireland affairs committee on Brexit and agriculture
09:30 Michael Gove gives evidence to environment, food and rural affairs committee
12:00 Prime Minister's Questions
14:30 City minister gives evidence to European scrutiny committee

Tomorrow, Thursday 14 June

- FIFA World Cup 2018 begins in Russia
- Lewisham East by-election
09:30 ONS: Retail sales figures published
09:30 ONS: UK government expenditure on science, engineering and technology (2016)
09:30 Brexit questions in Commons