Wednesday 14 August 2019 - People's Vote

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Morning Briefing: Bombshell intervention from Hammond against Johnson's No Deal

On Monday we announced a new date – Saturday 19 October – for the crucial People’s Vote march in central London. The response, and the increase in sign-ups, has been simply extraordinary.
There are now as many people signed up today as there were on the day of our march last October, so we have every reason to believe this will be one of the biggest public protests this country has ever seen.

We know the change of date has caused some people some difficulties and we are sorry for the inconvenience, but we are hugely grateful for the understanding and enthusiasm people have shown. Will you be there?

Bombshell intervention from Hammond against Johnson's No Deal

Former Chancellor Philip Hammond has today accused Boris Johnson of trying to cause a destructive No Deal by making demands the EU would never accept.

In a bombshell intervention, he warns that there is no democratic mandate for No Deal. He said the suggestion from pro-Brexit ministers such as Dominic Raab that voters were informed before the referendum of the risk of the possiblity of No Deal is a “travesty of the truth”.

Writing for The Times today, he said there is neither a public nor parliamentary mandate for No Deal and warns Johnson that parliament will “make its voice heard” to stop it happening.

In a further development, The Sun revealed he had signed a letter to No 10 with 20 other Conservative MPs, including former Cabinet ministers David Gauke, Greg Clarke, David Lidington, and Rory Stewart, accusing the prime minister of ruining any chance of a new deal with the EU, saying they are alarmed by the “red lines” drawn up with appear to “eliminate the chance of reaching agreement with the EU”.

Mr Hammond was highly critical of Johnson’s closest advisor Dominic Cummings, saying “unelected people” are “pulling the strings” of his government and steering the country towards a cliff-edge that nobody voted for. 

There is no democratic mandate for No Deal and it is offensive for Johnson and Cummings to claim they are pursuing this reckless course in the name of democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth. This morning, Hammond went on the BBC's Today programme to reiterate his belief that Parliament will make itself heard and that it is a "betrayal" for the prime minister to actively seek No Deal.

What is clear from Hammond’s interventions today is that he and many other serious, pragmatic Conservatives will not lie down and allow a destructive Brexit to be forced through parliament and on the people against our will.

Commons Speaker warns Parliament must not be shut down

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow yesterday said he will “fight with every breath in my body” to stop Boris Johnson from proroguing – shutting down - parliament to force through No Deal.

In another significant indicator of the House of Commons battles to come next month, he said he would insist on the right of parliament to continue to sit and debate. “We are a democratic society and parliament will be heard,” he told the Edinburgh festival fringe. “The one thing I feel strongly about is that the House of Commons must have its way,” he said. “And if there is an attempt to circumvent, to bypass or – God forbid – to close down parliament, that is anathema to me.”

His comments came following a hugely controversial poll in yesterday's Telegraph which outrageously claimed a majority of the public want to see parliament shut down in order to force through No Deal. The poll was widely condemned, including by former YouGov president Peter Kellner in the New European who explained in detail why the poll lacked any credibility.

The reality, of course, is an overwhelming majority of people are opposed to No Deal, which was explicitly ruled out by the Leave campaign in 2016.

Labour's Watson calls for cross-party move to block No Deal

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson put pressure on his boss Jeremy Corbyn yesterday by sitting alongside Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and calling for cross-party support to block a destructive No Deal.

The People’s Vote supporters argued “we’re stronger together if we work together” in a clear difference with the current Labour position ruling out any kind of formal pact.

Watson and Swinson were talking at a roundtable event hosted by People’s Vote youth campaigning groups Our Future Our Choice and For our Future’s Sake.

It will be seen as an important shift towards cross-party collaboration in the face of the full-fronted assault by prime minister Boris Johnson pushing towards an anti-democratic No Deal.

The deputy leader argued that “Everyone who cares about democracy, our country and our future must work together because there are enough of us – from all parties in parliament – to stop him.

“First, that means working together to stop no deal for which there is no majority in either parliament or the country. Second, it means working together to make sure – whether it’s before an election or afterwards – we solve this Brexit crisis with more democracy, not less democracy by having a final say referendum so that all the people have their voice heard. Whether you’re Liberal Democrats, social democrats or democratic socialists, we are all democrats. And democrats have got to realise in this crisis that we’re stronger together if we work together.”

Swinson, who has been strongly against backing a coalition government led by Corbyn, now suggested that “this was no time for tribalism” and called for a People’s Vote to protect opportunities for the next generation.

Their comments echo those made by us in the People's Vote campaign. We have supporters from all political parties and from none. If there is a General Election, we will focus our efforts on marginal seats where a small difference can have a huge impact, and the objective of the People's Vote campaign will be a simple one: to secure a Parliamentary majority for a final say referendum that gives the public the option of staying in the EU.

Trade experts ridicule Trump move for transatlantic deal

A proposed “first in line” trade deal between Donald Trump and a desperate post-No Deal Boris Johnson was ridiculed yesterday by trade experts.

After US national security advisor John Bolton revealed the unsurprisingly “enthusiastic” backing of No Deal following his visit to Number 10, his claim that a sector-by-sector trade deal would be simple received strong pushback.

“What Bolton is proposing is not realistic,” said Sam Lowe from the Centre for European Reform think tank. “Why would Congress sign off on anything that didn’t include agriculture?”

He claimed that Bolton was using the carrot of a trade deal to get UK backing for US policies on Huawei, Iran and China.

And David Henig of the UK Trade Policy Project reckoned that a piecemeal trade deal would be in breach of World Trade Organisation rules.

Boris Johnson is desperate to get Trump support both to put pressure on EU leaders and as something of a safety net if No Deal goes through. But, as ever, none of it is straightforward.

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

"So let’s be clear: as things stand today there is no popular mandate for a no-deal Brexit and no parliamentary mandate for one either. The hardliners may make the most noise but they are not the most numerous. Most people in this country want to see us leave in a smooth and orderly fashion that will not disrupt lives, cost jobs or diminish living standards, whether they voted Leave or Remain in 2016.

"Parliament faithfully reflects the view of that majority and it will make its voice heard. No-deal would be a betrayal of the 2016 referendum result. It must not happen."

Former Chancellor Philip Hammond warns his ex-colleague Boris Johnson in The Times that No Deal has no democratic support.

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More Brexit news...

Bercow vows to fight to stop Johnson closing Parliament (Guardian)

Corbyn under renewed pressure to stop No Deal (Sky News)

Hammond and 20 Conservative MPs attack Johnson over No Deal (The Sun)

People's Vote campaigners protest in Edinburgh (Edinburgh News)

How No Deal threatens your weekly shop (Guardian)

More Brexit comment...

Philip Hammond: "To say that people voted for hard Brexit simply isn't true" (The Times £)

Peter Kellner: Telegraph's polling comes direct from Sir Humphrey playbook (New European)

Gaby Hinsliff: Of course the US supports a No Deal, it makes us a minnow (Guardian)