Morning Briefing: Don't buy Cabinet "crunch" - EU workers exodus - government defeated
This afternoon at 2pm Theresa May will present a draft Brexit deal to her Cabinet. It’s being called “crunch time" and “judgement day”. But this is only the first of many hurdles May’s deal has to get past. This "moment of truth" could run and run.
That’s because nobody voted for the kind of deal that seems to be emerging: giving away control, leaving business in limbo, undermining our NHS and the future of young people - and paying £50 billion for the privilege. Worse still, it’s a blindfold Brexit that leaves many issues unresolved until after we leave.
The details that have already emerged about this deal will worry many of May’s critics - hardline Brexiters and patriotic pro-Europeans alike. The EU seems to have dropped its opposition to a bare-bones customs union for the entire UK. That prevents a customs border across the Irish Sea, which is vehemently opposed by the DUP who prop up May’s minority government.
But that comes at a big price. The UK will guarantee that it won’t leave the “temporary” customs union unless the EU is satisfied that arrangements are in place to avoid a hard border, reports the FT. May has also agreed to “level playing field” measures tying the UK to EU rules in areas such as competition and state aid, social and environmental rights workers’ protections - without any say in how they may be changed in the future.
A note from Barnier’s deputy, leaked to The Times, puts the trade off starkly: “They must align their rules but the EU will retain all the controls. They apply the same rules. (The) UK wants a lot more from (the) future relationship, so (the) EU retains its leverage.”
Brextremist Tory backbenchers’ biggest fear is that this kind of arrangement will become the permanent setup for our post-Brexit relationship with the EU. No wonder, then, that Jacob Rees-Mogg and Iain Duncan Smith were quick off the blocks last night briefing against May’s deal in Parliament.
But May’s deal doesn’t fully solve the Northern Ireland problem either. It still involves extra single market rules for Northern Ireland to follow more closely. Though not a customs border, that’s still a regulatory split between Northern Ireland and the rest of Great Britain. It seems unlikely the DUP will be able to stomach that - and its MPs are already on manoeuvres to block it, in tandem with the Tory hardliners.
That’s a lot of pressure on ministers today. They face the stark choice of backing a miserable deal that currently looks unlikely to get past parliament further down the line, or risking a government implosion.
But all MPs - ministers included - must ask themselves if this is better than the deal we’ve already got inside the EU. If they cannot look their constituents in the eye and say it is, they must vote this deal down and hand the final decision back to the public for a People’s Vote.
Photo of the Day
Quote of the Day
“(This report) does show that the people that politicians and activists speak to could well be providing a misleading guide to the public mood.”
Former YouGov president Peter Kellner on a new report The Will of the People? Changing attitudes towards Brexit which counters the argument that “people on doorsteps” talking to MPs don’t want a People’s Vote - as polling show the “silent majority” are overwhelmingly in favour.
Number of EU workers plunges
As political turmoil in Parliament rages on, so does the sapping effect of Brexit uncertainty on the UK economy. Particularly stark is Brexit’s impact on the workforce. The number of EU nationals employed in the UK has fallen by 132,000 over the last year as eastern European workers especially leave in droves, official figures show. That’s the largest such drop since comparable records began in 1997. It will be chilling news for sectors such as healthcare, hospitality, construction and agriculture which rely on EU workers. The economy will struggle to cope with the labour and skills shortages this dramatic shift will cause.
Video of the Day
WATCH: "Parliament and the people will need to judge any deal she does sign." That's the head of Brexit Central seemingly justifying a People's Vote... OFOC's Femi Oluwole couldn’t have been more surprised.
Early defeat for May in Commons
If you want to know what a defeat for the government on Brexit looks like, there was a great example yesterday. Labour used the archaic method of a “humble address” to demand ministers publish the government’s legal advice on May’s Brexit deal. After the hard-Brexit ERG faction in the Tory party withdrew its support from the government, the motion passed without a formal vote.
This could mean the publication of up to 5,000 pieces of legal advice on Brexit. But don’t expect it just yet. Labour’s Brexit lead Keir Starmer said he only wanted the “final advice” made available to MPs, “at the point that the final proposed withdrawal agreement that’s been agreed with the EU is put to this House”.
Tweet of the Day
People's Vote supporter Stephen Doughty MP shares a few of the amazing pictures from last night's People's Vote rally in London.
More Brexit news…
Peter Mandelson: Britain’s conspiracy of silence over the Brexit deal (FT £)
Dawn Foster: The DUP’s overreaching on Brexit could lead to a united Ireland (Guardian)
Tony Blair: Why is Labour not leading the call for a second vote? (Times £)
Today, Wednesday 14th November
|09.30||ONS: Consumer price inflation|
|09.30||ONS: House Prices|
|09.15||Expert evidence to Brexit committee on the progress of Brexit negotiations|
|09.30||Expert evidence to Northern Ireland affairs committee on Brexit and Irish Border|
|09.30||Home Office officials evidence to home affairs committee on Brexit role|
|11.30||PM's deputy David Lidington takes Cabinet Office questions in Commons|
|12.00||Prime Minister's Questions|
|13.10||Evidence from officials to Scottish affairs committee on Brexit|
Tomorrow, Thursday 15th November
|09.30||ONS: Retail sales|
|09.30||International trade questions in Commons|