Morning Briefing: 'No optimism' and more compromises - 10 promises - £36bn for no deal
There is “no optimism” for a breakthrough at today’s EU summit. Theresa May will make her pitch to EU leaders this evening, but both sides will now be wrangling over further compromises for weeks to come. And make no mistake: the more compromises, the further Brexit reality gets from the Brexit fantasy promised in 2016. Perfect timing, then, to take to the streets of London this weekend and demand a People’s Vote on whatever sorry Brexit outcome we eventually arrive at.
The big compromise being talked about today is an extension of the “transition” period during which we stay in the customs union and single market after we quit the EU. The EU is offering that this transition ends in December 2021 rather than December 2020, but wants a “two tier” Irish border backstop in return, according to reports of a private briefing by Michel Barnier in the FT.
The optimistic thinking is that this would give extra time to resolve the Irish border issue - meaning a backstop keeping Northern Ireland tied to the EU alone might never be needed. But the EU wants a guarantee that if no solutions can be found then the open Irish border is safeguarded anyway by keeping Northern Ireland inside the bloc’s regulatory framework: the two-tier “backstop to a backstop” approach.
There are two big problems with this strategy. First, there’s little chance that we could nail down a future trade deal even by the end of 2021. Ambitious trade deals usually take upwards of five years to complete. And with Brexit deadlines slipping all over the place already, why should we believe this one wouldn’t?
Second, there’s little chance the eventual deal can do away with border controls, given the government’s insistence on leaving both the single market and the customs union. So it’s hard to see Unionists - such the DUP, which is propping up the government, or the Scottish Tories - buying it. This may also explain why key cabinet Brexiters are seeking legal advice on how a backstop might work - to ensure Northern Ireland is not kept inside the EU system permanently.
A longer transition will certainly be needed if we quit the EU and are to avoid falling off a cliff in 2020. But the extra year being touted doesn’t do the trick. What’s more, let’s be clear this would be miserable. Every year of transition means following EU rules and trade policy without a vote on them - and paying into its budget without being able to say how the money is spent. That's not what people voted for in 2016.
Tweet of the day
Thanks to the Express for promoting Saturday’s March for the Future on their front page...
Video of the day
WATCH: Former paratrooper Richard voted leave in the referendum, but now thinks it’s time to make an informed decision about the Brexit deal. Read what he has to say. It’s okay to change your mind. Sign up to join him at the march for the future HERE.
10 broken promises
A cross-party group of MPs has challenged the government to explain how 10 key promises made during the referendum will be kept. They ask how Brexit can:
- Have the “exact same benefits” as we get from EU membership
- Be fully negotiated by March 2019
- Produce a dividend from Europe worth £350m per week for our NHS
- Result in new trade deals from day one after leaving
- Deliver more jobs and higher wages across the UK
- Mean no payments for access to the Single Market
- Ensure an end to free movement in March 2019
- Fully protect the integrity of the UK
- End austerity
- Mean a complete end to EU rules and regulations from March 2019?
These are benchmarks against which any Brexit deal must be judged. And if these promises are not kept, the country has every right to ask whether it really wants to proceed.
Quote of the day
“No form of Brexit will remotely match up to the promises made by the leave campaign in the referendum: they were vote-gathering fantasies, not serious politics.”
John Major, writing in the Guardian
Video of the day 2
No deal, no fee? Dream on, Brexiters
The UK will still have to pay a £36 billion divorce bill to the EU even if it fails to get a deal, Philip Hammond told yesterday’s Cabinet, reports the Telegraph. Brexiters are furious with the chancellor’s “mystifying” proposal. But why wouldn’t it be the case? Hammond was merely setting out legal advice given to the Treasury. The withdrawal payment isn’t for a shiny new deal - it’s to settle our debts as we leave the EU club. Not to do so would be a blow to the UK’s international reputation. So, whenever Brexiters try to dangle no-deal Brexit as a way of leaving the EU for free - don’t believe them.
Brexit won’t help heal our divided country
The UK is hugely divided across cultural, age and education lines, a major study over six years by Hope Not Hate has concluded. In particular there was a gulf between people living in affluent, multicultural cities and those from struggling post-industrial towns. Opposition to immigration and multiculturalism correlates closely with socio-economic deprivation.
These are the forces that caused Brexit. But Brexit is not the answer - it threatens to make things worse. Any type of Brexit will hit the economy, meaning less money to spend on public services and reviving these long-neglected areas. It will also be a huge policy distraction for years to come. We need to start bringing Britain back together now - but this Brexit mess that's unfolding will deny us the money and time to do so.
Tweet of the day 2
More Brexit news…
Bashir Ibrahim: ‘This march is personal’ - The young activist who felt the effects of racism since Brexit (New European)
Luke Lythgoe: Marching for People’s Vote on Saturday could change history (InFacts)
Sarah Gordon: The UK has let down business with its lack of Brexit advice (FT £)
Today, Wednesday 17th October
|09.30||ONS: Consumer price inflation figures published|
|09.15||HMRC's Jon Thompson gives evidence to Brexit committee|
|12.00||Prime Minister's Questions|
|17:00||EU leaders start arriving for EU summit|
|18:00||Theresa May expected to make Brexit pitch to EU leaders|
Today, Thursday 18th October
|-||European Council meeting|
|09.30||ONS: Retail sales figures published|