Morning Briefing: 'No deal' warnings are scaremongering - bad plan for migration - Labour must move quickly
The government is very publicly ramping up its preparations for crashing out of the EU with no deal. That means spending billions of pounds and ditching key policy pledges, such as reforming social care.
These announcements are scaremongering, pure and simple. The spectacle of planning for no-deal chaos is a cynical tactic to help bully the government’s miserable Brexit deal over the line in Parliament. The actual chances of a no-deal Brexit happening remain slim.
The fact is that MPs don’t want it, and they can stop it. The vast majority of members of the House of Commons have rejected no deal. Parliament is sovereign, and it is MPs – not the government – who are in charge of the Brexit process. They will have numerous opportunities in the coming weeks to block “no deal” as well as back an alternative. These include amending government motions, amending legislation or forcing votes through other means.
Fortunately there is a clear alternative to crashing out: a People’s Vote. The choice being posed between May’s deal and no deal is no choice at all. MPs can and must swing behind a People’s Vote as the only way forward on Brexit.
If the people vote to keep the much better deal we have inside the EU, there is nothing practical to stop us staying. The European Court of Justice has ruled that we can easily take back our Article 50 notification, even without the permission of the other 27 EU countries, and keep the preferential terms of our current EU deal. European leaders have also indicated they would be willing to extend the Article 50 deadline if we needed a little more time to hold a new vote.
The government’s “no deal” scare tactics are an attempt to hide these facts. And the only reason these flames can be fanned so effectively is because Theresa May refuses to let MPs vote on her miserable deal, instead running down the clock on Brexit.
With just 100 days to go until we’re due to leave the EU, no wonder the panic is setting in as the costs unfold. Five of the UK’s biggest groups representing business are looking on “in horror” at the stalemate in Westminster.
This is an irresponsible way to run a country. If politicians can do nothing but waste time, the only way forward is to pass this decision back to the public in a People’s Vote.
Tweet of the Day
Sky News' Faisal Islam calls out the lunacy in the government's no-deal announcements.
Migration can be managed inside EU
Post-Brexit migration plans are finally expected to be revealed today in a government white paper. The basic thrust of the controversial new proposals, which reportedly caused a big split in Cabinet, is to clamp down on so-called “low skilled” migrants from the EU. A crude £30,000 salary cap will be used to determined who is “low” and “high” skilled.
This heavy-handed approach will be disastrous for the UK economy. Key sectors including healthcare, hospitality, agriculture and construction all rely on hard-working EU staff. A dramatic reduction in their numbers will send a shockwave through British businesses. What’s more, EU citizens pay much more into our welfare system than they take out - £4.7 billion per year more according to analysis for the government.
There are plenty of things we can do to manage migration better without leaving the EU. We could apply EU rules allowing us to register new arrivals. We could also make sure the economic benefits of EU migration reach parts of the country that need it most. And it's important to remember that free movement benefits UK citizens too, and that we risk losing the ability of future generations to travel, live and work across Europe. When it comes to migration policy, this government is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. We’ll all lose out from these hamfisted tactics.
Video of the Day
WATCH: Luciana Berger MP for Liverpool Wavertree argues that it is irresponsible for the prime minister to prolong this uncertainty. There aren’t going to be any changes to the withdrawal agreement, and the government should let parliament have a meaningful vote ASAP.
Labour must move quickly
The Labour leadership is predictably facing a backlash from its MPs and party activists following Jeremy Corbyn’s bungled attempt to call a vote of no confidence in Theresa May. MPs called the ploy “idiotic” in messages from a What’s App group leaked to The Times. There are reports of frustration that Corbyn is holding off to avoid having to explore alternatives to a general election, including backing a People’s Vote, as Labour policy demands. Labour activists are now calling for an emergency conference to clarify the party’s position on a new vote. With today marking 100 days until we are scheduled to leave the EU, and with no clear strategy in place, the clock is ticking loudly. Labour must now move rapidly in support of the only way forward - a People’s Vote.
Quote of the day
“Time is running out… We need an emergency party conference to amend our policy to take account of the situation we find ourselves in, not the situation that we envisaged back in September.”
Paul Williams, Labour MP for Stockton South, urges his party to act on Brexit.
Managed no deal: “unicorn that needs to be slaughtered”
Brexiters continue to plug their cuddly-sounding “managed no deal”, despite it being called out for the chaotic worst-case scenario it really is. Justice secretary David Gauke even called it a “unicorn that needs to be slaughtered” at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, according to the Telegraph.
If you want to see what a “managed” no deal really means, look to Brussels. The EU has laid out its vision: lengthy border queues, scaled back flight schedules, and some temporary relief for financial markets. It seeks to avoid the worst cliff-edge scenarios, but stops short of offering any of the side-deals Brexiters blithely assume they will get. This is not an outcome that’s good for the country, and it’s not what anybody voted for in 2016.
More Brexit news…
Ivan Rogers’ Brexit bombshell, digested (Guardian)
Peter Kellner: Polling shows growing support for staying in EU (InFacts)
Rafael Behr: This was the year of Brexit v Westminster – and there was only one winner (Guardian)
Today, Wednesday 19th December
|-||100 days until UK is due to leave EU|
|-||European Commission to publish its no-deal Brexit preparations|
|-||Immigration White Paper published|
|09.30||ONS: Consumer price inflation|
|09.30||ONS: House prices|
Cabinet Office questions in Commons
|12.00||Prime Minister's Questions|
|14.15||Michael Gove evidence to the environmental audit committee|
Tomorrow, Thursday 20th December
|09.30||ONS: Retail sales|
|09.30||Trade questions in Commons|
|-||Parliament rises for Christmas recess|