Morning briefing: Crunch time for MPs - fear of no deal - May's silence on Trump
It’s crunch time. The final battle over a meaningful vote will be joined in the House of Commons this afternoon, with a vote expected around 3.30pm. MPs must not allow Theresa May to turn Parliament into a rubber stamp for whatever emerges from her Brexit talks - even if that’s a miserable deal or no deal at all.
The vote is on a knife-edge according to most press reports. Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general behind the amendment returning from the House of Lords today, is being reasonable - seeking a “sensible compromise” between the government and pro-European Tory backbenchers.
The amendment would give MPs the power to “approve” the government’s proposed course of action if May’s deal is voted down by Parliament or no deal is reached with the EU. The Times has a comprehensive list of 18 Tories who might rebel.
May, on the other hand, has dug her heels in, saying her government “cannot accept” the amendment. The bullying by the Brexit press has gone on until the last minute. The Mail has an article warning that Tories who step out of line could be deselected as MPs. Anna Soubry, one of the leading rebels, hit back at the bullying on Twitter explaining that “death threats [are] becoming routine” and making the so-called mutineers “more resolute”.
The Tory whips have reportedly abandoned attempts to put pressure on their own pro-Europeans, instead trying to win over Labour MPs in Leave-voting constituencies, according to The Times. A promise to go easy on these Labour politicians at the next election is apparently even being dangled.
Today is MPs’ chance to take back control from May’s hard-Brexit government, to demand a real say on what is likely to be a miserable Brexit deal, and to stop the UK crashing out of the EU in a disastrous no-deal Brexit. They must not flinch.
Will you tell your MP to support a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal today? Use our handy tool here to get in touch.
EU says get ready for no deal
If the idea of MPs having to step in to prevent a catastrophic “no deal” Brexit sounds far-fetched, it’s not. Look at the draft statement drawn up by the European Council ahead of this month’s EU summit, reported by the FT.
In it, EU officials call on all member states, businesses and others to “step up their work” on preparing for a no-deal Brexit. They say the UK has made “no substantial progress” on solving the Northern Ireland border issue or agreeing to a “backstop” solution if no long-term fix is found. If an agreement isn’t reached, the UK’s withdrawal agreement is likely to fall apart - meaning no transition deal either.
Just to be clear: no deal would be a disaster. I have previously laid out the reasons why here.
Tweet of the day
Frank words from the European Parliament's Brexit chief, ahead of his evidence in front of two Commons committees today.
Video of the day
You remember Ciaran? The van driver who took on Jacob Rees-Mogg on LBC. He'll be at the People's Vote March on Saturday.
May’s Brexit silence on Trump’s ‘caged’ children
On the other side of the Atlantic, Donald Trump is causing yet more outrage by allowing migrant children to be split from their families and “caged” at the US border. Pitifully, Theresa May declined to join other politicians in directly condemning the president. Her unsatisfactory response is presumably thanks to the knowledge that, once Brexit burns our bridges with the EU, the UK may need to suck up to Trump’s America.
The prime minister will be hosting Trump when he visits the UK in less than a month’s time. Pro-Europeans should join those taking to the streets in protest, and make clear that Brexit should not mean degrading our values and buddying up with bullies.
Tweet of the day 2
Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake on Boris Johnson's admiration for Donald Trump (read his comments here) - following outrage at the president's willingness to split up families trying to enter the US.
We need strong security, Brexit makes this harder
The head of GCHQ has taken the unusual step of wading into the political row around Brexit. Jeremy Fleming has warned that the EU benefits from sharing intelligence with the UK and that a strong security partnership is needed after Brexit.
He’s right - but this has been made much harder by Theresa May’s Brexit “red lines”. Unless the UK drops its hard line on free movement, rulings of the European court and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, EU members cannot give it the same access to security data and programmes that it enjoys today.
If the public don’t like the idea of May’s Brexit making it harder to fight crime, then all the more reason for a People’s Vote on her final deal.
Graphic of the day
Let people know: Brexit is not a cunning plan!
Quote of the day
"While this is not an issue caused directly by Brexit, solutions are being hamstrung by Brexit and the government’s inability to make firm decisions. We urge the prime minister to do what she knows is the right thing."
Nick Marston, chairman of the British Summer Fruits trade body, as a shortage of seasonal labour raises the real risk of fruit rotting in the fields this harvest.
More Brexit news…
Top Brexit comment
Denis MacShane: May should fess up: Brexit will make fighting crime harder (InFacts)
Charles Grant: Single market in goods will come at a price for Brexit Britain (FT £)
Video of the day 2
Femi Oluwole from OFOC! talks to a grassroots Momentum activist about his concerns over Brexit.
Today, Wednesday 20 June
|PM||House of Commons vote on "Grieve 2" amendment to EU Withdrawal Bill|
|09:15||Guy Verhofstadt gives evidence to Commons Brexit committee|
|10:45||Shanker Singham from Institute of Economic Affairs gives evidence to international trade committee|
|11:30||Northern Ireland questions in Commons|
|12:00||Prime Minister's Questions|
|14:30||Guy Verhofstadt gives evidence to Commons home affairs committee|
|15:30||David Lidington gives evidence to Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee
Today, Thursday 21 June
|09:30||ONS: Public sector finances published|
|PM||Backbench debate in Commons on future of Erasmus+ scheme|
|19:00||TSSA "People before Tory Brexit" rally|