Wednesday 25 September 2019 - People's Vote

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Morning Briefing: Only a People's Vote can solve the crisis as humiliated Johnson flies back to re-opened Parliament

We’ve been saying for a while now that you can’t trust Boris Johnson. It seems almost like every time he opens his mouth, another lie emerges. Yesterday, the Supreme Court’s momentous decision – by 11 judges to 0 – declared his prorogation was “unlawful, void and of no effect”, the ultimate putdown of any Prime Minister.

As Hilary Benn MP said on Newsnight last night, Johnson’s reaction in New York was “like he hadn’t read the judgement and didn’t understand the significance of it”. The picture of him meeting President Trump just hours before impeachment proceedings against him were announced will be one for the history books. Late last night the Prime Minister gave a bizarre speech to the UN, comparing Brexit to having your liver pecked out by an eagle for all eternity.

Maybe he will stop cracking bad jokes when he flies into London this morning and goes back into the House of Commons, which will opens its doors to MPs again at 11.30am. He is still demanding Brexit by any means by October 31 – just 36 days away. No-one can trust what he and his coterie will do next. Only a People’s Vote can solve the biggest political crisis of our lives. Join us on our massive march on Saturday October 19 in London to make the case clear. Sign up here.

Cross-party alliance needs to come together to deliver a People's Vote

From Sir John Major to Jeremy Corbyn, Sir Nicholas Soames to Caroline Lucas and everyone in between, the condemnation was unanimous.

But what is still unclear is what happens next. And, once again, it is down to the lack of trust in the UK’s Prime Minister. One thing seems certain - Johnson would use a premature election as cover to push through his plans for No Deal. Any election held before the Brexit process is complete risks Johnson winning on as little as one-third of the vote and ramming through his destructive plans.

Calling a vote of no confidence carries many of the same risks: Johnson will cling on to office, even if he loses the initial vote, in the hope that opposition divisions prevent an alternative government emerging and thus giving him an election after a further two weeks.

In the Commons today, Labour will pile on the pressure by demanding to see the official legal advice he was given. And there will now be a proper chance to examine the government’s preparedness for No Deal after the charade of releasing a redacted Operation Yellowhammer report and claiming it was a “worst case scenario” with no opportunity for Parliamentary scrutiny.

How will the Brexit crisis that has created the greatest constitutional crisis in living memory be resolved? Only a People’s Vote can sort it out and there are signs that senior figures in Parliament are coming together to make it happen. More politicians are accepting that it may be the best option, including Father of the House Ken Clarke on the BBC's Today programme this morning, even if he is somewhat grudging. Shadow International Secretary Barry Gardiner yesterday called for a People's Vote to take place before any general election, prompting former Conservative Attorney General and People’s Vote supporter Dominic Grieve to say: “I don’t think I have ever said this before, but I agree with Barry Gardiner.”

He went on: “It is entirely possible for MPs to decide now to have a confirmatory referendum on Theresa May’s Deal - or some other version of it - which can take place before an election. This could take place within five or six months and be binding on all participants. It would give us the clarity we all need to move on from the Brexit crisis and then have an election where all the other issues facing our country could be properly debated.”  

With Parliament back in motion, the cross-party alliance that changed the law to block No Deal now needs to go to work again against a Prime Minister with no majority, no trust and now, no plan. It is a People’s Vote that is required to break the deadlock.

Corbyn in the spotlight on how to handle "zombie government"

After a tough and mostly divisive conference, Labour emerged from Brighton in a cheerful mood after the Supreme Court decision. But, in many ways, the spotlight will now fall on Jeremy Corbyn who has to make tough and smart decisions on how to handle the fallout – and how to move forward to resolution.

Labour now backs a People’s Vote, whatever the circumstances. They don’t trust Boris Johnson and Mr Corbyn called for him to resign during his speech yesterday. But how he handles the next few days and weeks will define him as a leader. This morning, in his first appearance on the BBC's Today programme for three years, Corbyn was clear that he won't try to force Johnson out until No Deal is off the table and an extension of Article 50 has been agreed with the EU. He reiterated the conference decision on going for a new agreement with the EU and taking it to a People's Vote. He said: "My strategy is to bring people together, which is quite sensible."

Up until now, he has been calling for an election followed by a referendum. But it would make far more sense, both for Labour and for the country, for Brexit to be resolved before an election is held. That is why there are a growing number of Labour - and Conservative - MPs are saying a final say referendum should now be legislated for as soon as possible.

As Labour MP Ian Murray commented: “The solution to the Brexit crisis does not lie in the courts or even in Parliament, but in the hands of the people. We cannot trust Boris Johnson to make the right judgment on Brexit so we must give this decision back to the country as a whole.”

Future free trade deal blow for Johnson from EU

Not for the first time in recent days, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier played down chances of a new Brexit deal happening, saying he had “no reason today for optimism” in a speech in Berlin.

But this time, it wasn’t just the Irish backstop that he saw as the stumbling block, but a future free-trade agreement and deals covering everything from aviation to fisheries and student exchange programmes. “Each and every one of these arrangements will require ratification by the 27 member states, and even some regions if you remember what happened with CETA," said Barnier, referring to the EU-Canada trade deal almost scotched by Walloon lawmakers in the French-speaking region of Belgium.

"Don’t underestimate the difficulty of ratification," said Barnier.

In a further blow to Johnson, he said the EU will push in trade talks to make sure that standards on everything from environmental protection to state aid remain comparable to avoid giving Britain a competitive edge. "The U.K. and EU will remain neighbours and our companies will continue to compete with each other. Let me be simple and clear, this competition must be fair.”

Northern Ireland busmaker set to go into administration

In 2016, William Wright, the founder of Ballymena bus maker Wrightbus, became the first major business figure in Northern Ireland to back Brexit.

But today the firm that made London’s new Routemaster buses – dubbed Borisbuses at the time – is heading into administration with the potential loss of 1,500 jobs. DUP MP Ian Paisley said the administration is “an inevitability”, saying it was a “terrible time for the employees and their families”.

While Brexit is not the only cause of the collapse of Wrightbus, it is another example of the dire economic effects of the crisis – and it is ordinary people who are suffering the consequences.

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

“I am delighted that the court has ruled the Prime Minister's lengthy and contentious prorogation of Parliament to be unlawful. This was a case that should never have had to be considered, and it gave me no pleasure to be pitted against a Government and Prime Minister of my own party.

“Parliament must now be recalled immediately to recommence its work, and to receive the Prime Minister's unreserved apology. No prime minister must ever treat the Monarch or Parliament in this way again.”

Former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major demands that Boris Johnson gives Parliament an "unreserved apology" for the unlawfully prorogation.

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More Brexit news...

Johnson compares Brexit to having your liver pecked out by an eagle (Mirror)

Wrightbus: administration is now inevitable (BBC News)

Barnier: "No reason" for optimism in Brexit deal (Politico)

Barry Gardiner breaks ranks to back People's Vote before election (PoliticsHome)

More Brexit comment...

Eric Levitz: UK Supreme Court humiliates Johnson (New York Magazine)

Daniel Finkelstein: This Supreme Court ruling is a car crash for the Tories (The Times)

Sean O'Grady: This is the beginning of the end of Johnson's Premiership (Independent)