Morning Briefing: Labour plan faces vote - May can't play games with delay - no deal papers revealed
There will be more voting on Brexit amendments in Parliament this evening. The prime minister has already caved to many of the demands in the Cooper-Letwin amendment, which sought to let MPs extend Article 50, so that has now been withdrawn. This means the most significant vote later is likely to be on Labour’s alternative Brexit proposal.
Jeremy Corbyn’s plan almost certainly won’t be approved by MPs - even the most rebellious Conservatives are unlikely to back it. But this defeat in itself will be important. It marks another step in Labour’s Brexit policy, as outlined at party conference last autumn. This says Labour must seek a general election, and failing that “support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote”.
The first stage failed when May survived a vote of no confidence last month. If Corbyn’s alternative Brexit is shot down, then the only option Labour deems viable will also be off the table. The party should then back a public vote much more enthusiastically.
Corbyn has this week already signalled his support for a People’s Vote. But there are still many naysayers in the party, as a Times report of a shadow cabinet meeting revealed.
But with all other options off the table - except backing a Tory Brexit - waverers should get behind a People’s Vote and start making the positive case to their constituents. Far from the wild promises of the Leave campaigners, any form of Brexit will mean less money in people’s pockets in future. It will mean no clarity or closure, preventing politicians from tackling the very problems the 2016 referendum highlighted in the first place: an ailing health service, housing shortages, underfunded schools, the ravages of austerity and widening inequality between different parts of the country.
The only way to prevent all that, and start bringing real benefits to Labour MPs’ constituents, is with a democratic vote to stay in the EU. A People’s Vote doesn’t mean returning to the status quo. It means accepting that 2016 was a turning point in our nation’s story, but also insisting that this shouldn't be towards people being poorer and problems going ignored. Surely that’s a message any Labour MP can get behind?
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Extension can’t just let May run down clock
Yesterday, for the first time, Theresa May appeared to accept the need for a Brexit extension. It should be welcomed that May has said MPs will get a vote on removing the threat of no deal and requesting an extension of Article 50, if and when the government’s deal is defeated again. But the prime minister must also not be allowed to use this as another excuse to run down the clock.
May was clear that she only wanted a “short, limited” extension. But the prime minister herself noted that a short extension could mean “a much sharper cliff edge in a few months’ time”. Some pro-EU ministers fear that May will seek to set impossible conditions on an extension request, reports The Times.
Another cycle of humiliating negotiations and yet more deadlock cannot be the answer when there is no form of Brexit that meets the promises of 2016, is as good as the deal we’ve got inside the EU, or can provide clarity for the future. Instead, Parliament needs the time and space to consider proposals now supported by MPs from all parties for a new public vote because it would be wrong to force Brexit on the public without giving them the final say. The British people can make that point loud and clear at the Put It To The People march on March 23.
It's clear that the only way forward is a People's Vote. Now is a crucial time to get involved with the campaign. Sign up to volunteer today.
No-deal chaos unveiled
The government has now published its most up-to-date assessments of no-deal preparations, following a promise to MPs earlier this month. The findings are shocking. A third of the most critical no-deal preparations are behind schedule. The government forecasts the economy would be 6% to 9% smaller over the next 15 years than it otherwise might have been, in the event of no deal. The flow of goods through Dover will be “very significantly reduced for months”. Food prices are likely to increase and panic buying could create shortages. And only six of the 40 international trade agreements we needed to roll over have been. Northern Ireland is expected to be hit even worse than the rest of the UK.
Remember, these documents were never meant for public consumption but to help ministers plan for a crash-out Brexit. The fact they have all this detail and still think it’s fine to keep a no-deal Brexit on the table is mind-bogglingly reckless.
Quote of the Day
“In light of what she knows, it is utterly irresponsible for the Prime Minister to keep a no-deal Brexit on the table given the extreme damage it will do.”
Chuka Umunna, MP in the Independent Group
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Top Brexit comment
Daniel Finkelstein: A brave Brexiteer would back a second vote (Times)
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson: Labour's change in tone on a new referendum is a credit to party members and campaigners (HuffPost)
Rosie McKenna: It’s for the left to stand up and be counted in the fight for a People’s Vote (Left Foot Forward)
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WATCH: "It's about time we put an end to all this mess" Tom explains the effect of Brexit on his Business and why he thinks we need a People’s Vote.
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Today, Wednesday 27th February
|-||MPs set to vote on amendments to government Brexit motion|
|11.00||Sajid Javid in front of home affairs committee|
|12.00||Prime Minister's Questions|
Tomorrow, Thursday 28th February
|09.30||ONS: Migration statistics|
|09.30||Brexit questions in Commons|