Wednesday 29 May 2019 - People's Vote

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Morning Briefing: Bercow stands up for Parliament power

One of the problems in resolving the Brexit crisis has been the lack of collaboration across party lines. Now young leaders from five main parties are lobbying together for a People's Vote. Read below for an inspiring example of how young people are ahead of the debate that affects their futures the most. 

For the birds: Bercow’s no deal warning

Tory leadership candidates are lining up to flaunt their no deal credentials before a traumatised membership.

They quote selectively from a piece published by the Institute for Government, to make the claim that a new Prime Minister could ignore the wishes of Parliament and simply run down the clock to a new deal.

Boris Johnson, Esther McVey, Dominic Raab and others are adamant that they can force through no deal in the wake of their drubbing. 

But House of Commons speaker John Bercow issued a tough warning yesterday that the idea that MPs will be able to intervene if it looks like the UK will crash out is “for the birds” - and he revealed that far from leaving this Summer, he is now planning to remain in the job to see out the Brexit crisis.

Speaking in Washington DC, he said: “The idea that Parliament is going to be evacuated from the centre stage of debate on Brexit is simply unimaginable. The idea the House won't have its say is for the birds.”

It is another indication that the hard Brexit approach is not realistic with the current Parliamentary arithmetic and the growing support for a People’s Vote. Theresa May’s failure to find a consensus in Parliament is likely to be repeated by a new leader who believes he or she can bulldoze MPs.

Mr Bercow added that although no deal Brexit is the default position, it doesn’t take into account the “interplay of different political forces”.

Having indicated that he might step down, Bercow is now planning to continue in the role, having been a thorn in the side of Brexiters.

There are a number of clear paths for MPs to be able to block no deal: a vote of no confidence in the government (if Labour was supported by a number of Tories); pass non-binding motions which would put political pressure on the government; vote down the Queen's Speech if a new Prime Minister prorogues parliament before October 31; or seek emergency debates by applying to the Speaker.

The Speaker's recognition of this democratic reality, and his restatement of the vital role of parliament in the Brexit process, is welcome. Expect, however, to hear howls of outrage today from politicians who campaigned for Brexit on the bogus premise of letting parliament "take back control", but who now want the next prime minister to be able to force through a no deal crash-out against the wishes of the vast majority of MPs and the public.

European leaders reaffirm “no renegotiation”

As the current Prime Minister Theresa May went to Brussels for the post-European elections summit, she made the point that her replacement would need to find the consensus that she failed to manage if they wanted to get Brexit through. 

And EU president Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed that the Brexit Withdrawal deal is not open to discussion. “I was crystal clear. There will be no renegotiation,” he said. He was backed up by other European leaders. Lib Dem leader Vince Cable was in Brussels and says that he has support from other European liberal leaders to pursue a People's Vote.

"They're very keen that Britain remains because of the liberal contribution and I briefed them on what's happening in British politics and I said there's every reason to expect that we're going to stay, that we're not leaving at the end of October."

European Council president Donald Tusk reckoned that the Brexit crisis has been a vaccine against anti-EU propaganda and fake news. As Europeans see what Brexit means in practice, they also draw conclusions."

It is this reality, and the undesirability of a general election that has led two big beasts of the Conservative Party to acknowledge that a People's Vote may now be the best way forward for the next prime minister. Malcolm Rifkind, a Tory Cabinet minister for Margaret Thatcher and John Major backed a new public vote on Newsnight, acknowledging that it was the only way out of the current stalemate. Former Tory leader and ex-Foreign Secretary William Hague agreed that it will be extremely difficult to resolve Brexit "without going back to the electorate".

Conservative peer and Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein writes this morning that a new Tory PM will either have to call an election (and lose) or call a referendum. These interventions are a sane counterpoint to the Tory leadership hopefuls running over the no deal Brexit cliff.

And the Scottish Labour leadership - after a disastrous set of European election results and angry fallout - is to move towards a People's Vote. Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is to ask his party to back a People's Vote after their worst election result since 1910 saw them win only 9.3% of the vote.

Young leaders from five parties join to call for People's Vote

Youth representatives from the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party have joined together to call for a People's Vote saying "the undeliverable promises" of Brexit "will hurt young people's futures".

In an unprecedented move, they sent a letter to all MPs calling for them to follow their example and work across party lines. The letter said: "We don't agree on many things, except that Brexit will be a disaster, both for our country and respective parties.The recent elections show a clear trend: parties clearly backing a final say on any Brexit deal are doing well, as are the Brexit Party." 

The action was co-ordinated by youth campaigning group For our Future's Sake.

Jordan Byrne, chair of Young Conservatives for a People's Vote, said: "A confirmatory referendum is highly undesirable for Conservatives but there are really only three options left: no deal, a general election, or a People’s Vote.

"Given the disastrous European and local election results, the last thing the party needs is a general election, and the consequences of no deal would destroy our reputation for responsible governance for a generation. There is simply no other choice for Conservatives but to back a People's Vote."

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

“What is the future of Britain? Who are going to be the future authors of Britain? I refuse to believe they are people like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage.

"I believe there's a better story to be told of Britain. One of bringing people together, of hope, and of tolerance."

Former Lord Mayor of Sheffield and new Green MEP Magid Magid is optimistic about the future.

Video of the Day 

William Dry from Our Future Our Choice outlines why there is no mandate for a no deal Brexit.

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Tweet of the Day 

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More Brexit news…

Young leaders from five parties join forces to call for People's Vote (Independent)

Corbyn to announce People's Vote policy shift (Mirror)

Brexit paralysis is a Eurosceptic vaccine, says Tusk (Standard)

Top Brexit comment...

A short history of Labour's stance on a second referendum (HuffPost)

Gaby Hinsliff: Labour voters want to come home but the party must prove they will resist Brexit (Guardian)

Anne McElvoy: Siren voices of hard Brexit could lure Tory leadership rivals to doom (Standard)

Daniel Finkelstein: There's no avoiding election or second vote (Times £)