Morning Briefing: Let's make 2019 the year for a People's Vote!
And a happy New Year! The prime minister claims 2019 will be a “new chapter” for the UK. She could be right. But only if the public, now they know what Brexit really looks like, are given a People’s Vote - and the opportunity to reject this bad Brexit for the much better deal we have as members of the EU.
But the country won’t be able to “turn a corner”, as Theresa May put it in her New Year’s message, if MPs back the government’s deal. If that happens, negotiations with the EU will go on forever as successive governments try to make sense of something that makes no sense for the UK. Far from a “new chapter”, all the tensions of 2018 will be played out afresh for years to come.
The prime minister also insists “2019 can be the year we put our differences aside and move forward together”. But how will that happen if the government pushes through a Brexit deal nobody voted for, and that makes people poorer and offers less control?
Both those who voted to stay in the EU and those who voted Leave because they were promised a better lot can see this is a much worse deal than the one we’ve already got in the EU.
May talks about “strengthening our economy”, creating “new jobs and opportunities”, “building the housing our country needs”, implementing a “long term plan for the NHS” and “protecting and enhancing our natural environment”. All this is more achievable if we stay in the EU and don’t smother our economy with a miserable Brexit.
The leader of the opposition falls into the easy rhythm of blaming the Tories for “the mess they’ve made of Brexit”. While there’s much truth in this, it ignores that bigger truth that the promises made during the 2016 referendum simply can’t be kept. No one can keep promises that are contradictory.
“Labour is ready to deliver a radical alternative to rebuild and transform our country,” Corbyn promises. But like May he won’t acknowledge that any form of Brexit will make healing our country harder. A raft of economists and other experts, as well as the majority of Corbyn’s own party, accept this fact (see more on both below). It’s time Labour’s leadership did the same and backed a People’s Vote.
There is no kind of fantasy Brexit deal that can meet all the promises made. The real choice now is whether to go ahead with a Brexit deal or stick with the deal we already have as members of the EU. Let’s make 2019 the year we win a People’s Vote!
Tweet of the Day
A New Year's message from everyone at the People's Vote campaign - we really appreciate all your support!
Corbyn seriously at odds with party members
Labour members are significantly more in favour of a People’s Vote and against Brexit than the Labour leader, a new study by Queen Mary University of London shows. A huge 72% of members want their party to fully support a People’s Vote, while 88% say they would opt to stay in the EU if a vote was held.
This is very much at odds with recent comments from Corbyn, who last month suggested Brexit would go ahead even if Labour won a new general election. But the pressure is mounting for a People’s Vote within the Labour party. Left-wing grassroots activist group Another Europe Is Possible are calling on local party members to pass a motion urging Corbyn to change tack. The group believes half of local constituency Labour parties will have adopted the motion by the end of January. If, as he claims, Corbyn truly believes in running his party democratically, he cannot ignore members any longer.
Quote of the day
“The history books will look back on the coming three months as critical. Are we going to make a terrible mistake, leaving behind our influence in Europe's most successful peace project and the world's biggest marketplace? Or are the British people, in the final hours, going to be given a chance to reconsider, in light of all the facts which have come to the surface in the last two years?”
Extract from Lib Dem leader Vince Cable’s New Year’s message
Video of the Day
Brexit would be ‘bad’ or ‘awful’ for economy
Brexit would mean prospects for the UK economy in 2019 will be “bad” or “awful”, according to a Financial Times poll of more than 80 leading economists. Meanwhile 74% of top business leaders think economic conditions in the UK will decline thanks to Brexit uncertainty, according to an Ipsos Mori survey also reported in the FT. That’s up from 66% who were similarly pessimistic in the same survey last year.
This follows a raft of independent assessments - and comments by senior ministers - which have now acknowledged the government’s proposed Brexit would severely harm our economy. And a weaker economy means less money to spend on public services and healing our divided country. But the same problems will apply to any form of Brexit, no matter how it is presented. That’s why the final decision should now be handed back to the people - because only they can sort this out.
Audio of the Day
ICYMI, For our Future's Sake co-founder Amanda chatted to Labour's Tom Watson on LBC about why young people and students need the Labour Party to back a People's Vote.
Brexit making NHS winter crisis worse
The winter crisis in the NHS is being made worse by Brexit, according to new analysis by the People’s Vote campaign. NHS figures for the period between December 3 and December 16 2018 show that pressure on the health service is building: more than 3,000 people arriving at hospital by ambulance had to wait more than an hour to be seen. And 4,000 more people arrived by ambulance than in the same period last year.
There are three main ways Brexit is making this situation worse:
- Fewer doctors and nurses: the number of EU-born doctors in the NHS has dropped by 1,000 since 2015, while there are 1,400 fewer EU nurses and midwives since the referendum.
- Cash-strapped budgets: the fall in the value of the pound, being forced to spend on “no deal” contingency planning, and the fact the government’s proposed spending increases don’t kick in until April have all left the NHS low on funds.
- Politicians are distracted by Brexit: the postponement of the publication of the government’s 10-year plan for the NHS is a prime example.
Whichever way people voted two years ago, nobody voted for a deal that makes us poorer and puts our health service and under worse strain.
Tweet of the Day 2
More Brexit news…
Dominic Grieve: Parliament is incapable of settling Brexit. We need a second referendum (Guardian)
Tom Kibasi: There is a path to a second referendum – and only Labour can win it (Guardian)
Lauren Pemberton-Nelson: We urgently need a more representative debate around Brexit (gal-dem)
Today, Wednesday 2 January
Parliament in recess
Tomorrow, Thursday 3 January
Parliament in recess