Morning Briefing: Number 10's Brexit spin - wooing business - Momentum building
The government has a plan! Or at least it has a PR strategy, revealed in a leaked note to the press, to sell Theresa May’s Brexit proposal - although the government hasn’t yet figured out what that is.
What’s clear is that all is not going to plan. The leaked communications timetable begins with the presumption that ministers would have agreed a Brexit proposal at yesterday’s lengthy Cabinet meeting. That clearly didn’t happen, although ministers seem to have agreed there could be a special Cabinet meeting later this week or next.
Reports from the meeting suggest some narrowing of views over how to solve the conundrum of the Irish border “backstop”, though Michael Gove is demanding to see the full legal advice on the matter first. That would make it harder for the prime minister to pull the wool over her colleagues’ eyes. Even better, the legal advice should be published so that the government can’t herd MPs and the public into supporting a blindfold Brexit full of risks.
What’s more, even if the Cabinet can agree a common position on the backstop, it’s unclear if the EU will agree. Michel Barnier told Belgian media yesterday that a deal was still “not close”.
But that isn’t stopping the government PR document proposing the Cabinet Office publishes an explainer setting out “what [May’s deal] means for the public, comparing it to no deal, but not to our current deal”. The reason is clear: May’s miserable deal looks better than no-deal chaos, but infinitely inferior to the current deal we have with the EU. May’s deal would make us less prosperous and less influential in the world, and even after Brexit no one will know what it’s going to ultimately look like.
Any Cabinet Office paper should set out the pros and cons of the three alternatives: the deal, leaving with no deal and our current deal. After all, if MPs say no - which is looking likely, especially with the DUP raising new concerns about the emerging deal - the main scenario will be that MPs give the public the final say in a People's Vote.
Video of the Day
Wooing business as Brexit damage unfolds
The government is trying to get business chiefs onside is by launching new “business councils”. These five new bodies are designed to advise the government on how to create the best business conditions after Brexit. Names include CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn - who also appears in the government’s PR strategy for May’s deal.
But many business people do not buy the idea that they should swing in behind a miserable deal. Over 70 business leaders have already come out in favour of a People’s Vote - and more details of the Business for a People’s Vote campaign will be announced tomorrow.
For business, the key problems with the emerging deal are: we won’t get as good access to the EU, our biggest market; it won’t be legally binding; and it will be ambiguous. Although the divorce agreement will keep the UK in the EU’s single market and customs union for 21 months after we quit the bloc, no business can make long-term investments on the basis of only 21 months of certainty. Labour’s Keir Starmer will issue a timely warning about this “blindfold” Brexit today.
Meanwhile business is already being clobbered by Brexit uncertainty. Just look at the 570 jobs at risk as car parts manufacturer Schaeffler shuts factories in Llanelli and Plymouth.
Tweet of the day
Johnny Mercer MP confirms the closure of a fifty year old factory employing 400 people in his constituency, because of Brexit. He's just one of the 650 MPs who will have a say on May's Brexit deal when it finally emerges. Write to yours HERE and encourage them to support a People's Vote.
Momentum building up to People’s Vote?
92% of Momentum members surveyed want Labour MPs to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal if it fails Labour’s six tests, according to a consultation by the group. It’s great news that the organisation, which represents the base of Jeremy Corbyn’s support, will be campaigning for Labour MPs to oppose May’s miserable Brexit. Labour still wants a general election. But that looks much less likely than getting a People’s Vote if Brexit hits deadlock in Parliament.
Momentum members are supportive of a People’s Vote by a margin of almost four to one. Labour voters and Labour MPs should unite against a bad Brexit and work to give people the democratic voice they deserve.
Quote of the Day
“It is not in the national interest to slip through the back door a Tory Brexit that will destroy our communities and crash the economy. Propping up a destructive Tory deal will be Kryptonite to Labour members, and any Labour MP who votes with the government will have a hard time explaining themselves back in their constituencies.”
Momentum spokesperson Becky Boumelha
Tweet of the Day 2
More Brexit news…
Nathan Boroda: Labour Has No Reason To Fear A Backlash From Supporting A Second Vote (HuffPost)
Robert Peston: 'Huge obstacles' still in way of Brexit deal (ITV)
Today, Wednesday 7th November
|-||Parliament in recess|
|-||EU27 ambassadors meet to discuss Brexit negotiations|
Tomorrow, Thursday 8th November
|-||Parliament in recess|
|09.30||ONS: Annual Business Survey, UK non-financial business economy|