13 DEC 2018

Brexit Update 8.45am

Last night's confidence vote has clearly demonstrated that there is no majority in the Conservative Party in the Commons, let alone across Parliament, for the hard Brexiteer's vision of Brexit. I supported the PM in last night's vote. The inescapable truth is that the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework will not pass the Commons either but it is the only realistic negotiated version of Brexit. We have reached deadlock and sooner or later the PM will have to take her deal direct to the people or risk us crashing out in a chaotic Brexit with inadequate transition arrangements in place. Britain is woefully unprepared for that and no responsible government could allow that to happen.

This whole episode was unwelcome and unnecessary but at least we will all be spared the weekly threats of the '48' letters for at least a year and the PM should now stop trying to appease the right wing of the Party.

32 comments

Wholly and completely agree. Coming from someone who would rather a full leave or remain choice. Too many people on here protecting their personal view at all cists rather than what is good for the country and miilions of YOUNGER generation who will be deeply affected by thus. Why are some so desperate to avoid a 2nd referendum? What are you worried about?
- David R

We voted for Brexit, not Brino ( Brexit in name only) and that's why so called Brexiteers are angry. The referendum result could not be clearer. What we have now is a disfunctional parliament full of remain voting MPs that are refusing to deliver what people have democratically voted for. When this is all finally sorted out we need a root and branch reform of parliament as it is clearly not fit for purpose. This is a democracy that is no longer democratic.
- David H

More weasel words Sarah. Brexit is Brexit as stated at the Referendum, neither soft or hard. The fact that MPs will not honour their pledge in the manifesto or their duty to the electorate does not justify their actions; it shows a disconnect.
- John

Parliament is full of people who realise the brexit will make us poorer and that no deal will make us a lot poorer. I don't blame them for trying to prevent this. As is plain from the events of the last few days, the hard brexiters have no loyalty to anything except their own ideology. Ask yourself what this very rich club want to gain from brexit. The removal of regulation for environmental, food safety, workers protection. The fact that millions of peoples jobs depend upon the free movement of goods across EU borders means nothing to them.
- Bob

When May steps aside, the next leader elected by the membership will be a Brexiteer. The 48 are well placed to control the future. Sarah you should join the Lib Dems. You'll feel more at home there.
- George, Paignton

So the member for the 18th century will control the future! He will have to find it first
- Bob

The Luddite Dad's Army buffoons were seen off in fine style. May cannot now be challenged for a year. If she has any forethought, intelligence, or nouse ( which I doubt) she should change direction, sweep out the deadwood in her cabinet like Fox and Loathsome, and bring in some younger blood. She could do this now before her deal comes back to the Commons. To reach out and get anybody decent on board she would have to commit to a 2nd referendum. To deny us a 2nd referendum is a denial of democracy and justice. Meanwhile she could loose a confidence vote, as the Members have lost confidence in her ability to govern, her authority has utterly evaporated and the ERG group are fuming.
- Richard

Yes Richard, leaving the silly name calling aside, she could do all you suggest. I suppose this would show some degree of strength I guess. However, judging by the comments on the blogs on this page, this is likely to consign the Tory Party (or possibly Parties as over a third voted against the leader) to the wilderness for many years to come leaving a Corbyn Government. It could be worse, I guess – not sure how! I just can’t understand how a second referendum will change anything – unless everyone suddenly ‘sees the light’, converts and decides they want to Remain. How likely is that? Here’s a novel idea – why can’t we all just get behind the original referendum and get on with it wherever that might lead! Once the uncertainty is removed, we can all get on with making it work and business can get on with doing business!
- Patrick, Brixham

I am not against a second referendum - bearing in mind the number of people who must have been misled by the campaign on the red bus, it seems the right thing to do. However, if we are going to go ahead with Brexit, the big problem seems to be the Irish border. I have heard lots of talk about following the Norway model, but no one has mentioned Switzerland. As far as I know the Swiss border is fairly 'soft'. Would this be a model to follow?
- Jeremy

It doesn't need everyone to see the light, don't forget leave won by quite a small margin. Polls are already suggesting that a referendum run today would give remain the edge. Why else are the leavers so scared of another vote. Cameron only called the referendum to stop the exodus of tory voters to ukip and to stop the party losing power. He never wanted it, and never expected to lose.
- Bob

As I previously said - So, we have a ‘Peoples Vote’ and Remain win by say 52 to 48%. Now we have nearly half of the electorate feeling cut off and ignored. What do they do? They can no longer vote for their current MP who they will see as failing them. So in this vacuum, the electorate turns to the extreme (left or right) to protest – there are already parties here in the UK looking to exploit this. This is the lesson from history. Let's say Leave wins - then how will the be any more accepted than the last time? Not scared of another vote (even though the question may be set to ensure we get the correct answer) - just sure that it won't actually change anything and worried of where it will lead and the impact on democracy.
- Patrick, Brixham

The 48% feel cut off and ignored now. I can see that some people will be tempted by extremists, but most people in this country struggle to get out to vote anyway. Even the referendum turnout was only about 70%, so almost 13,000,000 couldn't be bothered. The % who voted leave was about 37 The main argument for another vote is to set a way forward. May's deal, no deal, some other sort of deal or remain with the deal we have now.
- Bob

Bob you lost. The referendum was a clear choice and the minority were not going to get their choice. You would not have given a damn for Leavers if the public had voted Remain. Now I'm expected to care for your views? Cry me a river. The turnout was anybody eligible who could be bothered to vote. You have no idea of the views of those who did not vote, just as you have no idea of the views of people too young to vote. You won't be getting another vote so get over it and stop your moaning.
- George, Paignton

So, now it is time to do what we voted for and leave the EU. I voted and expected parliament to work together to deliver, after all both main parties stood on a manifesto to leave. It is not my fault you did not work to leave with treaties to enable a smooth transition.. Your fault as a politician, not mine for voting as I have wanted to for all my adult life in the only vote where my vote actually counted.
- Giles, Paignton

George. With due respect, at the last referendum there was widespread deceit and outright lies. The bigger the whopper the more it was believed. The Leave side produced no prospectus. Now we have the prospectus and voters can make an informed judgement. And why deny the people the right to change their minds? May was elected Leader 2 years ago, but the ERG group called an election as they changed their minds. The duped DUP have changed their minds. Why can't the opportunity be offered to the electorate in a referendum? Sarah is absolutely correct. You will thank her in the end for having the courage to stand up for her beliefs.
- Richard

Remain told lies about plans for common European Foreign and Defence policy. All political campaigns have lies. That's part of the deal. You have to judge their credibility and decide. People did. You lost. As for a prospectus. Well they weren't the government. How would you propose they enacted their prospectus. In terms of change. The only person who has changed their mind in these two years is May. Read the Lancaster House Speech and then look at current policy. The ERG and the DUP have been entirely consistent. May has broken clear promises, and it's right that 2/3 of the non-payroll Tory MPs declared no confidence. If she had any pride she'd have gone to the Queen. The people do of course have the right to change their minds, as they changed their minds after 1975. Get a political party to promise a referendum in their manifesto, win a majority, put a vote to the people and win a majority. Good luck with that, it took Leave 41 years. I'm sure British people will be queueing up for Schengen, the Euro and a federal Europe(!). The only thanks Wollaston will get from me is being deselected.
- George, Paignton

One final question on the “Peoples Vote”. Maybe someone can answer this – maybe even our MP? Can someone please, please tell me how it is democratic to have a referendum with the 2 questions as advocated by our MP (if you haven’t read the piece on PoliticsHome that Dr Wollaston wrote and tweeted about yesterday, please do – it is very illuminating) – i.e. “…take her (i.e. Mrs Mays) deal direct to the people with the simple question, is this the Brexit you voted for or would you rather remain?”. The deal has clearly been dismissed as a real option and will be voted down in Parliament (including by our MP) should the vote happen. Why present this option to the People? This is exactly why I don’t trust a second referendum – where is the real Leave option? Read on in the piece mentioned above – we have Conservative MP looking to the Labour Front Bench for support. If I had wanted Labour to be driving this, I would have voted Labour. Oh to have a true Conservative MP to represent true Tory values. I give up with Politics and will just get back to running my business!
- Patrick, Brixham

Patrick, in a democracy you have to put your faith in Joe Public. Joe is actually quite astute and wouldn't be dumb enough to vote Leave again, now knowing the full consequences. Hence the Brexiteers resistance to another vote, and that includes Corbyn. And the youth will show up to vote this time. I would expect a very high turnout, and a substantial majority to stay. (in Quebec turnout for the 2nd referendum in 1995 was 93%)
- Richard

The conservative party needs to unite in the face of total disrespect and aggression from the EU. They are exploiting the disunity caused by remainers and unless the Goverment is prepared to walk away there will not be any change in the backstop that everyone hates and insists on changing. The EU MUST be given an ultimatum asap. It is the current withdrawal deal, minus the backstop, or no deal and a WTO trading relationship until a future trade deal is agreed. Given the weak state of the the EU and the French and German economies it is blatantly obvious they would HAVE to accept the need for change as they would LOSE a guaranteed £39 billion pounds from the UK causing an even greater rise in membership costs. Come on British polititians, even at this late hour it is time to unite in the NATIONAL INTEREST instead of pursuing your own selfish wishes and desires.
- David H

Richard. I agree partly with your points but you kind of missed my main point entirely. Yes – given the options I outlined above and advocated by our MP, of course Remain will win because there is no real alternative. Given a real choice (Leave or Stay), I still believe it will be very close and could go either way and won’t really solve anything – but our politicians are not going to let that happen again are they? By the way, I don't believe Leave voters were "dumb" the first time or for that matter the Remain voters - people on both sides have their own reasons/beliefs for voting the way they did and I respect this entirely.
- Patrick, Brixham

Ok then George, what should we do about leaving the EU May's deal or no deal?
- Bob

I am quite happy to cooperate with the states of Europe who are our neighbours. That they do not have the guts to leave the EU Kleptocracy is a genuine sadness for me when I respect their cultures so much. I doubt that there is much to be agreed with the EU and the Commission, which are thoroughly nasty and undemocratic institutions bent on punishing the people of the UK for having the audacity to vote to leave. I would offer a comprehensive trade deal along the lines of the Canada deal. No payments to the EU. No role for ECJ, which is a foreign court and can never overrule our own courts if we are to be a free nation. No backstop which is an affront for any democratic and free nation. The UK will be asserting control over its border like any other free nation. Leaving the panoply of EU apparatus was implicit in the people's decision to leave the EU. We should negotiate a sensible arrangement with the Irish Republic to deal with our common land border...a relationship not based on the current threats from the ROI and the EU27. If these terms are not acceptable to Juncker, Tusk and Barnier...and given that they are determined to punish the UK Versailles-style "pour encourager les autres", I realise that it is unacceptable...then we leave on WTO terms, the same terms that happily govern 60% and rising of our global trade with the other 93% of the world's people.
- George, Paignton

There are two criticisms of “the only realistic negotiated version of Brexit”. First, it is tendentious & absurd, to say the least, to describe May’s WA as “realistic”, not least because Dr Wollaston herself concedes it will not pass Parliament. Her position is contradictory. It cannot be a “realistic” Brexit when so many, even in a remain-heavy HoC, will not give it time of day. Second, “negotiated”? Really? Theresa May might be the world’s worst negotiator, certainly at the level of Prime Ministership of a leading nation. In 2016 she scurried off to Brussels, rolled over, and offered £39 billion without conditions – thereby breaching one of negotiation’s fundamental rules. She is naïve, starry-eyed, weak, gauche and thoroughly hopeless, someone over-promoted way beyond her level of competence in a fit of madness by the shambolic Tory Party. I wouldn’t hire Mrs May to negotiate the purchase of a s/h car. Disappointing to see so many tired clichés trotted out here in the comments, e.g. assertions that “Brexit will make us poorer” suggest complete ignorance of England’s having existed 1000 years or so, mostly with very great success and becoming one of the wealthiest (for a while THE wealthiest) countries on earth, long before the EEC/EU was dreamed of – and a dismal pessimism about our national qualities, proven time and again. “Luddite Dad's Army buffoons” is all too typical of the crass smears levelled by people apparently unaware of the contradiction in their cleaving to a centralised, heavily bureaucratic, undemocratic, protectionist E with a sclerotic economy – Tim Wallace in the DT Business section Friday: “Growth in the eurozone has almost completely disappeared as businesses reported the weakest expansion in four years…The influential purchasing managers’ index (PMI) survey of businesses slid to 51.3 for the eurozone, 52.2 in Germany and 49.3 in France….growth will barely recover from the disappointing 0.2pc expansion in GDP in the third quarter of the year, and could worsen into 2019…The surveys point to quarterly GDP growth momentum slipping closer to 0.1pc in December alone…that demand growth is stalling, adding to downside risks to the immediate outlook.” And let’s not mention the ECB/Euro, re especially Greece and Italy… I am deeply disappointed with Dr Wollaston - as, I gather, are more than a few people in her constituency.
- Tony, Totnes

Do you really think that all that can be done by the end of March? No deal then and all the chaos that will come with it.
- Bob

Yes we were the richest nation on Earth. But we did it by making the majority of the people work themselves to death in terrible conditions. Hang on a mo, that's what the brexiteers want isn't it.
- Bob

"Do you really think that all that can be done by the end of March? No deal then and all the chaos that will come with it". It certainly won't be done by the end of March next year. It might have been difficult to do even if we'd pursued a proper negotiating strategy, not the kind of doom laden timidity that seems to chime with so much of your sentiments. I doubt the EU is the kind of organisation that lets countries walk away without trying to cripple it. As JRM said after the vote, do we really want to be forced to stay as a member of a club just because they threaten to kneecap you if you leave. And we don't accept that No Deal means chaos. It is convenient for you and so much of the establishment to argue such a thing, since it reinforced your view. But such points were made before the vote in 2016. One Treasury estimate said that 500k jobs would go even if we VOTED to leave. That was shortly before UK unemployment hit a 45 year low. The truth is that people didn't believe these lies then and they don't believe them now. People advocating a second vote just show themselves for bad losers and deserve to be ignored or ridiculed.
- George, Paignton

Yes let's ridicule those looking for a second referendum. A certain Boris Johnson did just that in 2016. A point about UK unemployment being at it's 45 year low. If you have a job on a fixed hours contract that gives you 30 MINUTES work a week then you are counted to be employed. Talk about massaging the data. Now JRM may be able to survive on 2 hours pay per month, but a worker at Toyota in Derby wouldn't. As for chaos, if it will all be fine, why is the government looking to charter planes to fly medication into the country. And for your information, I am not a bad loser, but I do want to see my country continue to prosper which it has quite well since we joined the EU. Remember our name in the 1970's - The sick man of Europe
- Bob

To those that don't read the Guardian there is an excellent piece written by Andrew Rawnsley on the deadly state of British politics https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/16/failed-by-both-major-parties-betrayed-britain-lurches-towards-the-abyss
- Richard

Bob, I can't argue for ever with you on this subject (mainly because the British people have already made a judgement on all the issues we are discussing), so this will be my last reply. 1 Facts. According to the ONS, only 1.4% of people in the UK classed as employed work six or fewer hours a week. Many because they want to work light hours. This figure is lower than the year 2000 (1.8%). There has been no explosion in this form of employment, contrary to arguments regularly made in the media. Your attempt to "massage data" to pretend that the EU is good for job is apparent for all to see. 2 I cannot say why our government is doing anything. They bewilder me. I suspect they are planning for No Deal, and certainly hope they are. Would you advocate they shouldn't bother? So the EU is going to stop selling us drugs? Really? How would that even work? Presumably we can purchase whatever we choose. I think you are working off assumptions that the UK would choose to impose tariffs and checks on EU products at 11pm on 29 March. Won't happen. We'll buy whatever we need. This argument is a fairly transparent attempt to scare people. Such tactics failed in June 2016...why would you think they work now? 3 Your description of the UK in the 1970s. Couldn't agree more. The UK remained an economic basket case until the early 1980, when Margaret Thatcher's supply side reforms bore fruit. Our economic rise has little to do with our trade with Europe. In any case, during our EEC/EC/EU membership, global tariffs have fallen and continue to fall. Why can't you just accept that people voted to Leave the EU, and that they were not stupid or misguided? Given that 52% voted Leave because they felt ignored by the political class, how do you think such an attitude helps resolve this basic and fundamental problem? If the political class treat the British public with such contempt on this issue and thwart the choice made by them, they'll have a lot more to worry about than trade dislocation. This issue is now more important than our relationship with the declining and failing EU. It is about whether the British people have the right to make their own decisions. We'll wait and see with interest. Regards.
- George, Paignton

George – some excellent points there – I wasn’t going to comment further either but I saw this information which I thought might add some balance to the scare stories – it is a long but very informative read – see https://brexitcentral.com/plea-pm-leave-supporting-businessperson-stop-scare-stories-embrace-sovereign-brexit/ Also, @sarahwollaston Tweet 17/12 – “What undermines democracy is to push through a deal which is hated by both the 48% who didn’t want to leave & the loudest campaigners for Leave. Clearly no majority.” Contrast this with the previously mentioned PoliticsHome story by the same “could and should take her deal direct to the people with the simple question, is this the Brexit you voted for or would you rather remain with the deal we already have?” As I said before, how is democracy served by having an option which was defeated in the first referendum and another (as our MP has pointed about above) has already been dismissed by the majority whilst at the same time having no true ‘Leave’ option which was carried by the majority in the first referendum?
- Patrick, Brixham

Another important News story to add some balance to the argument - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-to-remain-in-common-transit-convention-after-brexit - can't think why the BBC etc. haven't picked up on this?
- Patrick, Brixham

We’ve reached the point where only four diagnoses are now left. The prime minister is in a delusional, psychotic state and is in urgent need of help. Or the prime minister is focused purely on her own short-term survival: even she can’t be so far gone as to believe she has a long-term future. Or the prime minister is a sleeper agent for a hostile government committed to the destruction of the UK. Or the prime minister is totally incompetent. John Gace 18h Dec 2018 Guardian
- Richard

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