If MPs can find a consensus on Brexit, May must accept it to finally end the chaos

With parliament now embarking on finding out if some kind of consensus can be found on what, if any, kind of Brexit the UK has, and with time of the essence, will this process find a way out of the impasse?

The first thing to be said, is that this is a long overdue exercise. The idea of MPs having ‘indicative votes’ has been kicking around for several months now, but has been blocked by the government. At last enough MPs were brave enough to at least try, by voting on Monday to bundle the government out of the way. The government has failed abysmally to come up with a solution that commands a majority in the House of Commons, so they have no call for complaint really.

It is likely, that if this process can indicate a majority for anything, it will be for a ‘soft’ Brexit of some sort. It is the nature of coming to a consensus that movement is made towards the center by the participants, you might not get all you want, but you get something of what you want. A softer Brexit fits that bill, since there does appear to be a majority in parliament against leaving the European Union (EU), without any deal, and probably not enough for re-run of the referendum.

It is still possible that the Prime Minister’s deal will be passed this week, especially if she offers to resign soon, as many hard line Brexiter’s may fear something much softer, and worse in their view, will be emerge from the indicative voting process. If Theresa May’s deal is not passed though, what kind of softer Brexit has a chance of gaining the support of a majority of MPs?

It is likely to look something like Labour’s plan, which in outline would include a customs union with the EU and a ‘close relationship’ with the single market. The EU has made encouraging noises about Labour’s plan, so it is not some pie in the sky type plan which has been repeatedly rejected by the bloc, like the plans of the hard Brexiters. It looks to be a serious proposal, with a good chance of being accepted on the continent.

The problem is, it wears a red rosette, so many Tory MPs may find it unpalatable, humiliating even, to support it. So it will probably stand more chance if it is labelled as something else. It seems to me to be not that far away from what has been called in the past, ‘Norway plus’ or more recently, ‘Common Market 2.’ This plan has the great advantage of being pretty much off the shelf, and with time so short, should not need to take much negotiation. It also solves the problem of what our future relationship with the EU will be, rather than the ‘blind’ option of the Prime Minister’s deal.

What this means in practice is joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and or joining the European Economic Area (EEA), or replicating these arrangements in some sort of bespoke agreement. The UK was a founding member of EFTA in 1960, in what could be viewed as an alternative to the EU (then Common Market) at the time, as France barred our admission to that organization.

It is basically a free trade agreement between member states and with the EU. Other member states are Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein. ETFA states are not in the Common Agriculture Policy or the Common Fisheries Policy. EFTA states are allowed to conclude trade deals with ‘third party’ states.

The EEA which began in 1994 allows EFTA states to participate in the EU single market, whilst financially contributing to the EU. It includes the four freedoms (the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital), as well as competition and state aid rules. It also includes so-called “horizontal policies”, such as consumer protection, company law, environment, gender equality, health and safety and employment law. Switzerland is a member of EFTA, but not the EEA and has separate bi-lateral agreements with EU on trade and some other matters.  

This type of arrangement will not please everyone, it allows freedom of movement, but also allows for an ‘emergency break’ on immigration. It does mean contributing to the EU budget, although likely a lower amount than now, and does means not having a full say on EU policies, but does allow for consultation on changes to policy.

EFTA has its own court too, which settles disputes between members and the EU, but it does take into account ECJ judgements. One thing that can’t be taken for granted is EFTA/EEA states not wanting the UK to join. At the moment EFTA/EEA members have a combined population of only 14 million people, so a country the size of the UK joining, with a 65 million population, could well unbalance the organization. So, maybe a bespoke version of these agreements is a better option.

It seems to me there is deal in there somewhere that could command a majority in the UK parliament. If this turns out to be the case, the British government should take it. It could be put to a referendum, with Remain as the other option. Everyone has had enough of this Brexit pantomime now, and there are much more important issues to address domestically. It is time we moved on, in a sensible way, and not waste the next five to ten years negotiating what our future relationship will be with the EU.      

May will allegedly quit if ERG vote for her third meaningful vote

A “reliable” source has told ITV Political correspondent Robert Peston that Theresa May has assured the European Research Group, and a number of other Politicians, that she will quit her post as Prime Minister if they vote for her third meaningful vote, which is theorised to be put forward to Parliament on Tuesday with revisions.

A source has told ITV that Theresa May has contacted Boris Johnson, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Steve Baker, Jacob Rees Mogg, and the Chequers that she will resign as Prime Minister if they vote for her deal, including the controversial backstop arrangement.

The promise allegedly came in a meeting with the Chequers today, following an emergency cabinet meeting this morning.

Theresa May’s Brexit Deal is due to be pushed through Parliament for a third time this week, after the deal was set back by John Bercow last week for being too similar to her second deal, citing a law from 1604 that stopped the same policy being voted on by Parliament in the same sitting.

It is believed that even if the ploy manages to attracted the loyalty of the ERP, the full support of the DUP and even most, if not all, of her own Party’s MPs, the deal will still not pass through parliament.

It is also believed that May will seek to hold a third meaningful vote on her Brexit deal on Tuesday in a final attempt to have her deal passed through Parliament before the withdrawal deadline on the 28th of March.

Speaker denies May a third meaningful vote on Brexit Deal

The speaker of the house, John Bercow, has denied Theresa May a third vote on her Brexit Deal without changes to her Motion, it has been revealed today.

Bercow has stated that he will not allow a third vote on a motion that was described as “substantially the same” motion that MPs rejected last week.

The Speaker has cited a parliamentary law, created in 1604, that a defeated motion is not allowed by be brought back to be discussed and voted for in parliament during the course of the same parliamentary session.

Bercow had previously called the second vote on May’s deal as different enough to be “in order”, but that further motions must be different enough to be classified as a new motion.

The announcement comes following another round of humiliating votes in parliament against the current Government, with the Conservative Party whipping MPs against a motion the Party itself had put forward for a vote, with MPs eventually deciding overwhelmingly to delay Brexit past the March 29th deadline for Article 50 if a deal cannot be agreed to before then.

Bercow’s statement comes as another setback among many for May’s Brexit Deal, which must now be agreed to by the 29th of March to save another blow to the Government when it will be obligated to ask the European Union for an extension to Article 50.

There are a number of theoretically possible ways to move around the denial by the Speaker of the House, and the former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, suggested that a substantial difference to the Deal could be to ask Parliament to also vote for putting the deal to a referendum. Another possibility would be to change the Parliament, calling a full general election and possibly changing the Speak of the House role itself, a position John Bercow has held for almost 10 years.

The Independent Group: What a Stupid Idea.

It’s safe to say not much has happened since the formation of The Independent Group.

Just what have they done? Well, I’m going to give my opinion on each stage of their formation and what they have done since. Let’s begin, shall we?

 

Leaving the Labour Party:

As we all know, The Independent Group (TIG) formed after 7 Labour MP’s split from the party, citing Antisemitism and institutional racism as their reasons for leaving the party. There are some fundamental issues with this, first of them being that by leaving the Labour Party, they ensure an extended period of Tory rule. Let’s have some backstory.

The English media are some of the worst in the world. Antisemitism against the Labour Party, in particular, has taken over headlines across the country. This is problematic, and not for the reason you think. While it is true, the Labour Party do have an issue with antisemitism, the media continue to focus on it entirely. What you don’t hear about anymore, is Islamophobia.

Islamophobia and Antisemitism should bring about an equal concern, especially amongst the media, however, it doesn’t.  Muslims are repetitively and routinely harassed. As are Jews, but we never hear about it. Especially considering the party TIG are supporting, the Conservatives, could be argued as institutionally racist against Muslims.

Leaving the Labour Party was henceforth: STUPID

 

Forming an ‘Independent’ Group.

Look, we all know Chuka Umunna’s insane levels of narcissism will lead to him founding an official party of some kind, but the formation of an Independent Group truly is strange.

The hilarious part is, they’ve given each other roles. They’re literally pretending to be the opposition. It’s like when you’re on a mad one with your mates, and you’re so drunk you start pretending to run the country. It is truly amusing.

Chuka’s face when Gavin Shuker was announced as the group leader; priceless.

Luciana and Chuka could have just formed their own party, instead of creating an Independent Group and giving up the leadership and direction when they’re so hell-bent on having it. That really was: STUPID

 

Submitting their Second Referendum amendment.

Well, this one’s hilarious.

It takes an incredible amount of skill and talent to have Peoples Vote advise against voting for your own People’s Vote Amendment.

There’s not really much more to be said. The very organisation you’re pretending to represent just shot you down. Where do you go from there? Well, the answer is clear. Obscurity.

It’s so blatantly obvious that the only service TIG provides is to better it’s own MP’s political careers, oh, and to gain some clout in the process. STUPID.

 

TIG really are going to descend into a pit of nothingness.

 

Oh, and by the way, their Nando’s meal was great, it was a bit like the last supper, except everyone thought they were Jesus.

Editor & Writer: Samuel J. Booker

Samuel J. Booker is the Director of Social Media and Marketing at TPN. He edits and writes alongside his other duties, posts he has held since the beginning of 2019. At just 16 years of age, he has already founded a political youth movement and has high hopes for a future political career. He hopes to have a positive impact on the world through international communication and cooperation.

Commons votes to seek extension to Article 50

The House of Commons has passed a bill that seeks to extend Article 50 to give it more time to get a deal with the EU.

The bill passed with a majority of 210.

The bill hopes to secure an extension to Article 50 and therefore avoid a No Deal Brexit. The bill seeks to put May’s deal before the Commons again before March 20th, should it pass at the 3rd time of asking the UK would seek an extension till June 20th.

If May’s plan is voted down again the UK will need a legitimate reason accepted by the EU to extend Article 50 for a longer period. This will means the UK would need to take part in EU Parliamentary elections.



Without changes to the backstop May’s deal is unlikely to pass and should the bill pass tonight the UK would be left in the EU for the majority of 2019. While Donald Tusk has said he will “appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it,”.. It is clear the UK will need to rethink its strategy suggesting that May would need to drop some of her red lines or head back to the people in one form or the other. Some Brexiteers have suggested they will lobby EU head of state’s to veto such an extension to force no deal.

Benn’s amendment that would have seen the Commons take control of Brexit briefly to host so-called “indicative votes” that would give MPs an idea which deals have the chance of making it through Parliament was defeated by 2 votes. However, The government announced it will hold “indicative votes” should a long extension be secured.

Grave Grayling error costs the taxpayer £33 Million

The breaking news this morning is that Chris Grayling’s Department for Transport has reached a settlement for £33 million with Eurotunnel. It comes after the Transport Secretary awarded contracts un-competitively to Eurotunnel’s rivals. The company threatened to sue the department if it went ahead as planned.

Last year, Eurotunnel transported nearly 1.7 million trucks in 2018 and ran over 2,077 freight train services.

Chris Grayling had the following to say:


“While it is disappointing that Eurotunnel chose to take legal action on contracts in place to ensure the smooth supply of vital medicines, I am pleased that this agreement will ensure the Channel tunnel is ready for a post-Brexit world,”

Guardian

Just last month Seaborne Freight’s contract was cancelled after the Department agreed a £14 million deal to run medical supplies from Ramsgate to Belgium in the case of no-deal. Seaborne Freight had no ferries and Ramsgate port was not fit to run ferries, after a deal with the council to dredge the port fell through at the 11th hour.

Eurotunnel contended that the tender process was illegal in the case that was brought to the high court.

‘Ending part-privatisation of probation services will cost at least £171 million.’

It can also be revealed that Grayling’s failed part-privatisation of the probation service has been strongly criticsed by the National Audit Office.

As supervision by probation has been extended to those serving under 12 months, the number of recalls to prison has increased by 47%.

By March 2018, CRCs faced collective losses of £294 million over the life of the contracts, compared to expected profits of £269 million, increasing the risk of providers withdrawing services, performance deteriorating further and potentially multiple providers becoming insolvent.

National Audit Office

Amyas Morse has been deeply sceptical of the part-privatisation, citing that the reforms have failed to meet most targets, are sub-standard and have been extremely costly for taxpayers. He added that the ministry had set itself up to fail.

Analysis by Deputy Editor in Chief – Seb Chromiak

It is rye time to call another vote of No Confidence in the Transport Secretary, and it is quite frankly shameful that a Government that sacks a minister over an amendment that is Government policy allows (in the same week) Chris Grayling to survive.

What the man must do in order to receive his P45 I dare not speculate. It is a reflection on a prime minister that is incapable of leadership and effective government, the comments from the NOA say as much. Ladies and Gentlemen this is the new normal, Government officials that are said to represent a party that is efficient in its spending throwing away cash left, right and centre as we pick up the pieces.

Nevertheless it does quite literally beggar belief. I have wrote on the Secretary before and I stand by my comments, though many of his colleagues have attempted, there has been no minister less apt for public office in modern history. Countless damning reports, under his stewardship we saw the transport network come to its knees. The latest two cases add to a resume that is stacked with embarrassment.

This is 2019, this is the new normal, worse still I fear that the worst is yet to come.

Seb Chromiak is Deputy Editor in Chief at TPN and studies at the University of Manchester

Labour voters back move to support People’s Vote if Labour’s deal isn’t delivered

A recent poll has estimated Labour voters back Labour’s move to support a People’s Vote if they cannot get their own Brexit deal through Parliament. However, the majority of voters believe they were wrong to do so.

Labour voters backed the move 58/23 but when taking the whole electorate into consideration voters were 37/42 against. Voters below 50 also supported the move with 18-24s backing the move 47/31 and 24-49-year-olds backing it 43/28.

Only 64% of remainers endorse the move with leavers are against it 75/10. 12% of Conservative voters back the move and 63% of Liberal Democrats.

The worry for Labour is the regional balance of the support. Only voters living in Scotland and London support the move. With it being most unpopular in the Midlands and Wales, only 32% of voters backed the move from these regions.

Corbyn annouced on Monday that the Labour Party would back a second referendum Commons vote if the Party’s own alternative Brexit plan fails to get a majority vote on Wednesday, leaving the only other option for Brexit being a “damaging Tory Brexit”. However, the Party leader hasn’t included a possibility of a second referendum on the amendment to the Tory Brexit bill due to be released on Wednesday.

Corbyn has also confirmed that the party will support a cross-party amendment focused on ruling out the possibility of the United kingdom leaving the European Union under a no-deal scenario.

David Lammy, prolific supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said in response to the Party’s move that it is “welcome news” that the Party will now “accept the principle of giving the public the final say on Brexit”.

However, an estimated 70 Labour MPs have stated that they would vote to stop a second referendum, highlighting the deep divides in the Party on the issue currently, leading many to speculate that the Labour Leader doesn’t intend to follow through with the promise, and is instead hoping that the amended deal is accepted by Parliament on Wednesday.

Jeremy Corbyn today wrote to Conservative and DUP MPs to urge them to support Labour’s amendment to make its credible alternative plan the UK’s Brexit negotiating position.

Chaos as Tory MP sacked hours after Home secretary backs his amendment

A new amendment tabled by Alberto Costa that seeks to guarantee EU citizens’ rights post Brexit has caused chaos within the Tory Party.

Theresa May originally described the amendment as unworkable but just hours later the Home Secretary said the party would be supporting it.

Alberto Costa was then sacked from his role as parliamentary private secretary to the Scottish secretary, David Mundell. It is unclear at present if the Tories will back the amendment.

Labour have announced they will back the amendment which already has the support of 130 MPs including 60 Tories, including some euro skeptics such as Jacob Rees Mogg.

The amendment seeks to guarantee the rights of all British nationals in the EU and EU nationals in the UK even in the event of a No Deal Brexit.
It calls on May to seek at “the earliest opportunity a joint UK-EU commitment to adopt part two of the withdrawal agreement on citizens’ rights and ensure its implementation prior to the UK’s exiting the European Union, whatever the outcome of negotiations on other aspects of the withdrawal agreement”.

“This is not about the single market or the customs union, this is about the rights of innocent people, most of whom did not have a say in the referendum, including British nationals in the EU,”

Alberto Costa

Despite Costa being sacked, Sajid Javid said there was “nothing wrong” with the amendment and believed the government had been supporting it from the start.

“I’m perfectly happy with that amendment. What Mr Costa is doing with this amendment is trying to find more ways for parliament to give that reassurance, This is a backbench amendment and the government supports the amendment in that it sets out to achieve the principles we all agree on.”

Sajid Javid

As well as having Labour’s backing the amendment is backed by prominent MPs such as Iain Duncan Smith, Dominic Raab, Nigel Evans, Zac Goldsmith, Craig Mackinlay, Anna Soubry and Justine Greening.

If put to a vote the amendment is expected to pass comfortably.

Diane Abbott MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, commenting on the sacking of Conservative MP Alberto Costa, said:

“The sacking of Alberto Costa for supporting citizens’ rights prolongs the anxiety and uncertainty that over 5 million people have faced for two and a half years. Alberto Costa’s amendment was a sensible measure trying to protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK and our own British citizens in the EU.”