Has the death of May’s deal paved the way for a new Brexit approach?

It really is ironic, isn’t it? Despite a third successive Brexit defeat for Theresa May, it seems the fallout has at last paved the way for an alternative approach to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Friday’s Commons defeat was smaller than those which had come before it on 15 January and 12 March – the majority against Mrs May was 58 rather than 230 and 149. The vote was also confined to the so-called ‘Divorce’ rather than extending to the crucial political declaration. But, even so, the verdict was clear- the vote in its current form is dead and buried.

Given that her deal was likely to lose for a third time, the question has to be asked: why did the prime minister so willingly invite her own humiliation? For a prime minister who, since taking office has faced 35 cabinet resignations, conventional wisdom would surely prevent her from inflicting any more embarrassment upon her stricken premiership.

There are a host of reasons. Her obdurate character, her inept strategy and the seeping political authority. However, perhaps the most crucial reason was to appease the various party wings, and indeed the country, by showing that some kind of Brexit was on the road. But her systematic misjudgements and succumbing to partisanship meant she was unable to meet the deadline of leaving the EU in what she called “an orderly fashion” by 29 March. The prime minister was clearly trying to demonstrate to leave voters that it was everyone else apart from her that was getting in the way of Brexit. Indeed, Mrs May has, throughout the process, tried to turn the spotlight of blame on Labour. But they owed her nothing.

According to Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, the reason for May trying again was purely a matter of procedure. The prime minister needed to get the deal through so that the latest Brexit deadline could be moved back from 12 April to 22 May which, in theory, would allow Parliament to force through the final furlong of withdrawal legislation and avoid the European parliament elections.

But the PM had more political reasons too. The revolt of MPs last Monday, in which they took control of the parliamentary timetable, opened the possibility that opposition MPs and pro-European Tories might force a soft-Brexit. Many panicked at this prospect, and with Mrs May promising to stand down if her deal was voted through, more than 40 MPs supported a deal they had once fiercely criticised. Even so, it was all to no avail, yet Downing Street seems to suggest that it can rely on those switchers in order to make things easier for the deal if May tries a fourth time.

But a fourth vote would be nonsensical. Instead, Mrs May’s defeat clears the way for an alternative approach. Indeed, this week’s indicative votes – whilst not producing an outright majority – proved that there is a majority for a customs union-orientated solution. With Theresa May having now extended the olive branch to Jeremy Corbyn in order to find common ground, the prospect of either a customs union or second referendum on the final deal are very much in play.

If the Commons can rally behind these then the EU summit – which commences on 10 April – can be asked to give the UK an extension of article 50 to formulate a different form of a withdrawal deal, potentially with a public vote at the end.

Whatever happens in the short-term, maybe, just maybe, Theresa May has kicked the can hard enough to create space for a belated, but much-needed compromise.

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.

UK will lose £800 billion in financial assets because of Brexit, report estimates

A report by the New Financial Group released today has identified 275 banking and finance firms that have moved or are in the process of moving staff or assets away from UK jurisdictions into European Union countries.

It was found that 250 firms have chosen a specific “post-Brexit hub” for business to the European Union, and 210 are setting up new corporate and legal entities in the European Union to manage business into the Nation Block.

Estimates have predicted that investment firms and banks will relocate around £800 billion in assets, and a further £65 billion in direct funds, to financial centres outside the United Kingdom either during or after a Brexit deal has been finalised and enacted.

The New Financial Group has presented a vastly different overview of the financial landscape originally predicted in past reports, with more than 40 firms moving assets to more than one city within the EU.

The report has also highlighted the top 5 EU cities benefiting from the relocation through added business traffic, with Dublin being seeing the largest economic benefits with over 100 firms relocating assets into the city- around 30% of all the asset migration identified by the New Financial Group.

This is followed by several mainland European cities including Luxembourg, Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam, all seeing at least 30 firms relocating assets or staff to each city.

The report has also shown different migratory patterns for different financial sectors, with the majority of hedge funds and private equity firms moving to Dublin, and almost 90% of the assets being moved to Frankfurt are from investment banks.  

The predictions outlined in the report have also been theorised to only increase in the future as the deadline for Brexit draws closer. Local regulators within the European Union may require firms to increase local operations in European financial centres following the United Kingdom’s formal exit from the Union, and as the final Brexit deal changes more businesses may be required to move assets into European Union jurisdiction to keep unrestricted access to the free market.

In the financial banking industry, the majority of the damage incurred from Brexit occurred between the immediate economic fallout from the aftermath of the Brexit Referendum in 2016 and last year, when it was realised that the final Brexit deal would put the United Kingdom at a significant economic disadvantage on the international stage in the field of investment banking security. Many investment firms have already pulled out the majority of their assets where possible into more stable markets as economic uncertainty becomes more prominent in British finance. It would be an accurate prediction to estimate that firms will not relocate back into the United Kingdom until the economic uncertainty and fallout from the formal Brexit process due to begin later this month has settled and British markets have regained a relative state of consistency. Whether this will take a few years, or several decades, is something as of yet to be predicted.

May’s additional funds to entice MPs to support Brexit could breach Bribery Laws

Theresa May has announced plans to use £1.6 billion to boost economic growth in communities and appears to target communities who’s MPs support her new withdrawal deal.

The announcement was part of the ‘Stronger Towns Fund’, which is believed to be directed towards MPs in current Labour strongholds in under-funded Northern cities and urban centres.

The plans will also see the new funding only being allocated to English communities, and there are currently no plans for similar initiatives in other UK regions.

Recently, it was found that new changes to government local council funding will reroute funds from predominantly Labour-supporting metropolitan centres to rural communities after relative poverty was taken out of the equation used to allocate funding to councils.

Secretary of State for Communities, James Brokenshire, however, has stated that the money is not linked to the outcome of the withdrawal agreement vote scheduled for the 12th of March, and that the funding will be allocated to Brexit-backing communities regardless of which deal is passed through parliament in the coming weeks.

The Labour Party Chancellor, John McDonnell, has called the plans “bribery” and Lord Thomas QC, the representative for Gresford in the house of Lords, has mentioned that the Prime Minister’s plans could be in conflict with the law.

Lord Thomas currently serves as a member or the Queen’s Counsel, the highest honour given to a law practitioner in the United Kingdom.

The plans may be in breach of section 1 of the Bribery Act 2010, which posits that any Minister who attempts to use a political or financial advantage to an MP in order to disrupt their ability to give a fair and impartial vote in Parliament.

Any MP who accepts May’s deal may also potentially be committing a crime, as Section 2 of the Bribery Act 2010 states that receiving this advantage, and intending to act on it, breaches the law.

The funding will be scheduled to last until 2026, equating to around £320 million a year, with the money being divided by region.

Jeremy Corbyn Must Back the Kyle/Wilson Amendment

Labour MP’s Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson may just have handed the government an answer as to break the Brexit deadlock. Their amendment (which proposes that MP’s support Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement on the condition that it is then put to a public vote) has been growing in popularity recently, gaining the backing of several senior MP’s; most notably John McDonnell who endorsed it as a  possible “solution” to the Brexit stalemate.

The proposed amendment has a clear aim: to break the Brexit impasse by delivering a legally binding answer to the Brexit question; one which has the support of both Parliament and the people in what Peter Kyle describes as a “double lock”.

The Brexit checkmate, which has driven Britain to the brink of a No-Deal crisis, needs to be resolved as soon as possible. The only way it is going to be resolved, however, is through compromise and unity. Both Labour and the Conservatives have opposed each other every step of the way during the negotiation period and for far too long have been fighting internal battles rather than dealing with the crisis cooperatively.

In times of crisis, it is the duty of government to come together in the national interest. The Kyle/Wilson amendment offers them the chance to do just that.

It’s not perfect, it is a compromise. Corbyn and May must meet in the middle and seek to forge some sort of consensus.  In an ideal world, Labour would force a general election and deliver a workable Brexit. May would see her deal pass through the Commons with the support of the ERG. However, neither of these outcomes seems remotely possible; and Brexit Britain is far from ideal.

Perhaps this is the one admirable quality of the newly founded Independent Group: they recognise that Brexit is a unique moment in British political history and one which requires cooperation in place of division.   

Many Labour members (myself included) have been rightfully sceptical of the division and hostility which would accompany a second referendum, but the Kyle/Wilson amendment would not be a simple re-run of the 2016 referendum.

It is different in a number of crucial ways. As opposed the 2016 vote, the outcome of this “yes” or “no” vote will be clear and concise and have immediate ramifications; as opposed to a freestanding second referendum, the answer to which would provide more questions than it would answers. It is not a simple re-run where the first vote is disregarded; it is a reaction to two years of parliamentary proceedings which have left us with a clear choice: Theresa May’s deal or a No-Deal. There is no majority for either of these things, so the choice must be given back to the people.

Most importantly, the Kyle/Wilson amendment, if given Labour backing, has a significantly higher chance of passing through the Commons than a simple 2016 re-do would have.

The amendment offers Corbyn a lifeline at a time of crisis. Not only does this option give him the chance to appease MP’s and younger members campaigning for a People’s Vote, he also has the chance to reverse the worrying trend which has seen many Labour MP’s resign from the party. For right or wrong, Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit stance has been greatly criticised by certain groups of MP’s and by backing the Kyle/Wilson amendment, Corbyn can stem the flow of defectors which threatens to engulf him and the party into a full-blown crisis.

Importantly, the amendment offers Corbyn the chance to do all this while simultaneously avoiding casting Labour as the “Remain” party and the Tories as the “Brexit Party”. This would have no doubt lost him many voters. As reports have suggested, the motion has the support of many senior Tories and, should it pass, May too would be required to support a second vote.

The Kyle/Wilson agreement is unique in that it is a gamble for both May and Corbyn. They would be isolating minorities for the greater good. In accepting it they would be going against significant groupings in their respective parties – the ERG in the case of May and the Labour Brexiteers for Corbyn.

In this time of national crisis, the Kyle/Wilson amendment seems the least terrible option.

With little over a month remaining, we really are down to the wire. Labour must put their weight behind this motion and give the British people a chance to prevent Britain from crashing out of the EU without a deal.

Only Corbyn can Save Britain from a No Deal Brexit

In setting out Labour’s terms for backing Theresa May on Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn has done more to deliver Brexit than Theresa May has done for a whole two years in power. In a move Donald Tusk described as offering a “promising way out” of the current Brexit impasse, Corbyn has shown himself to be the only politician capable of saving Britain from crashing out of the EU without a deal.

Only Corbyn has shown the level of pragmatism and statesmanship necessary to deliver a Brexit which has the potential to get through Parliament. Unlike May, it is Corbyn who has recognised how Brexit requires compromise and cooperation between the country’s two biggest parties.

If Brexit has proved anything, it is that our country is divided. With little over a month left before we leave the EU with or without a deal, it is time for our politicians to come together for the sake of the country.

One clear quality which Corbyn possesses, and May severely lacks, is the ability to lead his party at a time of crisis. Having survived numerous leadership challenges and protests over the direction he was leading the party, Corbyn has proved much more resilient than many would have imagined when he came to power in 2015. He has secured support around his message of hope and managed to win over many skeptical voters.

Throughout the Brexit process, the People’s Vote brigade have been a constant thorn in his side. Despite this, Corbyn has stuck to his guns, signalling his intent to secure a workable Brexit for the country and deliver on the promises he made in the General Election campaign of 2017.

May, on the other hand, continues to believe in her make-believe fantasy that she can secure a deal that satisfies both the extreme and moderate wings of her party. In doing so, May is prepared to plunge the country into an unprecedented crisis to save her skin. She is surviving, but by no means thriving and she is taking the country down with her.

Like a child who has left all her homework from the week until Sunday evening, Theresa May’s insistence on renegotiating an un-negotiable deal instead of seeking to form any kind of cross party consensus is sure to result in the UK being cast into the infinite detention that is a No-Deal Brexit.

Brexit is a national emergency and one which requires compromise.

Corbyn has done his part, it is now time for May to decide where her loyalties really lie: with the MPs who are anxious over the prospect of us crashing out of the EU without a deal, or the ERG who continue to believe their own lies over the prospect of Britain securing a better deal.

Having rejected Corbyn’s five demands this morning, May is playing a dangerous game. However, Tory MPs have the power to take this decision out of May’s hands by rallying behind Corbyn’s proposal to deliver a manageable Brexit. 

Corbyn’s proposal offers May the chance to win over moderate Tory MPs and simultaneously meet Labour’s six key tests. There is no time for a second referendum, nor would it have any chance of getting through parliament. The failure of the Cooper amendment shows there is no support for extending Article 50 either.

It really is now or never.

By the 29th of March, if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal, we will look back at Corbyn’s proposal as a key turning point; the one chance we had to rescue Britain from this mess. It is the duty of MPs from across the House to unite behind Corbyn’s pragmatic proposal to deliver Brexit and sort this mess out once and for all so we can all focus our efforts on addressing the inequalities which fuelled the Brexit vote in the first place.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP Should Quit Or Be Sacked, Says Labour

 

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP has been facing heavy criticism since last year when it was uncovered that he had awarded a £14m contract to a company called Seaborne Freight. This contract had been awarded in case of a no deal. Seaborne Freight planned to run ferries between the Port of Ramsgate in Kent, UK and Ostend in Belgium. This company did not seem reliable as it was revealed that not only did they not have any ships but there was also no record of hiring them. The Department for Transport (DfT) has now confirmed that the contract has been cancelled.

A DfT spokeswoman said: “Following the decision of Seaborne Freight’s backer, Arklow Shipping, to step back from the deal, it became clear Seaborne would not reach its contractual requirements with the Government. We have therefore decided to terminate our agreement.”

Labour is now calling for Chris Grayling to be sacked.

Final Comment From Editor- Heidi Boahen

This is hugely humiliating for the Department for Transport and also our country. Chris Grayling MP has previously defended his decision despite the criticism received last year. He insisted that the right decision has been made. However, it has now backfired and the contract has been scrapped. Chris Grayling decision to award the contract was never going to work. This, however, has allowed discussions to be had both online and in the media to how this arrangement was made in the first place. It was also revealed in early January that Seaborne Freight has copied the terms and conditions from a food company.  

Does this further indicate that our current Ministers are incompetent in doing their job? Irrational decisions have been made in the past however, this seems to be the most embarrassing one at the moment. Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald MP has also responded to the news that the Seaborne Freight contract has been cancelled:

As we predicted, the Seaborne Freight contract has been cancelled. This cannot go without consequence. The Chris Grayling catalogue of calamities grows bigger by the day. This contract was never going to work but this Secretary of State, true to form, blunders from one disaster to another.Whilst Theresa May needs the few friends she has right now, we cannot have this incompetent Transport Secretary carry on heaping humiliation after humiliation on our country. He has to go.

It’s Time We Listened To Jeremy Corbyn

According to most reports, it is foolish. A rebellious opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, demands the House to let MPs vote on holding a second referendum and place power over Brexit away from the government, to appease vast dissatisfaction with May’s flawed, faltering Brexit Bill.

Could the opposition’s alignment with a “People’s Vote” work in practice? It is idealistic. But between a government agenda of isolationism and democratic cooperation to find a better answer, it is decidedly more true to the ideals of the “Westminster System” that the government is accountable to the people, instead of the opposite. In practice, for some time the distinction has been reversed and power has become a check and balance on the public, not the other way round. Because this dynamic may well have fueled dissatisfaction with politics that unarguably stoked support for Brexit to start with, perhaps the collapse of May’s deal, the end of Government conniving behind our backs, is the best possible outcome.

For months and years, I have been frankly baffled by Brexit despite having a politics degree, where I was taught how to make sense of complex geopolitical dynamics through procedures of reason and theory. Brexit is hard, and anyone who claims to understand it entirely talks big. Recently, the way I’ve asked what Brexit means is through holding what the government has done, is doing, will do, through the prism of democratic theory ‘s normative ideals, the “what ought” facts. Precisely because Leave invoked classic democratic values like self-determination and Democracy to justify its superiority, it surely is consistent with their principles to make sure there is due scrutiny Brexit really does satisfy the power in our hands’ agenda.

To my mind, the problem is not with Corbyn’s ideals, his vision for policy, but the practical matter of winning enough votes to control the trajectory of the House. Whether or not Labour members will provide this mandate, support their leader without hesitation to bring down the Tories, depends on to what extent they buy the media narrative on his ineptitude. He’d have to pierce through a powerful illusion of his being a politician with ideas beyond reason and aim for an informed public choice in favour of more Brexit scrutiny that would defy our political pathology of rash, biased decisions.

Should Corbyn convince the party of the need to present a united front that can persuade people it is staying true to the values that ostensibly inspired people to vote Leave, then his plan is flawless. The Progress backed PLP may not be at one with it. I do not recognise any procedural democracy in how this corporate lobby subverts the innate democratic socialism in Labour. Labour, as the people’s party, should never have been subject to corporate lobbying. But if I were a voter, I’d pause to reflect how Corbyn is returning soul and substance to a party sold out to the terms and conditions of neoliberalism, by Tony Blair.

Has The Tory Party’s Obsession With Europe Ruined Our Country?

With less than two months to go before the UK leaves the European Union (EU), the Tory party are still fighting like rats in a sack, over our exact terms of leaving the bloc. But it wasn’t always this way.

In 1946, Sir Winston Churchill, leader of the Tory party, and freshly ejected from the office of Prime Minister after World War 2, delivered his famous speech in Zurich calling for the creation of “a United States of Europe”. As Churchill urged a Franco-German partnership to lead his vision of a new Europe, he declared that Great Britain and the British Commonwealth, along with the US and USSR, should be “friends and sponsors” of the project. He did not talk of the UK becoming a member itself, though.

In 1961, Harold Macmillan, Tory party leader and Prime Minister, made a formal application to join the European Economic Community (EEC), as the EU was known in those days. The application was unsuccessful, mainly because the French President, Charles de Gaulle, was vehemently against Britain joining.

Finally, in 1973, Ted Heath, Tory party leader and Prime Minister, took us into the EEC, without a referendum either. That came in 1975 after Heath was replaced by Harold Wilson, the Labour party leader, as Prime Minister.

There were always some Tories, who were against joining the EEC, but the trouble really began in the 1980s. By this time Margaret Thatcher was Tory party leader and Prime Minister, and she managed to give the impression of being anti-EU, particularly by getting an increase in the UK’s rebate from the EU. But she was also the main architect of the European Single Market, which her admirers in the Tory party rail against now.

It is true that Thatcher was against greater political union though and famously said in a speech in the House of Commons in 1990:

The President of the Commission, Mr. Delors, said at a press conference the other day that he wanted the European Parliament to be the democratic body of the Community, he wanted the Commission to be the Executive and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the Senate. No. No. No.

Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister later that year, after a leadership challenge by the very Europhile Michael Heseltine, when most of her Cabinet said they thought she should go, mainly due to the controversial ‘poll tax’ proposals. The right of the party blamed the more liberal wing who happened also to be pro-EU.

John Major who took over as party leader and Prime Minister, had all kinds of trouble from Tory MPs on the right, and mainly about Europe, and especially The Maastricht Treaty which he signed in 1992, which expanded the political union aspect of the EU. Major dubbed his Tory MP opponents as ‘the bastards,’ but my favourite quote at the time from Major was about one of those ‘the bastards’ Bill Cash, who is still an MP today. Major said that whenever he heard Cash’s name mentioned, the sound of white coats flapping came to his mind.

After a change to the election process for Tory leader, allowing the membership, which has become increasingly anti-EU, a final say in the election, every Tory party leader has by necessity been a Eurosceptic. David Cameron, only became the leader in 2005 by affecting Euroscepticism, although as time has revealed this was really not the case. Cameron was forced into the promise of holding a referendum if the party won power again, but he didn’t think he would have to act on this, as his coalition partners in government from 2010, the Lib Dems would block it. Surprisingly, Cameron won a majority for the Tories in 2015 and had to follow through on his promise. Of course, the referendum in 2017 went the way of the UK leaving the EU, narrowly.

It should be noted that at the time there was no clamour for a referendum on our membership of the EU amongst the public at large, only in the Tory party. Yes, UKIP were starting to take votes of Tory candidates, but they never won a single seat in Parliament, other than Tory MPs who defected to them. Then UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, tried and failed seven times to get elected to Parliament.

And here we are today. A country now bitterly divided, where supermarkets expect to run out food, hospitals run out of medicines, companies relocating out of the UK and taking jobs with them, where plans have been prepared for martial law (which has never happened before in the UK in modern history, even during World War 2), and for the Queen to be evacuated from London, should largescale civil unrest materialise after a ‘no deal Brexit.’

So much for the Tories being the ‘natural party of government’ in the UK, their obsession, nay fetishism about Europe threatens to ruin the country and its international standing. When this all goes tits up, as it surely must, I just hope people remember who was responsible for this whole fiasco.