MIL-OSI UK: Brexit and beyond: Starmer, Watson and Thornberry at Fabian conference

Source: Labour List UK

Tomorrow the Fabian Society will hold its 2019 New Year conference, Brexit and Beyond, where top Labour frontbenchers will be joined by backbench MPs, MEPs, campaigners and political commentators to discuss the next steps for Brexit and the priorities for an incoming Labour government.

Labour’s Brexit spokesperson Keir Starmer is set to deliver the keynote speech of the event, which comes just days after Theresa May’s Brexit deal was put to the the House of Commons and she suffered the worst defeat of any government in the history of British democracy.

Where next for Labour on Brexit? As Jeremy Corbyn presses on with setting out an alternative plan, party activists and dozens of MPs are pushing for the leadership to back a fresh EU referendum and others have shifted to endorse a ‘Norway Plus’ model. Starmer may be able to give attendees further insight into upcoming developments.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary is expected to say: “It’s now time for an open and frank debate about how we break the deadlock. In less than two weeks’ time, parliament will once again be asked to consider the options available in this process.

“There are no easy routes out of the mess this government has got us into on Brexit. Difficult decisions are going to have to be made by parliament. For too long, the Prime Minister has offered the country false hope and false promises.

“She has failed to be straight with the public about the consequences of the choices she has taken. Now is the time for an honest debate. And for credible solutions to emerge.”

Deputy leader Tom Watson, who gave a much-praised speech during the no-confidence debate earlier this week, will also feature as a keynote speaker, and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry is expected to discuss populism in her closing speech.

Kicking off the panel debates, Richard Corbett MEP, leader of the European Labour Party, backbench campaigner Stella Creasy, The New Statesman‘s Stephen Bush and research fellow Ania Skrzypek will join Fabian chair Ivana Bartoletti to discuss the future of the left in the UK and Europe in the morning.

Other speakers throughout the day include Paul Mason, who will set out his views on defence policy, Stephen Kinnock MP on bridging divides across the country, the New Economics Foundation’s Miatta Fahnbulleh on building a new economic model and Grace Blakeley on climate change.

Wes Streeting and Anand Menon will talk about halting the rise of European popular nationalism in the afternoon, while Luciana Berger and Barbara Keeley explore mental health issues, and Kate Green and Lord Alf Dubs weigh in on post-Brexit immigration and refugee policy.

Sienna Rodgers, editor of LabourList, will chair the ‘Path to Number 10: Labour’s electoral strategy’ panel, featuring Jim McMahon MP, shadow local government minister, political sociologist Paula Surridge, Momentum’s Apsana Begum and Fabian deputy general secretary Olivia Bailey.

The full-day conference offers an opportunity for Fabian members and Labour activists to meet each other, debate policy and discuss the future of the party. LabourList is the media partner for the Fabian Society event this year, and will bring you all the day’s coverage here and on Twitter @LabourList.

The conference will be held on Saturday at from 10am to 5pm. View the full agenda here and buy your ticket here

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MIL-OSI UK: Christmas is over, but on Brexit nothing has changed

Source: Labour List UK

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Hello. MPs are back from Christmas recess, and LabourList is back in your inbox every weekday morning. On Brexit, nothing has changed, as they say. Theresa May is still trying to “seek assurances” from the EU on the main sticking point of her deal, the backstop, while Labour pledges to vote it down. The Prime Minister doesn’t seem to have made any progress in talks with EU leaders, as expected, so the next question is whether she will delay the meaningful vote once again – pushing it back further from 15th January – or see it fail and force the Commons to repeatedly vote on her deal until it passes.

Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, May refused to rule out the try, try and try again option (describing the event of her deal not being approved as “unchartered territory”), though Labour Remainer Chuka Umunna reckons this isn’t allowed under House of Commons rules. “I have consulted with the Clerks of the House of Commons on this – you cannot simply bring the same motion again and again and again,” Umunna told Sky’s Sophy Ridge, before quoting Erskine May on Twitter.

All bits of Brexit news involve the respective campaign groups digging their heels in. A significant number on the opposition benches continue to push for a fresh EU referendum, but that path hasn’t won majority Commons support and there is plenty yet to be resolved (e.g. options on the ballot paper, which Umunna says he is “open minded” about). The frontbench position is unmoved: shadow cabinet members point to unlikely scenarios in which Labour could back a fresh public vote, with Barry Gardiner suggesting a Labour government would put its alternative deal to the people, and Emily Thornberry saying the party would be in favour if May were replaced by a Tory no-dealer. Speaking to John Pienaar yesterday, the Shadow Foreign Secretary pointedly added that some within the People’s Vote movement want to “slap the Labour Party around”.

Over 200 MPs from across the House have today written to the Prime Minister, calling on her to rule out a no deal Brexit. The concerned signatories particularly highlight the effect trading on World Trade Organisation rules could have on the manufacturing industry. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has called such warnings “hysterical”, and hard Brexiteers say Tories are more relaxed than ever about a no-deal outcome.

Another cross-party demand is published today in the form of Lucy Powell and Robert Halfon’s ‘Common Market 2.0’ report advocating the Norway Plus model (single market and customs union membership). But this is still often seen as a bad compromise, with Remainers and Leavers both keen to point out how the model requires becoming a rule-taker and doesn’t end free movement. People’s Vote supporter Peter Kyle commented that the Norway ship has sailed, reflecting the view set out by fellow PV-er Mike Gapes on LabourList last month.

There is some respite from Brexit news: the government’s domestic agenda struggles on, as newly appointed frontbencher Amber Rudd has decided to delay the disastrous roll-out of Universal Credit. Expect more details at work and pensions questions this afternoon, before MPs debate Laura Cox’s report into bullying and harassment in Westminster. Happy new year!

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: Sunday shows round-up: May’s Brexit deal and 10-year NHS plan

Source: Labour List UK

Andrew Marr Show

Theresa May:

  • On the meaningful vote going ahead: “Yes. We are going to hold the vote.” 15th or 14th January? “That sort of timing, yes.”
  • On progress with the EU, May is “still seeking assurances”.
  • On putting her deal to another Commons vote, May did not rule it out. If the deal is voted down this month: “We’re going to be in unchartered territory.”
  • On letting “the search for the perfect become the enemy of the good”, May warned there could be no Brexit.
  • On a fresh referendum: “In my view there should not be a second Brexit referendum.”
  • On elections and her leadership: “I’m not going to call a snap election, and I’m not going to be leading the party into the 2022 general election.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Health Secretary and Labour MP for Leicester South:

  • On the government’s 10-year NHS plan: “People are waiting longer under this Tory government because the Tories have been running down the NHS for nine years, starving it of cash, cutting it back, privatising elements of it, failing to get the staff we need… It doesn’t need 10 more years of the Tories.”
  • On Brexit: “We’re not enabling Brexit. We had a referendum… That’s the way the country voted.”
  • On May’s deal: “We are committed to voting against Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Goodness knows whether we’ll actually have a vote on it next week given the speculation in the newspapers again. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s delayed.”
  • On another deal: “If that’s voted down, it’s incumbent on the government to come forward with alternative proposals and try to renegotiate.”

Ridge on Sunday

Chuka Umunna, Labour MP for Streatham and People’s Vote campaigner:

  • On getting a fresh EU referendum: “I am not going to be disingenuous and pretend that we have the numbers for a People’s Vote.”
  • On the meaningful vote going ahead: “If she doesn’t hold that vote, she arguably will have misled the House of Commons and there will be moves on a cross-party basis from the backbenches to ensure that the will of the House is tested.”
  • On the ballot paper for another referendum: Remain, plus “I do think that you have to have an option on that ballot paper that would please the likes of Peter Bone, that is a hard Brexit”, i.e. no deal. “I would say two or three [options]. I am pretty open minded about it.”
  • On May’s deal being put to a Commons vote several times: “I have consulted with the Clerks of the House of Commons on this – you cannot simply bring the same motion again and again and again… Even if you sought say to bring a different motion through changing one word, if in substance it is the same thing, under the rules of the House of Commons, you can’t just keep bringing it again and again and again.”

Barry Gardiner, Shadow International Trade Secretary and Labour MP for Brent North:

  • On the government’s 10-year NHS plan: “I would have more confidence in their 10-year plan if the five-year plan that they announced in 2014 had actually been delivered on.”
  • On an election: “That is the quickest way of getting a people’s vote – you can have a general election in four and a half weeks.”
  • On a fresh referendum: “It is the responsibility of government to try and unite the country, not to divide it.”
  • On Labour’s preferred Brexit outcome: “If we as a new incoming Labour government were to go to Europe without [May’s] red lines, we know that we could get a different, better deal and that’s what we want to try and achieve.”
  • On being able to strike trade deals as a member of a customs union: “We would have a customs union just like there is in Mercosur in South America where each individual sovereign nation is able to determine whether a trade agreement that they conclude jointly with other countries should go ahead or not.”

Pienaar’s Politics

Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury:

  • On a fresh referendum: “It’s our policy that we go for a general election.” But Thornberry also said that if May were replaced by a hard Tory Brexiteer intent on leaving the EU without a deal, Labour would back another referendum.
  • On ‘people’s vote’ supporters: “Some people within the People’s Vote movement seem to think that their purpose is to slap the Labour Party around.”
  • On a vote of no confidence in the government: “We want to do things that are effective… We will be doing it when we expect to win it.”

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