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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