MIL-OSI UK: May snubs compromise as Labour moves to ‘third phase’ of Brexit policy

Source: Labour List UK

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Just days after the government suffered a historic defeat on its Brexit deal – the largest defeat of any government in modern history, let us not hesitate to repeat – Theresa May is expected to return to parliament with the same plan. In a conference call last night, the Prime Minister reportedly told her cabinet that she doesn’t intent to change course. Instead, she will aim to win enough Tory and DUP support to get her deal through by seeking assurances on the backstop. Sound familiar? Possibly because that’s exactly what she vowed to do over Christmas.

How will she do it? The EU hasn’t, as hoped, changed its mind on the backstop after watching MPs reject the deal – after all, Ireland is still a member, and the backstop was actually May’s demand in the first place, and it only survives as an idea due to her red lines. There are rumours that she’d like to amend the Good Friday Agreement, which is clearly not viable. Another scheme involves a bilateral treaty with Ireland, which the Irish government has already quashed.

Was Jeremy Corbyn right to turn down May’s invite to Brexit talks last week? According to our latest survey, which attracted 5,625 responses, 60% of LabourList readers think he made the right call. It’s clear that the cross-party discussions were indeed a “stunt” and the PM had no intention of changing course until having at least one more go at convincing her party and confidence-and-supply partner. She knows that opting for customs union membership would split the Conservative Party, and why risk being that Tory leader? But, in her statement to the Commons today, May will no doubt place the blame on Corbyn for the failure of cross-party talks. Labour can only hope the public realise she is prioritising party unity above the national interest.

Over the weekend, Labour’s Brexit position developed when Keir Starmer gave a speech at the Fabians conference (read the full text here – note that LL gets a mention – and our key takeaways here). The headlines are that Labour is at the ‘third phase’ of its policy set out at conference, i.e. the alternative Brexit plan or backing a public vote. Again, the leadership won’t be moving swiftly onto the latter now that May has rejected compromise, but will instead wait to see how long her stubborn approach holds.

What’s clear is that Labour considers Article 50 extension “inevitable”, to quote Starmer, and this is important in deciding whether to support Yvette Cooper’s latest amendment. Although the opposition wants to make clear that responsibility for delaying Brexit lies with the government, Labour also wants to block ‘no deal’. Cooper’s move would give MPs a vote on whether to extend Article 50 if no agreement has been reached by the end of February, i.e. stop May running the clock down any further.

In what could become crucial in any future cross-party agreement, Starmer conceded on Marr the next day that “at this stage, any deal probably does require a backstop”. But if May does succeed in getting her ‘Plan B’ through with Tory and DUP votes, it is the Shadow Brexit Secretary’s other admissions that matter. “It’s a commitment to you, our members and our movement. And it is one we will keep,” he said of the key pledge about all options remaining on the table. The idea of another referendum, which has “significant support” among Labour members and some MPs, “has to be an option for Labour”, he added.

While answering audience questions, Starmer described himself as “a fan” of the Brexit citizens’ assembly idea, saying: “We’ve got to bring people back into these discussions, whether it’s through citizens’ assemblies or other means”. These are all largely shifts in tone rather than substance, but many MPs like to point out that Starmer has succeeded in softening the Labour position at every crunch moment. Could his backing for a further “injection of democracy” in the Brexit process break the camel’s back, or ultimately – like the backstop and extending Article 50 – become inevitable?

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: Corbyn right to refuse talks with May, say 60% of LabourList readers

Source: Labour List UK

Over 60% of our readers believe that Jeremy Corbyn was right to refuse “substantive” Brexit talks with Theresa May last week, the latest LabourList survey has found.

After the government suffered a historic defeat on its Brexit deal, then survived a no-confidence vote called by the Labour leader, the Prime Minister invited opposition party leaders to engage in talks.

But Corbyn said no “positive” discussions could be had unless she took ‘no deal’ off the table, which May refused to do. Labour MPs were divided on the issue, with some agreeing that talks were pointless without the assurance and others concerned about public reaction.

The results of the weekly LabourList survey, which attracted 5,625 responses, showed 60.3% of readers agreed with the Labour leader’s recent decision on the cross-party talks, while almost 34% said they disagreed with his position.

The poll also found that around 52% of readers believe the Labour Party’s priority should be to stop Brexit. 2,438 respondents, just over 44%, said alternatively that Labour should prioritise securing the best deal.

Below is a detailed breakdown of the questions and readers’ responses.

Was Jeremy Corbyn right to refuse “substantive” talks with Theresa May until she rules out ‘no-deal’ Brexit?

  1. Yes – 60.3% (3,333)
  2. No – 33.9% (1.871)
  3. Don’t know – 5.8% (323)

Other than force a general election, what should be Labour’s top priority?

  1. Try to stop Brexit – 52.1% (2,880)
  2. Secure the best Brexit deal –44.1% (2,438)
  3. Don’t know – 3.8% (209)

Who are your top three shadow cabinet members?

First choice:

  1. Keir Starmer – 2,171
  2. John McDonnell – 1,877
  3. Emily Thornberry – 519

Second choice:

  1. Emily Thornberry – 1,244
  2. Keir Starmer – 1,171
  3. Tom Watson – 1,023

Third choice:

  1. Emily Thornberry – 1,372
  2. Tom Watson – 855
  3. Keir Starmer – 713
1st 2nd 3rd
Andrew Gwynne 12 23 49
Andy McDonald 2 11 37
Angela Rayner 100 178 258
Barry Gardiner 65 158 211
Christina Rees 2 3 8
Dan Carden 2 15 25
Dawn Butler 9 29 90
Diane Abbott 137 505 482
Emily Thornberry 519 1,244 1,372
John Healey 8 20 48
John McDonnell 1,877 762 629
Jon Ashworth 37 52 120
Jon Trickett 4 11 23
Keir Starmer 2,171 1,171 713
Margaret Greenwood 1 13 20
Nia Griffith 21 74 245
Rebecca Long-Bailey 21 117 165
Richard Burgon 22 72 114
Sue Hayman 19 28 31
Tom Watson 495 1,023 855
Tony Lloyd 3 11 22

The aggregated results show that Keir Starmer, John McDonnell and Emily Thornberry were the most popular Labour frontbenchers among LabourList readers last week, with 4,055, 3,268 and 3,135 votes respectively.

A small number of readers got in touch to say that they did not notice the scroll bar when answering the third survey question. We will therefore aim to run the most popular shadow cabinet members question again this week in a different, clearer format.

The survey was open from 4.30pm on Thursday 17th January until 8pm on Sunday 20th January. Thank you to all 5,625 readers who took part.

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MIL-OSI UK: Sunday shows round-up: Starmer, Benn, Lammy and Cooper on Brexit

Source: Labour List UK

The Andrew Marr Show

Keir Starmer expressed many of the same views set out in his Fabians conference speech on Saturday, including that delaying Brexit by extending Article 50 is now inevitable and that Labour’s policy is in its ‘third phase’. He also conceded that any Brexit deal at this stage would “probably” require a backstop.

  • On Theresa May’s deal: “I have said for two years we will faithfully look at any deal that is brought back, which is what we did on Tuesday.”
  • On compromise and cross-party talks: “If she… said, my red lines have gone, I’m not going to hold a gun to your heads about no deal, that would shift the position incredibly.”
  • On the backstop: “At this stage any deal probably does require a backstop, and we’ve got to recognise that… There are problems with this backstop and we have got to recognise that. But because we are in this stage of the exercise, nearly two years in, the chances now of a deal that doesn’t have a backstop are very, very slim.”
  • On extending Article 50: “It’s extremely difficult to see how the Prime Minister can achieve what needs to be achieved in 68 days and therefore I think it is inevitable Article 50 is going to be extended. And the blame with that lies with the Prime Minister.”

Hilary Benn, Labour MP for Leeds Central and Brexit select committee chair:

  • On reports that in his office on Monday “backbench plotters” will meet to give control of the Brexit process to the Commons: “MPs doing their job are not plotters, they are trying to sort out the mess the Prime Minister has created. We are facing a national crisis and there are many MPs in the House of Commons whose first priority is to ensure that we do not leave without a deal. And therefore finding ways when we come to table amendments this week and debate on the 29th January how we stop that.”
  • On accusations that Commons officials have acted with bias: “To attack House of Commons clerks and suggest they’re part of a conspiracy is a disgrace. Our clerks are resolutely impartial.”
  • On breaking the deadlock: “I think we have to compromise because parliament is deadlocked and the Prime Minister can’t get around that.”
  • On indicative votes: “I’m in favour of parliament voting on a series of options to see if there’s one that can command majority support.”

Ridge on Sunday

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham:

  • On securing a Brexit deal: “I would prefer a soft Brexit, somewhere like Norway, to Theresa May’s botched deal… I could only vote for it on the basis that there was a final say referendum.”
  • On Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit position: “He’s moving the goalposts and I’ve been very clear on that… It seems to me there is no point in continuing with votes of no confidence, throwing darts and missing the board… I think that Jeremy has been hedging.”
  • On a Labour split: “There is a small group in our party who are so frustrated, who have so much grievance, the fear is that they are going to go off and form another party.  I personally reject that but the danger is, just like 1983, a new party built around basically a relationship with Europe keeps the Labour Party out of power for a generation.”

Pienaar’s Politics

Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish and Shadow Local Government Secretary:

  • On Labour talks with May: “In terms of opening the door to meaningful negotiations with us, all she’s got to do is give us a verbal commitment that she will do everything possible to prevent a no deal.”

Caroline Flint, Labour MP for Don Valley:

  • On the way forward for Brexit: “Get ‘no deal’ off the table, but get Remain off the table as well, so we can focus on what needs to be done. There’s too much shenanigans, too much process, not enough substance going on amongst politicians.”

Westminster Hour

Yvette Cooper, Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, who has a new bill and an amendment (with Nick Boles) to take ‘no deal’ off the table:

  • On her bill to allow parliament to demand an extension of Article 50: “If we’re still in this paralysis by the end of February, we just have to be sensible and recognise that we may need more time… The plan is to put forward a simple amendment to the Prime Minister’s Plan B motion that there was parliamentary time for [the bill].”
  • On the length of Article 50 extension: “It proposes an extension until the end of the year, but that’s amendable.”
  • On support for her bill: “I’ve talked to the [Labour] frontbench… My understanding is that there are government ministers who also want this bill to pull through.”

Jenny Chapman, Labour MP for Darlington and shadow Brexit minister:

  • On Labour supporting Cooper’s bill: “That’s a decision for Nick Brown and the shadow cabinet… I think there will be widespread for this in parliament.”

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MIL-OSI UK: What we learnt from Keir Starmer’s Brexit speech today

Source: Labour List UK

Keir Starmer delivered a 2,000-word speech and answered the questions of Labour activists at the Fabian conference this morning. The frontbencher covered the failures of the Tory government during the Brexit negotiations and the next steps for Labour policy. Here’s what we learned…

Labour will keep trying to force a general election.

“Wednesday’s no confidence vote was just the beginning of Labour’s efforts to secure a general election – not the end,” Starmer said in his speech. “Securing a general election is – and always will be – our priority as it’s the only way to deliver the radical change this country needs.”

After the government survived the no-confidence vote on Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson did not rule out tabling another such motion at a later date, possibly before the Prime Minister has returned to parliament with a substantive ‘Plan B’ for Brexit.

“Motions of confidence can happen more than once,” the spokesperson said earlier this week. This was confirmed again as the Labour leader’s line in his Hastings speech: “We will come back with [a motion of no-confidence] again if necessary.”

Labour will keep its conference motion commitment.

At Labour conference in September, the Brexit composite motion unanimously passed by delegates pledged: “If we cannot get a general election, Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.”

Following phase one (voting down Theresa May’s deal) and phase two (seeking an election), Starmer confirmed that we are now “at the third phase of our policy”. He went on to describe the key pledge about “all options remaining on the table” as “a very important commitment”.

“It’s a commitment to you, our members and our movement. And it is one we will keep,” Starmer promised in his speech today.

Four options have been ruled out: May’s deal, no deal, Canada model, hard Irish border.

Starmer ruled out two options today. First, supporting the Prime Minister’s deal, “or any tweaked version of it that may materialise”. The Brexit spokesperson explained: “The deal is so flawed, it is so far from meeting our tests, and the parliamentary opposition to is so great that this can no longer be considered a credible option. A majority of 230 speaks for itself.”

It is of some interest that he said “this can no longer be considered a credible option” – as if it were a credible option at one point. There had been rumours towards the end of 2018 that Labour could countenance backing a version of May’s deal, particularly as many argue (and Barry Gardiner has acknowledged) that only the non-legally-binding political declaration part of the divorce deal would need changing.

Second, leaving without a deal. This one came as no surprise, as the entire parliamentary Labour Party agrees (apart from Kate Hoey). “No deal simply is not acceptable to us – it never has been. The damaging impact of no deal to people across the country is so profound that no one should be casual about it,” Starmer said.

Third, the Canada model favoured by some Brexiteers in the Conservative Party. “A free-trade deal along the lines of CETA – the so-called Canada model – is not acceptable,” Starmer said. “A CETA-style deal would weaken workers’ rights, consumer and environmental standards. It wouldn’t protect supply chains which are vital for our manufacturing industry. And it wouldn’t prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland.”

Finally, any Brexit deal that lead to a hard Irish border.

Two options remain: Labour’s alternative plan and a public vote.

Starmer clearly set out that after ruling out all of the above, there are only two options for Labour: “1) Instructing the Government to negotiate a close economic relationship with the EU” and “2) As our conference motion sets out, the option of a public vote”.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary conceded that Labour’s alternative plan is “far from perfect” and “involves trade-offs and compromises”. He also acknowledged that the other option, a fresh EU referendum, has “significant support” among Labour members and some Labour MPs. He emphasised that this “has to be an option for Labour”.

Responding to audience questions on a ‘people’s vote’, Starmer said: “We’re no longer in the position we were in two years ago. We’re asking a different question, which is how to crash out without a deal. In those circumstances, we have to consider the options laid out in my speech.”

Starmer thinks we probably won’t leave the EU on 29th March.

“We also need to recognise that – whichever of these options we pursue – the 29th March deadline looks increasingly unlikely to be met,” he said. Listing the pieces of legislation still needing MPs’ approval, Starmer concluded that Article 50 extension is “inevitable”.

Asked whether the EU elections taking place this year would affect that extension, Starmer replied: “It’s a pretty open secret that the EU have at least discussed extending until 1st July.” European Labour Party leader Richard Corbett has similarly advised in the past that extension until July would be feasible without the need to hold European parliamentary elections in the UK in May.

Starmer is interested in the idea of a Brexit citizens’ assembly.

Last month, Neil Lawson of Compass called for a Brexit citizens’ assembly, whereby a representative sample of the public would make a recommendation on the outcome. The idea has since been supported by MPs including Lisa Nandy and Stella Creasy. Starmer revealed today that he is “a fan”, saying: “We’ve got to bring people back into these discussions, whether it’s through citizens’ assemblies or other means”.

Keir Starmer reads LabourList.

We already knew that. But he has now also quoted a LabourList piece in a key Brexit speech. He said:

“But as Andrew Harrop pointed out in LabourList last weekend: “In this moment of national crisis, [Labour] has a responsibility not just to oppose but to offer a constructive path forward.” I agree. It’s now time for an open and frank debate about how we break the deadlock.”

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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: A new Brexit date, but no new Brexit plan

Source: Labour List UK

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We’ve got a new Brexit vote date: 29th January. But there’s no sign of a new Brexit plan from Theresa May, who engaged in cross-party talks yesterday that appeared to be purely performative. Jeremy Corbyn did his best to get some movement going. As discussed in yesterday’s email, the opposition leader has decided to snub substantive Brexit talks until ‘no deal’ is ruled out. In his Hastings speech, he told the Prime Minister to “ditch the red lines and get serious about proposals for the future”. He followed that up with a letter that clarified his position: “Labour is open to meaningful discussions. But… these cannot be on the basis of your existing red lines.” Her response said ruling out ‘no deal’ was an “impossible condition”.

Was Corbyn’s boycott decision the right one? (This question isn’t hypothetical – you can tell us your view in our new survey.) The Labour MPs I spoke to were divided on the issue: some thought it was too nuanced and came across badly to the public (“we’re in primary colours now”); some agreed that the talks were pointless without that no-no-deal assurance (including Corbynsceptics such as Wes Streeting); others undecided (“we’ll see if it pays off”). Quite a few were irritated by Corbyn’s message to Labour MPs in which he urged them to refrain from government talks for now. Most did follow his lead. A few ignored the advice – John Mann, Yvette Cooper, Hillary Benn, Stephen Kinnock and other non-loyalists took a trip to the Cabinet Office – but, like other opposition party leaders, they seemed to find the government unhelpful and uncompromising.

With neither May nor Corbyn yet changing their Brexit position, we’re still at square one: how do we break the deadlock? Another referendum seems logical in some ways – admit our political class has failed, throw it back to the people – but it does risk killing off any idea that our elected representatives are competent enough to run the country, as well as presenting a whole host of other problems. Crucially, neither main party leaders want to do it and there is currently no parliamentary majority for it.

The Guardian today leads with a story that Corbyn would face up to a dozen frontbench resignations if he backed a fresh public vote. Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott might be alright with it, but it’s easy to imagine that Ian Lavery, Barry Gardiner and Jon Trickett, as well as a host of Leave-seat junior shadow ministers including Gloria de Piero, wouldn’t be without protest. Of course, Corbynsceptics (such as Luke Akehurst) are not best pleased about how the story was written up – they say there will also be resignations if he refuses to support the move.

Like everything else with Brexit, there are no easy answers. Tricky, tricky. I’m very interested to hear what you make of it all. Was Corbyn’s call on Brexit talks this week the right one? What should be Labour’s top priority now? And who are your favourite shadow cabinet members? Tell us by completing our new survey. Have a great weekend.

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: Corbyn letter to May: Rule out ‘no deal’ and scrap red lines

Source: Labour List UK

Jeremy Corbyn has today written to Theresa May calling on her to rule out ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

In the letter, the Labour leader says he is “open to meaningful discussions”, but makes clear that they cannot take place on the basis of May’s “existing red lines”.

Corbyn argues that “no tweaks or further assurances” will win May’s Brexit deal the approval of MPs.

“I am disappointed that there have already been several briefings in which you continue to rule out a customs union,” he writes.

“A new customs union is part of a solution favoured by most businesses and trade unions, and one that I believe could command a majority of the House of Commons.”

In his Hastings speech on Brexit today, the opposition leader confirmed that his priority – the “first option” on the table mentioned in the conference composite motion – is to support a deal that aligns with Labour’s alternative plan.

Below is the full text of Corbyn’s letter.

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to follow up on my statement in the Commons last night on a point of order.

I wish to reiterate the points I raised at Prime Minister’s Questions and to formally set out the position of the Labour Party.

We are firmly of the opinion that the starting point for any talks about how to break the Brexit deadlock must be that the threat of a disastrous ‘no deal’ outcome is ruled out.

That is the position that Labour set out in our 2017 manifesto, at our 2018 party conference – and that we have consistently adhered to throughout.

I note that it is a position shared by all the opposition parties, including the DUP, and is the expressed will of Parliament. If you are serious about reaching a deal, then ‘no deal’ must be ruled out.

After the unprecedented and unnecessary delay to the meaningful vote last month, entering into talks while the clock continues to run down, and the threat of a chaotic ‘no deal’ increases, would be a reckless leap in the dark.

The Chancellor and the Business Secretary were both open to ruling out ‘no deal’ in the recent conference call with business leaders.

Therefore, on behalf of the Labour Party, I ask you to rule out ‘no deal’ and to immediately end the waste of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money preparing for a ‘no deal’ outcome. The £4.2 billion currently allocated to ‘no deal’ planning could significantly improve many of cash-starved public services on which people rely and could transform the lives of those struggling on Universal Credit.

Labour is open to meaningful discussions. But following the decisive rejection of the government’s deal by MPs on Tuesday, those cannot be on the basis of your existing red lines. It is clear that no tweaks or further assurances are going to win support for the government’s Brexit deal in Parliament.

We have set out an alternative framework for a better deal: based upon a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union; a strong Single Market deal; and guarantees that there can be no race to the bottom on rights and standards. That is the consistent position that Labour has outlined over the past year.

I am disappointed that there have already been several briefings in which you continue to rule out a customs union. A new customs union is part of a solution favoured by most businesses and trade unions, and one that I believe could command a majority of the House of Commons.

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Leader of the Opposition

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MIL-OSI UK: Is Corbyn wrong to refuse Brexit talks until May rules out ‘no deal’?

Source: Labour List UK

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Last night, the government survived Jeremy Corbyn’s no-confidence vote with a majority of 19. With every Conservative MP still holding out hope that their version of Brexit (or lack thereof) has a chance, and the DUP keen to highlight their usefulness in this exact situation, Theresa May didn’t suffer any rebellions. She was also helped by ex-Labour MPs John Woodcock, Ivan Lewis and Fiona Onasanya, who abstained. After the result was announced, the Prime Minister invited the opposition party leaders for Brexit talks – but Corbyn called on her first to rule out ‘no deal’. And this stand-off dominates the news today.

As soon as the PM decided she was safe enough from the threat of a no-confidence vote, after being stubborn and unresponsive at PMQs, then having Michael Gove make personal attacks against the Labour leader during the confidence debate, she apparently extended an olive branch (without a hint of irony). But in calling for cross-party cooperation over the last few weeks, Labour has been consistent in its approach: stop blackmailing us with your no-deal threat, and relax your red lines so that we have something to talk about. As Richard Burgon confirmed this morning, Tory chair Brandon Lewis has told Labour that the government refuses to remove any red lines or rule out ‘no deal’. We are at a standstill.

Corbyn’s team has presented a nuanced argument for its ‘rule out no deal’ demand and the narrative will likely get lost in translation to the wider public, aided by coverage such as the Daily Mail’s “Wrecker Corbyn” splash. And despite supposedly speaking outside No10 last night as the Prime Minister, not a party political figure, May said she was “disappointed” by Corbyn’s decision and even had the cheek to ask others to “put self-interest aside”. So Labour’s no-deal demand as a “starting point” for “substantive talks” will be made to look unreasonable to voters. Why do it?

Well, for one, ruling out ‘no deal’ could lose May her DUP backing and bring down the government. And though keenly aware of the fragility of the confidence-and-supply deal, May does have to act soon. Every option – extending Article 50, conceding on customs union membership, no-deal – risks resignations. She is faced with the same choice as ever: keep the gridlock, or drop hard Brexiteers and scrap some red lines to reach a compromise deal (at which point Labour could win a well-timed no-confidence vote).

More than ever, Labour wants to show that it is ready for an election. After releasing a new party political broadcast last night, Corbyn will be making a speech in the very marginal Tory seat of Hastings this morning. On Amber Rudd’s turf, he is expected to set out Labour’s next steps for Brexit and flesh out his response to May’s talks invitation. We’re unlikely to be surprised by the speech content – no such luck, People’s Vote campaigners – but interest lies in whether Corbyn can convince the country he isn’t contributing to the mess in Westminster.

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: WATCH: ‘Our Country’ – Labour’s party political broadcast

Source: Labour List UK

Labour released a new party political broadcast, ‘Our Country’, on the day that it tried to force an election by tabling a motion of no-confidence in the government.

As expected, the government survived with a majority of 19 votes, thanks to the DUP and no Tory rebels.

But this video, which aired on TV on Wednesday night, aims to make clear that Labour is on a general election footing, prepared for a government collapse at any time.

Laura Pidcock, Labour MP for North West Durham since 2017, features heavily in the broadcast, while Brexit is not mentioned at all.

Our country belongs to all of us.

A country that believes in fairness, that knows right from wrong. A country of shared ideals.

We have a proud history of communities working together, supporting each other, even at the most difficult times.

But our country has been moving in the wrong direction. The hard work and sacrifices of so many have been given away to benefit a few. While many have struggled, a few grew richer and failed the country, plunging us into crisis and austerity.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, we have the talent, we have the means, we have the creativity to be so much more.

Labour believes in the people of this country. Their spirit, their enterprise, their kindness, their determination and sense of fairness, their commitment to their communities.

Labour shares that commitment. And we won’t let that spirit be stifled. We believe every single person deserves a chance.

Not to be held back, but to be encouraged, to be valued, and given respect.

Labour’s vision for our country is one where we all support each other, instead of a race to the bottom. Together, we can reach our potential.

Labour’s economic plan will work for all of us, in every part of our country. Instead of giving tax breaks to a few, we’ll invest in our people, in our country. We’ll create good jobs, with a living wage for everyone.

We’ll end the privatisation of the NHS and fix the broken Care system to ensure dignity for our people in older age.

We’ll create a National Education Service, to make education a right, not a privilege.

We’ll give power back to local communities, helping them to protect the vital services on which we depend.

And abroad, Labour will search for peaceful solutions to conflict and we’ll be proud to stand up for what’s right.

Because we believe in what our country can be: a country that doesn’t walk by on the other side, that cares for the most vulnerable, that rewards a hard day’s work. And supports people struggling to cope, a country that values all of its people, whatever their background and wherever they want to go.

They’ll say it can’t be done. They’ll say we can’t afford it. But our country is one of the richest in the world. And we resolve to make a choice.

We won’t stand by as our society is divided. Together we can change our country for the better.

Labour will rebuild Britain for the many, not the few.

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MIL-OSI UK: Government survives Corbyn’s confidence vote by 19 votes

Source: Labour List UK

The government has survived Jeremy Corbyn’s no-confidence vote tonight, with 325 MPs voting against the motion and 306 voting in favour.

Making a point of order in the House of Commons after the result was announced, Theresa May invited opposition party leaders to discuss the next steps for Brexit.

In response, the Labour leader called on the Prime Minister to rule out the possibility of ‘no deal’, a move his spokesperson later described as the necessary “starting point” for any “substantive talks”.

Corbyn is willing to meet with the Prime Minister, and contacts have already been made, the spokesperson confirmed, but no meaningful discussions will be had between them on Brexit until ‘no deal’ is taken off the table.

Speaking in the chamber, the SNP and Lib Dems agreed to engage in cross-party talks with the government, and have asserted similar red lines to those of Labour for the discussions.

The DUP’s Nigel Dodds said the confidence vote highlighted the importance of the confidence-and-supply agreement in place, while Labour MPs made a gesture in his direction indicating money.

All Labour MPs voted against the government, as well as former PLP members Frank Field, Jared O’Mara and Kelvin Hopkins, who voted with Labour.

Ex-Labour MPs John Woodcock, Ivan Lewis and Fiona Onasanya, who now sit as Independents, abstained on the vote.

Woodcock, who quit the Labour Party in July 2018 amid a disciplinary case against him, had indicated in his Commons speech during the no-confidence debate that he would be voting with the government against the motion.

Michael Gove, who closed the debate for the Prime Minister, congratulated Woodcock on his speech, saying: “It takes courage, and he has it… to say that the leader of the party you joined as a boy is not fit to be Prime Minister.”

The Environment Secretary also accused deputy leader Tom Watson of believing that Corbyn is “the worst possible person to lead the Labour Party”.

Further details to follow…

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