Remainers’ Planned Bill Won’t Allow Time For Second Referendum

Rebel MPs’ planned legislation to force the Government to delay Brexit beyond the 31st will not provide an extension long enough to hold a second referendum, according to darling of FBPE Twitter, Nick Boles…

The former Tory MP has said Letwin’s bill will only extend Article 50 for “a couple of months”; with UCL’s Constitution Unit having said a second referendum would take “a minimum of 22 weeks” to conduct – 12 weeks to pass the legislation and another 10 weeks to organise the campaign and hold the vote. Of course, the biggest barrier to a second referendum remains MPs repeatedly voting against having one…

The Financial Times is reporting splits amongst the rebel MPs, with other Remainers wanting to extend Article 50 until May 2020. The compromise date could be “brought forward to mollify Labour MPs in Leave seats” however. How can No. 10 possibly win against such a united remain front?..

Tories Open Selections for Candidates to Replace TIG Defectors

Any possible routes, however unlikely, for the TIGger defectors to make shock returns to the Tories from their floundering party will soon be closed off: the Tories have just opened new candidate selections for all of their seats. CCHQ emailed the Tory candidates’ list calling for applications for nine seats including Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), South Cambridgeshire (Heidi Allen) and Totnes (Sarah Wollaston). Bye!

Grantham and Stanford is also being opened for applications, Nick Boles had already announced that he wouldn’t be contesting the seat again but there will still be many Tories sad to see him go. Candidates have until Monday 17th June to apply if they want to be the heir to Heidi…

May’s ‘Bold Offer’: Make Deal Even Harder to Escape

Theresa May has been busy working on a “bold offer” as a final throw of the dice to try to get her Brexit Deal through. This morning the Cabinet found out what it is. Early reports suggest that her big plan is to keep all the hated parts of her deal but make them even harder for her successor to escape…

A number of previously proposed amendments are expected to be written into the Bill, there will be a regulatory lock between GB and NI, and Parliament will supposedly get a say over whether the backstop comes into force. The problem is that many of these different measures not only contradict themselves, they also contradict the core terms of the treaty. Most problematically, MPs will get a veto over any future tweaks to the UK’s negotiating objectives to the ‘future relationship’…

MPs will have to wait to see the text before reaching their conclusions, the initial signs are the only bold offerings are aimed largely at Labour and Remainer MPs. Nick Boles has welcomed it as having “a lot of big wins for Labour” and a “substantial achievement for their negotiating team”. The ‘concessions’ to Brexiteers look like window dressing that will fall away when the push of the legal text comes to shove. If Brexiteer switchers were looking for an excuse to switch back to opposing the deal, May looks to be giving them the perfect opportunity…

No one is really that worried about the details of the deal, it is being seen by all sides as a last roll of the dice before she goes. Tory MPs Guido spoke to are completely dismissive…

Change UK MEP: Vote Lib Dem

It turns out that the two former Tory MEPs who were kicked out of the party after voting to ban the UK from discussing trade in the Brexit negotiations joined ‘Change UK’ last month, not that anyone really noticed. Now Julie Girling, one of those Change UK MEPs, is encouraging constituents not to vote for her own party but for the Lib Dems instead, as they are “clearly the strongest Remain party.” She has issued a press release saying:

“In my view, the best way to get a People’s Vote to stop Brexit is to vote Lib Dem. That will send a very clear message to Mrs May and Mr Corbyn. This is what I will be doing. I urge other Remain voters to vote Lib Dem to stop Brexit.”

Even when the ChUKas do manage to put candidates up, their own politicians are telling voters to vote against them…

She’s not the only one giving surprise endorsements today, former Tory Remainer Nick Boles effectively endorsed the Brexit Party’s candidate in Peterborough:

Evidently not much love lost between Boles and his former Tory MP neighbour Stewart Jackson…

Moment Boles Quits Tories

Nick Boles told a shocked House of Commons he was quitting the Tories – seemingly because he was upset that the Government whipped hard against his amendment and in favour of their own policy and manifesto. Funny that…

Huw Merriman can be heard urging Boles not to go. Naturally the SNP applaud…

House of Commons indicative round II results were as follows:

(C) Customs Union AYES: 273 NOES: 276
(D) Common Market 2.0 AYES: 261 NOES: 282
(E) Confirmatory Public Vote AYES: 280 NOES: 292
(G) Parliamentary Supremacy AYES: 191 NOES: 292

And the winner was… May’s deal as per Friday with 286 votes in favour…

Labour Break Brexit Promise to End Free Movement

Labour have officially killed another one of their Brexit promises today, they will be formally whipping their MPs to vote for Nick Boles’ ‘Common Market 2.0’ plan tonight. Common Market 2.0 is not a new plan, it’s just a new label stuck on the tired old can of full membership of the Single Market and Customs Union. Which Boles used to say was “the worst of all worlds, neither in nor out, with no power to influence what the EU does and no freedom to do something different”…

Despite the clever spin put on it, Common Market 2.0 does not get the UK out of all the commitments of the EEA/Single Market, including free movement of people, ECJ oversight and large financial contributions. Something which Nick Boles also clarified in the past – while lecturing others about honesty…

As Labour’s 2017 manifesto said in black and white: “Freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union”. Are there any manifesto commitments on Brexit that Labour haven’t broken yet?

Boles: Defecting to TIG Without By-Election Would be “Ratting” on my Constituents

Nick Boles refreshingly upfront after his decision to quit his local Conservative Association yesterday. Not that the other TIGgers had any such concerns…

Hardline Remainers Come Out Against May’s New Deal

While Brexiteers are keeping their own counsel until the Attorney General and the Star Council of Brexit lawyers come back with their formal legal opinions on May’s latest offering, Remainers have wasted no time in coming out to batter her new deal. Despite Brexiteers being the ones always branded headbangers, as usual it’s the Remainers who kicking up a fuss while Brexiteers are open to compromise…

Dominic Grieve has said this morning that it “doesn’t make any significant difference”, digging in on his fundamental position that he won’t back any deal unless May commits to holding a second referendum on it. Sam Gyimah dismissively says “We’re being played!” while comparing Brexit to Iraq. The mercurial Damian Collins also declared that he wouldn’t be budging last night…

There are still niggling concerns over what May has secured. Most pro-Brexit lawyers Guido has spoken to so far believe that the UK’s unilateral declaration will carry weight in future legal disputes if the EU does not raise any formal objections to its inclusion alongside the rest of the Treaty, there are still doubts about what position it leaves the UK in overall. Varadkar once again displayed his ham-fisted lack of political judgement with a bullish tone at his press conference this morning…

May said last night that the changes guaranteed that the backstop would not become the “template” for the future relationship, as EU negotiators boasted after the deal was first agreed. Ultimately MPs will be making a political judgement as much as anything today. May’s changes are legally binding, but are they enough? Does the risk of an even softer Brexit or no Brexit at all justify voting for the deal as the least worst option still available? Nick Boles’ ego is now so large that he is already threatening Brexiteers to “take the win” or else “we will do whatever it takes to frustrate you.” Brexiteers are still reserving their judgement, Remainers have showed their cards and made clear their only interest now is sabotaging Brexit…

Boles Threatens May with No Confidence if She Delays Meaningful Vote Again

Rumours are swirling this morning that Theresa May is preparing another delay – this time on the second meaningful vote, dubbed ‘MV2’. The speculation is that May could pull MV2 and replace it with yet another amendable motion in the hope of securing Commons approval for a more specific plan for Cox to take back to Brussels. Truly desperate stuff…

What is very likely is that Cooper, Boles and Letwin will look to retable their amendment to hijack Parliament and force through their Brexit delay Bill if May moves another motion rather than MV2. Now Nick Boles has raised the stakes even further, with a scarcely veiled threat to vote against May in a vote of no confidence if she goes back on her commitments to bring MV2 and the two subsequent votes – on no deal or delaying Brexit – to the Commons:

May is truly running out of road now, she can only delay crunch time so many times. That said, bit rich for Boles to be giving a lecture about breaking political promises…

Cooper-Letwin Amendment Pulled After May’s Brexit Extension Commitment

The Tories behind the proposed Parliamentary coup to force an extension of Article 50 appear to have backed down, with Oliver Letwin welcoming the Prime Minister’s commitments to offer a vote on extending Article 50 today, announcing that there is “now no need for a Cooper-Letwin Bill.”

Nick Boles has agreed – hinting that, provided ministers back up the new commitments made by the Prime Minister, amendments laid today will be pulled tomorrow. This is a major soft Brexit victory that demolishes the Tory TIGgers’ absurd assertion that the ERG are dictating Government policy…

Nick Boles: I’m Not Ready To Leave Conservatives… “Yet”

Former Skills Minister Nick Boles has announced that he is “not ready to give up on [The Consrvative Party] yet” in a tweet that does little to settle nerves within the Party. He said that he agrees “with so much of what my good friends [in The Independent Group] say”…

The phrasing of Boles’ tweet will not reassure members of his constituency association, most of whom will remember their Member before Boles, Quentin Davies, having defected from the Conservative Party to join Labour in 2007. Boles is a respected MP and if he were to take the drastic decision to defect it would be a sad day for the Conservative Party…

What’s Going on in Grantham?

Last night Grantham Conservative Association’s Executive Council voted unanimously to start the process of selecting their candidate for the next General Election. Usually this process is a formality undertaken just before an election with the executive simply waving the incumbent candidate through. If the executive do not vote to approve the incumbent, it goes to a ballot of the full local membership…

This morning the Association Chairman sent a letter to the local party membership attempting to downplay the executive’s moves last night, claiming that the media had carried “exaggerated reports of deselection moves on the part of the Association.” The local party chairman insisted that the party executive are “merely trying to ascertain what Nick’s intentions are for the future.” Last year Boles revealed he intended to resign the Conservative whip if the Government were to pursue No Deal…

The Conservative Party Constitution is ambiguous on the time an incumbent MP can take to respond to their local party’s request to apply to be re-selected for the next election. If Boles holds off submitting a formal reselection request then the executive can’t hold the reselection vote, and it’s not clear if they can actually force him to do so. Reportedly 300 local members have sent the local party letters regarding Boles’ position on Brexit. Failing to clarify if he wishes to continue as a Conservative will only fan the flames…

 

Boles Says Brexiteers Are Done For

Nick Boles is cheery

“The way the political class has mishandled Brexit will finish off the current generation of leaders for good. Voters will want fresh faces untainted by association with the referendum or the Brexit negotiations.”

How MPs are Plotting to Stop Brexit

Despite the second ‘meaningful vote’ not being for another week, scheming MPs have been getting their anti-Brexit amendments in early. The following amendments are all already tabled, although they may change between now and next week:

  • Corbyn: “all options on the table” amendment. Corbyn continues his vague policy towards Brexit with an amendment calling for the Government to give time for Parliament to vote on options aimed at preventing no deal, including a Labour-style “strong single market” deal or “legislating to hold a public vote on a deal or a proposition that has commanded the support of the majority of the House of Commons”. Heavily-qualified support for a second referendum that likely wouldn’t be binding on the Government in any case…
  • Cooper, Boles, Morgan, Grieve: “coup” amendment. Seeks to give an entirely arbitrary grouping of backbench MPs the power to take over the Parliamentary timetable and bring in a Bill that would force the Government to extend Article 50 if a deal is not agreed by the end of February. Literally a coup…
  • Benn: “indicative votes” amendment. Commits the Government to holding a series of so-called “indicative votes” – MPs would hold non-binding votes on a range of different Brexit scenarios. Likely generating more heat than light…
  • Grieve: “endless debates” amendment. Somewhat similar but more tedious, this attempts to create a slot for weekly six-and-a-half hour debates for MPs to debate a meaningless motion while adding their own amendments to it. The most pernicious aspects allowing a minority of 300 MPs to take over Parliamentary business have been removed. Grieve claims the debates won’t be used to try to force primary legislation through…
  • Reeves, Benn, Grieve: “two-year extension” amendment. Attempts to force the Government to seek a two-year extension to Article 50 if no deal is agreed by 26th February. Not going to happen, not least because the EU won’t agree…
  • Creasy, Nandy: “citizens’ assembly” amendment. Extends Article 50 and creates a “citizens’ assembly” of 250 people along with an “expert committee” appointed by Sarah Wollaston’s Liaison Committee to advise the Government how to proceed. Very Green Party…

The one amendment which hasn’t yet been tabled but could also be highly significant is some variation of Andrew Murrison’s from last week which Bercow refused to call. This is looking like the most likely route for the Government to try to get its own MPs and the DUP back onside by voting through the Withdrawal Agreement but only on the condition that the backstop is time limited. Would give the EU some tough choices to make…

Grantham Votes 52% to 48% Against Boles

After nearly three thousand votes on his local newspaper’s poll it look like by a majority of 52% to 48% voters want Nick Boles to go. This won’t bother him at all as he’ll simply ignore it.

Boles, NiMo, Letwin Call to Rescind Article 50 if Deal Rejected

Oliver Letwin, Nicky Morgan, and Nick Boles are among a group of ultra-Remainer Tories to propose a plan that would force the Government to recind Article 50 when May’s Deal is voted down tomorrow. This is the first time rescinding A50 has been seriously proposed as fallback…

The plan goes that if no consensus is reached by Parliament as to what to do next in the six weeks that follow the meaningful vote, the Prime Minister would be compelled to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50. If they refused then the plan would force the PM to unilaterally rescind Article 50…

Obviously the EU is only going to do one thing if they’re given the chance to automatically end the Brexit process. The EU would have proved escape is impossible, and the UK would be left humiliated…

Brexiteers Dismissive of “Facile” No-Brexit Plots

Backbench MPs have spent the weekend busy plotting how to hijack the Brexit process with the help of flagrant constitutional abuses from Speaker John Bercow. Nick Boles has now tabled an amendment this morning which would effectively legislate for a putsch by the 36-member Liaison Committee of backbench Select Committee Chairs. It is heavily Remain-dominated and chaired by Sarah Wollaston…

Wollaston herself and the Committee’s Vice Chair Pete Wishart have already dismissed it as a “daft suggestion” that “appears to have been developed with just 2 other MPs” and “isn’t going to happen”. As Cumberbatch said in Channel 4’s Brexit drama last week, the golden rule of a successful coup is making sure the military is actually on board in advance…

Brexiteers are similarly dismissive, with one senior MP describing the plan as “facile” and ERG supporters pointing out three major obstacles to a backbench coup. Firstly, any government expenditure, which would be necessary to implement any plan, would require a money resolution, which only a Minister can move. Would Bercow dare to tear this rule up too?

Secondly, they say that any effect on Crown prerogative, i.e. the Government’s ability to act as the executive, would require the Queen’s consent at Third Reading of a Bill. Thirdly, even if Parliament did contrive a viable route towards stopping Brexit, under the Fixed-Term Parliament Acts the Prime Minister still retains the power to prorogue Parliament, ending the current Parliamentary session and voiding any legislation in progress, thereby forcing no deal by default. This would be a nuclear option but the power to stop ‘no Brexit’ still remains in May’s hands…

Boles: Norway Model Would “Frustrate” Referendum Result

One powerful argument against Nick Boles’ “Norway +” plan has been authored by… Nick Boles. Writing for the Daily Mail shortly after the referendum, the former Skills Minister argued that pursuing an exit that keeps the UK in the EU’s Single Market is a tactic of Remainers desperate to frustrate the referendum result. He called Norway model advocates “noisy and opinionated… diehard Remainers”, who refuse to “listen to the voters.” 

“They calculate the best way to frustrate the referendum result is for Britain to confine itself to a ‘technical’ exit only.

This would mean sliding seamlessly into a position like Norway’s, where we are still in the Single Market, still bound by freedom of movement laws and still subject to rulings by the European Court of Justice.”

If 2016 Boles thinks Norway is bad, imagine what he would have thought about “Norway+”, which drags the UK even closer to the suffocating rule of the EU by tacking on membership of its Customs Union, which Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are all free from. Guido agrees with the Nick of 2016.

Boles Promised To Call a By Election if He Defected

After threatening to defect from the Conservative Party in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Nick Boles has still not replied to Douglas Carswell’s challenge to him to call a by-election, as Carswell did when he defected. Why would Boles be reluctant to do this if he believes that his (61% leave voting) constituents also reject no deal?

Now a co-conspirator has dug up an interesting leaflet sent to Nick Boles’ constituents. Under the heading “How do we know you won’t betray us, if we elect you?” Boles writes that

“I think MPs elected for one party should have to stand down and call a by election if they defect to another party.”

Was his defection threat empty, or is he going to “betray” the spirit of an election promise he himself made? Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this…

Boles Will Resign If ‘No Deal’ Becomes Policy, Despite Manifesto Commitment

Former Skills Minister and EEA advocate Nick Boles has threatened to resign the whip if the Conservative Party follows through with its manifesto commitment that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. Boles stood on the Conservative manifesto in 2017 and was returned to Parliament by 62% of his constituents.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

In response to the news that Emily Thornberry described the Lib Dems as “like the Taliban” over their new revoke Article 50 Brexit policy, the former Lib Dem leader responded:

“Come on Emily, if we really were like a Middle East terrorist group, don’t you think Jeremy would’ve invited us to a conference fringe meeting before now?”

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