John McDonnell: we must leave the single market to respect the referendum result
Tom Watson: we should stay in the single market and customs union permanently
Jon Ashworth, Jenny Chapman: we have to leave the single market
Diane Abbott: we should keep freedom of movement
Jeremy Corbyn, Keir Starmer: freedom of movement ends with Brexit
Barry Gardiner: staying in the customs union would be a disaster
Corbyn: whipped vote against single market and customs union membership
Starmer: we should stay in the single market and customs union (which means keeping free movement)
Starmer himself is all over the place, both arguing freedom of movement should end and also saying we should stay in the single market, an outcome which is not possible. Corbyn whipped his MPs to vote against single market and customs union membership – he even sacked rebels on this – now Labour’s Brexit Secretary says it is party policy. This shambles is just the among the Shadow Cabinet, let alone backbenchers…
“What an embarrassment,” says Shadow Brexit Secretary @Keir_Starmer, adding “the last 24 hours have given a new meaning to the phrase ‘coalition of chaos'” over the Government’s progress on Brexit negotiations pic.twitter.com/VRPa0PumTU
Sir Keir Starmer says the UK should leave open the option of staying in the single market and customs union. 18 months have passed since we voted to Leave and still Labour haven’t progressed from here. Labour’s position means continuing freedom of movement. It is not Brexit. What do their voters think of this?
On the front page of the Guardian website last night, apparently “we’ll all starve” due to a labour shortage caused by Brexit. Clearly the Kent winemaker quoted in the story wasn’t being entirely serious. Not that you’d know that from the write up.
Above is the tweet that scuppered an historic “no border” deal with Ireland on Monday. Tony Connelly is the widely respected RTE journalist covering Brexit – British journalists have recently discovered his output and it now often underlies a lot of their “reports from Dublin”. At 11:16 he tweeted that he had seen a draft text promising ‘no regulatory divergence’. This spooked the DUP, who had been promised a form of words that would satisfy them that as Downing Street had reiterated that morning: “The UK is leaving the EU as a whole. The territorial and economic integrity of the UK will be protected.”
This tweet ricocheted around the media, Remain-leaning journalists went hyperbolic, some claiming that this meant Northern Ireland was staying behind in the single market, others claiming this meant the whole of the UK was not really leaving the EU’s regulatory regime. With broadcasters starved of developments, because May and Juncker were lunching behind closed doors, they continued to pile up punditry of this kind. All this was despite RTE’s Tony Connelly having tweeted a corrective only four minutes after the first tweet that the phrase, as anathema to Brexiteers as it is to the DUP, had been replaced by “continued regulatory alignment”.
Meanwhile Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, waiting impatiently before the Dublin media at a pre-scheduled press conference, unwisely claimed that the wording was basically the same either way. It isn’t. The DUP – never the most trusting when Westminster is dealing with Dublin – unsurprisingly pulled the plug. Who failed to keep the DUP in the loop…
Last night Robert Peston set the hares running reporting that “permanent regulatory convergence between the UK and EU” is Theresa May’s “preferred route”. This would essentially be the EEA minus option preferred by Hammond and the Remainers, meaning the UK would have to follow EU rules permanently, denying the opportunities of Brexit that the country voted for. Fortunately government sources are strongly kicking back at the Peston report and denying there will be regulatory convergence between the UK and the EU. The Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn says alignment – which is different to convergence – would only be in limited areas of the Good Friday agreement.
It certainly would be brave for May to suddenly back the convergence model – that would go completely against the spirit of her Lancaster House speech, it would not be a real Brexit and it would mean the end of Brexiteer support for her premiership, which she has worked very hard to maintain over the last year. This episode again stresses the need for the Cabinet to thrash out once and for all what type of Brexit they actually want…
Sadiq Khan is disingenuously claiming Theresa May has agreed to let Northern Ireland stay in the single market and customs union:
Huge ramifications for London if Theresa May has conceded that it’s possible for part of the UK to remain within the single market & customs union after Brexit. Londoners overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU and a similar deal here could protect tens of thousands of jobs.
Nicola Sturgeon has chucked the word “effectively” in, so she isn’t lying as much as Sadiq, but still:
If one part of UK can retain regulatory alignment with EU and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can’t.
Sadiq is lying, Sturgeon is deliberately misleading, and the pro-Remain media are lapping it up…
UPDATE: Brussels correspondents calling Khan out for his deliberate fib:
Text says: In absence of agreed solutions UK will ensure that there is continued regulatory alignment from those rules of internal market and customs union which, now or in the future, support North South co-operation and protection of the Good Friday agreement https://t.co/pXWIrk2xUR
Huge “if” rather. @theresa_may has *not* conceded that NI would remain in CU/SM. The “alignment” language is a classic #EU fudge. Compromise on both sides, but Ireland definitely climbed down from demanding hard guarantees. Only final #Brexit deal will spell it out – in 2019. https://t.co/JUOUS1cjZc
As of 2pm it looks like the UK has agreed to “regulatory alignment” on both sides of the Irish border, a compromise which is not the same as no divergence between Northern Ireland and the EU. The DUP are clear Northern Ireland must leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the UK and they will not accept being separated economically from the rest of the UK. Lot of noise from Sturgeon and Remainers today. But all eyes are on the DUP and Cabinet Brexiteers when the formal statement comes later…
Steve Hilton, Cameron’s former barefoot guru, is dishing out strategy advice on Fox News these days, and this isn’t a bad idea for the President to consider. As recompense for his terrible tweeting last week he should get the UK-USA trade deal done. If the Trump does railroad a good trail deal through, Guido will be waving the US flag on the Mall when he visits…
Remember that mass exodus from the City of London that was supposed to happen after the vote to Leave? Turns out the opposite is the case. City AM reports this morning that “City firms are set to embark on a hiring spree next year”. Data from City recruiter Hays reveals that more than two-thirds of financial services firms are planning to hire more staff in the next 12 months. Their MD Mark Staniland says:
“It’s promising that despite market uncertainty, financial organisations are continuing to hire as regulatory changes come into play and digital advancements are creating the need for organisations to constantly adapt and remain up-to-date.”
City AM says “high demand for staff” has been “driven by double-digit salary growth for new hires in the capital”. A jobs boom in the City, #DespiteBrexit…
A classic day of #DespiteBrexit in the City. First up German central banker Andreas Dombret, a board member of the Bundesbank, called for financial services clearing to stay in London:
“At all events, London will remain one of the world’s leading financial centres. That is why creativity and a truly global outlook will be necessary in order to place future cooperation between the EU27 and the United Kingdom on a solid legal footing. For one thing is also clear – the world’s fast-growing regions are not going to stand idly by while Europe indulges in navel gazing.”
While Italian bank Unicredit said so-called Brexit ‘disruption’ is “much ado about nothing”. Jean Pierre Mustier, Unicredit boss said:
“Let’s just be calm. [London] will remain an important centre for expertise.”
Chuka Umunna has emailed supporters this morning claiming “Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said that the Government wouldn’t pay a penny in a divorce settlement – Europe could go and whistle, he said”. This is a lie that keeps being repeated by hardline Remainers.
This is what Boris said, from Hansard: “the sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate, and I think that to “go whistle” is an entirely appropriate expression”. Very clearly he says the EU can “go whistle” for “extortionate” … “sums that I have seen that they propose” (which were the reports of €100 billion at the time). All along Boris has said Britain will pay what it owes. In August he said: “Of course we will meet our obligations. We are law-abiding, bill-paying people. We certainly have to meet our obligations”. Chuka’s claim that Boris said we “wouldn’t pay a penny” is a straight lie…
What is Michel Barnier thinking? For some reason he has decided to tastelessly accuse Britain of turning its back on the fight against ISIS:
“[Brexit] was a decision taken against the backdrop of a strategic repositioning by our American ally, which has gathered pace since the election of Donald Trump. It was a decision that came after a series of attacks on European soil, committed by young people who grew up in Europe, in our countries. It was a decision that came six months after the French Minister of Defence issued a call for solidarity to all his European counterparts to join forces to fight the terrorism of Daesh. Never had the need to be together, to protect ourselves together, to act together been so strong, so manifest. Yet rather than stay shoulder to shoulder with the Union, the British chose to be on their own again.”
A stupid thing to say for many reasons, not least the massive ongoing value of British intelligence to the EU and the fact that we’ve had five terror attacks in the UK this year. It’s going down very badly on the British side: “Ignorant, inflammatory and irresponsible so close to sensitive negotiations,” says one source. Stay classy, Michel…
If you believe these Remain ultras this morning, the “Brexit bill” we are paying is £100 billion. This figure is from the FT’s report – though what Bradshaw, Doughty and Lammy aren’t telling their followers is that the FT article makes clear we are only actually going to pay half that amount. Deliberately not using the net figure to inflate the number… tut tut.
In any case, even calling this a “Brexit bill” is misleading. Half of the £50 billion-ish figure is simply our continuing contribution during the transition. As Henry Newman points out, the rest is what we would have paid if we had remained. It is not a new bill caused by Brexit. Sensible Brexiters are staying calm and not believing the Remainer hype – this is cash we just owe, and it will all be worth it when we leave…
Guido has no choice but to award the Order of the OTT to Conor Gearty, professor of human rights law at the London School of Economics, who thinks Brexit is “our Vietnam”. The professor compares the democratic vote to leave the European Union to the bloody Vietnam War as he writes:
“Brexit strikes me as our Vietnam. Everybody rational knows it is – how can I put it politely? – not going well. But no one with authority seems able to say so.”
He goes on to compare Brexit to human rights abuses in Vietnam, conceding: “If any deaths, ill-health or misery are caused by Brexit it will prove perhaps harder to gauge”. Perhaps someone should remind the nutty professor that the Vietnam War cost 1,353,000 lives. Just Hanoi-ing…
Last week saw reports that Unilever is considering dropping its London listing and reporting only to the Amsterdam stock exchange (it is currently listed with both). The story was widely interpreted as a threat from Unilever’s ultra-Remainer CEO Paul Polman, who has been using his position to undermine Brexit at every turn. Well, some good news from Unilever’s investor event this morning: “the Board intends to maintain listings in the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States”. And Polman is on his way out of the company. Maintaining their London listing and ignoring the whinging of their Remainiac CEO is a sensible decision by the Unilever board, they would do well to drop his naff campaign once and for all…
Sir Keir Starmer boarded the outrage bus to the Today programme studios this morning to accuse David Davis of contempt for not releasing unredacted versions of the government’s Brexit impact assessments. Do Labour really think this would help Britain’s negotiating position? They should take a look at how the EU handles such sensitive information on its own side. This is from the European Commission’s “Transparency in EU trade negotiations” document – it makes clear the EU would never release information that could undermine its position during a negotiation.
“A certain level of confidentiality is necessary to protect EU interests and to keep chances for a satisfactory outcome high. When entering into a game, no-one starts by revealing his entire strategy to his counterpart from the outset: this is also the case for the EU.”
Sir Keir says he only wants DExEU to hand the assessments over to the Brexit select committee for them to decide what should be published, and therefore this would not undermine our negotiating position. Well given Hilary Benn’s committee (presumably Seema Malhotra) has leaked DD’s letter to the Mirror before they even discussed it or published it on their website, that doesn’t bode well for the security of information handed to the committee. The Remainers on the committee clearly can’t be trusted not to leak the unredacted documents. Handing them sensitive information would be mad…
Priti Patel said what she really thinks at the Spectator’s event on the future of the Tory party tonight, blasting the government for its “failings” on Brexit, claiming it is “ill-equipped” to handle the negotiation and criticising Theresa May for refusing to hold a Cabinet discussion on the end state.
Leading Brexiteers have been telling Number 10 for months that a Cabinet meeting must be held where the two factions of the government can thrash out whether Brexit Britain is going to look like Hammond’s desired future convergence with the EU or the Leavers’ preferred divergence from Brussels. Priti aired their demands for “conviction and clarity in terms of our end state”. As James Forysth pointed out, it’s extraordinary that this discussion hasn’t been had yet.
The ousted former International Development Secretary also warned the government “has been ill-equipped in terms of preparations for the negotiations” and said on the financial settlement: “I don’t like spending money. I would have told the EU to sod off with their excessive financial demands”.
No prizes for guessing why the still ambitious Priti was laying it on thick with Tory members, talking about giving power back the grassroots and “starting from scratch” with the party hierarchy. On Brexit she is saying publicly what a lot of Leavers have been saying privately for months…
The Mail on Sunday and the Observer’sCarole Cadwalladr seem to believe Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and the Legatum Institute conspired with Putin and the Russian state to deliver Brexit. There are more than a few problems with this theory, though Guido is going to focus on the most obvious: Boris, Gove and Legatum are all staunch critics of Putin and Russia. Anyone who listens to these Gove comments from 2015, in which he rails against Putin and Russian money “subverting” the West, can be in no doubt as to his view.
“You see the influence of Russian agency and Russian money. We should not underestimate the extent to which Putin and those behind him are seeking to throw off balance and to subvert everything that we’re doing… His aim is to divide, to destabilise, and if not necessarily to conquer, at least to consolidate and advance. And inside Russia the widespread view of the Russian people is that Putin is right and the West is seeking to keep Russia down and to divide and to weaken. And for that reason we need to be sensitive to where Russian public opinion is but also vigilant about the threat. Now what does that mean we need to do in terms of our security and defence profile? The answer to that is several steps above my pay grade. But I don’t believe that any of us for a moment should be naive about what Putin is interested in or fall for some of the interpretations we might get on Russia Today or elsewhere about what his real intentions are.”
Boris meanwhile is on the record condemning Putin as a “ruthless and manipulative tyrant” who has been “illegally occupying parts of Ukraine”, adding “Putin’s proxy army was almost certainly guilty of killing the passengers on the Malaysia Airlines jet that came down in eastern Ukraine” and “he has questions to answer about the death of Alexander Litvinenko”.
As for the Legatum Institute, the focus of the latest Remainer conspiracies, as Mark Wallace notes they have a long record of opposing Putin and employed Anne Applebaum, one of the leading anti-Putin voices around. Legatum was even condemned by Russia Today for anti-Kremlin bias. Which kind of ruins the story.
Perhaps all this was an elaborate double bluff. Or it could be, as the FT’s ultra-Remainer editor Lionel Barber concludes, “a stretch”…
UPDATE: Eurosceptic source: “The idea of Gove and Boris as agents of Putin is about as believable as Geordie Greig’s claim to be an impartial editor offering a clear eyed view of Brexit.”
For the past few months it has become clear that certain members of the politico-media bubble have been undergoing a Brexit induced breakdown. The Remainiac bug is spreading – even some Remainers who were previously worth listening to have started to sound like tin-foil hatted conspiracy theorists.[…] Read the rest
Former public schoolboy Chuka Umunna told the ‘Exit From Brexit Dinner’…
“Remainians, Remoaners, I don’t care what the label is, I’m proud. It’s fashionable to label everyone in this room as the liberal metropolitan elite . . . This caricature is promoted by a bunch of former public schoolboys!”