Cox’s Case for the Defence

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has succeeded in significantly livening up the incredibly lengthy meaningful vote debate, giving a typically eloquent and impassioned case for why MPs should support the Prime Minister’s deal while taking aim at those trying to reverse the referendum. May must wish she had a whole Cabinet of Coxes. Whether it actually changes any MPs’ minds at this stage is another matter…

Bercow Ends May’s Last Hope In Amendment Selection

John Bercow has slapped down May’s hopes of winning over sceptical backbenchers with Andrew Murrison’s amendment, by not sdelecting it to be voted on. The four he has selected instead are:

  • Jeremy Corbyn Rejects the deal because it does not meet Labour’s criteria, including a customs union and strong single market relationship. Says government should “pursue every option” for avoiding no-deal or leaving on the terms of May’s deal.
  • Sir Edward Leigh States that a permanent backstop would constitute a change in circumstances compared to those in the Withdrawal Agreement and that this would give the UK the right to withdraw from it. Asks the government to confirm it would do so if this was the case.
  • John Baron Also says the deal should only be approved if the UK has the right to exit the backstop without the agreement of the EU.
  • Ian Blackford Rejects the deal, citing opposition from the devolved assemblies, and calls for an extension of Article 50.

These amendments will be voted on from 7pm. If, as expected, none of them pass, then the we can expect the meaningful vote to take place at 8pm, with the result at around 8:15. Get your popcorn ready…

Remainers To Formally Launch ‘Conservatives For A People’s Vote’ on Thursday

This morning Philip Lee, Dominic Grieve, and Heidi Allen met to plan the launch of ‘Conservatives for a People’s Vote’ which formally relaunches on Thursday at 8 in the Shard. A shiny skyscraper in central London, surrounded by bankers… That’ll win over Mansfield…

The group is expecting to receive explicit support from eleven Tory MPs, and plan to use the defeat of the PM’s deal to recruit more. Heidi Allen, who is voting for May’s deal, attended the planning meeting in the knowledge that it would be voted down. Her plan is to argue that she tried to pass the deal but now the only way out is a second referendum. Duplicitous…

Guido understands that public affairs agency Hanover Communications is managing the campaign. In other news, Hanover Senior Adviser Steve Richards appeared on Sky News earlier today arguing for a second referendum. Fancy that! 

German Foreign Minister Opens Door To “Further Talks”

In a move that will embolden critics of May’s deal, the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has hinted the Withdrawal Agreement could be altered in the event that May’s deal is defeated tonight. He told reporters outside the European Parliament this morning that:

 “The agreement stands, as it is. I doubt very much that the agreement can be fundamentally reopened. If there were a better solution, it would already have been put forward.”

“If it goes wrong tonight, there could be further talks.”

Whilst he has not offered a comprehensive renegotiation, this is the first time a senior EU figure has publicly suggested that there could be tweaks to the text of the agreement. This is the reality of the negotiation…

Amendments Latest: Benn Backs Off, Murrison Moves Ahead

While most attention has understandably been focused on this evening’s main vote, a crucial sub-drama is playing out in the amendments which MPs will vote on first, assuming Bercow doesn’t go entirely rogue again. The two key amendments were Hilary Benn’s, which rejected both May’s deal and No Deal, and Tory MP Andrew Murrison’s, which insists on the Withdrawal Agreement being amended to specify that the backstop expires on 31 December 2021.

But Hilary Benn announced this morning that he was withdrawing his amendment, citing Bercow’s decision to alter Parliamentary procedure as one of the reasons his amendment was no longer necessary. The more immediate issue is that if his amendment narrowly passed, it would invalidate the subsequent meaningful vote, thus sparing the Government from a heavy defeat…

This leaves the Murrison amendment as the key one to watch. It has a weighty list of co-signatories, including Graham Brady, Damian Green and Rob Halfon, which strongly suggests Government support for the amendment. The Government may well accept the amendment in the hope that it limits the scale of their defeat on the meaningful vote tonight, then deal with the legal ramifications of it later…

UPDATE: Reportedly Business minister Claire Perry has been ringing round backbench colleagues pushing the Murrison amendment, suggesting at least an element of Number 10 co-ordination…

Gove: Winter is Coming

Never shy of a little poetic flourish, Michael Gove has decided to channel Game of Thrones in a desperate final attempt to win over MPs on Today this morning. Not that it does much to make his argument more convincing…

Where the Papers Stand on Tonight’s Vote

It’s crunch time for Theresa May and the papers have been setting out their stalls ahead of the big vote this evening. Unsurprisingly, it’s the new Mail which comes out most strongly in favour of May’s deal, with a full front-page editorial imploring MPs to “put your country first” by holding their noses and voting for the deal. The days of “Enemies of the People” and “Crush the Saboteurs” seem like distant memories…

In another sign just how much the media landscape has changed, the Express are also plumping for May’s deal, albeit not quite so overtly. The front pages declares “Don’t Lose Our Trust Forever” while the editorial is hoping for “hard-nosed pragmatism” to win the day, even as they “urge the EU to come forward even at this late hour with the sort of reassurances about the Irish backstop that could swing the vote in May’s favour.” There is increasing speculation elsewhere that the EU is prepared to do this, but not until after this first defeat tonight…

The Sun sits almost exactly on the other side of that divide, urging MPs to reject the deal for the moment and hold out for legally binding changes to the deal, concluding that “Mrs May needs more than a promise. Maybe it will come after her defeat.”  Although it wasn’t deemed quite important enough to push Prince Harry’s meditation habits off the front page…

Meanwhile it’s the resurgent Telegraph that comes out most strongly against the deal, with a robust editorial declaring “MPs must reject this dreadful deal” and an ominous front page splash reporting that Cabinet Ministers have told May she has to quit if she suffers a crippling defeat underneath the headline “Out of allies, out of time”. Ouch…

The Mirror comes out with a rogue choice and backs the Norway model instead, although its readers may not be entirely convinced by its attempts to gloss over the free movement issue. The rest of the papers don’t nail their colours to the mast, instead making vague predictions about the various forms of chaos which will follow the vote. Nothing we didn’t know already…

Boris: Let Us Not Continue to Flog this Dead Horse

When this deal is voted down, let us not continue to flog this dead horse. Instead we must get Brexit right and seize the opportunities before us…

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Tracking Recession in Germany

Following Guido’s article about fears of a German economic recession last week, Bank of America Merrill Lynch is now “tracking a recession” in Germany. Recognising the gravity of the situation, they explicitly say: “Are we overreacting? We don’t think so.”

Their German GDP tracker has deteriorated to -0.1% quarter-on-quarter, mean that Germany is heading towards the two consecutive quarters of negative growth defined as a technical recession. BAML point to extremely weak factory orders as well as the gilet jaunes disruptions in France for the continued downturn. Britain on the other hand is the fastest growing European country in the G7…

H/t Ed Conway

Peston Tweet Taken at Face Value Costs Currency Traders

Peston earlier tweeted that the ERG were falling in behind May’s deal. Just a warning to Guido’s friends in the foreign exchange game. Please take Peston’s insights into the Conservative Party with a bag of salt…

Bloomberg, who should know better, reported Peston’s tweet as if it was a verified ITV News story. The newswire flashed it out across their terminals. Millions changed hands, boom and bust within minutes resulted…

Brexit Survival Box Fleeces FBPE Suckers

A company is selling a ‘Brexit Box’ survival kit to gullible Remainers, presumably fearful that after Brexit the country will revert to a medieval subsistence state without the means to access heating, food, or clean water. Sounds like the Green Party’s ideal future…

The box contains  “60 servings of main meals + 48 portions of meats + water filter + firestarter” for a Recommended Retail Price of £384.61.

Guido has gone to the trouble of calculating the cost of what goes in to the box, buying regular individual tins and packeted food from high street supermarkets. Even with generously high assumptions, Guido makes the total cost of this Brexit Box’s food, filtered water bottle, and fire lighter to be £91.55.

Presumably the makers of the box assume the self defined intellectually superior Remainer class will be suckers enough to spend an £293.06 more than if they had just popped down to the local shop. The box makers appear to be right, hundreds have been bought by ultra-Remain suckers…

May to Address Tory MPs Tonight

From: Government Chief Whip
Sent: Monday, January 14, 2019 2:53:33 PM (UTC+00:00) Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London
To: Government Chief Whip

Subject: Parliamentary Party Meeting today in the Boothroyd Room, 1900

Dear Colleague

There will be a Parliamentary Party Meeting with the Prime Minister today at 1900 in the Boothroyd Room.

The meeting will be chaired by Sir Graham Brady.

With best wishes

Julian

Rt Hon Julian Smith MP
Government Chief Whip

One last try…

DUP: EU’s “Meaningless” Letter Only “Bolsters Our Concerns”

Theresa May’s letter of reassurance from the EU has gone down like a lead balloon with the DUP, who have dismissed it as “meaningless” without legally binding changes and said that in fact it “bolsters our concerns” about the backstop. Nigel Dodds even hit out at May directly over comments she made about Northern Ireland’s position in the UK, calling on her to “cease from such foolish talk”. Not looking good for May’s hopes of using a DUP reversal as a catalyst to get other Brexiteers back on board…

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…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Corbyn Confirms He Opposes A Second Referendum

Jeremy Corbyn explicitly confirmed to Marr this morning that if his no confidence vote fails and he does not get the General Election he is after, he “would rather get a negotiated deal” than back a second referendum.

Theresa May Already Bending To Labour Demands

John Mann confirmed this morning that the Prime Minister had promised sweeping concessions to Labour MPs like himself in order to coax them into supporting her withdrawal agreement. She promised that the UK would not only keep existing EU regulations on workers rights and environmental protections, but be legally bound to bring forward all new EU legislation in these areas to the House of Commons.

Mann said that he had secured “not just a promise from the Prime Minister, but the legislation on the Withdrawal Act will need to meet those requirements.” The idea of a Singapore style Brexit is drifting away…

Britain’s Most Hypocritical MPs

Guido brings you a list of Britain’s most hypocritical Brexit MPs. Those who voted for Article 50, but are now determined to stop Brexit, by opposing both no deal, and May’s deal. 123 MPs feature on the list, from Michael Fallon to Kier Starmer, Chuka Umunna to Sarah Wollaston.

Curiously, a number of hardcore Tory Remainers are absent from the list – people like Heidi Allen and Antoinette Sandbach currently say they are backing May’s deal. What are they up to?

See the full list below:

Continue reading

“Disgraceful” Sadiq Allows More Banned People’s Vote Ads on Tube

Guido reported back in October how adverts for the People’s Vote’s “Losers’ March” had been allowed on the tube in direct contravention of TfL rules on advertising – as rule 2.3(n) clearly states, an “advertisement will be unacceptable if it promotes a party political cause or electioneering.” Not that the adverts did much good, given that only one third of the 700,000 figure the People’s Vote claimed actually turned up…

Incredibly, yet more People’s Vote adverts have now appeared on the tube at Westminster Station of all places, with Alastair Campbell even boasting about them on Instagram this morning.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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Jacob Rees Mogg writes

“If I had to choose between no deal and Mrs May’s original accord, I would have no hesitation of opting for no-deal Brexit but even Mrs May’s deal would be better than not leaving at all.”

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