The British public will not get final say on Brexit deal, MPs decide

The British public won’t get a final say on any Brexit deal after MPs shot down all four alternatives put before the House of Commons.

A motion to support a confirmatory public vote was defeated with 292 votes to 280, a smaller majority than before.

The option was previously tabled by Labour former minister Dame Margaret Beckett and was defeated by 295 votes to 268.

MPs shot down all four of the Brexit motions (Picture: EPA)

 

This time around the motion was drawn up by Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, who argued that the Brexit debate needs to go back to the people.

Mr Kyle said that MPs could still be debating Brexit for ‘weeks or months to come’ and that a confirmatory vote could start a process of reconciliation in the country.

Norway-style Brexit off the table as MPs shoot motion down He previously wrote in the Brighton & Hove Independent: ‘This is very different to the 2016 referendum. That referendum was advisory, this one will be binding.

‘Even better, the second the deal is confirmed by the public it will go onto statute without ever needing to return to parliament. ‘Conversely, if the country refuses to confirm the deal then the status quo is maintained and government is instructed to revoke Article 50, again without having to return to parliament.

Peter Kyle put forward the motion (Picture: PA)

 

‘It means our compromise plan is not a ‘neverendum’ or ‘best of three’. Our plan offers a definitive end to this nightmare, one way or the other.’

MPs voted against three other motions also put before the Commons this evening.

A motion to remain in the customs union was defeated with 276 votes to 273, indicating a majority of just three. While a motion for a Norway-style Brexit was voted against with 282 MPs to 261.

The Parliamentary Supremacy motion was completely shot down 292 votes to 191 votes – a loss of 101.

With many thanks to the: Metro.co.uk for the original story

Brexit: Theresa May vows to stand down if deal is passed

Theresa May has promised Tory MPs she will stand down if they back her EU withdrawal deal.

She told backbench Tories: “I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.”

The PM said she knew that Tory MPs did not want her to lead the next phase of Brexit negotiations “and I won’t stand in the way of that”.

She did not name a departure date at a packed meeting of the 1922 committee.

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But the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said a Tory leadership contest could be expected in May.

Downing Street said it would be a “different ball game” if the deal was not passed by Parliament.

It comes as MPs seize control of the Commons agenda to hold votes on alternatives to the deal.

Mrs May told the 300 or so Tory MPs at the meeting “we need to get the deal through and deliver Brexit”.

“I ask everyone in this room to back the deal so we can complete our historic duty – to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the European Union with a smooth and orderly exit.”

The BBC’s Iain Watson said Boris Johnson – a likely contender in any leadership contest – was smiling broadly as he left the meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iain watson✔@iainjwatson

Boris Johnson leaves 1922 meeting smiling ear to ear but no comment 5:48 PM – Mar 27, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy

Our correspondent said a very senior Conservative had said the PM was “as clear as she has ever been” that she will not be around for the next stage of Brexit but if the deal does not pass then “that’s a different matter”.

Tory MP Simon Hart said the mood in the 1922 meeting was “respectful” as the prime minister set out her plan.

He said: “She was passionate about getting the deal through, passionate about keeping the party together and passionate about keeping the government as the government, passionate about keeping Jeremy Corbyn out of Number 10.”

Despite the nature of the meeting, Mr Hart joked that “neither the Chief Whip nor the PM were crying”.

The PM has said she wants to bring the deal back to the Commons this week, after it was previously rejected twice, by large margins.

Speaker calls for changes
Commons Speaker John Bercow ruled last week that the government could not return for a third attempt, unless there had been “substantial” changes to the proposals.

And he warned ministers earlier that they should “not seek to circumvent my ruling” by introducing procedures that could reverse his judgement.

But a Downing Street spokesman said there had been a “significant development” at the summit in Brussels last week, after Mrs May agreed “extra reassurances” over the Irish backstop with the EU, and the date of exit had changed.

Many Tory Brexiteers are looking to the Democratic Unionist Party, who have led opposition to the PM’s deal, before deciding whether to get behind it.

Rees-Mogg ‘sadness’
Leading Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said there was an “element of sadness” about the prime minister’s announcement “even though it’s something I’ve wanted”.

And speaking to journalists after the 1922 committee he said he would vote for the government’s Brexit deal if the DUP abstained.

Asked what would happen if the government’s deal failed to get through, he said: “Then she would have every right to carry on.”

He refused to speculate on who would now stand as Conservative leader – but asked what he thought of Boris Johnson he said: “I think Mr Johnson is a formidably able man and I backed him in 2016.”

Earlier, Mrs May moved to prevent possible ministerial resignations by allowing Conservative MPs a free vote when MPs pass judgment later on different Brexit plans, in the so-called indicative votes.

But the prime minister herself, along with her Cabinet ministers, will abstain in the votes, Conservative whips have indicated.

Media captionNicky Morgan says some MPs were “saying they weren’t going vote for the agreement unless the PM indicated she was moving on.”

With many thanks to: BBC News England for the original story

 

Almost one million families to be hit by Theresa May’s plan to end free school launches, think tank warns

https://players.brightcove.net/624246174001/BJzWBN5uu_default/index.html?videoId=6016935391001

Related video: Nick Clegg slates Theresa May’s ‘callous’ plan to remove free school meals

The Prime Minister has been branded “the lunch snatcher” over plans that the Education Policy Institute claims could cost hard-working families up to £440 a year

Almost one million children from poor backgrounds will lose the right to free school meals if Theresa May pushes through cuts in the Conservative manifesto, an educational think tank has warned.

The Prime Minister announced last week that universal free lunches for infants will be stopped if the Tories win the June 8 general election, with free breakfasts on offer instead.

The move will cost families around £440 a year for each child affected and is thought likely to save around £650 million a year, according to the research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

Jamie Oliver calls May’s plan to drop free school lunches a ‘disgrace’

The EPI found that those losing hot lunches would include 100,000 from families living in relative poverty, and 667,000 from those it defined as coming from “ordinary working families” of the kind that Theresa May has said she wants to help.

Those from the poorest backgrounds will still be entitled to a free midday meal.

EPI executive director Natalie Perera told The Observer: “Around 900,000 children from low-income families will lose their eligibility for free school meals under these proposals. Around two-thirds of those children are from what the Government considers to be ‘ordinary working families’.

“The typical annual cost for an ordinary working family would increase under these proposals to around £440 for each child aged between four and seven.”

Universal free lunches for infants were introduced under the coalition government by Liberal Democrat education minister David Laws, now the EPI’s executive chairman.

The party’s former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “This just confirms the sleight of hand from the Conservatives – scrapping universal infant school lunches hits some of the most hard-pressed families the hardest. The offer of free breakfasts won’t reach the children who don’t come to breakfast clubs.

“All Theresa May’s talk of helping the ‘just about managing’ will ring hollow as long as this regressive decision remains in place.”

But a Conservative spokesman said: “We don’t think it is right to spend precious resources on subsidising school meals for better-off parents. So instead we will give that money to headteachers, to spend on pupils’ education instead.

“We will make sure all those who need it most still get free lunches – and will offer a free school breakfast to every child in every year of primary school. So the most disadvantaged children will now get two free school meals a day rather than one.”

When the pledge was announced, Sarah Olney, the Lib Dem education spokeswoman, said: “Margaret Thatcher was know as the ‘milk snatcher’. Theresa May will go down as the ‘lunch snatcher’.”

With many thanks to: The Independent for the original posting

 

The English are blindly driving the North of Ireland into conflict – the fear is that they are too stupid to care

A return to violence is not a worst-case scenario but an inevitability if a hard border returns, as it will if there is a full Brexit

I was sitting in a cafe on the Falls Road in heavily nationalist West Belfast when a local radio reporter came in looking for residents to interview about the effect of Brexit on Northern Ireland. She said that the impact was already massive, adding: “Stupid, stupid English for getting us into this pickle. We were doing nicely and then they surpassed themselves [in stupidity].”

It does not take long talking to people in Northern Ireland to understand that almost everything said by politicians and commentators in London about the “backstop” is based on a dangerous degree of ignorance and wishful thinking about the real political situation on the ground here. Given how central this issue is to the future of the UK, it is extraordinary how it is debated with only minimal knowledge of the real forces involved.

The most important of these risks can be swiftly spelled out. Focus is often placed on the sheer difficulty of policing the 310-mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because there are at least 300 major and minor crossing points. But the real problem is not geographic or military but political and demographic because almost all the border runs through country where Catholics greatly outnumber Protestants. The Catholics will not accept, and are in a position to prevent, a hard border unless it is defended permanently by several thousand British troops in fortified positions.

The threat to peace is often seen as coming from dissident Republicans, a small and fragmented band with little support, who might shoot a policeman or a customs’ official. But this is not the greatest danger, or at least not yet, because it is much more likely that spontaneous but sustained protests would prevent any attempt to recreate an international frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic that wasn’t backed by overwhelming armed force.

It is unrealistic to the point of absurdity to imagine that technical means on the border could substitute for customs personnel because cameras and other devices would be immediately destroyed by local people. A new border would have to be manned by customs officials, but these would not go there unless they were protected by police and the police could not operate without British Army protection. Protesters would be killed or injured and we would spiral back into violence.

We are not looking at a worst-case scenario but an inevitability if a hard border returns as it will, if there is a full Brexit. The EU could never agree to a deal – and would be signing its own death warrant if it did – in which the customs union and the single market have a large unguarded hole in their tariff and regulatory walls.

An essential point to grasp is that the British government does not physically control the territory, mostly populated by nationalists, through which the border runs. It could only reassert that control by force which would mean a return to the situation during the Troubles, between 1968 and 1998, when many of the 270 public roads crossing the border were blocked by obstacles or cratered with explosives by the British Army. Even then British soldiers could only move through places like South Armagh using helicopters.

The focus for the security forces in Northern Ireland is on dissident Republican groups that never accepted the Good Friday Agreement. These have failed to gain traction inside the Roman Catholic/nationalist community which has no desire to go back to war and give up the very real advantages that it has drawn from the long peace.

But that peace could slip away without anybody wanting it to go because Brexit, as conceived by the European Research Group and as delineated by Theresa May’s red lines, is a torpedo aimed directly at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement. This meant that those who saw themselves as Irish (essentially the Catholics) and those who saw themselves as British (the Protestants) could live peacefully in the same place. Moreover, the agreement established and institutionalised a complicated balance of power between the two communities in which the Irish government and the EU played a central role.

Yet ever since the general election of 2017, when May became dependent on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), it is the DUP – the party of Ian Paisley – that has been treated by politicians and media in Britain as if they were the sole representatives of the 1.9 million people living in Northern Ireland. Its MPs are seldom asked by interviewers to justify their support for the UK leaving the EU when Northern Ireland voted for Remain in the referendum by 56 per cent to 44 per cent.

In ignoring the nationalist community in Northern Ireland, the British government is committing the same costly mistake it committed in the 50 years before 1968 which led to the fiercest guerrilla conflict in western Europe since the Second World War. The nationalist community today has a lot more to lose than it did half a century ago. It is no longer subject to sectarian discrimination in the way it used to be, as well as being highly educated and economically dynamic, but this does not mean that it can be taken for granted.

It may also be that the majority of the Northern Ireland population in two years’ time, when the Brexit transition period might be coming to an end, will no longer be Protestant and unionist but Catholic and nationalist. In the last census in 2011 Protestants were 48 per cent of the population and Catholics 45 per cent. The Protestants are not only a declining proportion of the population, but an increasingly ageing one, figures from 2016 showing that Catholics are 44 per cent of the working population and Protestants 44 per cent. Significantly, Catholics make up 51 per cent of school children in Northern Ireland and Protestants only 37 per cent.

The Protestants are a community on the retreat, but many have argued that this does not make much political difference because it is a mistake to imagine that all Catholics wanted a united Ireland. Many felt that they were better off where they were with a free NHS and an annual UK subsidy of £11bn.

But Brexit has changed this calculation. With Ireland and the UK members of the EU, religious and national loyalties were blurred. Many Protestants, particularly middle class ones, voted Remain in the referendum, but the vote was still essentially along sectarian lines. “You would not find many nationalists post-Brexit who would not vote for a united Ireland in a new border poll whatever they thought before,” said one commentator, though the likelihood is that if there were to be such a poll there would still be a slim majority favouring the union with Great Britain.

If May’s deal with the EU is finally agreed by the House of Commons then the issue of a hard border will be postponed. Any return to it would put Northern Ireland back on the road to crisis and violence. Stupid, stupid, stupid English.

With many thanks to: The Independent for the original story

 

 

 

Brexit: Theresa May responds to Irish American concerns

The prime minister at the time, Tony Blair, and then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern sign the Good Friday Agreement

Theresa May has written to an Irish-American group in the US Congress, which expressed concerns about Brexit and protecting the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

The US politicians contacted the prime minister and Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar last month.

The 40-strong committee said it was clear some British politicians had “little knowledge” of the importance of the agreement.

The peace deal signed in 1998.

The agreement, also referred to as the Belfast Agreement, helped end decades of violence in Northern Ireland.

It also enshrined the birthright of all people in Northern Ireland to be recognised as Irish, British or both – but some human rights groups have said a no-deal Brexit could threaten those rights.

What is the Good Friday Agreement?
Brexit: Does the Irish peace accord rule out a hard border?
Good Friday Agreement – 20 years on

Republican congressman James T Walsh, who co-chairs the Protecting the Good Friday Agreement ad hoc committee in the US, has now published the letter he received from Mrs May.

Media captionThe Good Friday Agreement: A brief guide
In it, the prime minister said the government’s commitment to the 1998 agreement remains “steadfast – to the principles it embodies, the political institutions it seeks to establish and the rights that it guarantees”.

“No government that I lead will ever take risks with the hard won relative peace and stability that these agreements have established,” she added.

The US Congress group had expressed concerns about recent votes in the House of Commons, where the government’s Brexit deal was rejected because of the Irish border backstop: the insurance policy to maintain an open border unless and until another solution is found.

But the prime minister said: “While I appreciate the concerns expressed over the recent vote, the commitments we have set out remain unaffected.”

‘Irish America’
Mrs May also said the Northern Ireland Secretary, Karen Bradley, would welcome a discussion with a delegation from the United States when she is in Washington later this month.

Bruce Morrison, the other co-chair of the congressional committee, said he would be happy to meet Mrs Bradley.

“Brexit has taken the oxygen out the politics of Northern Ireland and any fall off in support for the Good Friday Agreement would only make matters worse,” he added.

The committee also said if there is a no-deal Brexit, “Irish America would work closely with its allies” in congress to shore up the Good Friday Agreement in any future trade negotiations between the United States and Great

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story

Theresa May invites David Cameron to backseat drive on Brexit

Mrs May’s predecessor David Cameron is advising her how to get some kind route out of the EU through Parliament. Credit: PA

If you want a symbol of the catastrophe Theresa May faces over Brexit here it is: her predecessor David Cameron is advising her how to get some kind route out of the EU – that isn’t the fast one over the cliff – through parliament.

This is like the pope asking the chief rabbi on the true meaning of the Eucharist: when Theresa May became prime minister she defined herself by defenestrating all things and people of a Cameroonish hue (including, most notoriously – and some would argue most self-destructively – packing Osborne off to the backbenches).

But now the former prime minister has become her personal Brexit-crisis adviser, as she desperately tries to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU with a chaotic no deal.

Mrs May’s predecessor David Cameron is advising her how to get some kind route out of the EU. Credit: PA

Second referendum would cause ‘irreparable damage’, PM to warn

Mr Cameron’s advice is conspicuously being taken, at this juncture by her ministers if not publicly by her.

Because what he told her – I understand – is that she should “get on with getting parliament to work through the options”.

You will have heard the Business Secretary Greg Clark just this morning become the latest member of the Cabinet to say on the Today Programme that the time is almost nigh to press MPs (possibly through an innovative process of holding advisory votes on different options) to express their collective views on what kind of Brexit (or potentially no Brexit, via a referendum) they would choose.

What lies ahead for the PM and Brexit this week?
When Theresa May became prime minister she defined herself by defenestrating all things and people of a Cameroonish hue.

When Theresa May became prime minister she defined herself by defenestrating all things and people of a Cameroonish hue. Credit: PA

Mr Cameron has made it clear – according to my source – that “she has to help parliament find an answer, recognising that she doesn’t have a majority”.

This of course is reinforcing the pressure on her from her senior backbenchers like Nicky Morgan to put party allegiances to one side in the search for a way through the impasse.

And what kind of Brexit would Mr Cameron himself favour?

Well she is listening to him partly because he has privately endorsed her “partnership” approach to the UK’s long-term relationship with the EU.

This would be either her Brexit plan, which a majority of MPs detest, or an amended version (which the EU comprehensively squished on Thursday) or some version of the arrangement Norway has with the EU.

So Mr Cameron is – as you would expect – a proponent of what Michael Gove would see as the best Brexit available and Jacob Rees-Mogg would view as BRINO (Brexit in name only) serfdom.

And if MPs won’t back any Brexit plan? Would Mr Cameron suggest she put the BIG question back to the people with a so-called People’s Vote?

My source conspicuously dodges when pressed.

That said, Mr Cameron probably knows better than to opine on plebiscitary matters, since if he hadn’t decided on the original poll, she wouldn’t be in her quandary today and he’d still be in a job.

With many thanks to: ITV News and Robert Preston/Preston Politics for the original story.

Brexiters have changed their minds, why can’t the people?

Brexiters are changing their minds over Brexit all the time. Perhaps a new fact has come to light which they don’t like, or a shift in position may suit their personal aims.

If Brexiters can chop and change with every new revelation, why shouldn’t the people have the final say on whether they want this Brexit mess or not?

Last night’s confidence vote in Theresa May showed that 117 Tory MPs had changed their minds about their leader. They voted for her in 2016, full of hope that she could unite the party around a coherent Brexit policy. It’s all gone badly wrong, and the Conservatives are more fracticious than ever. Tory MPs got a democratic opportunity to overturn two years of Brexit mismanagement — why shouldn’t the people?

Boris Johnson changed his mind about the Irish border backstop. He was part of the Cabinet that agreed to the measure back in December 2017. Now he wants to “junk the backstop” and has called it a “monstrosity” that wipes out the UK’s sovereignty.

Demand a vote on the Brexit deal

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Johnson claims he was misled by Number 10 over the backstop and “absolutely reassured that this was just a form of words that was necessary to float the negotiations off the rocks”. So, he made a decision without full possession of the facts and now wants to think again? Sounds like a good basis for a People’s Vote.

Liam Fox is the latest Brexiter to change his mind on May’s deal. He told the BBC yesterday he would struggle to support it if there were no changes to the backstop. Fox is still in the Cabinet, and has given his support to the government’s Brexit strategy at each crunch decision so far.

Unlike Dominic Raab, who helped negotiate the deal as Brexit secretary before changing his mind and condemning it in a politically timed Cabinet resignation. He now says the government’s deal is worse than staying in the EU.

May herself is not against a change of mind. That general election she was never going to call in 2017? The “meaningful vote” on the government’s deal that was definitely going to take place this Tuesday? May’s premiership has been littered with u-turns and flip flops.

It seems like it’s one rule for May and her Brexiter detractors, and another for the British people. But a lot has changed since 2016.

It is now much clearer what Brexit actually entails, and that the promises made by the Leave campaign cannot be fulfilled. It is only right to ask whether the public has changed its mind about leaving the EU after all.

With many thanks to: Infacts for the original posting.