Archive for the ‘‘no deal’’ Category

No, after you… why sequencing matters in a majoritarian numbers game

dimitro zenghelisThe Commons is not just split over Brexit, but split four ways – hard Brexiteers, the ‘Goldilocks’ faction, supporters of a soft Brexit and Remainers. In order to make any progress, writes Dimitri Zenghelis (LSE), at least two of the groupings must agree on something. This makes the sequencing of votes extremely important – and that is something in the Speaker’s gift.

Labour MP Hilary Benn’s hasty last-minute withdrawal of his amendment to May’s Brexit deal highlights a key feature of the coming negotiations. Sequencing matters. Like much of the country, everyone in parliament seems to know what they’re against, but no one can quite agree on what they are for. This makes progress hard because to get anything through parliament requires a majority. But this can change. Take the following example by way of simplification.

Assume there are four broad groupings, none of which command a majority. Each would prefer the following outcome of the Brexit negotiations. The first group, let’s loosely call them ‘the ERG’, want a hard Brexit. This means no customs union; no single market membership; no Irish backstop. The second group, supported by the government, wants a ‘Goldilocks Brexit’ (not too hard, not too soft). This may involve some kind of bare bones customs union and limited or no access to the single market while retaining the ability to trade globally. Another group, call them ‘soft Brexit’, prefer membership of the customs union and possibly the single market too (perhaps a ‘Norway plus’ or EEA arrangement). This has the support of the official opposition and much of the Labour party. Finally there are those from all parties who would prefer no Brexit and would rather remain in the EU (we call them ‘remain’).

commons speaker

The Speaker in 2012. Photo: UK Parliament/ Catherine Bebbington via parliamentary copyright.

Although none of these groupings alone command a majority, it is possible that any grouping of two or more can swing the balance and break the impasse. Even though there is no majority for a particular kind of Brexit, there are potential majorities against various aspects of Brexit. And when majorities can be found to remove certain options, alliances can form. Hilary Benn withdrew his amendment, which would have rejected May’s deal and prevented a no-deal Brexit, following pressure from party colleagues just hours before last Tuesday’s crucial vote on May’s deal. This was after government whips had reportedly suggested that MPs should vote in favour of the deal to spare May a humiliating triple-figure defeat.

But there was more to Benn bowing to pressure than the risk that he might spare the government’s blushes. If the amendment had passed, it would have made it impossible for the vote on May’s deal to go ahead, but it would also have meant that the key aim of the ERG grouping would have been thwarted by Parliament. With nowhere else for them to turn, this would have potentially broken the deadlock by allowing the ERG to side with May and push for another, perhaps slightly modified, version of her plan for fear that any alternative would arrest the Article 50 process and jeopardise Brexit. May’s Brexit would have been thrown a lifeline, subject perhaps to some concessions from Brussels on the Irish backstop.

A move by parliament to rule out ‘no deal’ may yet prove to be best way to secure some kind of Brexit on the basis agreed by May and the EU. This is why despite the historic Commons defeat, we may not have seen the last of May’s deal. If, on the other hand, an early majority is found to rule out a second referendum (which is also possible), then a grouping of Remain and soft Brexiteers might form a majority in favour of a soft, Norway-plus arrangement, with the UK possibly in both the customs union and single market.

Paradoxically, this logic is borne out by May’s doomed attempt to use the threat of ‘no Brexit’ and ‘no deal’ to get her deal through the Commons. This proved counterproductive. Firstly, the threat was not credible because both outcomes cannot mutually coexist. More fundamentally, ‘no Brexit’ appeals to Remain and ‘no deal’ appeals to the ERG, so neither had good reason to support her deal on the basis of this threat. With one or other option removed, the balance shifts.

Moving forward requires at least two of the above groups to agree on something, even if that something is systematically closing off options. This may not be as easy as it sounds, as groups vie to pass only their preferred form of Brexit or as party politics starts to dominate (with the opposition less interested in reaching a deal than forcing an election by prolonging chaos, and the government less interested in passing a Brexit deal than preventing a split in the Conservative party). It is still entirely possible the paralysis endures and the question (or at least some question) is handed back to the people to break the deadlock.

Indeed, for all the posturing, a second referendum is still more palatable to the government and many MPs than inflicting economic hardship through ‘no deal’, which is why it is proving harder to rule out. After all, if you can’t reach a decision, it is always tempting to postpone it or delegate it to another authority. But for all the complexity, one underlying aspect of the negotiations remains clear. As with so many majoritarian games, the arithmetic behind hatching alliances can often be a matter of sequencing. Over to you, Mr Speaker.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE.

Dimitri Zenghelis is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE. Previously, he headed the Stern Review Team at the Office of Climate Change, London, and was a senior economist on the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. Before working on climate change, Dimitri was Head of Economic Forecasting at HM Treasury.

The implications of no-deal Brexit: is the EU prepared?

guntram b wolffThis policy contribution, based on a note written for the Bundestag EU Committee and written by Guntram B Wolff (Bruegel), explores the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit for the European Union and assesses preparations on the EU side. It also provides guidance on the optimal strategy for the EU, depending on the choices made by the United Kingdom.

Overall, a no-deal Brexit would be disruptive in the short-term:

  • There would be immediate very significant administrative and logistical challenges in trade. Preparations to reduce those disruptions are underway but are unlikely to be sufficient. But while Most-Favoured Nation tariffs will affect some sectors significantly, the macroeconomic effect on the German economy might not be huge.
  • If the UK fails to honour its financial commitments to the EU, about €16.5 billion would be missing for the remainder of the current EU budgetary period. The gap could be filled thanks to the existing ‘own resources’ ceiling. The overall missing ‘Brexit bill’ would amount to about €45-50 billion.
  • Not honouring financial commitments would be considered by the EU as akin to default and would likely lead to an uncooperative no-deal Brexit. It would be more disruptive than a cooperative no-deal Brexit, in which the EU and the UK cooperate on a number of pressing emergency files.
  • The European Commission has issued a number of draft regulations to mitigate the effects of a no-deal Brexit, including on issues such as aviation and visas. These are comprehensive but would not offset the effects of a no-deal Brexit, which would be highly disruptive in some sectors.

The effects of a no-deal Brexit in the medium to long term are difficult to assess. A no-deal Brexit would lead to deterioration in long-term political relationships, which would make a new trade arrangement and other cooperation in the future less likely.

berlin

Berlin. Photo: Joerg Schubert via a CC BY 2.0 licence

A specific concern is the situation in Ireland, which is also the most contentious part of the Brexit negotiation. If the EU wants to protect the integrity of its single market, a no-deal Brexit will mean the imposition of customs controls on the Irish border. The European Commission’s draft legislation aims to preserve the peace process, but a hard border could provoke renewed violence.

The overall strategic direction the EU should take would be to increase the cost to the UK of a no-deal Brexit as much as possible (respecting ethical limits), while showing more flexibility over the political declaration and possibly the withdrawal deal itself.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE. It was first published at Bruegel.

Guntram B Wolff is the Director of Bruegel. His research focuses on the European economy and governance, on fiscal and monetary policy and global finance.

News review – Friday 18 January 2019

News review – Friday 18 January 2019

EU

Express
CONCERNS over widespread chaos as a result of a hard Brexit are “exaggerated”, a top Germany economist has said, suggesting there “wouldn’t be a big mess” after Britain leaves the European Union. Holger Schmieding, chief economist of the Hamburg-based Berenberg Bank, said Prime Minister Theresa May’s crushing defeat on Tuesday as MPs voted down her Brexit divorce deal by 230 votes was actually “a step forward”, claiming its “clear rejection” offering “a little more certainty.

Reuters
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said there needed to be a discussion about reopening the draft deal for Britain’s planned exit from the European Union, but only if all EU countries supported the move. “In the end, it will be about the question whether to reopen the deal which needs the approval of all 27 member states, which means that everyone has to join in. This is what needs to be discussed now,” he told public broadcaster ZDF late on Thursday. Maas earlier on Thursday had said it was “hardly imaginable” that the Brexit withdrawal agreement would be reconsidered.

Westmonster
As a No Deal Brexit approaches, European business and industry are growing increasingly anxious. As Leavers pointed out during the referendum, they sell us more than we sell them. The Head of the German Federation Industry (BDI), Dieter Lempf, has said: “A chaotic Brexit is now in dangerous proximity. Companies are looking into the abyss these weeks. “Leaving the UK without an agreement is not an option – neither for British companies nor for companies on the continent.”

Telegraph
The frontrunner to become Germany’s next chancellor has issued an 11th hour plea for Britain to change its mind and stay in the European Union. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the new head of Angela Merkel’s party, is the most senior German politician yet to openly appeal to the UK to abandon Brexit. She is among more than two dozen leading figures from German politics, industry and the arts to announce an “unprecedented” cross-party campaign to persuade Britain “from the bottom of our hearts” to remain.

Mail
The woman tipped to become Germany’s next chancellor has appealed for Britain to stay in the EU, calling it Britain’s ‘home’. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer became leader of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) last month. Last night, she became the most senior German politician to plead for the UK to cancel Brexit in an ‘unprecedented’ cross-party campaign. Mrs Kramp-Karrenbauer, also known by her initials AKK, was joined by more than two dozen German politicians, artists and heads of industry in her plea.

No deal

Telegraph
Cabinet ministers have warned that Theresa May will face mass resignations if MPs are barred from trying to stop a no-deal Brexit. The Prime Minister said on Thursday that it is “impossible” to rule out a no-deal Brexit under the terms of Article 50 and warned that it “not in the Government’s power” to do so. However as many as 20 mid-ranking ministers have indicated that they are prepared to quit the Government  so they can support backbench moves to stop a no-deal Brexit. The Telegraph has learned that a delegation of five ministers from the group visited the Prime Minister in No 10 and warned her directly that they were prepared to quit.

Sky News
Theresa May has told Jeremy Corbyn it is “impossible” for her to rule out a “no-deal” Brexit, after the Labour leader sought to block his MPs from helping the government break a deadlock over Britain’s EU exit. Mr Corbyn has instructed them not to “engage” with senior ministers until the prime minister takes the threat of leaving without an agreement off the table. He asked them to “respect” his own position and “refrain” from contact designed to secure enough support from cross-party MPs to get an agreement passed through parliament.

Breitbart
Brexit-supporting Tories have slammed Chancellor Philip “Remainer Phil” Hammond’s comments on MPs blocking a “No Deal” Brexit as “treacherous” and “totally incompetent”. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, long accused of pushing for the weakest possible form of Brexit from within Cabinet and using his role at HM Treasury to stall preparations for an EU exit without a formal agreement on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, was recorded assuring corporate bosses that MPs would block No Deal in Parliament in a leaked call.

Breitbart
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip “Remainer Phil” Hammond told corporate bosses that senior MPs would stop a “No Deal” Brexit — where Britain makes a clean break from the EU — according to a leaked telephone call. The audio, obtained by The Telegraph, also outlines how the Remain-supporting Chancellor had discussed how Article 50, the treaty mechanism for leaving the EU, could be extended in a call with the 330 business people following Prime Minister Theresa May’s historic parliamentary defeat on her Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday.

Art50

Mail
Theresa May left the door open yesterday to delaying Britain’s exit from the EU. Downing Street insisted there were no plans to extend the Article 50 departure date beyond the planned March 29. But the Prime Minister failed to rule out the chance of this falling by the wayside in the wake of Tuesday’s crushing Commons defeat for her withdrawal agreement. Chancellor Philip Hammond is reported to have told business leaders the Government would not block a move by former Tory minister Nick Boles to empower Parliament to rule out No Deal and delay Article 50 by nine months.

Express
PHILIP Hammond has been branded “treacherous” by a Tory MP after the Chancellor reportedly told business leaders a no-deal Brexit could be “taken off the table” and Article 50 “rescinded”. And Leader of the House of Commons Angela Leadsom responded by hinting at her frustration at the situation. Sir Christopher Chope voiced his fury after a transcript of a leaked conference call featuring the Chancellor was obtained by The Daily Telegraph. The paper said Mr Hammond had set out how a backbench Bill could effectively be used to stop any prospect of no deal.

Leavers

Mail
Brexiteers today boasted of securing pledges from Theresa May that could see a Brexit deal passed by Parliament. Eurosceptic MPs who met her left Downing Street in upbeat mood, saying she had vowed not to bow to pressure from Cabinet Remainers to accept Labour’s idea of a permanent customs union. Nigel Evans, one of 118 Tory MPs who voted against Mrs May on Tuesday, said: ‘The Prime Minister is listening. She wants to get Brexit over the line and she is listening to our concerns.’ A former Cabinet minister added: ‘It was good and positive – we are getting onto the same page. I am more optimistic now – I think she will get a deal through

General Election

Mail
Britain was on general election alert last night after Whitehall chiefs were ordered to draw up contingency plans for a snap poll. Amid the fragile situation in Westminster, Britain’s top civil servant told Government departmental heads to be ready in case an election is needed to break the Brexit deadlock. Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill met senior mandarins this week to discuss preparations in case Theresa May decides to go to the country. Today, it also emerged that official guidance has now been drawn up on the possible timeline for a second Brexit referendum.

Second referendum

Mail
MPs holding Brexit talks with the Government today have been warned that it would take a year to hold another EU referendum. Officials in the Cabinet Office have drawn up an A4 page of advice detailing what they think would be the timescales of holding another vote. The advice was shown to MPs across the political divide who held talks with Theresa May and her ministers today as No10 tries to break the Brexit deadlock.

Mirror
The government has been slammed after producing official advice warning it would take more than a YEAR to organise a second Brexit  referendum. The shock claim is understood to be contained in one-page document handed to MPs who have been to Downing Street for cross-party talks. It is understood the guidance details the timetable of how a so-called ‘People’s Vote’ would be organised.

Express
EMBATTLED Prime Minister Theresa May is exploring how long it would take to hold a second Brexit referendum after her Conservative Party government produced a paper setting out the number of months it would take to give the British public another vote on the UK’s departure from the EU. Downing Street said the Government had requested Civil Service guidance in the form of “a very short paper setting out the factual detail on the number of months required” to hold another referendum, with the short document taking up just one side of A4 paper, it has been revealed.

Sun
CABINET ministers are ready to back a second referendum that could see Brexit cancelled altogether, Remainers have claimed today. A group of Tories launched a fresh push for another Brexit vote this morning – saying another divisive campaign was the only way to break the deadlock in Parliament. Ex-minister Phillip Lee, who quit over Brexit last year, claimed there were many more MPs who were ready to join them, but was a “big task” to get everyone on side. He said “conversations” were happening all the time but it was a “minority sport” at the moment

Customs union

Times
The DUP would be open to a soft Brexit that kept the whole of the UK in a customs union with Brussels, senior sources have told The Times. In a break from Conservative Brexiteers, leading figures in the DUP have indicated that they could sign up to a Norway-style deal with a customs union if it removed the threat of the Northern Irish backstop. The issue is understood to have been raised in meetings between the DUP and senior government ministers as part of attempts to break the Brexit impasse.

Labour Party

Mail
Jeremy Corbyn ordered his MPs not to take part in Theresa May’s desperate effort to win votes for her Brexit deal today as the stalemate in Westminster deepened.  The Labour leader has refused to meet the Prime Minister in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s devastating vote unless she rules out ever allowing a no deal Brexit to happen. Mrs May wrote to the Labour leader tonight to say she was ‘disappointed’ at his stance – reminding him he has repeatedly insisted ‘dialogue in politics’ is crucial. Mr Corbyn has been repeatedly criticised for meeting with extremists on the grounds of peace talks.

Independent
Jeremy Corbyn is in open conflict with senior Labour MPs after telling  them to boycott cross-party talks with the government over Brexit. The Labour leader – who is refusing to negotiate with Theresa May, until she drops threats of a no-deal Brexit – tried to extend the no-talks stance in an email sent to all his colleagues. But the order came as at least three Labour MPs opened talks, in a bid to find a solution to the gathering crisis after Tuesday’s devastating defeat for the prime minister’s deal. Both Yvette Cooper, the Home Affairs Committee chair, and Hilary Benn, the Brexit Committee chair, went to the Cabinet Office to meet Tory ministers, both in the morning and afternoon. Labour won’t back new Brexit referendum until ‘no-deal disaster’ looms

Guardian
Jeremy Corbyn could face up to a dozen resignations from the Labour frontbench if the party backs a second referendum as a way out of the Brexit crisis. A string of junior shadow ministers have told the Guardian they are strongly opposed to the idea of a second referendum, which they fear would expose Labour to a vicious backlash in leave-voting constituencies. The development follows another tense day of brinkmanship in Westminster between Theresa May and the Labour leader as they seek a way out of the crisis that has engulfed both major parties.

Scotland

Morning Star
NICOLA STURGEON will reveal her plans for a second Scottish independence referendum in a “matter of weeks” regardless of Brexit, she told MSPs today. The First Minister met Theresa May yesterday following the historic Commons defeat of the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement and afterwards she said she would soon announce the timing of a second independence vote. Speaking at First Minister’s Questions today, Ms Sturgeon reiterated her pledge and said: “I think it is essential, given the catastrophe that Scotland faces — to our economy, to our society, to living standards, to prospects for the next generation, to our reputation in the world — that the option of independence must be open to people in Scotland.

Bercow

Telegraph
John Bercow could be the first Speaker in 230 years not to be given a peerage after ministers urged Theresa May to block the honour as a punishment for his Brexit “bias”. Mr Bercow ignored Parliamentary precedent last week to change Commons convention and effectively allow MPs to control the Brexit process. The move was greeted with fury on the Government benches, and led to claims that Mr Bercow was abusing his position to promote his own personal stance on EU withdrawal.

Times
John Bercow is set to become the first Speaker in 230 years to have his peerage blocked after ministers moved to punish him for “bias” during Brexit debates, The Times has learnt. Commons Speakers are usually automatically offered a seat in the House of Lords after approval by No 10 but relations between Mr Bercow and the government have broken down. The Speaker tore up years of precedent on Wednesday last week to change Commons rules and allow MPs to control business of the House.

BBC News
Such is the anger with the Speaker at senior levels of government, it has been suggested he could be blocked from getting a peerage when he retires. Ministers are furious at what they see as John Bercow’s “bias” during Commons debates on Brexit. The move would break a tradition dating back 230 years that former Commons speakers are automatically offered a seat in the House of Lords. A Cabinet source said: “It’s a good job peerage nominations are in our gift.” They added: “I’m sure we’ll be thinking carefully about which individuals we would choose to elevate to the House of Lords.

Mail
John Bercow may become the first Speaker in 230 years to not automatically receive a peerage after ministers accused him of bias, it was reported last night. No10 usually approves holders of the role being granted a seat in the House of Lords, but after controversy over Mr Bercow’s recent decisions, it is understood this may not happen. The Speaker defied years of precedent last week to allow MPs to take control of House of Commons business.  One senior Tory told the Times: ‘Precedents of Speakers getting peerages don’t last forever either.’ Mr Bercow, a former Conservative MP, has been accused of favouring Labour MPs and colluding with them to stop Brexit under the guise of championing backbenchers

Sun
SPEAKER John Bercow has been branded “European of the Week” by the continental media — underlining his anti-Brexit credentials. Dutch, German and French media outlets have portrayed him as a hero with videos going viral on social media. Radio France Internationale named him European of the Week for allowing MPs to table an amendment that “thwarted the strategy” of the UK Government. But Bercow faces the threat of being thrown out of Parliament after it emerges his local Tory association has begun looking for a candidate to replace him, The Sun can reveal. Today the chairman of the Tory Buckingham association is meeting the Conservative party’s national head of candidate selection Gareth Fox to find a suitable figure to fight the seat.

Education

Times
A growing number of parents are being “coerced” into removing unruly pupils from school to be taught at home, the admissions watchdog has said. The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) has used its annual report to shine a spotlight on why so many children are home-educated, and in particular on “off-rolling”, the practice of a school asking parents to remove a poorly performing or disruptive child without a formal exclusion process.

Times
Record numbers of first-class degrees were awarded last summer, prompting accusations of rampant grade inflation. Firsts were achieved by 28 per cent of graduates, figures show. The proportion has risen by two percentage points each year for five years. Critics say there has been severe and unjustified degree uplift since tuition fees trebled in 2012 and the cap on student numbers was removed, as universities compete for undergraduates.

NHS

Times
Cuts to public health and training coupled with the neglect of social care risk derailing the £20 billion NHS reform plan, the spending watchdog warns today. A ten-year plan focused on preventing ill health, boosting the NHS workforce and joining up care has not yet been backed by funding for these areas, the National Audit Office says. Ministers have funnelled cash into the NHS but “key areas of health spending” have so far been ignored and unless money is committed to them the health service might not be able to deliver its promises to patients, the NAO says in a report.

Independent
The NHS is financially “unsustainable” and the government’s much-trumpeted 10-year plan is inadequate to rescue cancer, mental health and social care services, the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned. Years of underinvestment have resulted in longer waiting times, critical staff shortages and “substantial deficits” that have been covered up by raiding funds for long-term reform, an NAO review found.

Mail
The number of times hospitals turned ambulances away from their A&E departments soared last week to its highest level this winter. Accident and emergency performance figures this week show the NHS is feeling the strain, as snow falls across Britain and temperatures plunge to -4C. One in eight people taken to A&E in an ambulance were forced to wait at least half an hour before being handed over because hospitals were too busy. And 19 out of 20 overnight hospital beds in the entire country are full – higher than the ‘safe operating level’ and the busiest they have been all winter.

Nuclear power

Times
Plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations are in disarray after a second company in two months announced that would stop work on the projects. Hitachi said yesterday that it was suspending its nuclear development programme in Britain, placing on hold plants at Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and Oldbury-on-Severn in south Gloucestershire. The Japanese company is writing off £2 billion spent on preparatory work and is withdrawing despite having been offered several sweeteners by the government.

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MPs say they won’t allow a no-deal Brexit. Can they stop one?

No deal is the default position if the Withdrawal Agreement is rejected by Parliament – but the situation is complex and developing quickly. Omar Salem explains what would be needed for a no deal Brexit to be avoided.

As things currently stand, the UK will leave the EU by operation of law at 11pm on 29 March 2019. If Parliament does not vote for the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) the default is a no deal Brexit. However, Hilary Benn, chair of the Brexit select committee – along with many other MPs – believes that Parliament won’t allow a no-deal Brexit to happen. It is also unlikely that the cross-party amendment to the Finance (No. 3) Bill proposed by Yvette Cooper MP and passed by the Commons will prevent a no deal Brexit – although 303 MPs voted for it.

So what can prevent a no deal Brexit? Here are the options:

1. The WA being ratified by the UK Parliament and the European Parliament without conditions or amendments.

2. The WA being ratified by the UK Parliament with conditions or amendments. This would then need to be agreed with the European Council, consented to by the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union will need to conclude the Withdrawal Agreement acting by qualified majority. It is questionable whether there is sufficient time for this, so this option may need to be combined with 3(a) below.

3. The UK and the EU27 agreeing a delay in the date that the UK leaves the EU, while one of the following takes place:

a) Further negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement or the Framework for the Future Relationship;
b) Preparation for a no deal Brexit;.
c) A general election;
d) A second referendum.

4. The UK rescinding its notification under Article 50 and remaining in the EU.

1 The meaningful vote

Section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 requires that the WA may be ratified only if it and the Framework for the Future Relationship have been approved by a Commons resolution. This vote has come to be known as the “meaningful vote”, although it can also be used to describe a broader set of votes (such as votes on the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which needs to be passed by Parliament for the UK to ratify the WA) – and also whether the vote gives Parliament a meaningful opportunity not only to reject or approve the WA but to direct the Government as to what should happen next in a vote.

This vote was originally expected to take place on 11 December, but was delayed by the government, and it is now scheduled for 15 January. But there may be a further delay to the vote – or if the government loses it, it may retable the resolution for a further vote.

The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 requires the government to move a motion for the Lords to take note of the WA (the Lords’ approval is not required). This is expected to be debated on 14 January and Labour has laid a motion to be debated then which opposes a no deal Brexit and the WA.

2 Amendments to the resolution for a meaningful vote

There has been a great deal of confusion about whether the resolution should or will be amendable and, if so, how. David Davis, when he was Brexit secretary, told the Brexit select committee in April 2018 that the resolution would be amendable. In October 2018 Dominic Raab, the new Brexit secretary, agreed that the motion was acceptable but argued that the Commons should use a procedure whereby it would vote on the resolution unamended before considering further amendments. This was because the government was concerned that an amended motion (e.g. approving the WA subject to certain conditions) would not provide legal certainty as to whether it had actually been ratified.

The Procedure Committee subsequently published a report recommending that the Commons should use its usual practice of voting on amendments before voting on the main motion, and the government has accepted this. The Clerk of the House has said that he does not consider that an amendment would create a new statutory obligation on the government. However, Hilary Benn, among others, believes that it would have significant political impact.

This week, the government, despite its previous misgivings about amendments, accepted an amendment from Hugo Swire to the resolution approving the WA, aimed at requiring that the Northern Ireland backstop can only last a year.

A possible solution to the problem of knowing whether an amended resolution would allow ratification of the WA would be to amend the WA, and then have a further vote in the Commons on the amended agreement.

3 What happens if MPs vote down the Withdrawal Agreement?

If Parliament does not pass the resolution, then a minister must, within 21 days, make a statement setting out how the government proposes to proceed – and set in train ‘a motion in neutral terms’ within seven Commons sitting days. However, as a result of an amendment tabled by Dominic Grieve and passed by the Commons, if the WA is voted down the government will be required to table a motion considering Brexit within three sitting days (i.e. potentially by 21 January).

The reference to “neutral terms” is meant to engage a Commons Standing Order which provides that a motion expressed in neutral terms may not be amended. It is, however, expected that the motion will be amendable, as the House passed an amendment on 4 December  tabled by Dominic Grieve to that effect, stating that this Standing Order would not apply to the WA..

Because the motion is amendable MPs will have the opportunity to an express a view on the approach that the government should take if MPs reject the WA. However, the resolution (as amended if applicable) will not be legally binding. It has been suggested that MPs could exert pressure on the government if it did not act in accordance with the amended resolution, such as refusing to pay ministers’ salaries.

The government is currently aiming to only allow one amendment to be voted upon by MPs. If this happens, it will reduce the chance of a majority of MPs voting for an alternative to a no deal Brexit.

4 No confidence motion or general election

A no deal Brexit could potentially be delayed or prevented by a no confidence motion leading to a change of Prime Minister or a general election. Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011, the next general election is due to be held on 5 May 2022. The Act specifies that early elections can be held only:

• if a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the whole House or without division; or

• if a motion of no confidence in the government is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the Commons within 14 days.

No confidence motions can also be in the Prime Minister personally, but these do not trigger the Fixed Term Parliament Act.  While a majority of MPs expressing no confidence in the PM or the government is likely to be politically fatal for May, it does not necessarily mean there will be a general election leading to a delay in the Brexit date or a change in the government’s position. Any delay in the date for the UK to leave the EU to allow for a general election would need to be agreed with the EU27. Even if there is a general election, it will not necessarily lead to a government that is able to negotiate a Brexit deal that it can get through Parliament.

5 Delaying Brexit or halting Brexit

It is anticipated that if the government asked for a delay in the implementation of Article 50, the EU would agree to it – but only where the delay was to allow for a general election or a second referendum. For a second referendum to take place, legislation would be needed and this would mean that the question(s) would need to be agreed by Parliament. This could not be brought about just by a parliamentary motion, or even a change of government policy, if the government does not have a working majority.

The EU might also agree an extension where there are clear new negotiating goals, or to allow more time to prepare for a no deal Brexit – but this is less clear, and currently seems unlikely. Such an extension would require the unanimous consent of all the remaining EU27.

Alternatively, the European Court of Justice has ruled that the government could unilaterally revoke the Article 50 notification provided that “that the revocation has been decided upon in accordance with the Member State’s constitutional requirements, is formally notified to the European Council and does not involve an abusive practice.”. There is debate about whether that would require legislation or parliamentary approval. However, it seems politically unlikely that a government would attempt to revoke the Article 50 notification without the approval of the Commons. The ECJ gave an example of an “abusive practice” as a withdrawing member state using successive notifications and revocations in order to improve the terms of its withdrawal from the EU.

MPs may try other parliamentary means to challenge no deal, such as by amending other legislation to make no deal difficult for the government, trying to stop the WA Bill or opposing the statutory instruments that are needed to implement a no deal Brexit. Another tactic might be a “humble address” against a no deal Brexit. This is a type of Parliamentary resolution under which contempt proceedings may be brought if it is not complied with. Labour used this successfully to have the government’s legal advice on the Northern Ireland backstop published.

6 Conclusion

The question is whether the parliamentary arithmetic means there is a majority in Parliament not just against no deal, but for an alternative.

Key to the result will be Labour’s position. At its September 2018 conference the party passed a resolution saying that Labour MPs must vote against any Conservative deal failing to meet Labour’s “six tests” in full. It also says a no-deal Brexit should be rejected as a viable option, and calls upon Labour MPs to oppose any attempt by the government to deliver a no deal outcome. The motion adds that Parliament should vote down the WA, or if talks end in no deal, a general election should take place. It then says that if Labour cannot get a general election then it must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote. However, even if the Labour shadow cabinet follows the resolution, it does not mean that all Labour MPs will vote the same way. Hilary Benn and many others have said that MPs will not allow a no deal Brexit. However, they have not yet explained which alternative a majority of MPs would support.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE.

Omar Salem is an Associate in the Financial Regulation Group of Linklaters LLP, London. He provides legal advice on complex regulatory matters (e.g. Brexit, MiFID II and the SMCR). Omar is an Executive LLM student at the LSE. He writes in a personal capacity.

News review – Thursday 10 January 2019

News review – Thursday 10 January 2019

Brexit

Express
THERESA May is facing calls to stop Parliament from blocking a no-deal Brexit by holding a general election immediately after the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union. The Prime Minister is widely expected to lose a crucial vote on her much-maligned divorce deal next week, but a high-stakes strategy which reportedly has the backing of Brexiteers could see her outmanoeuvre MPs demanding no-deal be taken off the table. The plan could see the Prime Minister use her powers to call a national vote for April 4 – just six days after Brexit Day on March 29. This would have the effect of dissolving Parliament for 17 working days before polling day, meaning no MPs would be sitting to oppose the Government’s no-deal contingency plans from coming into force, MailOnline reports. Mrs May is said to be under huge pressure from senior ministers to stand up to rebel MPs in her own party who have threatened to bring down the Government if it forges ahead with a no-deal Brexit by supporting a motion of no confidence from the opposition benches.

Times
Theresa May’s Brexit strategy was in tatters last night after Tory Remainer rebels opened talks with Labour over an alternative to her deal. The prime minister suffered another Commons defeat yesterday and will now be forced to produce a plan B within three days of Tuesday’s meaningful vote, which she is expected to lose. It also emerged last night that Mrs May was holding her own private meetings with Labour MPs to try to secure their backing. John Bercow, the Speaker, outraged ministers by overruling advice from officials in order to help an alliance of rebel Tories and opposition MPs to inflict the defeat, the second for the government in 24 hours.

Mirror
Theresa May is set to be forced to reveal her Brexit Plan B within just three days after she lost a damaging Commons vote. MPs voted 308-297 to make the Prime Minister return to Parliament by January 21 if her Brexit deal is defeated next Tuesday.  That would give her just three working days to come up with a plan. It is the second time in two days the government has been defeated over Brexit in the House of Commons. Last night, MPs inflicted the first Budget Bill defeat since 1978 when they voted 303-296 for a “guerrilla war” bid to block a No Deal Brexit .

Express
A “WOBBLY” Theresa May was “not convincing anyone” when she met with no-deal-hating Labour MPs on Tuesday in a desperate bid to win them over ahead of their January 14 vote on her Brexit deal, it has been claimed. The Prime Minister held a crisis charm offensive in the Boothroyd Room of the House of Commons. It was a last ditch attempt to curry favour with a group of mostly Labour backbenchers. Numerous MPs have spoken to criticise Mrs May over the meeting.

Mail
Remainers today said it is nearly inevitable that Brexit will be delayed – as Theresa may suffered her second humiliating Commons defeat on 24 hours.  MPs passed an amendment by 308 votes to 297 to force the PM to come up with a Plan B within days if her package fails to get through in a showdown next week.  It paves the way for MPs to give the government instructions on what they want to happen next – meaning they could block a no deal or demand another referendum.

Independent
Theresa May is on a fresh collision course with Brussels after the government said it would give MPs the chance to override a key part of the exit deal agreed with the European Union. In a new bid to win over Tory rebels, ministers announced they would support moves to ensure parliament is given a vote in 2020 on whether or not to enter the controversial Northern Ireland backstop. That could see MPs vote to block the UK entering the backstop, even though it would be legally bound to do so under the terms of the withdrawal agreement.

Sky News
Theresa May is considering backing an amendment that would keep EU rules on pay and conditions, health and safety, and environmental standards in an attempt to shore up support for her Brexit deal. It follows a second House of Commons defeat for the prime minister within 24 hours as MPs moved to force her to reveal her Brexit plan B sooner, if her EU divorce deal is rejected next week. Government sources told the Press Association that enshrining EU standards on workers’ rights was under consideration in order to get at least some labour MPs on her side.

Guardian
Theresa May’s room for manoeuvre should her Brexit deal be rejected next week was further constrained on Wednesday night, after the government  lost a second dramatic parliamentary showdown in as many days. An increasingly boxed-in prime minister must now set out her plan B within three working days of a defeat next Tuesday, after the rebel amendment passed. There were furious scenes in the House of Commons as the Speaker, John Bercow, took the controversial decision to allow a vote on the amendment, tabled by the former attorney general Dominic Grieve. A string of MPs, including the leader of the house,  Andrea Leadsom, repeatedly intervened to question the Speaker’s approach.

Mail
Theresa May is being urged to stop MPs blocking a no-deal Brexit by the ‘nuclear option’ of dissolving Parliament while it takes place. The PM is on track for a catastrophic Commons defeat next week on the package she has thrashed out with Brussels – with attention already focusing on what happens next.  MailOnline understands she is under massive pressure from senior ministers to face down Tory rebels who are threatening to kill off the government in order to avoid crashing out of the EU. More than a dozen Conservatives MPs have made clear they would back a no-confidence vote and force an election if Mrs May tried to leave without an agreement in place.

Independent
Theresa May is being urged to wield her powers as prime minister to ensure Brexit is forced through – regardless of whether there is a successful vote of no confidence against her government. Brexiteer ministers have indicated that even if the no-confidence vote planned by Labour goes against her, it would be in her gift to set the date of an ensuing election after Brexit day on 29 March. One cabinet minister backing the plan told The Independent it would mean Ms May could steer the country out of the EU with or without a deal before going to the polls in early April, adding: “The public are saying, ‘just f***ing get on with it’.”

WTO rules

Breitbart
Deputy Calais Mayor Jean-Marc Puissesseau has dismantled scare stories that Britain will have to reroute freight or that there will be massive delays at ports in the event of a “No Deal” Brexit. “We have been preparing for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit [for] one year in Calais. From the 29th of March, we will be ready,” Mr Puissesseau told Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday. “When [France’s transport minister] came to Calais, we told him we would be ready. “As Great Britain has decided not to check any trucks in export and not to check any trucks in import, we will not check the trucks more than we are doing today [for illegal migrants].

Westmonster
A Conservative Association has broken ranks and declared that its members now clearly favour a No Deal Brexit. The Rochester and Strood Conservative Association revealed that three-quarters of members are in favour of leaving the EU without a deal. Just 16% back Theresa May’s deal. They tweeted: “Rochester and Strood Constituency Conservative Association members 76% are in favour of WTO Brexit. 16% in favour of May’s Withdrawal Agreement.”  This is broadly in line with the opinion of grassroots Conservatives nationally.

Breitbart
The Chief Executive of NHS England has confirmed that Britain should not face any shortages of medicine after Brexit, despite scaremongering by EU loyalists. Asked if he could say “there won’t be any shortages of medicines” on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, top administrator Simon Stevens confirmed that, “as the Health Secretary said… if everyone does what they are being asked to do, particularly around the transport and logistics infrastructure, then yes that will be the case [that there will be no shortages].”

Bercow

Times
Senior government figures plotted revenge on John Bercow while clerks declared the Speaker “patently out of order” after he rejected their advice on a pivotal Brexit ruling yesterday. Mr Bercow ignored the counsel of Sir David Natzler, the clerk of the House, when he tore up precedent to allow MPs to vote to force the government’s hand on the Brexit timetable. Mr Bercow stunned ministers by allowing amendments to a business motion that set out the government’s Commons timetable for Brexit.

BBC News
John Bercow has been accused of “unilaterally changing” parliamentary rules in the wake of a row over a government Brexit defeat in Parliament.  Critics of the Commons Speaker say he broke with precedent and ignored the advice of officials when he approved a vote on the PM’s “Plan B” response, which ministers lost by 11 votes. Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said his actions were “extremely concerning”.

Breitbart
Members of Parliament have challenged Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow for allowing a vote on an amendment intended to derail a “No Deal” Brexit, in what may be construed as a breach of Commons precedent. It is widely expected that Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement will be voted down next week, which would leave No Deal as the default Brexit option. Current rules dictate that Mrs May would have to make a statement within 21 days on the Government’s plan of action, with a Commons vote in the following seven days.

Telegraph
John Bercow seized control of the Brexit process from Theresa May and handed it to MPs as the Prime Minister suffered her second humiliating Commons defeat in as many days. The Speaker ignored legal advice, and Parliamentary precedent, to allow a vote that gives Mrs May just three days to present a Plan B for Brexit if she loses the “meaningful vote” on her deal next Tuesday. MPs voted by 308-297 for an amendment that was tabled by Tory arch-rebel Dominic Grieve and backed by 16 other Conservatives, including former ministers Sir Oliver Letwin, Justine Greening and Ken Clarke.

Times
Yesterday’s session of prime minister’s questions was a low-key affair compared with what followed. With most of the cabinet, including Theresa May, still in their seats, waves of Conservative MPs railed at John Bercow’s decision to allow a vote on Dominic Grieve’s amendment, punctuated by the occasional defence from a pro-EU Conservative or a Labour MP. The opening salvo came from an unusual quarter.

Mail
John Bercow was accused of anti-Brexit bias last night after helping secure a major Government defeat in the Commons, just weeks after being branded a ‘pure and simply bully’ by a senior Tory whip. The Speaker has clashed with Conservative colleagues repeatedly in the last month over his conduct in the House.  This week, he tore up parliamentary procedures and over-ruled his own officials to permit a vote designed to tie Downing Street’s hands. His decision led to a stand-up row behind the scenes with Tory chief whip Julian Smith, who accused him of trying to frustrate Brexit.

Sun
A FRESH Commons clash between John Bercow and the Government erupted last month after a frontbencher branded him a “pure and simple bully,” The Sun can reveal. Footage shows the Government’s deputy chief whip Christopher Pincher fixing the Speaker with a firm stare before calling him a “bully” three times after he lectured Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom over procedure.  Mr Pincher then muttered “terrible man” while the Government chief whip Julian Smith shook his head in disgust.

BBC News by Mark D’Arcy
Boom! After a humdrum, almost completely unrevealing Prime Minister’s Questions, the Commons erupted over Speaker John Bercow’s decision to allow an attempt to change the rules for the resumed “meaningful vote” debate. This is no mere technicality. The amendment proposed by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve would require the government to come back within three days, rather than 21, to debate the implications of not having a Brexit deal – if the prime minister’s deal is indeed voted down next Tuesday. Under the previous rules, that debate would be kicked back to late February, with the Brexit clock ticking remorselessly in the background.

Labour Party

Mail
Labour appeared to be ready to push for a delay to Brexit tonight as  Jeremy Corbyn demanded a general election and his Brexit spokesman is said to have advised him that a second referendum might be the only way to prevent no-deal. Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said earlier that he doubted whether the process of leaving could be completed by March 29 if MPs rejected Theresa May‘s deal next week. Sir Keir has now reportedly warned Corbyn that a second referendum might be the only way to prevent the government steering Britain on a crash course towards no-deal.

Independent
Jeremy Corbyn will say a general election is the only way to heal the deep divisions caused by Brexit, in a speech where he will insist Labour could negotiate “a better deal” with the EU. The Labour leader will step up pressure on Theresa May to call an election to break the Brexit deadlock and declare that “the real divide is between the many, who do the work, create the wealth and pay taxes, and the few, who set the rules, reap the rewards and so often dodge taxes”.

BBC News
A general election is the most democratic way of breaking the Brexit deadlock, Jeremy Corbyn is to argue. The Labour leader will tell activists in Yorkshire that only a government with a “renewed mandate” will get public support for a withdrawal deal. His party will oppose Theresa May’s deal next week, and push for a vote of no confidence if it is rejected by MPs. The PM is considering trying to win over some Labour MPs to the deal by offering extra protection to workers.

South Thanet

Times
A Conservative Party official has been found guilty of falsifying expenses during the 2015 election campaign to stop Nigel Farage becoming an MP. Marion Little, 63, who was described by a judge as a “friend to prime ministers”, authorised spending above legal limits in the South Thanet constituency. The MP for the seat, Craig Mackinlay, was cleared of breaking election law at the same trial. “I await a statement from the Electoral Commission, the CPS and Kent police as to how they justify millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in pursuing me in a political show trial,” he said.

NHS

Telegraph
Four in 10 NHS organisations do not have a grip on their spending, a damming report suggests. The study by the National Audit Office (NAO) shows a steep rise in the number of organisations missing financial targets and failing to balance the books. The head of the watchdog said he was shocked by the “unacceptable” failings which were risking taxpayers’ money and public confidence in services.

Times
The first new drug designed to treat migraines in 20 years has been rejected by the NHS medicines watchdog on cost grounds. Charities representing the millions of migraine sufferers in the UK said that they were disappointed by the decision from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice). It had been hoped that erenumab, made by the pharmaceutical company Novartis under the brand name Aimovig, would become available on the NHS to half a million people who suffer chronic migraines at least every other day.

Pollution

Times
Pollution on the London Underground is up to 49 times higher than the national average on the street, a study has found. Passengers were exposed to far worse pollution on the tube than at the side of busy roads because of poor ventilation and the age of stations, according to research commissioned by Transport for London. It quoted papers that showed levels of particulate matter (PM) were 492 micrograms per cubic metre of air (mg/m3) at Hampstead on the Northern Line, the deepest station on the network.

Education

Telegraph
Grammar schools are sending more black and minority ethnic (BME) students to Cambridge University than all the other state schools in the country combined, a new analysis reveals. Children from the most disadvantaged 20 per cent of households are more than twice as likely to get a place at Oxford or Cambridge if they live in an area with grammar schools, according to the report. The paper, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), examines the impact of selective schooling on state educated pupils’ progression to top universities.

Armed forces

Sun
TORY MPs yesterday launched a fresh bid to free British troops of hated human rights laws. A draft law introduced by former British Army officer Leo Docherty calls for the British Armed Forces to be exempt from prosecution under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Currently soldiers can be chased years after they finish serving over breaches to the Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporated the convention into UK law. Mr Docherty warned that it paralyses troops on the battlefield as they fear being prosecuted for their actions years later.

Telegraph
The RAF’s new stealth jet is expected to be declared ready for combat in time to counter the “resurgent Russian threat”. Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, is thought to say today that the F-35B Lightning, the latest addition to the RAF’s fighter jet fleet, is capable of launching combat missions. Details of what the ‘Initial Operating Capability’ (IOC) entails is expected to be announced by the Secretary of State later today at RAF Marham, Norfolk, the home to the F-35s and the Tornado, the RAF’s workhorse since the 1970s.

Times
A Ministry of Defence IT modernisation programme that provides “mission critical” services is about £210 million over budget and more than two years late, according to a leaked report. The global connectivity programme that underpins almost every significant information service used by the department is in trouble, an independent 43-page review that has been obtained by The Times concludes. In 2015 Fujitsu, the IT services provider, was awarded a five-year contract.

The post News review – Thursday 10 January 2019 appeared first on Independence Daily.

Prepare for a WTO Brexit and Liberation – Part II

Prepare for a WTO Brexit and Liberation – Part II

The author of this article – first published in “Briefings for Brexit” –  is Robert Lee, former Chief Economist, Board of Executors (South Africa), now an economic consultant in the UK and a private investor. Part I of this essay was published yesterday in INDEPENDENCE Daily.

Managing a ‘no deal’

The default legal position is the most powerful motor behind a WTO Brexit, but it is not the only one. Largely unnoticed in the Brexit drama, preparations for leaving without a deal are reported to be advancing fast. According to The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson, one Cabinet member says that “the civil service might yet turn out to be the heroes of Brexit …. the preparations are amazing. I really think we can handle this. Last month, I didn’t”. One Downing Street official thinks it would be “more Millenium Bug than World War Three”. Businesses, civil servants, local authorities, and regional organisations are not interested in political grandstanding, but in making things work on the ground.

The Cabinet is now meeting regularly to discuss no deal preparations. Some Ministers are focusing on a “managed no deal”. The term “managed” applies in two senses. Firstly there would be a series of “mini-deals”, some bilateral, on issues such as airline landing rights, supply of medicines, continuity of financial contracts etc. The UK has just won agreement to stay in the Common Transit Convention, ensuring simplified cross border trade for UK exporters. The EU’s “no deal” preparations largely mirror ours, so agreement can be swift and mutually beneficial (some Remainers paint a grim picture of “no deal” by arguing that the EU would withhold vital supplies – in violation of international AND EU law – in order to punish the UK. How they reconcile this brutalist view of the EU with their desire to stay in is beyond me). Secondly, “no deal” could be further managed by agreeing a transition period in which the UK pays the EU our existing annual fee (about 10bn pounds net) giving both parties more time to prepare for WTO trading. In either case the UK would unilaterally guarantee EU citizen’s rights as per the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

This has dramatic implications for the future course of Brexit. A rising flow of positive news about WTO Brexit preparations should increase public support (already much greater than for The Deal) and diminish Parliamentary resistance. Even with the best preparation there will be some disruption as the economy and business adjust to new trading systems and arrangements.  However these adjustment costs will be one off or temporary. Shifting to a new supply chain, paying higher tariffs (on average about 4%, much less than Sterling’s post-referendum 15% depreciation), or adding to stockpiles only adds to business costs once – while the many advantages to be gained are long term and permanent.

Positive policies

Though we would still have to pay some money to the EU, the bulk of the 39bn pounds agreed in The Deal could instead be used to offset any short term hit to the economy, by cutting taxes or supporting those sectors most affected. If no transition period is agreed we will raise more tariff revenue from the EU than we pay – given our large trade deficit with the EU – and these funds can further support the economy. Some tariffs could be abolished or reduced immediately. We will be free to negotiate free trade agreements, including of course in time with the EU itself – a negotiation in which our leverage will be greater than now. We will be free to set our own rules and regulations, and thus protect our world leading growth industries – bio-tech, renewable energy, digital, aerospace, fin-tech, and others – from restrictive future EU legislation.

We could boost selected coastal cities and towns by setting up free ports (not possible while in the EU). We will be immediately out of the Common Fisheries Policy and Common Agricultural Policy, with the growth opportunities provided by that freedom. An immigration policy designed for the needs of our economy and society can be introduced. Much of the Brexit uncertainty which has been holding back business investment, and souring our politics, will have gone. Conversely, The Deal merely prolongs the uncertainty into the indefinite future. We will also be out of the EU before the next and possibly terminal Eurozone crisis erupts – judging by recent economic data it has already begun.

The next few months will be stormy, but calmer waters may lie ahead as time, and the democratic legal process push us to a Clean and Global Brexit. As economist Ruth Lea puts it: “This would be a Liberation, not a crisis”.

The post Prepare for a WTO Brexit and Liberation – Part II appeared first on Independence Daily.

News review – Wednesday 9 January 2019

News review – Wednesday 9 January 2019

Brexit

Sky News
Theresa May is attempting to stage a Brexit fightback after an embarrassing Commons defeat by unveiling a series of pledges on Northern Ireland in a bid to win over the Democratic Unionist Party. After 20 Tories rebelled and the government was defeated by MPs battling to block a no-deal Brexit, the debate on the Prime Minister’s deal – dramatically postponed last month – resumes in the Commons.  Facing a crushing defeat at the end of a five-day debate in December, Mrs May announced she would return to Brussels to seeks concessions on the Irish border and the so-called Northern Ireland “backstop”.

Mail
Theresa May suffered another humiliating defeat at the hands of Tory Remain rebels tonight as they won a ‘shutdown’ vote and promised more revolts against no deal. In a defiant show of rebel strength, 20 Tories voted for an amendment to the Finance Bill tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper to tie the Treasury’s hands in a no deal Brexit – with the Government losing 303 to 296. And the rebels warned the PM the alliance with Labour will ‘sustain itself’ and promised ‘we will not allow a no deal exist to occur at the end of March’.

BBC News
Theresa May’s no-deal Brexit preparations suffered a blow after MPs defeated the Government in the Commons.  Labour former minister Yvette Cooper tabled an amendment to the Budget-enacting Finance (No. 3) Bill which attracted support from Tory rebels.  Her proposal aims to restrict the Government’s freedom to use the Bill to make tax changes linked to a no-deal Brexit without the “explicit consent” of Parliament. It was supported by 303 votes to 296, a majority of seven

Express
THERESA May has been suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the House of Commons after MPs voted to curtail the Government’s tax powers in an effort to reduce the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. The cross-party amendment to the finance bill, backed by 20 Tory rebels, passed by 303 votes to 296. Designed to provide an obstacle to a hard Brexit, the change will restrict some of the Treasury’s no-deal Brexit tax powers.

Mirror
MPs kicked off their ‘guerilla’ war in Parliament inflicting a defeat on the Government and blocking taxation powers unless a no-deal Brexit is taken off the table. They voted 303 to 296 in the first of many attempts to block or amend key legislation before Brexit Day. Labour former minister Yvette Cooper tabled an amendment to the Budget-enacting  finance (No. 3) Bill which attracted support from Tory rebels. Her proposal aims to restrict the Government’s freedom to use the Bill to make tax changes linked to a no-deal Brexit without the “explicit consent” of Parliament.

Times
Senior Conservatives vowed last night to fight a guerrilla campaign to stop a “disastrous” no-deal Brexit after inflicting the first Commons defeat on a government finance bill in more than 40 years. Twenty Tory MPs, including seven former cabinet ministers, broke a three-line whip to restrict the Treasury’s powers to prepare for leaving the European Union without a deal in March. The rebels, who included the former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon and the former Cabinet Office minister Sir Oliver Letwin, warned that they would continue to sabotage all no-deal Brexit legislation until Theresa May ruled out the option.

Telegraph
Tory rebels began a “guerrilla war” to block a no-deal Brexit on Tuesday night by helping defeat Theresa May in a vote that restricts her powers if Britain leaves without an agreement in place. Twenty Conservative MPs, including 17 former ministers, voted for a Labour amendment that will prevent the Government altering certain taxes in the event of no deal.

Independent
The government suffered a fresh defeat over Theresa May‘s  Brexit  strategy after MPs backed an amendment to the Finance Bill that will limit tax powers in the event of a chaotic exit from the EU. The amendment, tabled by ex-ministers Yvette Cooper and Nicky Morgan, seeks to force the government to take a no-deal Brexit off the table. MPs backed the amendment by 303 votes to 296, in a vote that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called “an important step” in reducing the chances of a no-deal exit.

Guardian
Theresa May faces a concerted campaign of parliamentary warfare from a powerful cross-party alliance of MPs determined to use every lever at their disposal to prevent Britain leaving the EU without a deal in March. The former staunch loyalist Sir Oliver Letwin signalled that he and other senior Conservatives would defy party whips, repeatedly if necessary, to avoid a no-deal Brexit, as the government suffered a humiliating defeat during a debate on the finance bill in the Commons.

Breitbart
Britain’s Parliament has dealt the government a narrow defeat by passing an amendment designed to put roadblocks in place to make a “No Deal” Brexit more difficult. Legislators on Tuesday backed an amendment to the Finance Bill that would prohibit spending on “No Deal” preparations unless authorised by Parliament. The vote showed widespread opposition in Parliament to possible plans for a “No Deal” scenario under which Britain would leave the European Union on March 29th without a departure agreement in place.

Westmonster
MPs seeking to block a No Deal Brexit have voted for an amendment to the Finance Bill aimed at thwarting preparations for an exit on WTO terms, in a symbolic defeat for the government. Many in Westminster are still determined to block a clean break with the EU. The amendment passed narrowly by 303 votes to 296. Westmonster reported how Yvette Cooper and other anti-Brexit MPs had tabled the amendment just before Christmas.

Harassment

Independent
Pro-Brexit campaigners have condemned the harassment of MPs and journalists by “far-right” demonstrators outside parliament. Leave Means Leave said abuse shouted at Remain supporters including Tory MP Anna Soubry was “utterly unacceptable”. A group calling themselves “Yellow Vests UK” have been returning to Westminster almost daily to confront and heckle pro-EU demonstrators who gather at College Green. On Monday, they chanted “Soubry is a Nazi” as the MP did television interviews before following her along the street shouting abuse.

Guardian
Dozens of MPs have written to the UK’s most senior police officer to raise concerns about safety outside parliament after the Conservative MP Anna Soubry faced chants from protesters on Monday calling her a “Nazi”. At least 55 parliamentarians signed the letter to the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, after the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, urged officers to do more to protect MPs and Soubry criticised the lack of police response to the abuse. Scotland Yard later confirmed it had opened an investigation into whether any offences had been committed when chants of “Soubry is a Nazi” could clearly be heard while the pro-remain MP was being interviewed by BBC News on Abingdon Green.

Independent
A Leave-supporting MP has been spotted outside parliament carrying a GoPro camera to document abuse from protesters. David Davies, the Welsh Conservative MP, said Brexiteers had been subjected to harassment by Remain-backing opponents for the past year. Speaking to The Independent, he said: “People have started to notice it now because it seems to be going on on all sides, but it’s been going on for 12 months as far as I’m concerned.

Sky News
Conservative MP Anna Soubry has told Sky News she felt in physical danger when faced by protesters in Westminster. The former Tory minister was taunted with shouts of “Nazi” during live TV interviews on Monday, before being confronted by a group of men as she made her way back to parliament. Metropolitan Police are facing demands to change how they deal with protesters who “ritually” insult and abuse MPs.

Mirror
Theresa May today condemned the Brexit abuse waged against Anna Soubry – who was branded a Nazi by Leave-backing protesters outside Parliament. The Prime Minister told this morning’s Cabinet meeting the “unacceptable and disgraceful treatment” meted out to the Remain-supporting former Business Minister was “not how debate should be conducted”, her spokesman said. Later, Speaker John Bercow branded the actions of protesters “a type of fascism”.

BBC News
Speaker John Bercow has described the abuse and harassment of MPs outside Parliament as “a type of fascism” and called for a change of policing policy. He said recent incidents, including Tory MP Anna Soubry being verbally abused on Monday, were “intolerable”. At least 115 MPs have called on police to improve their response to abusive protesters outside Parliament. The Metropolitan Police has said it is ready to “deal robustly” with any instances of criminal harassment.

Breitbart
Nigel Farage has warned against taking police action or passing new laws to punish people for insulting politicians, after British “yellow vests” branded EU loyalist Anna Soubry MP a fascist. The Brexit campaign leader was responding to incidents in which the Tory MP and left-wing commentator Owen Jones were followed by Brexiteer protesters wearing yellow tabards in the style of the anti-Macron gilets jaunes in France, near Parliament, and criticised in no uncertain terms. Ms Soubry, in particular, is a deeply unpopular figure among Brexiteers, having stood for election in her Leave-voting constituency on a Leave manifesto, claiming to have accepted the Leave vote, and even tweeting “Brexit means Brexit” — before turning all her efforts towards openly campaigning for Brexit to be stopped.

No deal

Express
Britain’s “best and only chance” of reaping the rewards of quitting the European Union is to leave without a deal, 17 leading Brexit groups have told Theresa May. Trading on international rules after March 29 instead of signing off the divorce deal on offer from Brussels would put an end to the uncertainty blighting the country and stop £39 billion being needlessly given away, the alliance said. In an open letter to the Prime Minister and every MP, cross-party campaigns including Leave Means Leave, Labour Leave and Economists for Free Trade, said the withdrawal agreement on offer was a “shoddy political compromise”.

Independent
Theresa May is on a collision course with parliament after Downing Street indicated she would take Britain out of the European Union without a deal if MPs reject her proposals in a crunch vote. At cabinet the prime minister acknowledged defeat could be on the cards next week, telling ministers she would “move quickly” to make a statement if her plans fall. Her spokesperson later underlined that while she would prefer a deal, “she is going to deliver” Brexit on 29 March regardless.

Mail
Adverts warning the public to prepare themselves for a no deal  Brexit  have today begun being aired on radio amid mounting fears the UK will crash out of the bloc. The Government has paid for the emergency ads to be aired as part of their last tranche of no deal planning signed off by senior ministers late last month. The ads, which are being aired on commercial radio stations across the UK, comes amid fears warring MPs will not agree a Brexit deal before March 29.

EU

Mail
Irish PM Leo Varadkar today insisted the EU does not want to ‘trap’ the UK as he held out the prospect of more ‘assurances’ on the Brexit deal. Mr Varadkar sounded a conciliatory note as he made clear the bloc will give written commitments that the Irish border backstop would only be temporary. But other EU ministers have insisted the guarantees, expected before the crunch Commons vote next week, will only be ‘political’ rather than legally binding as Theresa May had hoped.

Guardian
Germany has said it stands in “full solidarity” with Ireland over the Irish backstop, saying a hard border would be unacceptable to the EU. Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, was speaking as Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, said MPs who were planning to vote against Theresa May’s deal needed to stop their “wishful thinking” that the EU would reopen Brexit negotiations. “Some people call us stubborn, but the truth is avoiding a hard border in Ireland is a fundamental concern for the EU, a union that more than anything else serves one purpose – to build and maintain peace in Europe,” said Maas.

Times
German industrial production fell sharply in November, according to official data that is likely to fuel anxieties about the country’s economy. Output fell for the third consecutive month in November, according to Destatis, the German federal statistics office, which recorded a drop of 1.9 per cent.  Economists had forecast a rise of 0.3 per cent. The downbeat reading was driven largely by consumer goods, which fell by 4.1 per cent. Energy production declined by 3.1 per cent and construction products were 1.7 per cent down. Industrial production, which excludes energy and construction, fell by 1.8 per cent, as did the production of capital goods.

NHS

Guardian
NHS leaders are preparing to risk a backlash by relaxing long-established key treatment waiting time targets, including hospitals’ duty to deal with A&E patients within four hours. Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, admitted it was considering changing the system under which 95% of A&E arrivals were meant to be seen and admitted, discharged or transferred within four hours. The shake-up could see people with only minor ailments, such as a sprain, forced to wait longer, while priority is given to those with more serious conditions

Times
The biggest emergencies-only hospital in Europe will take three years longer than expected to build and cost nearly twice its original budget. The Midland Metropolitan Hospital was intended to treat 170,000 A&E patients a year from this summer but will not open until 2022. It will also cost at least £605 million, despite originally being priced at £350 million. The problems were highlighted after Theresa May unveiled a ten-year strategy for the health service that included a £20 billion spending boost by 2023.

Migrants

Times
Official population figures may be miscalculating the number of migrants by tens of thousands in many areas, according to findings published today. The Social Market Foundation, a public policy think tank, says that significant inflows of migrants have meant that census and survey information about the number of people living in the UK who were not born there can quickly become outdated and “shrouded in guesswork”. The official estimate from the year to June 2018 that there were 9.4 million people living in the UK who were not born there could be out by 145,000 in either direction, the foundation said.

Mirror
A fee for many migrants to use the NHS has doubled, effective from today. The immigration health surcharge has been hiked from £200 to £400 a year, or £150 to £300 for international students. It applies to people who come to the UK from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) – which includes the EU and other countries – and stay for more than six months. When they announced the move 11 months ago Tory ministers said the up-front fee would raise around £220 million a year. The surcharge was originally brought in by the Government in 2015 in a clampdown on so-called “health tourism”.

Prison

Telegraph
Prison bars are to be removed from cell windows at new jails following a government-funded study which warned they were “punitive” and “institutional.” The three-year taxpayer-funded project proposed rethinking the architecture of prisons to help boost the prospects of rehabilitating offenders by “normalising their environment.” Yvonne Jewkes, a professor of criminology at Bath University, is now conducting a second study, also funded by £600,000 of taxpayers’ cash, into whether calling prisoners “men” and cells “rooms” will help rehabilitate offenders.

Mail
Bars will not be fitted on windows at new jails after a report described them as ‘punitive’ and ‘institutional’. A government-funded study suggested the architecture of prisons should be reformed to help boost the rehabilitation of offenders by ‘normalising their environment’. Her Majesty’s Prison Service said bars would be replaced by reinforced glass following the report by Yvonne Jewkes, professor of criminology at Bath University. She is now compiling a second report on whether prisoners should be called ‘men’ and cells rebranded ‘rooms’. The two studies together will cost around £600,000.

Drones

Telegraph
Heathrow suspended all departures on Tuesday due to reported drone sightings just weeks after a similar debacle caused chaos at Gatwick. The London airport halted all outbound flights at around 5pm as a “precautionary measure” to “prevent any threat to operational safety”. They were given the all clear around an hour later, as staff said they would continue to monitor the situation and government sources said they remained on standby. A Heathrow spokesman said: “We continue to work closely with the Met Police to respond to reports of drones at Heathrow.

Times
Fears were raised over security at British airports yesterday after Heathrow grounded flights for almost an hour over a suspected drone sighting. Critics demanded to know why Europe’s busiest airport was without permanent drone defences almost three weeks after a similar incident led to a shutdown at Gatwick. Heathrow, which handles 214,000 passengers a day, suspended all departures shortly after 5pm following reports of a device being flown to the north of the airfield.

Mail
The technology deployed by Gatwick airport bosses to prevent further drone chaos has been revealed as an advanced system used by the U.S. military that can cost as little as £800,000. It comes after disruption spread to Heathrow when flights were halted for nearly 90 minutes when police spotted a rogue craft above the runway. New pictures taken at the airport on Friday show the Anti-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Defence System, or AUDS for short, on the roof of the South Terminal in West Sussex

Star
THE military was deployed to London Heathrow airport last night after a drone sighting was confirmed by police. A drone was spotted over Heathrow yesterday evening, sparking chaos as dozens of flights were suspended. Passengers were told their flights would not be leaving as police helicopters were scrambled to the airfield. It came just weeks after Gatwick airport was crippled by drone chaos that halted more than 1,000 flights over Christmas.

Sun
TWITTER has erupted into a frenzy of memes and GIFS after flights at Heathrow Airport were suspended because of a DRONE. The latest travel chaos comes weeks after multiple drone sightings caused flights to be suspended at Gatwick in the run up to Christmas.  But as passengers at  the UK’s largest airport stress over their travel plans, Twitter users have responded to the news with side-splitting posts. One cheeky Twitter user posted a snap of Theresa May operating a drone, along with the caption: “Should distract everyone for a few hours.”

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