Posts Tagged ‘referendum’

UK government yet to commission Australian migration system review

A month after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to commission a report into Australia’s points-based migration system, he still hasn’t done so, according to the independent committee that would be charged with conducting the review.

“For years, politicians have promised the public an Australian-style points based system,” Johnson said on July 25 in his first speech to the British parliament after replacing Theresa May as PM. “And today I will actually deliver on those promises — I will ask the Migration Advisory Committee to conduct a review of that system as the first step in a radical rewriting of our immigration system.”

But the committee said Johnson’s government has yet to request the review.

“At present we have not received the commission to look at an Australian points-based system for the U.K.,” a Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) official said. “We look forward to receiving more detail on the commission in due course.”

According to the MAC official, it could take about six months to produce a report, though the actual timing would depend on the details of the commission itself.

“I don’t know if they’re going to give us this [commission] separately or as a sort of light-touch one as part of another commission. That’s what we’re waiting for at the moment — whether it’s going to be a real in-depth one, or an initial look and then an in-depth one later,” the official said. “I can’t give you more information at the moment because we’re not sure ourselves.”

Speculation about the commission “stemmed from just a comment [Johnson] made in parliament,” the official continued. “It’s much more work than just saying that and then expecting the answers, isn’t it?”

A No. 10 spokesperson said: “The PM has instructed the Home Office to task the MAC,” and “they will be actioning this in due course.”

A Home Office spokesperson said that Johnson has “set out this government’s ambitious vision for a new immigration system that is open to the world and brings the brightest and best to the U.K.”

“As part of this, the home secretary will shortly commission the independent Migration Advisory Committee to review the Australian-style points-based system,” the spokesperson added.

Earlier this month, a spokeswoman for the prime minister said Johnson’s post-Brexit immigration plan is still “being developed” but insisted that freedom of movement “will end” on October 31, when the U.K. is due to leave the EU. “The prime minister has obviously been clear he wants to introduce an Australian-style points base immigration system,” the spokeswoman added at the time.

Johnson backed the points-based system when he led the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum, and has repeatedly said he wanted to introduce the system in the U.K. after Brexit.

Emilio Casalicchio contributed reporting.

This article has been updated with a response from a Home Office spokesperson.

Nearly half of UK voters back no-deal Brexit and no PM Corbyn, poll finds

Almost half of British voters would prefer the country to leave the European Union without a Brexit deal and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn not to become prime minister, according to a YouGov poll.

When asked to choose between that scenario and one in which Corbyn becomes the country’s next leader and holds a second referendum on Brexit, just over a third backed the option that could see Britain remain in the EU.

Nearly one in five people said they remain undecided.

The poll represents a setback for Corbyn’s plan to create a cross-party coalition to fight the government’s plan to leave the EU with or without a deal on October 31.

The Labour leader is trying to convince others to call a no-confidence vote in Boris Johnson, the country’s current prime minister, and install Corbyn as the U.K.’s interim leader until a new general election can be called.

Corbyn on Saturday reiterated his intention to lead a caretaker government if Johnson is ousted. “I am the leader of the Labour Party, Labour is the largest opposition party by far. That is the process that must be followed,” he told ITV News.

“We will do everything we can to stop a no-deal Brexit,” Corbyn added, stating: “What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don’t have a crash-out on the 31st [October].”

According to the YouGov poll, Brits are still against a no-deal Brexit, with 49 percent agreeing that would be an unacceptable final outcome, versus 38 percent of respondents that found it acceptable.

More people polled were in favor of accepting the deal negotiated with the EU than were against.

The YouGov poll also suggested Brexit-supporting voters were more united than those who would prefer the U.K. to remain in the 28-country bloc.

Four out of five Brexit supporters told the polling company they would support a no-deal Brexit with Corbyn not becoming the next prime minister, while only 64 percent of voters who wanted to remain in the EU want the Labour leader to take over as prime minister and call a second Brexit referendum.

Almost a quarter of voters who voted to remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum would prefer to see the U.K. leave the bloc instead of Corbyn taking over as the country’s next leader, according to YouGov.

The poll of 1,968 people was conducted on Thursday and Friday.

Backbench UK MPs balk at plans to stop Brexit

Up to 15 Labour and independent British politicians may block attempts to delay or stop Brexit, making it tough to stop London from pushing ahead with leaving the European Union on October 31, according to analysis by The Sun.

The British newspaper said a number of Brexit-leaning lawmakers, including Labour MP Kate Hoey, would not support cross-party plans to take a no-deal Brexit off the table.

That could make it difficult for efforts by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, to create a coalition of like-minded politicians to topple the current government and call for a general election to postpone Brexit.

“Like all other Labour MP’s I fought on a manifesto in 2017 to respect the referendum vote,” Hoey wrote on Twitter. “Any action taken now to stop us Leaving on October 31st by Labour is a knife in the back of the majority of Labour constituencies who voted to Leave.”

The growing political uncertainty comes as Sadiq Khan, the London mayor and a senior Labour official, called on Jo Swinson, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, to back Corbyn’s plan to halt a no-deal Brexit. Swinson had said she would not support a Corbyn-led plan to call a no-confidence vote in Boris Johnson, the U.K.’s prime minister, and install the Labour leader as interim prime minister until a new election could be called.

“The Liberal Democrats’ continued insistence that Jeremy Corbyn could not lead this potential unity government is now the single biggest obstacle to stopping no deal,” Khan wrote in a letter to Swinson, according to the Guardian.

As expectations mount that British voters will be called upon to resolve the political impasse through a general election, Sajid Javid, the country’s chancellor of the exchequer, said he would likely simplify the U.K.’s tax system when he announces his budget later this year.

Johnson, the U.K. leader, promised to lower people’s taxes during his prime ministerial campaign, and Javid reiterated that changes to the country’s tax system were likely on the cards.

“It wouldn’t be any surprise that I think taxes should be efficient,” the U.K. lawmaker told The Times. “We want to set them at a rate where we are trying to maximise revenue, and that doesn’t always mean that you have the highest tax rate possible.”

Former Tory MP Sarah Wollaston joins Lib Dems

Sarah Wollaston, a former U.K. Tory MP who quit the party to fight against a no-deal Brexit, joined the Liberal Democrats Wednesday.

Wollaston, who became the Lib Dems’ 14th MP, said in a statement she believed joining the party was the best way to represent her constituency of Totnes, which narrowly voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum.

The GP, who herself voted Remain but pledged to commit to delivering Brexit after the referendum, said her job had played a role in her decision.

“As a doctor for over twenty-four years, I try to base my decisions on evidence, and as that emerges, to be open to changing course,” Wollaston said. “As the economic facts unfolded, I found myself unable to support a version of Brexit with consequences that I know would hurt so many individuals, businesses, families and communities.”

Wollaston initially quit the Tories to join The Independent Group (now known as ChangeUK) in February, but left the group in June to become an independent. Wollaston said in her statement she would be more effective if she was a member of a party rather than continue on on her own.

“We are now entering the final weeks to prevent the dire consequences of the PM’s ‘do or die’ approach to Brexit,” she wrote. “Preventing that harm will take unprecedented cross-party working and my in-box has been full of messages urging me to be part of a Remain Alliance which I will be doing through joining the Liberal Democrats.”

Wollaston’s move came as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made a formal offer to MPs from across the political divide on Wednesday to back his bid to seize power from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and block a no-deal Brexit. In a letter to the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, Greens and four senior Tory backbenchers, Corbyn urged them to back a no-confidence vote in the PM and support his caretaker government. He promised to then secure an extension to the Article 50 Brexit process and call an election, in which Labour would campaign for a second referendum with an option of staying in the EU.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.

Jeremy Corbyn seeks help to block no-deal Brexit

LONDON — U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launched a plea Wednesday, urging fellow opposition parties to back his bid to seize power from Boris Johnson and block a no-deal Brexit, but faced immediate attacks from his would-be allies.

In a letter to party bosses and other senior backbench MPs, Corbyn said he would “seek the confidence of the House [of Commons] for a strictly time-limited temporary government.”

He promised to secure an extension to the Article 50 Brexit process and call an election, in which Labour would campaign for a second referendum with an option of staying in the EU.

But his continued refusal to fully support overturning the 2016 referendum results altogether drew the ire of the party leaders he wrote to.

Prime Minister Johnson has vowed to take the U.K. out of the EU, deal or no deal, by October 31 and has refused to rule out ripping up constitutional norms to do so.

Anti-Brexit parties are reportedly set to meet on Thursday to discuss how to maximize their support across the country.

MPs have been mulling routes to block him, including the option of defeating his administration in a vote of confidence and then forming a cross-party government of national unity.

Corbyn wrote to the Westminster leaders of the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, which are all supportive of a second EU referendum, urging them to back him as a temporary premier after a vote of no confidence.

He also wrote to Tory backbenchers Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin, Nick Boles and Caroline Spelman, who have been plotting to block a no-deal departure.

The Labour leader said their priority “should be to work together in parliament to prevent a deeply damaging no-deal being imposed on the country, denying voters the final say.”

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said Corbyn is “not the person who is going to be able to build an even temporary majority in the House of Commons” | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

“This government has no mandate for no-deal, and the 2016 EU referendum provided no mandate for no-deal. I therefore intend to table a vote of no confidence at the earliest opportunity when we can be confident of success,” Corbyn wrote.

But Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said Corbyn is “not the person who is going to be able to build an even temporary majority in the House of Commons for this task.”

“I would expect there are people in his own party and indeed the necessary Conservative backbenchers who would be unwilling to support him. It is a nonsense,” she added.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said he would work with the Labour leader but said the party “needs to get off the fence on Brexit.”

Liz Saville Roberts, the Westminster leader of Plaid Cymru, welcomed the proposal of a national unity government but blasted Corbyn for committing to a general election first over a second Brexit referendum.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said he would work with the Labour leader | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

“His approach seems to be driven by the fact that Labour know their current frontbench cannot command the confidence of the House of Commons,” she said in a statement.

She was echoed by Green MP Caroline Lucas, who said “the proposal from the Labour leader does not guarantee that the people are given the final say on Brexit.”

“Holding a general election before a People’s Vote is the wrong way around,” Lucas added.

In what appeared to be a pre-emptive response to the appeal from Corbyn, Johnson earlier on Wednesday accused him of wanting to “cancel the referendum and argue about Brexit for years.”

He said on Twitter: “I am committed to leading our country forward and getting Britain out of the EU by October 31.”

A Downing Street spokesman said there is a “clear” choice: “Either Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, who will overrule the referendum and wreck the economy, or Boris Johnson as prime minister, who will respect the referendum and deliver more money for the NHS and more police on our streets.

“This government believes the people are the masters and votes should be respected, Jeremy Corbyn believes that the people are the servants and politicians can cancel public votes they don’t like.”

Anti-Brexit parties are reportedly set to meet on Thursday to discuss how to maximize their support across the country.

This article is part of POLITICOs premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.

Former UK chancellor: No mandate for no-deal Brexit

Pulling the U.K. out of the EU without a trade deal would be as much of a betrayal of British voters as not delivering Brexit at all, according to former U.K. Chancellor Philip Hammond.

“There is no mandate for leaving with no deal,” given the British public was told a divorce agreement with the EU “would be the easiest deal ever done,” Hammond told the BBC’s “Today” program.

“Leaving the EU without a deal would be just as much a betrayal of the referendum result as not leaving at all,” Hammond said this morning. “It’s absurd to suggest the 52 percent who voted to leave the EU all voted to leave with no deal.”

The former chancellor, who resigned from the British government in protest at Boris Johnson’s stance on Brexit last month, said the PM has both privately and publicly said he could get a Brexit deal, “but I fear there are other people around him whose agenda is different.” The comments echoed an op-ed Hammond wrote for Wednesday’s Times, in which he lashed out at the “unelected people who pull the strings of this government.”

In the “Today” interview, Hammond took aim at the Johnson government’s decision to say the Irish backstop had to be cut from the Brexit deal.

“Pivoting to say that the backstop has to go in its entirety — a huge chunk of the Withdrawal Agreement, just scrapped — is effectively a wrecking tactic,” he said. “The people behind this know this means there will be no deal.”

Hammond reaffirmed his commitment to preventing no deal from being pushed through against the will of the parliament and warned against any move to suspend the House of Commons.

“Any idea of trying to bypass parliament by dissolving it for example and holing an election over the exit date would provoke a constitutional crisis,” Hammond said. Johnson has vowed to lead Britain out of the EU by October 31st, “do or die,” and refused to rule out suspending parliament in order to ram through a no-deal Brexit against the will of MPs.

Hammond also said the government’s no-deal preparation wouldn’t provide long-term solutions.

“Preparing doesn’t solve the longer-term problems,” he said. Michael Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal preparations, “is talking about an intervention fund to buy lamb and dispose of it … now that’s probably a perfectly sensible thing to do in the first few months … but you can’t do it five years later, 10 years later.”

Gove was reported to be considering buying up surplus lambs from farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The government denied the report.

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