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Theresa May to hold Downing Street talks with union leaders in bid to break Brexit deadlock

1 hour 11 minutes ago
Len McCluskey
Unite boss Len McCluskey will meet Theresa May on Thursday.

Theresa May is to hold talks with trade union bosses as part of efforts to break the Brexit deadlock.

The Prime Minister is expected to meet with Unite boss Len McCluskey in Downing Street on Thursday.

Plans are also being drawn up for her to sit down with GMB general secretary Tim Roache and Dave Prentis, the boss of Unison.

The talks will take place against the backdrop of Jeremy Corbyn's continued refusal to meet with Mrs May unless she rules out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "She is due to be seeing a number of union leaders later this week, one of whom is Len McCluskey.

"The Prime Minister has said this is going to be a process of engagement with people from across the House of Commons, but also with other interested sectors."

It is not known whether Mrs May will meet the union bosses individually or in a single meeting.

Like the Prime Minister, Len McCluskey has previously spoken out against holding a second referendum.

“Bluntly, there is no route to a parliamentary majority without London, nor without the Midlands and the North, and of course Scotland,” he wrote in a piece for the New Statesman.

“There could be nothing better designed to blow that alliance apart than a second referendum, as things stand.”

But his stance has put him at odds with Tim Roache, who is supporting the campaign for a so-called "People's Vote".

Kevin Schofield

Top EU official says Northern Ireland hard border 'pretty obvious' under no-deal Brexit

3 hours 38 minutes ago
A protest hoarding close to the old Irish border.
Number 10 said Theresa May would "do everything we can to avoid a hard border".

It is "pretty obvious" that no-deal Brexit will lead to a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the European Commission's chief spokesperson has said.

In comments that appeared to go much further than previous public remarks by EU officials, Margaritis Schinas told reporters that the bloc would "inevitably" have to respond to Britain quitting the bloc without an agreement.

Irish Prime Mininster Leo Varadkar has repeatedly denied making plans for fresh customs checks on the historically-sensitive frontier in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

But Mr Schinas said: "If you'd like to me to push me and speculate on what might happen in a no-deal scenario in Ireland, I think it's pretty obvious: you will have a hard border.

"And our commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and everything that we have been doing for years with our tools, instruments and programmes will have to take, inevitably, into account this fact.

"So, of course we are for peace; of course we stand behind the Good Friday Agreement but... a no-deal scenario, that's what it [would] entail."

The remarks came just a day after Mrs May vowed to press the EU for fresh changes to the Northern Ireland backstop element of her Brexit deal, which would see the UK tied to the EU's customs union and parts of the single market in a bid to avoid a hard border if no other solution can be found.

But she told MPs: "All of us agree that as we leave the European Union we must fully respect the Belfast agreement and not allow the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or indeed a border down the Irish sea."

Pressed on Mr Schinas's comments today, the Prime Minister's spokesperson said: "We will do everything we can to avoid a hard border."

Matt Foster

Wes Streeting MP: I would rather risk losing my job than stay silent on Brexit and risk my constituents losing theirs

3 hours 53 minutes ago
Protestors outside Parliament
Some colleagues are going to vote for a Brexit that they know will harm their communities and our country because they’re scared of telling voters the truth or because they see it as their responsibility to simply be amplifiers for what their voters are saying on the doorsteps, says Wes Streeting.

We owe it to our country to tackle the burning injustices that led to Brexit, but those MPs who believe that Brexit will make that task harder owe it to our country to speak with honesty and conviction - and to let the people determine our country’s future, says Wes Streeting MP.

There is a democratic deficit at the heart of Brexit. People were told to vote Leave to take control, yet so many Leave voters are looking at Theresa May’s handling of the negotiations and wondering what happened to the Brexit they were promised.

They’re right to be angry. The Leave campaign was never honest about the choices, compromises and trade-offs involved. The choices available now fall into one of two categories: a hard Brexit, which would be painful because we’d be sacrificing jobs and trade; or a soft Brexit, which would be pointless because we’d be subjected to EU rules and regulations with no say over them. This isn’t what people voted for.

We owe it to our constituents and our country to be honest about the pain and futility of the choices confronting us. But instead of speaking with clarity and conviction, fear of the voters is now driving dishonesty at the heart of the Brexit debate. Some MPs are still talking about a fantasy ‘better Brexit’ deal to be won. I respect colleagues trying hard to find alternative ways to deliver Brexit in the absence of any leadership from the Prime Minister, but not a single one of them has put forward a detailed plan that would make us better off than we are now. The best they offer is damage limitation.

Some colleagues are going to vote for a Brexit that they know will harm their communities and our country because they’re scared of telling voters the truth or because they see it as their responsibility to simply be amplifiers for what their voters are saying on the doorsteps.

This isn’t good enough. I would rather tell it how it is and risk losing my job, than stay silent and risk my constituents losing theirs. That’s why this morning I put my money where my mouth is with a speech in the heart of my own Leave-voting constituency on the London-Essex border to an audience of local residents - the majority of whom voted to Leave the EU - making precisely these arguments. As I told the voters across two general elections - you may not always agree with me, but you’ll always know where I stand.

We are there to represent the voices of our constituents, but we are also there to be custodians and guardians of their livelihoods and our national interest. As Sir Winston Churchill said when he was threatened with deselection in the 1930s by Neville Chamberlain’s supporters in his Epping constituency: “What is the use of Parliament if it is not the place where true statements can be brought before the people?”

The decisions we make now will affect our country for generations to come. The pie-in-the-sky promises have evaporated and reality is biting. It’s time to give people the choice: now that we see the Brexit reality do we still want to leave the European Union, or would we rather remain?

Given that any deal to exit the European Union will be substantially different to what was promised during the referendum, it would be wrong to go ahead without asking for the consent of our fellow countrymen and women. Morally, this decision belongs to the voters and they should be given that choice in a fresh referendum.

The best speech I’ve heard from an MP who is genuinely committed to Brexit was from Conservative MP Conor Burns. He told the House of Commons: “I think Brexit was a great cry from the heart and soul of the British people. Too many people in this country feel that the country and the economy are not working for them, and that the affairs of our nation are organised around a London elite. They look at the bankers being paid bonuses for the banks that their taxes helped to rescue. They look at our embassies in the Gulf that are holding flat parties to sell off-plan exclusive London properties, when they worry about how they will ever get on to the housing ladder. They worry that they may be the first generation who are not better off than their parents, and they want to see a system back that spreads wealth and opportunity.”

I agree with every word. But every single one of those problems was made in Britain. We owe it to our country to tackle the burning injustices that led to Brexit, but those MPs who believe that Brexit will make that task harder owe it to our country to speak with honesty and conviction - and to let the people determine our country’s future.

Wes Streeting is the Labour MP for Ilford North and a member of the Treasury Committee.


EXCL Theresa May warned of Tory grassroots 'mutiny' if she rules out no-deal Brexit

4 hours 2 minutes ago
Theresa May
Theresa May has been warned she might not get the support she needs if a snap election is called to break the Brexit impasse

Grassroots Tories would stage a “mutiny” against Theresa May if she caves in to pressure to rule out a no-deal Brexit, PoliticsHome has learned.

Activists say they would refuse to campaign for the party in any snap election if the Prime Minister was forced to rule out the UK crashing out of the EU without an agreement with Brussels in place.

Mrs May faces a Cabinet revolt unless she allows her MPs a free vote on a backbench bid to block a no-deal departure from the EU.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd is said to have warned the Prime Minister that up to 40 ministers could resign unless they are allowed to back an amendment that could delay the UK’s departure.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to discuss a possible compromise on the Brexit impasse at Westminister unless Mrs May rules out leaving on World Trade Organisation terms on 29 March.

But a senior Tory figure told PoliticsHome: “If no deal was taken off the table there would be a mutiny among the grassroots. It would go down extremely badly.

“If there was a general election and no-deal had been taken off the table then getting people out to do any work would be a real challenge.

“There are lots of ways of registering disapproval like withdrawing labour and making life difficult.”

One activist told PoliticsHome: "I've been avoiding campaigning. A lot of it is to do with how disgusted I am at Theresa May. I feel sorry for her but I detest weak leadership. Tories don't like weak leaders. 

"She's like Mr Burns in that Simpsons episode where they tell him he has all diseases known to man but not one of them can kill him because they are all finely balanced."

The warnings came as Mrs May battles with MPs and Brussels to find a way forward on Brexit that could pass the Commons, after the deal she clinched was overwhelmingly rejected by parliament last week.

But backbenchers are attempting to take matters into their own hands by tabling amendments that would block a no-deal Brexit.

One tabled by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, which would allow parliamentary time for a bill that would extend Article 50 if no deal is reached by the end of February, has been gaining traction.

Ms Rudd is said to have urged the Prime Minister to allow a free vote on the cross-party amendment, arguing that it could strengthen her hand in talks with the EU and avoid a flood of resignations.

Mrs May will put her next move on Brexit to a vote in parliament on Monday, when MPs will also get to vote on any amendments selected.

She has repeatedly ruled out removing no-deal as an option, arguing the only way to do so would be to delay or revoke Article 50, which she has argued would not deliver on the referendum result.

In the Commons yesterday, Mrs May said: "The right way to rule out no deal is for the House to approve a deal with the European Union, and that is what the Government are seeking to achieve."

And a Downing Street spokesman, asked last week whether the Prime Minister would rule out a snap general election, said: "Yes."


Voters more divided by Brexit tribe than party loyalty, study finds

5 hours 49 minutes ago
Brexit campaigners
Pro-brexit and anti-brexit demonstrators mix outside the Houses of Parliament in January

British voters are much more likely to align themselves with a position on Brexit than with a political party, a major new study has found.

A report by the UK in a Changing Europe think tank found just 6% refused to align themselves with Remain or Leave in mid-2018, while 20% refused to identify with a party.

The study, which was conducted by some of Britain's most eminent political academics, shows the number of both Remainers and Leavers expressing a Brexit identity shot up following the 2016 referendum result.

It found the number of Leave voters who say “we” when talking about their side jumped from 44% to 66% after the referendum, while for Remain voters it rocketed from 33% to 69%.

The equivalent figure for those who attach themselves to parties however is just 25%.

The number of people who agreed with the statement “When people criticize the Remain/Leave side, it feels like a personal insult” had gone up after the referendum from around 20% up to 42%.

That compares with only around 20% of Conservative and 28% of Labour identifiers who tended to respond that way.

Elsewhere, the study found more Tory voters (46%) backed Theresa May’s Brexit deal than party members (38%).

And more voters than ever (71%) described Labour’s position on leaving the EU as "unclear" and "confused" - a leap of 18 points from September 2017, three months after the snap general election.

It also found that MPs are more divided than the public on how a no-deal outcome could hit the country, with just 2% of Leave supporting MPs believing there could be a shortage of medical supplies, compared with 75% of Remain supporting MPs.

Meanwhile 14% of Leave voters believed such warnings could be realised, compared with 55% of Remain voters.

The study also found that the number of people who see immigration as one of the most important issues facing Britain has plummeted to its lowest since 2001 (20%), despite having stood at around 45% in the months leading up to the referendum.

Professor Anand Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe think tank, said the study "highlights the fundamental divisions Brexit has created, and in some cases exacerbated, in British society".

He added: “New Brexit identities have emerged, which seem to be stronger than party identities.

“Divisions are also clear on national lines, as well as between MPs and their respective party members.”

Nicholas Mairs

Amber Rudd warns Theresa May dozens of ministers could quit to back plan to block no-deal

9 hours 51 minutes ago
Amber Rudd
The Work and Pensions Secretary has warned the PM of mass resignations.

Up to 40 ministers could walk out of the Government within days unless Conservative MPs are allowed to vote on a plan that could block a no-deal Brexit, a top Cabinet minister has told Theresa May.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd warned the Prime Minister that mass resignations could follow if Tory MPs are whipped to oppose a cross-party move to postpone Brexit should the Commons fail to get behind a deal.

The push to delay Article 50 to avoid a no-deal Brexit is being spearheaded by senior MPs including Labour's Yvette Cooper and Conservatives Nick Boles, Nicky Morgan and Oliver Letwin.

According to The Times, Ms Rudd has urged the Prime Minister to allow all Conservative MPs to get a free vote on the cross-party amendment, arguing that it could strengthen Mrs May's hand in talks with the EU and avoid a flood of resignations.

"For too long parliamentarians have shouted from the peanut gallery about what they won’t support," a source told the Times.

"Now is the time for them to get on the stage and show what they would support.

"If done properly this could help the prime minister to go to Brussels in a stronger position."

Chief whip Julian Smith will decide at the end of the week whether to give MPs a free vote.

But the demand from Ms Rudd could set the stage for a major showdown with Number 10.

Mrs May told MPs yesterday that those pushing her to "rule out" a no-deal Brexit on March 29 - the default option if the Commons cannot agree on a deal - needed to be be "honest with the British people about what that means".

She said: "The right way to rule out no deal is for the House to approve a deal with the European Union, and that is what the Government are seeking to achieve. The only other guaranteed way to avoid a no-deal Brexit is to revoke article 50, which would mean staying in the EU."

Mrs May also hit out at those seeking to extend Article 50, warning that it was "simply deferring the point of decision".

But a number of ministers have already gone public to say they would resign if a no-deal Brexit became government policy.

Business minister Richard Harrington has branded no-deal an "absolute disaster" and said he would quit, while Justice Secretary David Gauke has he would find it "very difficult" to stay in post if Britain looked set to leave without a deal.

Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood also hinted on Twitter last night that he could support plans to extend Article 50.

Meanwhile, there were signs on Monday night that the Commons push to delay Brexit could be swinging some previously-critical MPs behind Mrs May's deal.

The Prime Minister has vowed to press the EU for fresh changes to the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, which would effectively bind the UK to the EU's customs union indefinitely if no solution can be found to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

That prospect has enraged Eurosceptic Conservatives and the DUP, who Mrs May relies on for her Commons majority.

But longstanding Brexiteer Nadine Dorries told the BBC's Newsnight: "I can feel a growing consensus among a number of MPs who - in the light of being faced with this Europhile, kamikaze MPs who really don't care about their careers going up in flames, who want to overturn parliamentary tradition in order to stop Brexit - I think many people are now realising we would support this deal to get it over the line. Because every day is a dangerous day at the moment."

Matt Foster

Jeremy Corbyn edges closer to backing second Brexit referendum with call for Commons vote

10 hours 26 minutes ago
Jeremy Corbyn
The Labour leader has faced pressure from his MPs to support a so-called 'People's Vote'.

Jeremy Corbyn has inched closer to backing a second Brexit referendum after Labour demanded a Commons vote that could pave the way for a new poll.

The Labour leader, who has been under pressure from scores of his own MPs to swing behind a so-called "People's Vote", tabled an amendment to the Government's Brexit plans urging a series of votes on plans to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

The amendment includes the option "to hold a public vote on a deal or a proposition that has commanded the support of the majority of the House of Commons".

Although the move has been hailed as a "big step forward" by campaigners for a second referendum, it does not explicitly commit the party to backing such an option.

However, it is the furthest Mr Corbyn - who is known to be personally sceptical about a second referendum - has gone towards throwing Labour's weight behind it.

Mr Corbyn said: "Our amendment will allow MPs to vote on options to end this Brexit deadlock and prevent the chaos of a no-deal.

"It is time for Labour's alternative plan to take centre stage, while keeping all options on the table, including the option of a public vote."

The Labour leader's choice of wording closely mirrors a position hammered out at the party's conference last year, which commits Labour to first pushing for a general election before leaving "all options on the table, including campaigning for a public vote".

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham who is backing the campaign for a People's Vote, welcomed the move.

He said: “It is a big step forward that for the first time my party is acknowledging in a parliamentary amendment that a People’s Vote may be the only way forward.

But he added: "At the same time, the leadership is saying that Labour’s own Brexit plan should now take 'centre stage' as this crisis unfolds.

"It is right that any proposal for Brexit deserves to be properly scrutinised.

"It is only when MPs have had the chance to look properly at these proposals, along with Norway Plus and a catastrophic 'no deal' departure from the EU that they will really be able to decide whether they meet the promises made for Brexit in 2016 and are at least as good as the deal we already have inside Europe."

Mr Corbyn has faced a series of calls from MPs - and some shadow ministers - to support the People's Vote push.

But some in his top team remain deeply sceptical about throwing the party's weight behind a fresh referendum, fearing it could alienate swathes of Labour voters in Leave-supporting seats.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has warned that a second Brexit referendum could undermine "democracy in itself", while fellow frontbencher Emily Thornberry has accused the People's Vote campaign of using the push to "slap the Labour Party around".

And last night, shadow minister Melanie Onn said she would quit the Labour frontbench if the party supported another referendum.


The move by Labour - which also puts forward the party's plan for a permanent customs union with the EU as well as a "strong" link with its single market - came as Theresa May said a second referendum could "undermine faith in our democracy" among voters and "damage social cohesion".

The Prime Minister made the claim as MPs tabled a string of amendments to a Commons motion laid by Mrs May as she vowed to push the EU for fresh concessions on the Northern Ireland backstop to save her battered Brexit deal.

Conservative MP Nick Boles and Labour's Yvette Cooper are pushing to suspend Article 50 - which fixes the UK's exit day as March 29 - if no deal can be struck by the end of the month. A similar amendment has also been drawn up by Labour MP Rachel Reeves.

An amendment drawn up by former attorney general Dominic Grieve meanwhile pushes for MPs to gain control of the parliamentary agenda to allow it to vote on alternative Brexit plans.

And Brexit Select Committee chair Hilary Benn is pushing for MPs to be given a non-binding vote on four options in a bid to break the Commons deadlock. They including reconsidering Mrs May's deal; leaving the EU without a deal; pressing for a renegotiation; or holding a second referendum.

Independent MP Frank Field meanwhile proposes Commons votes on seven different options, including a Canada-style or Norway-style future relationship with the bloc.

Matt Foster

Cross-Channel trade 'could collapse by up to 87% in the wake of no-deal Brexit', warns government

10 hours 35 minutes ago
Lorries form up on the A256 outside Dover for the second of two trials at the former Manston Airport site in Kent of a government plan to hold lorries in the event of post-Brexit disruption at the channel ports.
Lorries could be forced to re-route away from Dover in a bid to find an entry to the EU market with sufficient border inspection facilities

Up to 87% of cross-Channel freight trade could be stopped in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a government analysis has concluded.

A leaked report from UK Border Force has warned that at least three-quarters of trade between Dover and Calais could grind to a halt for up to six months should the UK leave the EU without a Brexit agreement in place.

The document, which was obtained by Sky News, suggests that agrifood products, which account for between 9 and 15% of all trade, would be forced to re-route to UK ports with shipping links or to other EU 27 member states with sufficient inspection facilities, such as at Rotterdam or Zeebrugge.

The report, which is believed to have been prepared for ministers in November, says: “The French will apply at least the legal minimum of third-country customs controls on all goods and sanitary and phytosanitary checks on specified food and agriculture products. This includes the imposition of 100 per cent customs documentation checks.

“The reasonable worst case is that flow through the Short Straits is reduced to between 13 per cent and 25 per cent of current capacity for a period of between three and six months.”

“Even after an initial shock, Border Force assumes that a 'new normal' for cross-Channel freight will be 50-100% of current flows lasting until significant changes are made to improve border arrangements such as automation."

The document also adds that a significant proportion of UK traders would not be prepared for the new arrangements on day one of no-deal.

Responding to the leak, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: "The Tories continue to treat the public with complete contempt by concealing the real impact that a no-deal Brexit would have on our borders and trade.

"It appears that these leaked documents only scratch the surface of what Britain could be facing. Who knows what other catastrophic assessments the government is hiding from us?

"This is why Labour has consistently demanded that the UK is protected from a No Deal scenario, and why our leader Jeremy Corbyn has tabled an amendment to ensure just that. A government that would knowingly put its citizens in this situation has no business running a country."

Labour MP Jo Stevens, of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, meanwhile said: “With every passing day the reality of a no-deal Brexit becomes ever clearer.

“The freight referred to in this slide is the essentials; medicines food and goods that keep the country going. It’s no surprise the Government didn’t release this information in its public no-deal guidance.

“In refusing to take no-deal off the table, the Prime Minister is gambling the country’s supply of essential food and medicines in a desperate attempt to rescue her botched deal.

“The time for the Prime Minister to do the right thing is long overdue. She must take no-deal off the table and give the public a chance to have its own say.”

The news comes as the Confederation of British Industry warned that the North-east of England would be disproportionately impacted by no-deal Brexit, with up to £7bn worth of economic output wiped out by the mid-2030s.

Josh Hardie, the deputy director general of the CBI, said: “The projected impact on the UK economy would be devastating and while business will do all it can to reduce some of the worst aspects, a no-deal scenario is unmanageable.”

The Department of Transport was contacted for comment.


Theresa May claims second EU referendum could 'damage social cohesion' in the UK

23 hours 44 minutes ago
People's Vote march
Campaigners for a second referendum march through London last year

Theresa May has claimed that holding a second EU referendum could "damage social cohesion" in the UK.

In comments which suggested she feared the prospect of violence on the streets by pro-Brexit supporters, the Prime Minister said failing to implement the result of the original vote in 2016 could "undermine faith in our democracy" among voters.

She also said it could "strengthen the hand of those campaigning to break up our United Kingdom".

That was a clear reference to the SNP, whose members want a second Scottish independence referendum.

Mrs May spoke out as she set out to MPs how she plans to get her Brexit blueprint through Parliament despite last week's humiliating 230-vote defeat.

Rejecting calls by the SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens for a so-called "People's Vote" on her deal, she said: "I've set out many times my deep concerns about returning to the British people for a second referendum.

"Our duty is to implement to decision of the first one. I fear a second referendum would set a difficult precedent that could have significant implications for how we handle referendums in this country, not least strenghthening the hand of those campaigning to break up our United Kingdom.

"It would require an extension of Article 50, we would very likely need to return a new set of MEPs to the European Parliament in May and I also believe that there has not yet been enough recognition for the way a second referendum could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister later failed to explain precisely what Mrs May meant, and insisted she was not necessarily talking about an outbreak of violence similar to the riots which broke out in London in 2011.

He said: "The act of the first referendum was the biggest exercise in democracy that this country has ever seen and that comes with it an article of faith in which some people, a pretty significant proportion of whom will have done it perhaps for the first time in their lives, participated in a process and expect the Government to deliver on the Government's side of the bargain in terms of fulfilling it.

"I'm not sure that she's pointing to specific examples but there is a covenant of trust between the electorate and the Government of the day and the PM's firm belief is that it's the Government's duty to act on the clearly expressed wishes of the electorate and were that not to happen she's saying that wouldn't be and shouldn't be without consequence."

Elsewhere in her statement, Mrs May confirmed that the Government had ditched plans to charge EU citizens £65 when applying for "settled status" in the UK.

She also rejected calls for the Article 50 process to be extended, and confirmed that she now wants the EU to make concessions on the Irish backstop in an attempt to win over Tory rebels and the DUP.

Kevin Schofield

Theresa May in fresh Brexit U-turn with vow to waive EU citizen settlement fees

1 day ago
Theresa May
Theresa May makes a statement to MPs on her new Brexit motion.

Theresa May has announced that a government plan to charge EU citizens £65 to stay in the UK after Brexit is to be scrapped following pressure from campaigners.

Millions of European nationals who currently live in the UK have until June 2021 to apply for "settled status".

Ministers prompted controversy when they announced in the summer that adults wishing to stay would need to pay £65, with those under 16 having to stump up £32.50.

But Mrs May told MPs she had “listened to concerns” of campaigners such as The 3 Million group and that none of those affected, including those involved in the pilot scheme which opened today, would be left out of pocket.

“I can confirm today that when we roll out the scheme in full on 30 March, the government will waive the application fee so that there is no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay," she said.

“And anyone who has or will apply during the pilot phase will have their fee reimbursed. More details about how this will work will be made available in due course."

The PM added that ministers would be pressing EU countries "to give the reciprocal commitments to UK citizens living in those member states".

Elsewhere Mrs May vowed to gather the views of the House on the Irish backstop - a major sticking point in winning support for her deal - as part of a bid to win concessions on the arrangement in Brussels.

"I will be talking further this week to colleagues - including in the DUP – to consider how we might meet our obligations to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland in a way that can command the greatest possible support in the House," she added.

"And I will then take the conclusions of those discussion back to the EU."

The PM also doubled down on Downing Street's earlier denial that the Government was looking to alter the Good Friday Agreement, in light of reports on the contrary.

"I want to be absolutely clear, in the light of media stories this morning, this Government will not reopen the Belfast Agreement. I have never even considered doing so – and neither would I," she added.


In response Mr Corbyn welcomed the commitment to waiving EU citizens' fees but said the Prime Minister was in “deep denial” over the resounding defeat inflicted on her Brexit deal.

“The logic of that decisive defeat is that the Prime Minister must change her red lines because her current deal is undeliverable.

“So can she be clear and explicit to the House: which of her red lines is she prepared to move on?

“The Prime Minister’s invitations to talks have been exposed as a PR sham. 

“Every opposition party politician came out of those meetings with the same response.

“Contrary to what the Prime Minister has just said, there was no flexibility; there were no negotiations; nothing had changed.”

SNP MP Stuart McDonald also backed the pledge to scrap the EU settlement scheme fee, adding: “EU nationals should never have been asked to pay this fee – and it is welcome news that the UK government has finally listened.

“This does not change the fact that EU nationals should not be asked to apply for the status and rights they already have, and we now need clarity on whether the unrealistic deadline for applications will also be scrapped.”

Nicholas Mairs

Lords put brakes on post-Brexit trade plans with embarrassing Government defeat

1 day 1 hour ago
Labour leader in the Lords, Baroness Smith, tabled the amendment today

The House of Lords today inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Government as it stalled progress on ministers' post-Brexit trade plans.

Peers voted by 243 to 208 to shelve the Trade Bill amid concerns ministers have refused to provide enough detail over its proposed future arrangements.

Among their complaints is that the Government has failed to make guarantees on food safety and animal welfare in its hoped-for trading regime.

The defeat also means preparations to move to World Trade Organisation terms in the event of a no-deal Brexit are impossible, according to Cabinet minister Liam Fox.

The motion passed today will hold up the Report Stage of the bill, which had been set for 25 February, until a white paper or other detailed proposals on trade have been published.

It was tabled by Labour leader in the Lords Angela Smith, who told peers: “I am aware that the Government is consulting, but no further legislation has been introduced - not a White Paper, or even a Green Paper, and time is running out.

“It is not unreasonable that, before we complete our consideration of this Bill, we should have more information about, and proposals on, such an important policy issue."

She added: “We will be unable to fulfil our obligation of scrutinising this Bill effectively without further information on how the government intends to provide proper accountability and scrutiny of current and future trade agreements.”

Ministers have failed to put more flesh on the “skeleton” of the bill for an eye-watering 15 months.

Lords want the Government to lay out how future trade agreements will be agreed and scrutinised, and how some 40 existing trade deals the UK enjoys as part of the EU will roll over after Brexit.

International Trade Secretary Dr Fox said last month that without the legislation the UK would be unable to sign up to the General Procurement Agreement of the WTO, thought of by Brexiteers as a route to a no-deal future.

“Certainly, it wouldn’t be possible to have the UK membership of the GPA without the legislation of the trade bill going through,” he said.

A Department for International Trade spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that the Lords have voted to hold up the Bill at this crucial time.

"We’ve always been clear that we are committed to a role for Parliament and the Devolved Administrations in scrutinising future Free Trade Agreements, and the Government will now consider how to address the motion laid to enable Report stage to move ahead. 

"The Trade Bill will progress through its Committee stage as planned."


Labour hit by fresh Brexit confusion as Barry Gardiner is slapped down ... by Barry Gardiner

1 day 1 hour ago
Barry Gardiner
Barry Gardiner has distanced himself from Barry Gardiner.

Brexit splits are not hard to find in the Labour and Conservative parties.

But it is still pretty rare to find a senior frontbencher who is at odds with himself.

Step forward Barry Gardiner who, it must be said, is not a stranger to Brexit controversy.

The Shadow International Trade Secretary has, at one time or another, managed to annoy his Labour colleagues on a customs union, the Good Friday Agreement and, on more than occasion, on calls for a second EU referendum.

But he has never been slapped down by his own spokesperson before. Until today, that is.

The bold Bazza popped up on the BBC to declare that, if MPs are asked to vote on another referendum, Labour would be in favour.

He said: "If there is a motion for a second referendum that is put before Parliament, our position as a party is that we would be supporting a public vote, that is part of our unanimous decision at our party conference. Nothing would be ruled off the table at that stage."

This surprised most people, not least Jeremy Corbyn, who has steadfastly refused to bend to calls from Labour MPs and members for the party to support a second vote.

With referendum campaigners welcoming the apparent shift in Labour's thinking, the Labour spin machine cranked into action to slap down Barry over his gaffe.

And who better to administer said slap down that "a spokesperson for Barry Gardiner", who said: "Barry is committed to Labour’s policy of pushing for a general election as the best outcome and if the Conservatives continue to block a general election then we will keep all options on the table, including the option of campaigning for a public vote. Whipping arrangements in the coming days and weeks will be decided in the usual way."

Or, as Theresa May would put it: "Nothing has changed."

Kevin Schofield

David Cameron told Donald Tusk EU referendum would not happen because Tories would not get a majority

1 day 2 hours ago
Former Prime Minister David Cameron lost the 2016 EU referendum

David Cameron told a top EU chief there was “no risk” of the Brexit referendum taking place because the Conservatives would not win a majority in the 2015 election, it has been revealed.

European Council president Donald Tusk said he told the former Prime Minister that he was "stupid" to give British voters a say on whether to leave the bloc.

Mr Cameron said he had been left with no choice because the Tories were under huge political pressure from Ukip.

But he told Mr Tusk that the Liberal Democrats would block the Conservatives' election manifesto pledge to have the referendum in any coalition negotiations, so it would not happen.

In the end, the Conservatives won an unexpected majority in 2015, forcing Mr Cameron to go ahead with the poll, which Leave won 52% to 48%.

Mr Tusk made the stunning revelation in a new BBC documentary 'Inside Europe: Ten Years of Turmoil'.

He said: "I asked David Cameron, ‘Why did you decide on this referendum, this – it’s so dangerous, so even stupid, you know,’ and, he told me - and I was really amazed and even shocked - that the only reason was his own party.

"[He told me] he felt really safe, because he thought at the same time that there’s no risk of a referendum, because, his coalition partner, the Liberals, would block this idea of a referendum. But then, surprisingly, he won and there was no coalition partner. So paradoxically David Cameron became the real victim of his own victory."

Mr Tusk also told Mr Cameron - during his attempts to renegotiate the UK's membership of the EU ahead of the Brexit vote - that his demands for concessions would fall on deaf ears around the bloc.

He said: "I told him bluntly come on David, get real. I know that all Prime Ministers are promising to help you, but believe me the truth is that no one has an appetite for revolution in Europe only because of your stupid referendum.

"If you try to force us, to hurry us, you will lose everything.  And for the first time I saw something close to fear in his eyes. He finally realised what a challenge he was facing."

Mr Tusk also said that when he took the call from Mr Cameron announcing his plans to resign in the wake of the 2016 result, “it was like his day of reckoning was coming, reckoning for his biggest mistake in his life”.

However Craig Oliver, Mr Cameron's former aide, claimed Mr Tusk's version of events was "completely wrong".



Just last week the former PM insisted he had no regrets in calling the EU referendum, but expressed his dismay at the “difficulties and the problems we've been having trying to implement the result”.

A spokesperson for Mr Cameron failed to comment by the time of publication.


Diane Abbott MP: Tory idea of fairness is to treat EU citizens almost as badly as Windrush ones

1 day 2 hours ago
Diane Abbott

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott says the Government's approach towards EU citizens risks damaging good-will with the EU member states and is a 'huge act of self-harm'.

The Government’s latest attempt to introduce a new scheme for EU citizens highlights the terrible consequences of a No Deal Brexit.  It has no regard to the fair treatment of those citizens, or of securing the same rights for British citizens in the EU. That includes all those who live, work or study either in this country or in the EU, now and in the future.

The new scheme obliges EU citizens (except Irish citizens) to apply for one of two types of status, settled or pre-settled.  EU citizens, many of whom have lived and worked here for many years and may have children or spouses who were born here may be at risk of detention or deportation if their application is flawed, or if it is not processed in time.

So far, no EU member state has responded in kind. But there must be a risk that one or more will do so. The measures are not designed either to offer fair treatment to EU citizens who came here in good faith. And they are clearly not designed to foster good will, even though it is clearly in the interests of this country to do that.

The Windrush scandal gives us an insight into the gross inefficiencies that are all too prevalent in the immigration, and the wilful neglect of our own citizens’ rights which has been promoted by this government.  This was not, as Ministers often claim, a failure of paperwork. It is a shameful policy of treating our own citizens who were never previously asked for that paperwork, as if they are criminals.  There is a clear risk that the Government’s idea of ‘fairness’ will be to treat EU citizens in something like the disgraceful way non-EU citizens have been treated in the ‘Windrush scandal’. 

The deadline for the settlement applications is 30 June this year.  The ordinary caseload of immigration officials already seems too great.  Three-quarters of appeals against immigration decisions are already successful.  Clearly, something is going very badly wrong if that is the case, especially when the vast majority of appeals are made without legal aid of any sort.

Under the government’s plans literally millions EU citizens will now have to have applications processed in a matter of months.  On all known indicators, there can be little confidence that this deluge of applications will be processed correctly and on time. It is a recipe for chaos. The Immigration Minister seems unsure whether employers will be asked to monitor EU citizens’ status, and has provided wholly contradictory answers to this basic question.  In truth, just like the Windrush victims, this government wants to use employers, landlords and pubic services as internal border guards.

This is all completely unnecessary. Our immigration system is already a mess. Yet the government is attempting a massive change to that system in advance of an unknown settlement with the EU on our whole future legal, trade, security and other arrangements with the EU.  Immigration should follow, not lead this process.

Worse, the entire scheme is misconceived. Any changes to the immigration system should come after the changes to our relationship with the EU. Our immigration system should fit into that, not the other way round.

The government’s approach is effectively to prepare a No Deal immigration system, to exclude EU citizens, place the onus on them to prove their right to be here and to threaten them with deportation if they fail. It is hard to imagine how this will preserve good-will with the EU member states. Given the role of those citizens in contributing to our society and our economy, this is also a huge act of self-harm.  It is wrong and should be stopped.


‘It’s ridiculous’ - the internecine war between backers of a People’s Vote and a Norway-style Brexit

1 day 3 hours ago
With Brexit, unanimity is a pipe dream. But common ground, wherever it is found, is to be nurtured, writes Sebastian Whale
With Brexit, unanimity is a pipe dream. But common ground, wherever it is found, should be nurtured, writes Sebastian Whale

Supporters of a second referendum and a Norway Plus Brexit want to prevent a no deal EU exit. But their factional dispute is not helping with that endeavour, writes Sebastian Whale

Internecine warfare has slowly been breaking out between politicians whose views on Brexit are largely in conjunction. Both supporters of a so-called People’s Vote and a Norway-style exit from the European Union want to prevent the UK from leaving without a deal. Each, if given the choice, would rather see a softer Brexit than one cultivated with the most feverish member of the European Research Group in mind. And yet these politicians, whose underlying beliefs overlap on many issues, have decided to aim their fire at one another.

“It’s ridiculous,” Labour’s Lucy Powell, a supporter of the Common Market 2.0 campaign, told me last week. She said it was “regrettable” that her colleagues had chosen to disparage the Norway Plus option as part of their campaigning for a second EU referendum. “I believe that in the context we’re in at the moment where you’ve got parliament in absolute deadlock, this massive crisis for our country, we’re heading towards a no deal Brexit with all the challenges that come with that, we need more options on the table, not fewer options,” she added.

A running theme has emerged when you speak to MPs from each faction. Backers of Common Market 2.0, the Norway Plus option which would keep the UK in the single market and customs union, will use their opposition to a second referendum as part of their explanation of how they came to back a softer Brexit. Conversely, supporters of another plebiscite will outline why they view the Norway Plus option as unworkable before drawing the conclusion that a People’s Vote is the only way out of the quagmire.

The fact that MPs feel the need to qualify their opposition to the alternative is telling.

The reasoning for this tactic, though arguably deeply detrimental to their overarching aims, is self-evident – each campaign is seeking to stake a claim to being the pathway of choice for more Europhile MPs.

Writing in The House magazine last month, Labour MP Luciana Berger warned the Norway Plus option would leave Britain “shivering in the frozen arctic tundra”. She argued “such an ill-thought through plan” does not deserve to be supported by MPs, adding: “It would leave the UK as a rule-taker, having to obey laws made in Brussels with no say over any of them. And people who voted for Brexit thinking it would increase control would be right to ask: what’s the point?”

Speaking to The House last week, Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who backs the Norway Plus option, said: “One of the things we do really need to hear from the second referendum campaigners is what’s the question on the ballot paper. The result of the [meaningful] vote makes a material difference to that conversation, because is it really credible to have Remain versus the Prime Minister’s deal when the Prime Minister’s deal has just been absolutely thumped in parliament? That would reduce parliament to a laughing stock. I don’t think that it’s justifiable to have no deal on the ballot paper.”

The attacks continued over the weekend, with fellow Labour MPs David Lammy and Bridget Phillipson also using articles in the Observer and Independent respectively to take issue with the Norway Plus option (the former said voters would feel “betrayed"). Nick Boles, the Tory MP who’s most closely associated with the Norway Plus option, suggested People’s Vote backers had peddled “lies and distortions” about his favoured Brexit outcome. “Why is @peoplesvote_hq obsessed with dissing Common Market 2.0 and Norway Plus?” he mused on Twitter.

The curious thing about this factional dispute is that members of each tribe have said privately and publicly that they could migrate towards the other in given circumstances. Powell, who confesses to being “worried and sceptical” about a second vote, told me: “I personally feel like I’ve been quite assiduous in not briefing against a second referendum because there are circumstances where I could see myself voting for that. I don’t want to have to do a big volte-face.” A supporter of a so-called People’s Vote also told me they and others could come out for a Norway Plus option, should the option look like passing in Parliament.

With Brexit, unanimity is a pipe dream. But common ground, wherever it is found, should be nurtured.

It is now a cliché to say that parliament knows what it is against, but not what it is for. Supporters of the Norway Plus option and a second referendum do not want Britain to leave the European Union empty-handed. The more they undermine their respective alternative plans, however, the more currency they give to a no deal Brexit.

Sebastian Whale

Labour MPs defy Jeremy Corbyn to hold Brexit talks with Government

1 day 4 hours ago
Chuka Umunna
Chuka Umunna was among a cohort of Labour MPs to meet with senior Government figures

A group of Labour MPs have defied Jeremy Corbyn’s order to snub Brexit talks with ministers until Theresa May rules out leaving the EU without a deal.

The Prime Minister last week vowed to engage with the opposition in an attempt at building a cross-party consensus that could push her deal through following its resounding Commons defeat.

Mrs May said MPs, who last Tuesday inflicted a defeat by 230 votes, “have a responsibility to identify a way forward that can secure the backing of the House”.

But Mr Corbyn said neither he nor his colleagues could work with Mrs May’s team until their demand, which the PM has refused to concede on, was met.

“Before there can be any positive discussions about the way forward, the Government must remove clearly once and for all the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU and all the chaos that would come as a result of that," he said.

He later wrote a letter to the PM outlining the party's position and issued a message to Labour MPs to "respect" it and "refrain from engagement".

However, in a fresh blow to the Labour leader's authority, pro-EU MPs Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Luciana Berger and Gavin Shuker today met with Mrs May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, and her chief of staff, Gavin Barwell.

It comes hours before Mrs May is due to update MPs on how she plans to negotiate changes to her agreement with Brussels ahead of a fresh Commons vote on it on 29 January.

Mr Umunna, who is among Labour's advocates for a second EU referendum, told the Guardian: “The Labour MPs who are part of this delegation – obviously we were instructed not to meet with the government, but you’ve got to put the national interest first, the party politics to one side.

“We were not going to pass up the opportunity to press our case for a people’s vote today.”

In response to speculation that Mrs May would end cross-party talks in favour of reaching out to hardline Tories and the DUP, he added: “The fact that we’re here illustrates that the government is not in control of this process.”

Arch-Remainer Tory MP Anna Soubry, who was also part of the delegation, said: “This now has to get into parliament and we have to take control of things.”

Nicholas Mairs

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about the Yvette Cooper amendment to prevent a no-deal Brexit

1 day 4 hours ago
Yvette Cooper
Labour MP and Home Affairs Committee chair Yvette Cooper

A cross-party plan to prevent a no-deal Brexit has been gaining traction at Westminister - but what exactly is all the fuss about? PoliticsHome explains. 


The plan is essentially to stop a no-deal Brexit from happening. The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March next year with or without a deal. The legal rules of the Brexit process - known as Article 50 - state that a country has two years to prepare from the moment it triggers the process to leave the EU.

That two year time limit is little more than 60 days from now - and the Government feels no closer to getting a deal through parliament than when it started. The only way it can stop the UK leaving on World Trade Organisation terms in March is by either asking for a formal delay to the two-year process (which members states would have to agree to) or unilaterally cancelling it completely.

Theresa May has refused to countenance a delay or extension - insisting that the UK will leave on the planned date. So an amendment by Cooper and others lays out a plan to take control of the situation and make that delay happen.



Here is the technical bit: The amendment would be tacked onto the motion the Prime Minster will table today setting out her Brexit plan B. That motion - and any amendments added to it that are selected by the Speaker - will be voted on on Tuesday 29 January.

The Cooper amendment would allow parliamentary time for a bill which would give MPs a vote on delaying Article 50. That bill would give the Government until 26 February to get parliamentary approval for a Withdrawal Agreement (after the Brexit deal was overwhelmingly defeated last week) and allow parliament to vote on an extension of Article 50 if it fails.

MPs would be able to demand or amend proposals for a nine-month extension. The problem with legislation is it is not a simple process. The bill will require multiple votes in the Commons and pass through the House of Lords to take effect.



The bill proposal is a revamp to the plan by Tory former minister Nick Boles which would have seen the heads of all the Commons select committees take control of Brexit. After Boles admitted those chairs were not interested in his idea, he re-worked the plan into this current form.

Therefore it has his backing, as well as that of Tories Nicky Morgan and Sir Oliver Letwin, Labour MPs Hilary Benn and Liz Kendall, and - PoliticsHome understands - the Lib Dems.

The big question is whether the Labour party will back it, which if so should secure its success, but the party has so far refused to confirm its stance. One Labour source said questions remained over how the bill would be debated and voted on, despite the fact that Jeremy Corbyn backs the sentiment of ruling out a no-deal departure.

Another source said: “We’ll look seriously at any proposal to prevent a damaging no deal but no decisions have been taken on the specific amendments yet.”

In a big hint that the party could throw its weight behind the proposal, Shadow Brexit Minister Jenny Chapman told the BBC's Politics Live on Monday that support for the Cooper amendment was "absolutely something we'll seriously consider" because it gives Parliament "the opportunity again to rule out no-deal".



Actually there are a few. There is this one by Tory MP and former minister Dominic Grieve, which would allow a minority of MPs to take control of parliamentary business for a day a week, thereby allowing them to table motions on extending Article 50 or other Brexit proposals.

Another one by Labour pro-Brexit MP Frank Field would give MPs a number of ‘indicative votes’ on Brexit options in the coming weeks, allowing the Commons to work out what there is and is not a majority for. Another being put forward by the Labour frontbench urges the Prime Minister to back its plan for a full customs union with the EU.



Cooper says the Government “cannot just push the country into No Deal because they have run out of time”.

She adds: “The Prime Minister should rule out No Deal. But if she won’t, and if nothing else is sorted by the end of February then Parliament should be given a vote on whether to extend Article 50 instead or it will be too late.

"If the Government needs more time to sort this out and come up with a better plan they should be honest enough to admit it and take the steps needed in the national interest to make sure we don’t end up with a chaotic and damaging No Deal. If they won’t, then Parliament needs to be able to step in and put a more sensible process in place instead.”


Jacob Rees-Mogg: Nigel Farage should be welcomed back into the Conservative party

1 day 5 hours ago
Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg in 2016

Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he would welcome Nigel Farage and “reasonable” former Ukip members back into the Conservative party.

The prominent Tory MP said it would be “very good news” if the more moderate elements of Ukip could reunite with the Conservatives.

But he warned that it could be “a little bit early” to welcome the former Ukip boss back into the Tory fold - and “perhaps a little bit more purdah is required”.

Mr Farage quit Ukip in protest late last year after current leader Gerard Batten formed an alliance with anti-Islam campaigner Tommy Robinson and made him a political advisor.

The Brexit big beast, who helped Ukip to win 4 million votes at the 2015 election and arguably secured the 2016 EU referendum, is said to be looking for a new political home.

The MEP was a Conservative member between 1978 and 1993, when he ditched the party to join Ukip.

Asked today whether Mr Farage should be allowed back into the Tory party, fellow Brexiteer Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I think if the Conservative party could reunite with the reasonable elements of Ukip that would be very good news and Nigel would be part of that.”

Speaking on LBC radio, he added: “I think it would be much easier now than it would have been when he was still a member of Ukip.

“It may be a little bit early, although personally I hold Nigel in the highest regard and think he was one of these people who was instrumental in delivering Brexit.

“So I think it's almost, but perhaps a little bit more purdah is required.”

But Mr Farage is said to be planning a new political party which would fight to secure Brexit if the Government appears to be backtracking.

A new movement headed by former Ukip economic spokesperson Catherine Blaiklock has applied to register a party with the Electoral Commission.

Mr Farage told the Sun on Sunday: “If the government goes back on its word and betrays the millions of people who voted for Brexit then we need a party prepared to stand up and fight for it.

“I’m fully prepared for article 50 to be extended or revoked and if that happens, I will re-enter the fray.”


Elsewhere in his LBC phone-in, Mr Rees-Mogg defended Jeremy Corbyn over his decision not to participate in Brexit talks with Theresa May.

The Labour leader had refused to play ball unless the Prime Minister ruled out a no-deal departure from the bloc.

Mr Rees-Mogg said: "In defence of Jeremy Corbyn, the job of the opposition is to oppose, not to make the life of the Government easy.

"And it is not unreasonable of him to say, ‘Well, actually no, you’re responsible, you won the election, if you don’t want to to do it, if you want me to help you, I’ll take over as prime minister, thank you very much.’

"So I think Theresa May was right to ask him. And he was not unreasonable to refuse - possibly politically naive to refuse, but not unreasonable."


Business Minister warns Jaguar and Mini could be forced to close in event of no-deal Brexit

1 day 7 hours ago
UK and EU flags
Richard Harrington has previously threated to resign from the Government if it pushes ahead with a no-deal Brexit

Major car firms Jaguar and Mini could be forced to close in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a business minister warned today.

Richard Harrington said it was "fanciful nonsense" to claim that British businesses could thrive on World Trade Organisation terms as he warned that quitting the EU without an agreement in place would be an “absolute disaster”.

The Tory minister said he was not prepared to “sell business down the river” as he urged the Prime Minister to rule out a no-deal and implored MPs to back the agreement she clinched with Brussels.

Mrs May is expected to lay out her Brexit plan B today after her deal was overwhelmingly crushed in the Commons. If nothing is in place by the exit date of 29 March the UK will crash out of the bloc on WTO terms.

Anti-EU MPs in the Conservative party have argued the UK will thrive without a Brexit deal, but Mr Harrington said they were a "minority of a minority" and warned this morning: "Crashing out, in my view… is an absolute disaster."

He told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: “[Theresa May] should, in my view, say: 'We are responsible people, we are going to do our duty to business and we are going to rule out a no-deal, because we want a great deal’.”

The Tory MP, who previously threated to resign from the Government if it pushes ahead with a no-deal, warned that several industries could be forced to close if new trade restrictions are imposed after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March.

“I’m not afraid of no drugs etc, but I am afraid of Jaguar closing, Mini closing, the life sciences industry closing and all the other things because we’d have no agreement which represents the way these businesses are integrated today,” he said.

“It is a responsibility and we’ve got to stop it. The Prime Minister, who I am a great supporter of, should say: ‘This is the time for members of parliament to do what they were elected for.’ And the vast majority reject this no-deal nonsense and that is what we should do.”

Earlier this month, Jaguar Land Rover announced it was cutting 4,500 jobs amid growing global pressures, including the uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Mr Harrington added: “It is friction. Having been to these factories, there are convoys of lorries every day with parts coming in all the time, coming in and going out. Ford in Bridgend alone are responsible for 40 million transactions. We can’t suddenly say that it's WTO and we don’t have an agreement with regulations. This is fanciful nonsense and it must stop.

“The WTO is a last-resort position. It has always been that. It is not meant for trading between some of the most sophisticated and complicated economies in the world."


Ann Francke: Brexit exposes flaws of partisan politics

1 day 9 hours ago

Whilst every business should plan for the worst, I do not think a no-deal Brexit will come to pass, says Ann Francke, CEO, CMI.

After an awful lot of heat and no light, last week’s events in Parliament produced… nothing. The only certainty remains uncertainty. There is no consensus around a deal and politicians seem as far apart as ever. Businesses up and down the country will be worried that we’re heading for a no-deal cliff edge.

Even before the “meaningful vote”, a CMI survey of nearly 950 managers based in the UK found that nearly three quarters of respondents said their businesses have been impacted by Brexit, and nearly half said they were pessimistic or very pessimistic about the UK economy for 2019. The looming threat of a no-deal Brexit will only further compound these worries.

The CMI survey also found that more than a third of managers feel they are either ill-prepared for Brexit or not prepared at all, with over half reporting they have had no involvement in Brexit planning at all. For businesses not to be engaging their managers to future-proof their organisations strikes me as foolish. That’s why CMI has been encouraging our members to undertake three actions right now: understand and highlight points of potential disruption in their value chains; support any EU workers through the period of uncertainty; and address any skills gap your team may have - particularly change management!

However, whilst every business should plan for the worst, I do not think a no-deal Brexit will come to pass. There isn’t a majority in the Commons for a no-deal Brexit. It is true that no-deal remains the default position at the moment which MPs would have to actively avoid, but I have quiet confidence that a solution will be found - although not by one party acting alone.

Green shoots of collaboration are growing out of the ashes of the Prime Minister’s deal. She has spoken of working with senior parliamentarians across the House to find out what deal Parliament will support, although it has yet to be seen whether this dialogue will lead to actual change. This cooperation is long overdue - no modern management practice suggests a bunker mentality and a ramrod will produce results. Given that legislation is passed by a majority vote, it seems painfully obvious that the Government should have sought to take as many MPs with it, regardless of party. Indeed, two years ago I called on Government to adopt a cross-party approach to deliver Brexit. Better late than never!

The CMI exists to promote good management and great leadership, and I fear we will need to look to the next generation of managers and leaders to pick up the pieces. The style of leadership exhibited by most of our political class in recent months belongs to the 20th not 21st century; modern leadership is inclusive and collaborative and engaging. Not exclusive or divisive or autocratic. You look at the deadlock the UK Parliament finds itself in, you look at the US Government shutdown; across the world partisan politics is failing its constituents. Politicians are playing from politically-entrenched positions with the livelihoods and wellbeing of their voters, and losing. I predict you will see a reaction to this in terms of the candidates and the voting booths- indeed the US mid-term results headed in this direction.

What do I want to see in place of this backwards style of politics? On the day of the vote, CMI was in Parliament celebrating the third anniversary of the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) - the UK’s most popular degree apprenticeship. The creation of degree apprenticeships is a great example of organisations with disparate views, whether they be political parties, education providers or employers, working together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. And they are delivering results: improving skills, promoting diversity and widening social mobility. In the case of the CMDA, it is boosting productivity and delivering future leaders who are equipped and empowered to cope with whatever cards may be dealt by Brexit.

Those with competing opinions and contributions have all benefited from building something positive together, rather than tearing each other down. That’s real leadership.  

Makes you think: is the party over for party politics?

Submitted by itops on Tue, 11/14/2017 - 11:47