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Now is the moment for Brexiteers in Parliament to stay true and be brave

John Bercow certainly knows how to hog the limelight. The man who drones on and on, lecturing MPs about brevity, was at his grandstanding best in the House of Commons on Monday. But for once, I agree with him. It is wrong for the Government to keep asking MPs the same question in the hope […]

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John Bercow certainly knows how to hog the limelight. The man who drones on and on, lecturing MPs about brevity, was at his grandstanding best in the House of Commons on Monday. But for once, I agree with him. It is wrong for the Government to keep asking MPs the same question in the hope that enough of them will cave in under pressure. Just because the EU deploys the same tactic to deal with recalcitrant voters who have the audacity to vote “the wrong way”, it doesn’t mean that the Prime Minister should be allowed to get away with it.

Thankfully, Bercow’s intervention has spared us all another meaningful vote this week, and although I am sure it was not the Speaker’s intention to help Brexiteers in Parliament in any way, it might just work in our favour.

I have to say that I am disappointed with some of my fellow Brexiteers – many of them personal friends – who have decided to back Theresa May’s deal at this stage in the negotiations. They have their reasons, and I don’t doubt their commitment to the cause. No-one can say that Philip Davies is anything but a committed Brexiteer, and if anyone starts questioning that commitment, I will defend him. No, the reason why I am disappointed is because I feel that their tactics are wrong.

Theresa May has written her letter and is today going cap in hand to Brussels asking for an extension to Article 50 at the European Council meeting. Britain is in crisis, so she says – said as if she is an innocent bystander, not a protagonist of a deal that has been overwhelmingly rejected by MPs and is deeply unpopular with the majority of UK voters.

If she has any sense, she will say that the Speaker of the House of Commons has tied her hands; that she doesn’t stand a chance of getting the current deal through Parliament because he won’t allow her to. “If you want us to leave more or less on time (after a short technical extension), you had better give me something meaningful, otherwise there won’t be another meaningful vote”, she should say. She could use it as negotiating leverage.

The EU doesn’t want a no-deal Brexit which – despite how MPs voted last week – is still the legal default position in just eight days’ time. It doesn’t want a long extension to Article 50 either. It has offered us a truly awful deal that it wants MPs to approve. The EU has to contend with elections this year which are bound to increase the number of eurosceptic populist MEPs. It doesn’t want more of them from the UK. A new Commission has to bed in and doesn’t want to have to continue Withdrawal Agreement negotiations with the UK. It is far better to give some more concessions that will command majority support in the House of Commons (knowing that it still has by far the best part of the deal) than to allow negotiations to keep dragging on.

So please, Brexiteers in Parliament, stay true and be brave. I know that you are facing pressure left, right and centre. The whips are on your back; retired politicians are busy writing op-eds telling you to cave in; newspaper editorials are urging the same; and one of your number, Andrew Percy, the co-chairman of the misnomer that is the Brexit Delivery Group, has accused you of idiocy for holding out. Don’t listen to them. You know that this deal is awful. You know that it is the worst kind of Brexit in name only. Like me, you are probably resigned to not getting the Brexit that you want. You know that you will have to compromise, but you shouldn’t compromise until the second you have to.

MPs will vote again on Theresa May’s deal next week after the EU has made some tweaks, despite what Bercow said on Monday. The Government will get around it with another one or two pieces of paper from the EU. If it is still a bad deal, they should vote it down. Watch the EU stop the clock on 29th March if it has to, and watch them make more concessions. Please remember that the EU has invested an enormous amount of time and effort into these negotiations, too. Theresa May doesn’t want to throw away more than two years of work, but neither does Michel Barnier.

It has to be made clear that the implementation period must be time limited and there must be alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop for the deal to go through. It still won’t be my kind of Brexit, and it still may be a poor deal, but it will be much better than it is now. Importantly, we won’t be trapped.

Now is not the time to give in. There may be just eight days to go, but these negotiations are far from over. Now is the time to fight harder than ever before.

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May. Treating you like a fool.

New Labour’s legacy is alive and well. When it trouble, don’t accept responsibility. Instead, blame someone else.

Books have been written about how Alastair Campbell, as Tony Blair’s Head of Communications, tabloidised the entire culture of government.  At the heart of the sweeping-away of old restraints and conventions was a feral instinct.  When in trouble, don’t admit error; don’t accept responsibility: instead, blame someone else.

If Theresa May’s broadcast this evening proved anything, it is that Campbell’s legacy of spin is alive and twitching.  Downing Street will have studied the polling.  As James Frayne has suggested on this site, its overall findings are ambiguous, but there is clearly frustration with the state of Brexit – and recognition among both Leave and Remain voters that it is not being delivered on time.

The Prime Minister thus sought to “frame the debate”, in the jargon of the trade.  So you, unhappy voter, are baffled, even angry?  Well, don’t blame me.  Blame those MPs!  Blame the politicians!  One might almost not have known from that she is herself an MP and the most senior politician in the land.

“I am on your side,” she declared, just in case viewers were too obtuse to get her point.  But May herself is playing as much of a game as any other of her 649 colleagues.  It is same-old-same-old: her chicken game.  Vote for my deal or there will be No Brexit.  Vote for my deal or there will be No Deal (depending on the need of the moment).  Her aim is to mobilise voters against the Commons.

Perhaps she will succeed.  Maybe her broadcast wowed the public  – though we doubt it.  Either way, there is one group of people among whom her gambit will have gone down with like a lorryroad of lukewarm vomit: her own colleagues.  It is a measure of the Prime Minister’s desperation that she no longer seems to care.  Who was it who used to say that “politics is not a game”?

Business wants certainty – even a three-month Brexit delay prolongs the agony of indecision

Talk to anyone in business, Leaver or Remainer, and they will say that they want the Government to get on with it. In fact, that’s true of anyone you speak to, in business or not. Just get on with it. That’s what the Prime Minister used to say. At the National Conservative Convention in Oxford […]

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Talk to anyone in business, Leaver or Remainer, and they will say that they want the Government to get on with it.

In fact, that’s true of anyone you speak to, in business or not. Just get on with it.

That’s what the Prime Minister used to say. At the National Conservative Convention in Oxford at the end of February, she made much of the feeling in the country by telling the assembled throng that the thing that most people say is “Just get on with it. She got a big cheer and a standing ovation.

And last night, she said it again. “The public want us to just get on with it”. Having earlier that day asked for an extension and decided not to get on with it. Obviously.

Business is buoyant (despite Brexit, of course). But at the MIPIM property conference in Cannes last week, where thousands of the property industry gather, the mood was optimistic yet sombre. Optimistic – because business would know where they would be by the end of month; but sombre – because the past two months have been slow as people have put off decisions until the end of March.

The rational question has been: “Why invest now if in a month’s time everything changes? What happens if the pound falls, or rises – I would look pretty silly, and I could lose my job.”

Whilst we remain in the epicentre of uncertainty, why would corporates make any investment decision at the moment?

So for business, they either want a long Article 50 extension, which means they can get on with the job of earning money (although obviously a long extension or no Brexit would be catastrophic for the Tory Party); or to leave, so they can get on with the job of earning money.

What the Prime Minister wants now, an extension until the end of June, is the worst of all worlds as it just prolongs the agony of indecision.

Business is ready to leave on 29th March 2019. Talk to people in the pharmaceuticals industry, and they will tell you that there has been so much information that any business in that industry cannot have failed to prepare. And we all know that Matt Hancock has been the largest buyer of fridges.

Talk to people in the banks and the City. They’ve been preparing for over a year now and they will be ready.

Talk to people in small business. They will tell you that MTD (Making Tax Digital) is far more onerous than Brexit.

And the smart ones in the service industry, from corporate lawyers to PR companies, should be cracking open the Champagne, with their training seminars on how to make your business WTO compliant.

Business has seen the tariff schedules. They’ve made the investment. They’ve put in the hours.

Now please, Prime Minister. Please leave, as you said you would 108 times, on 29th March 2019.

Business will cope. Nay, business will thrive.

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Leo Varadkar’s meddling and antagonism is hindering Anglo-Irish relations

“It’s time now to cut them some slack, to cut the British government some slack, when it comes to their request for an extension and when it comes to their request that the Strasbourg Agreement be ratified formally by the European Council over the next two days.” When Leo Varadkar took it upon himself to […]

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“It’s time now to cut them some slack, to cut the British government some slack, when it comes to their request for an extension and when it comes to their request that the Strasbourg Agreement be ratified formally by the European Council over the next two days.”

When Leo Varadkar took it upon himself to make the above announcement yesterday, I was met with the familiar feeling of déjà vu. I was immediately reminded of the Taoiseach’s antagonism over the Northern Irish border in January. Not much has changed in his attitude since then, only this time he undercut Mrs. May’s integrity by announcing she would be addressing the British public last night.

This meddling, coupled with the antagonistic “cut them some slack”, is counter-intuitive for any progress on an acceptable Withdrawal Agreement and it is a disservice to many Irish people too.

Sadly, it has now become regular practice for Mr Varadkar to use media engagements to slight Theresa May and her Government’s approach to Brexit. It’s hard to determine what is the purpose of these slights. Personally, I feel he is opportunistically capitalising on public dissatisfaction for Theresa May to boost his own image.

A bit like Jeremy Corbyn, Mr. Varadkar is quick with a quip but slow on any real solutions. All he managed to achieve yesterday was to enrage both sides of the Brexit debate. With his underhand remarks and his big reveal that Mrs. May would be addressing the people, he was insulting the British people.

But why should this matter to the Irish public? Well, our relationship with the UK is unique, a troubled history exists but this doesn’t define our future? For the sake of the Irish in Britain and the British in Ireland it’s time our Taoiseach shows some respect to all involved in this Anglo-Irish relationship.

If anything, Varadkar’s behaviour yesterday will serve only one purpose, to kick our neighbours while they are down. Rather than coming across as suave and debonair, he is in fact damaging the future of Irish citizens, his citizens. Currently it is estimated that roughly 400,000 Irish-born citizens call Britain their home. Furthermore, almost 10% of British citizens can claim some sort of Irish heritage.

Coupled with strong trade relations – Britain accounts for 24% of food, fuel and other merchandise brought into the state according to the Irish Central Statistics Office – this should be ample evidence for co-operation. Alas not in the eyes of Leo Varadkar. As former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald said in 1983, Britain is “our nearest neighbour and our natural friend”.

Finally, it is interesting to note how the beleaguered Mrs. May alluded to social issues, education and knife crime as she spoke to the public last night. She acknowledged their frustration and though her croaky considerations may be too little too late, at least she acknowledged her citizens.

The Taoiseach seems to have forgotten who has elected him, or is this ignorance by choice? Perhaps he has spent too long with Donald Tusk and is of the opinion that he too cannot be replaced by the public. However, the homelessness epidemic and the housing crisis in Ireland are nearing cataclysmic levels. So I would say to my Taoiseach, remember your citizens here and abroad and do your duty for them.

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WATCH: The Prime Minister’s chicken game latest. She tries to pile pressure on MPs to back her deal by stirring up voters against them.

She blames “MPs” and “politicians” for the current impasse as though she were not one herself – which of course she is.

Theresa May blames MPs for Brexit delay

The UK prime minister said the delay was ‘a matter of great personal regret.’

LONDON — Theresa May blamed MPs for her request to delay Brexit for three months, warning the public was fast losing patience with the “political games” in Westminster.

In a rare address to the nation Wednesday night from inside Number 10 Downing Street, the U.K. prime minister said her application for an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period was “a matter of great personal regret” but was necessary to deliver Brexit.

The short five-minute address came after another day of high drama in Westminster in which she hinted she would quit rather than delay Brexit any further.

Speaking from behind a lectern inside No.10 Downing Street the prime minister said: “You the public have had enough… I agree, I am on your side.” She added: “You asked us to get on with it, and that is what I am determined to do.” A longer delay would only serve to “give more time for politicians to argue,” she argued.

May’s statement to the nation came after she warned MPs earlier in the day she was not prepared “as prime minister” to delay Brexit any further than three months.

The remark sparked immediate speculation she will quit if parliament votes down her deal for a third time, leaving only no-deal Brexit or a second request for a much longer extension the remaining options without halting Brexit altogether.

“Prime Minister May’s proposal until the 30th of June, which has its merits, creates a series of questions of a legal and political nature” — Donald Tusk

Extending beyond July would mean the U.K. taking part in elections for the European Parliament in May — a prospect May said was “unacceptable.”

Responding to May’s request for a short extension to the end of June, European Council President Donald Tusk said this would only be granted if the House of Commons passed the prime minister’s deal before March 29. Tusk’s intervention effectively presents MPs with a choice between May’s deal, no-deal and an uncertain lengthy extension which will be determined by EU leaders.

British Prime Minister Theresa May | Leon Neal/Getty Images

In his statement, Tusk said details about an extension remained to be discussed but that EU27 leaders could not make any decisions until the House of Commons voted to approve the Withdrawal Agreement and accompanying Political Declaration.

“Prime Minister May’s proposal until the 30th of June, which has its merits, creates a series of questions of a legal and political nature,” Tusk said. “Leaders will discuss this tomorrow.”

In her letter, May said she hoped to bring her deal back for another vote but could not say when, or even if it would happen before the existing Brexit deadline of March 29.

Read this next: Radovan Karadžić war crimes sentence increased to life

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May statement open thread.

Well, the crest is still on the lectern. So no General Election then. But… Unless she whips off the crest partway through, Bucks-Fizz-style… — Jo Swinson (@joswinson) March 20, 2019 In the Land Of Make Believe 🎶 — Bill Alexander (@BillAlexander4) March 20, 2019 And she said absolutely nothing new. Blaming anyone but herself for […]

Well, the crest is still on the lectern. So no General Election then.

But…

And she said absolutely nothing new. Blaming anyone but herself for the mess.

Basically, no say for the people, no participation in the European elections. She wants to be out by June 30th.

She says that MPs haven’t said what they want. Not sure how much clearer our lot could have been – People’s vote…That at least is achievable, even if the Labour unicorns are not.

Not sure I understand what on earth the point was in all of that statement.

It’s so clear that she is the one who is not prepared to listen.

I remember a Conservative PM forced to quit for not listening about the poll tax….

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

EU summit: Live blog

Brexit, China and fake news among the big-ticket items on the agenda.

Theresa May is in Brussels Thursday to ask for more time on Brexit as EU leaders gather for a two-day summit, with China, trade and disinformation also on the agenda.

The British prime minister wants the EU27 to agree to delay the U.K.’s departure deadline until June 30, but European Council President Donald Tusk has already said there won’t be a Brexit extension unless the House of Commons passes the deal May reached with Brussels.

EU leaders are also expected to yield to pressure from Berlin and Paris and “endorse” a law that will restrict the access of Chinese companies to the EU’s €2.4 trillion-per-year public procurement market.

Draft conclusions for the European Council also back the European Commission’s aim of beginning trade talks with the U.S. soon, and leaders will discuss fighting fake news ahead of May’s European election.

Scroll down to follow POLITICO’s live coverage throughout the summit.

**A message from the Romanian EU Council Presidency: “A borderless and transformative digital Europe”: That is one of the Romanian Presidency’s mottos. This year’s Startup Europe Summit will look at how Europe can best support its startup community. The summit will take place in Cluj-Napoca, Romania — home of a vibrant startup community. More here**

AMENDMENTS 001-053 – REPORT on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment – A8-0175/2019(001-053)

AMENDMENTS 001-053REPORTon the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment(COM(2018)0353 – C8-0207/2018 – 2018/0178(COD))Committee on Economic and Mone…

AMENDMENTS 001-053
REPORT
on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment
(COM(2018)0353 - C8-0207/2018 - 2018/0178(COD))
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
Rapporteurs: Bas Eickhout, Sirpa Pietikäinen

Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

ERRATUM on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment (COM(2018)0353 ; C8-0207/2018 ; 2018/0178(COD)) – A8-0175/2019(ERR01)

ERRATUM on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment (COM(2018)0353 ; C8-0207/2018 ; 2018/0178(COD))Committee on Economic and Monetary AffairsCom…

ERRATUM on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment (COM(2018)0353 ; C8-0207/2018 ; 2018/0178(COD))
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
Sirpa Pietikäinen, Bas Eickhout

Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP