LEADING THE WAY OUT OF THE EU

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Monday 29 April 2019

Cross-party Brexit talks between the Labour leadership and Number 10 resume today. The deafening silence that marked last week’s negotiations is likely to characterise this one. A breakthrough will not be forthcoming.

Jeremy Corbyn has no incentive to cooperate, his stalling tactics are working nicely as the Tories haemorrhage the electorate’s confidence. A general election looks highly likely, meanwhile the Withdrawal Deal is a goner. Everyone knows it but May. It cannot be got rid of until she is gone too, yet there’s not a whisper of that in today’s press. All the Remain contenders are playing for time, and unlike Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, they are in the cabinet.

Theresa May is reportedly holding out for her deal – or rather a Corbyn friendly version of it – to clear by the 23 May thereby doing away with the European elections that will embarrass the Tories on an epic scale. As things currently stand, they will not campaign for the EU elections.

“I think we should be doing everything we can to respect that 2016 referendum, if and when we are at the point where we are definitely fighting those EU elections then we will take some decisions about that,” said party chairman Brandon Lewis yesterday.

Unsurprisingly, the supine idea of tabling withdrawal legislation (AKA WAB) to get a binding parliamentary commitment towards May’s deal is back in this morning’s papers.

The Times report Downing Street are giving the WAB another think simply because they need to give Parliament some legislation to play with over what looks set to be another tumultuous Summer culminating in a potentially disastrous Queen’s speech this Autumn. In the likely event of failure, the government is doomed and an election will beckon. Corbyn’s strategy will have paid off. However, May is reportedly not on board so a series of “relatively benign” legislation is being considered.

Following last week’s kerfuffle over Labour’s draft EU election leaflet, which sensibly made no mention of a second referendum, the Shadow Cabinet and the party’s National Executive Committee meet tomorrow to confirm plans for a mention of a so-called people’s vote. The parliamentary party meet today in Westminister to squabble over the terrible idea. Deputy leader Tom Watson is making no secret of his preference (see below). And to think, he was elected on a pro-Brexit manifesto.

Watson is joined by 22 Labour candidates for the European elections who have signed a letter calling for a second referendum. Maybe they should look at the polling data (see below), which finds the Tories slaughtered by the phenomenal rise of the Brexit Party. Labour are benefitting too, while the Remainer parties are all floundering. Another Brexit betrayal would wipe out that advantage.

Quote of the day: “The UK parties need to take heed of what has happened on the Continent. Most Christian-democrat and social-democrat movements from Italy to Germany, from Spain to Greece, have been wedded to the EU project. This has done them grave damage.”

John Redwood in a column for the Telegraph following yesterday’s election in Spain where anti-establishment parties won a combined 66 seats. Anti-EU Vox won 24 seats. Before yesterday’s election, they had none. Read more at Westmonster.