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Tuesday 7 May 2019

Following yesterday’s revelation Downing Street is flirting with a second referendum (see Westmonster), the farce switches back to Labour.

According to Bloomberg, as far as Labour are concerned, progress (read regress) in talks with the Conservatives – which resume today – towards remaining in Customs Union are the bare minimum. While both sides are thought to have found common ground over regulatory alignment (no surprise there), such is the pressure from the parliamentary party for a “confirmatory ballot”, a deal is unlikely without one. On Saturday, the Guardian reported 60 MPs publicly refuse to back a Customs Union compromise without an additional pledge towards a second referendum. The real figure is reported to be much higher, more than two-thirds of Labour’s 246 MPs.

“Anything short of a confirmatory ballot and it has no chance getting through,” said a senior Labour insider.

“The Remainers need something – otherwise they will feel they’re the only ones compromising. We’re not going to do anything which splits the PLP and Labour Party.”

Why do the Remainers need something exactly? They lost the referendum, and they performed dismally at the local elections following a transparent policy of sitting on the Brexit fence while leaning increasingly to the Remain side. If they are as petrified of No Deal as they are reported to be (and they most surely are), the Tories need only to let them sweat over the summer as the new October deadline draws near.

Instead, the second referendum campaign continues to carry the posture of legitimacy within this very dysfunctional Labour Party. Deputy leader and Tom Watson and shadow chancellor John McDonnell are now fully paid-up advocates of a second referendum. Of the major figures, only Corbyn is refusing to act as a cheerleader, and he’s no iron leader.

As predicted, Theresa May’s No Confidence motion, requested by popular demand by the Tory grassroots, is being delayed. Under the Conservative Party constitution, an extraordinary general meeting must be held no fewer than 28 days after the petition is submitted. That was more than a week ago, but the EGM will only be held on Saturday June 15 – Westmonster have a write-up. Plenty of time for CCHQ to tap up the membership and fill the convention with Mayites – if indeed any exist.

Joke of the day: Jean-Claude Juncker has been named ‘European of the year’. If a ‘European’ is a gaffe-prone, corrupt alcoholic, the award is richly deserved.

Obvious insight of the day: “It is clear from the reaction on the doorstep that the talk about another referendum was a difficult message to explain to many of our traditional voters.”

Labour campaign chief Andrew Gwynne uses his miracle intellect to explain why Jeremy Corbyn would be ill-advised to go all in with a second referendum.