LEADING THE WAY OUT OF THE EU

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Friday 7 December 2018

Arlene Foster has attacked the government backed amendment to the meaningful vote. The amendment provides for a unilateral break from the backstop by MPs, but the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party has correctly argued the “withdrawal treaty would remain fundamentally flawed” in this tweet. Foster relegated the importance of the amendment simply to “legislative tinkering” and pointed to the Attorney General’s legal advice. The European Research Group have not backed the amendment, and it is doomed to failure.

The amendment to the meaningful vote motion was signed by Hugo Swire, Richard Graham and Bob Neill, but carries all the hallmarks of government, following Number 10s attempts to coax support from the ERG on Wednesday (see tweet thread below).

Bizarrely, during this critical time in British politics, Tory Chief Whip Julian Smith has allowed ITV to film a documentary on his attempts to persuade Conservative MPs to back May’s withdrawal agreement. In this clip, we see Smith’s desperate attempts to convince Philip Davies MP to vote for the deal.  Davies re-affirms his position, “no deal is better than a bad deal”. It is worth noting that whilst Chief Whips are rarely popular, Julian Smith has garnered a considerable amount of enemies within the Conservative Party.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has called on MPs from all parties to vote down Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement and back his ‘Plan B’ for Brexit. Those looking to quash Brexit altogether are urging the Leader of the opposition to publicly back a second referendum. Corbyn has attacked all elements of the deal. He wants the United Kingdom to be in a “comprehensive customs union with the EU”. Regrettably, he may get his way. The prime minister is powerless to stop her deal from being voted down. A huge defeat will spell opportunity for Corbyn.

Unsurprisingly, Michel Barnier has reiterated his point that the only deal is the one currently on the table. Considering the deal kowtows to nearly every single EU demand, it is no surprise Barnier is so keen for it to be passed by the government. He’s trying to get his legacy through the Commons. The intervention will make no difference and was shoved to the back of last night’s news bulletins. The picture will look very different once the meaningful vote is passed and the deal defeated. Brussels will no doubt change its tune if the Commons takes over and pushed for EFTA+.

In a passionate attack against the withdrawal deal, David Davis has demanded a “Stake goes through the heart of the PMs deal” in this interview with The House magazine. Optimistic Brexiteer Davis has argued for a “Canada++” system which takes inspiration from deals already struck internationally with the EU, notably from Canada, and a little from New Zealand and South Korea as a “pre-set” option for a true Brexit.

David Davis has given Brexiteers hope that a true Brexit is still possible. He could yet prove right.