Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen
The uninterrupted flow of goods is essential to both the EU and UK economies. This must be frictionless as with a customs union. We need clarity and certainty, because time is running out. Uncertainty causes less investment.
NEW: major European business leaders @ert_eu tell Theresa May they “need clarity and certainty, because time is running out” as they warn that “uncertainty causes less investment” following a meeting with the PM at Number 10. pic.twitter.com/ElYo5X7Nlo
The People’s Vote campaign, which is campaigning for a referendum on the final Brexit deal, is not surprised by the findings of our latest Brexit poll. (See 12.53pm.) It has put out this statement from the Labour MP Stephen Doughty.
It’s no wonder voters are becoming increasingly pessimistic about the economic impact of Brexit, as we already know households are £900 worse off and that the UK has slipped to the bottom of the GDP growth table for developed countries, and that’s before we’ve even left.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the public can see that the Brexit promises of the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are not going to be delivered.
James Cleverly, the Conservative party deputy chairman, has hit back. In a Twitter thread starting here, he defends her record on women’s right and points out that Labour was quite happy to leave the abortion laws in Northern Ireland unreformed when it was in power.
The attacks on Theresa May about abortion in Northern Ireland from Labour voices, have little to do with women’s right to choose, and everything to do with opportunistic party political game playing.
Those Labour women who are pointing at Theresa May, a highly successful women in a traditionally man’s world, and trying to undermine her over abortion rights in a devolved part of the UK should ask themselves “am I a proper feminist?”
Labour’s investigations into antisemitic abuse are to be strictly time-limited, de-politicised and made more consistent under new moves to tackle the problem within the party, HuffPost’s Paul Waugh reports. His story goes on:
A 13-point action plan, leaked to HuffPost UK, includes proposals to fast-track the process by using smaller, specially-trained teams of investigators and by anonymising complaints to remove any risk of political or personal bias.
More disciplinary cases will be dealt with solely through written testimony rather than oral hearings and a new in-house lawyer will produce clearer evidence tests to standardise the system and make it more transparent.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will not reaffiliate to Labour but will “align” itself to the party, a special conference has decided. As the Press Association reports, the union’s 80,000 members will be encouraged to be active in the Labour party, whilst remaining unaffiliated. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
Our consultation has shown that the views of our branches and regions are finely balanced and the conference has decided that, whilst we do not support affiliation at this current time, there is the potential for the union to affiliate to the Labour party at a future date if there is clearer support for this.
Many of our members have also reacted angrily to constant attempts by a hard core of Labour MPs to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the radical progressive changes he has made to Labour.
Nicola Sturgeon has tweeted an unexpected and detailed defence of the report by the SNP’s Growth Commission, which was published last Friday. (See 11.11am.)
Following significant criticism of the report – designed to offer a more sober evaluation of Scotland’s economic future as an independent country – by figures across the wider Yes movement as well as opposition politicians, Sturgeon insisted today that it offered an alternative to Westminster austerity, the “Brexit spiral” and lack of investment.
Theresa May is chairing a meeting of business leaders and industrialists to discuss Brexit at Number 10 this afternoon. Here are some of the attendees arriving.
Theresa May was criticised yesterday for refusing to commit the government to legislating to give women in Northern Ireland the same abortion rights as women in the rest of the United Kingdom. Downing Street says this is a devolved matter, and the power-sharing executive at Stormont (when or if it ever gets going again – it’s been suspended for 16 months) should decide.
It is an issue on which Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader and about the most prominent figure on the modernising/progressive wing of the party, could easily have chosen to cause trouble. As she proved in a major speech in Scotland last night (full text here), Davidson is willing (at least up to a point) to say when she thinks May is wrong. Yesterday she criticised May’s target for cutting annual net migration.
NEW:@RuthDavidsonMSP to FT: “If I was a politician in NI I would absolutely 100 % vote to change the law.But as someone who operates in a devolved administration I know how angry I would be if the House of Commons legislated on a domestic Scottish issue over the head of Holyrood”
.@RuthDavidsonMSP “This whole issue demonstrates why it’s so important to get the administration of Northern Ireland up and running again, so serious and important issues of domestic policy are able to be properly addressed.”
As a devolved politician in Scotland, if the House of Commons changed the law in Scotland in an area that was under Holyrood control, I would be pretty annoyed about that. And I’m pretty sure the nationalists would be even more annoyed about that.
I think that you run into very, very tricky waters, particularly as somebody that operates in a devolved parliament, to say that anytime something is in stasis, we just let the Commons legislate on a domestic issue. I don’t believe in that.
“I’m not the Messiah, nor am I a very naughty boy” @RuthDavidsonMSP tells me in response to calls for her to save UK @Conservatives @ScotTories leader challenges @theresa_may immigration targets + calls for more #NHS70 funding
Latest @ITVBorderRB : https://t.co/57v8gzyrae
Theresa May’s appeal for a special Brexit deal on science and research collaboration, worth billions to the British economy, is being stonewalled by Brussels as it prepares to offer an arrangement less privileged and more expensive than that given to non-EU states such as Israel, my colleague Daniel Boffey reports.
Severe flooding has played havoc with the telephone lines in Parliament, the Press Association reports. Engineers were called to the parliamentary estate after exceptionally heavy rainfall caused “intermittent faults” with the lines. Tottenham MP David Lammy advised constituents attempting to contact his office to email instead. A House of Commons spokesman said:
Due to severe flooding, there are intermittent faults on a number of telephone lines on the estate. We are working to restore connectivity as soon as possible.
We have some new Guardian/ICM polling out today, covering Brexit and voting intention.
While these headline figures show a slight increase in negativity towards Brexit, our polling also offers clues on where this may be coming from. These are small changes – but across all three statements, there’s an indication that the increase in overall negativity could be attributed to increasing negativity among those who voted remain in 2016, while those who voted leave look increasingly unsure about the likely impact of Brexit, answering ‘don’t know’.
This last finding – of possible increasing uncertainty on the impact of Brexit among leave voters – is something to watch out for over the coming months. If remainers become increasingly certain that Brexit is a bad idea, while leavers waver more and more, then interesting times lie ahead.
Minor excitement at Westminster. This is from ITV’s Carl Dinnen.
NEW; Police have arrested a man who tried to climb into the Palace of Westminster. pic.twitter.com/gvuFQvCYF3
An influential global body has upgraded its forecasts for UK economic performance, but warned of continuing “high uncertainties” over the outcome of Brexit, the Press Association reports. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s twice-yearly Economic Outlook report found that economic growth remains “modest” in the UK, compared with other major economies. It warned that the government must stand ready to ease up on austerity measures if growth weakens significantly in the run-up to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Brexit negotiations should aim to “preserve open trade with the European Union and high access for financial services to EU markets”, said the report.
The May 2018 Economic Outlook projected GDP growth of 1.4% in the UK this year – up from 1.2% in its November 2017 forecast. Growth in 2019 was also nudged up from 1.1% six months ago to 1.3% now. But the UK continues to lag behind most major economies, with world economic growth forecast at 3.8% this year and 3.9% in 2019, the Press Association reports.
Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, has been tweeting about Russia this morning.
He has welcomed the Spanish decision to release Bill Browder, the anti-Putin campaigner detained in the country under a Russian warrant.
Just spoken to Bill Browder – very glad that he has now been released. Moscow should concentrate on bringing those responsible for the murder of #Magnitsky to justice
Appalled to see another vocal Russian journalist, Arkady Babchenko, murdered. My thoughts are with his wife and young daughter. We must defend freedom of speech and it is vital that those responsible are now held to account.
Lord Malloch-Brown, the former Foreign Office minister who chairs the anti-Brexit group Best for Britain, was on the Today programme this morning defending the George Soros campaign for a second referendum. As the New European reports, he said there was nothing wrong with asking people to change their minds. He said:
Democracy is a history of U-turns. The day that, you know, Britons just settle back and accept one election victory as the end of democracy – that party is in power forever – is an unlikely moment.
It is the same with this referendum, it was a referendum on the principle to negotiate a deal for exit. We will soon see the terms of that deal and it’s already evident from the confusion in the government that those terms are going to offer Britain a much less good economic prospect than we currently enjoy.
When the SNP published its sustainable growth commission report last week, an economic blueprint for independence, Scottish Labour said it would perpetuate austerity.
Today Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first miniser, says they’re wrong. She addressed this point in a series of tweets defending the report.
1/ Reading lots of interesting comments about the #GrowthCommission – which is good. So much better to be discussing how to build a successful independent Scotland than just resigning ourselves to managing the decline of Brexit UK. A few points worth underlining though…
2/ the report explicitly rejects austerity eg Part B p44 – “Scotland should explicitly reject the austerity model pursued by the U.K. in recent years” and recommends above inflation spending growth each year. A marked contrast to the failed Westminster approach.
3/ report also stresses importance of investment to boost economy and that fiscal targets should not be at the expense of growth – another sharp contrast with Westminster. Indeed, it recommends fiscal stimulus both in the independence transition and in periods of low growth.
4/ the report’s projections about deficit reduction are deliberately cautious. They make no assumptions about higher growth – and instead illustrate that even in worst case scenario independence is a better option that sticking with Westminster system that created the deficit….
5/ …but with the powers of independence and by following report’s advice on how we can match the success of other small countries – particularly its recommendations on population – higher growth, more revenue and increased prosperity and fairness is the attainable prize.
6/ so we have a choice – stay as we are, locked into the Brexit spiral and continued austerity that the Westminster parties offer no alternative to – or decide to equip ourselves with the powers to build our way to a better future.
7/ lastly, policy choices in an independent Scotland will always be for the government of the day, so we should welcome debate – but without independence, these choices will always be far too limited. That’s the case we must win – and #GrowthCommission helps us do it.
The Electoral Commission has published figures showing what donations were made to political parties in the first quarter of 2018. The Conservatives received more than three times as much money as Labour.
Here are the overall figures.
Earlier this month, in an interview with the Financial Times (paywall), Erna Solberg, the Norwegian prime minister, suggested she would be happy for the UK to remain in the EEA (European Economic Area) after leaving the EU, joining Norway.
Sky’s political editor, Faisal Islam, has been looking at Norway’s Europe strategy and he has posted a thread on it starting here.
Norwegian Government releases its European policy document, which at times reads like an invitation to UK to join EEA, at others warns UK/EU that any special access cooked up for post Brexit UK as third country, must be matched for Norway… https://t.co/CQdjD0voMQ
EG Norway will seek to match any UK-EU cooperation in justice, home affairs, foreign and security policy – is the security treaty… /3 pic.twitter.com/pyueu3otML
Stanley Johnson, the I’m a Celebrity contestant, father of Boris, remain voter and ubiquitous rent-a-quote, has said the Brexit referendum should be re-run if it is proved that Russia tried to sway the result. Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he said:
It’s perfectly obvious the Russians were pretty heavily involved in the American election, more and more comes out, and it’s perfectly obvious to me at least that there is far more in the Brexit vote than has so far come out.
Yes, absolutely. We are getting the Facebook stuff, the data which went into Facebook, all the tweets, and above all, some mega event like a massive migration crisis in the run-up to the 2016 election.
If it was proved conclusively that everything I said happened, happened then you might say, some might say, was this a fair fight?
One consequence of Brexit is that it is focusing public attention on all sorts of issues – basically, the regulatory and legal plumbing of the modern British state – that for years have languished in obscurity.
For example, have you ever heard of RASFF (the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed)? Or TRACES (the Trade Control and Expert System)?
If we lose access to these databases, we will lose access to vital intelligence about the origin of food, feed and animal products, and won’t be aware when rapid alerts are issued to the rest of the continent.
This will significantly weaken our ability to effectively protect the food system, increasing the risk of a new scandal and undermining public confidence in the food industry.
As we leave the EU, food safety and consumer protection will not only be maintained but enhanced. From day one our world-class Food Standards Agency will have a robust and effective regulatory regime in place to ensure business can continue as normal.